‘Man of Peace’

Davao Catholic Herald publishes this week the homily delivered by Monsignor Dennis Villarojo at the funeral mass of the late Ricardo J. Cardinal Vidal, on October 26, 2017. The funeral rites of the prelate was witnessed by 55, 000 Cebuanos, supporters, and Catholic religious, including those from Marinduque, the hometown of Vidal. The homilist, Monsignor Dennis Villarojo, has been Vidal’s secretary for 13 years.

Vidal, a native of Mogpog, Marinduque, was appointed by Pope John Paul II as coadjutor archbishop of Cebu in 1981. He became archbishop on August 24, 1982, succeeding Cardinal Julio Rosales. He is one among the four cardinals of the Philippines. The country’s three living cardinals include Manila Archbishop Emeritus Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, and Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Cardinal Quevedo.

He died at 86 due to septic shock on October 18, one week after he was rushed to the hospital due to fever and shortness of breath. His remains were buried beside the tomb of Rosales in the mausoleum within the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral compound.

Homily on the Funeral Mass of His Eminence RICARDO J. CARDINAL VIDAL

October 26, 2017

Cardinal Vidal (Cebu Daily News Inquirer)

Cardinal Vidal (Cebu Daily News Inquirer)

“Blessed are the peace-makers, they will be called children of God”

Your Eminence…

Two years ago, you delivered the Homily at my Episcopal Ordination. Today, I return the favor, not because I am worthy, but in obedience to our dear Archbishop, the Most Rev. Jose S. Palma.

In your homily, you gave me one vital piece of advice. You said, “Do not quarrel with the religious Sisters.” Ayaw pangaway sa mga madre. People thought you meant it as a joke, but I know you were dead serious. It was not because the religious sisters are quarrelsome by nature, dili tungod kay palaaway gyod ang mga madre. It was not because you held women in disdain. I knew you loved the religious sisters so much, you spent a good part of your life forming the Missionary Catechists of St. Therese. You once told me that when your Bishop, the Servant of God Alfredo Maria Obviar, assigned you as spiritual director of the MCST Sisters, your father, Fructuoso Vidal, Sr., whom everybody fondly calls Lolo Tosong, tripled his holy hour before the Blessed Sacrament. He prayed hard for you, kay basin kuno matintal ka.

No, it wasn’t because you had a low regard for women that you gave that advice. It was not about women at all, but about the nature of our quarrels and a formula for peace. We quarrel with people because we allow our prejudices to cloud our judgments. What we do not understand, we fear. What we fear, we consider as our enemies. What you told us then was a formula for peace. Ayaw pangaway sa mga madre… you really meant to say, ayaw pangaway ni bisan kinsa, kay basin ang imong gi-away karon mao ra say makatabang nimo sa umaabot. Those who disagree with us, are not necessarily our enemies. They could be our most vital collaborators, our most important allies. Allowing disagreements to alienate us from others is like cutting off our limbs when they start aching.

Your Eminence, much has been said about your gift for peace-making. I once attended a meeting you had with two opposing factions. You sat at table while the warring parties tried to resolve their differences.

Your Eminence, you simply listened in silence. But your presence allowed the parties to talk to each other in a civil and rational manner, not because they respected each other, but because they respected you. In their respect for you, they had to listen to each other. In listening to each other, they began to appreciate each other’s point of view. It was not long before they came to an agreement, and came out of the meeting as friends.

Ayaw pangaway ni bisan kinsa. Do not pick a fight with anybody. In moments when our nation was polarized, you stood your ground and remained neutral, even to the point of being misunderstood. The moral high ground you took enabled you to broker peace among the warring factions, knowing that some of our quarrels are not really based on principles but on personalities. You understood what the Lord meant when He said, “He who is not against you is with you.”

Dili kinahanglang mangaway kami ni bisan kinsa nga dili mouyon kanamo. Ang gikinahanglan lamang mao ang pagpasabut, pagpamati ug pakighigala. Sa trese ka tuig nako nga nag-alagad kanimo, wala gayod ako kadungog nimo nga namalikas. Masuko ka, apan molagum lang ang imong nawong. Klaro kaayo nga ikaw nasuko, apan ang pulong mga mogawas ra gyod sa imong baba mao ang: “Pambihira!”

You might have extended your life-span had you expressed your feelings. Your father lived up to a hundred and four, you could have lived longer than 86 if you had let loose of your emotions more often. But that would not be right. You would rather embrace the pain, than let it out to cause pain on others.

Your Eminence, you have mastered the art of reaching out to people. Be it in the corridors of power or in the humble rectories of country priests, you spared no effort to sow seeds of good will, knowing that harvest season comes not only in times of peace, but also in moments of conflict. You believe that quarrels are always man-made, and the best way to resolve them is not through the impersonal and often brutal battlefield of the airwaves or the social media, but face to face, heart to heart. Instead of making public pronouncements, you made personal visits. Instead of merely issuing pastoral letters, you formed people’s conscience by catecheses and grassroots organization.

When you organized the Cebu Citizens’ Involvement for Maturation and Political Empowerment and Liberation (C-CIMPEL), it was not only in view of safeguarding the electoral process, but also formation and conscientization of the people towards political maturation.

Your Eminence, your wisdom in political matters is deeply rooted in your spirituality. The first time I ever was able to speak to you was when I was on my second year in the Seminary. You made a visit to the seminary, and you made your way to a group of us First Year College seminarians. Sa dihang nangutana ka namo kumusta ang among kinabuhi sa seminaryo, amo dayong gigamit ang kahigayonan sa pagsang-at sa among reklamo. “Your Eminence,” we said, “the seminary food was neither enough nor good enough.” We were utterly dumbstruck by your response. You said, “Maayo man sad na nga mokaon ta apan dili mabusog.” It is good to eat, and yet not become full.

Your Eminence, I realized later that what you said was not just a diet program, but a lesson in self-restraint. We can, but we may not. Dili kinahanglang ato gyong buhaton, bisan kung mahimo natong buhaton. Magbaton sad tag pagpugong sa kaugalingon, kay dili tanan nga atong mabuhat, angay buhaton.

“It is good to eat, and yet not become full.” This principle cuts across all forms of human endeavors: the exercise of power, the acquisition of wealth, the consummation of conjugal relations, the consumption of food, the enjoyment of rest and recreation. Mitigate your greed, you were telling us. Regulate your desires. Ayaw pun-a ang imong tiyan kung mokaon ka, pagbilin og luna kay moinum pa ra ba kag tubig.

“He who seeks his life will lose it, he who loses his life for my sake will find it.” Sayod ka Cardinal, nga ang among mga away nagagikan sa among tinguha nga makabentaha. Ang among mga kagubot, nasukad sa among taras nga dili gayod magpautang ug kabubut-on. Kung malapasan gani mi, kiha dayon. Goyuron dayon namo ang among silingan ngadto sa barangay. Pero kung kami say makabentaha, magpasuko-suko dayon kung badlongon. Kung kami mangutang, magpalouy-luoy dayon. Pero kung paninglan, kusmod-kusmod dayon.

Nagpahinumdum ka kanamo Cardinal, nga kung aduna lamang kami pagpugong sa kaugalingon, kung dili namo titi-on ang among katungod ug daginuton ang tanan namong mahakop, mas dali namong maangkon ang kalinaw sa katilingban. Maayo diay nga mokaon, apan dili magpabusog.

What you gave us, Your Eminence, in reply to our complaint, was a formula for the care of our souls. Beyond care for bodily food, the more important thing is care for our souls. How wonderfully you have cut us in our whining, while teaching us a lesson beyond our immediate concerns. In your own way, you have made clear to us the Lord’s injunction: “If you wish to become my disciple, you must deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow me.”

Your Eminence, the last time we spoke before you entered into a state of delirium, was in your residence in Sto. Nino Village. It was in fact your last word to me, and one I consider most important. You said: “Take care of your brother-priests.” I have always known that you love your priests so much, but till the end, they were foremost in your mind. I used to grumble when you leave too early for your masses in the parishes. I realized later you wanted to spend more quality time with your priests: talking, laughing, bonding with your fellow-workers in the vineyard of the Lord.

Priests, however, are not the only beneficiaries of your care. I have seen, how, every Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, you would sit up for five hours to receive hundreds of the lay faithful and the religious men and women. From seven in the morning to twelve noon, you would wait at your residence as an endless stream of visitors give you their Christmas and New Year Greetings. You would address each of the groups, repeating the same message, one after the other. I would sit by and at the end of the day, I would already memorize the message. But it didn’t matter. Each group felt you cared for them. Each group was fed with sumptuous food as they leave your residence.

These last few days, they came back Your Eminence, all of them… and more. They all filed past your mortal remains, to pay their last respect. And you didn’t have to say a word, because they have memorized your message, given throughout the years of your life ministry: Ayaw pangaway, pagkat.un og pagpugong sa kaugalingon, atimana ang usa’g-usa.

I have many more things to say to you, Your Eminence. But I cannot hold you for long. I think you need to rest now. The burdens you carried in this world have worn out your body. Thank you for carrying us all on your shoulders. Sorry for having been too much of a burden at times.

Rest now, faithful servant. You are truly a child of God.

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