MORE than 1,000 people gathered in Manila’s Chinatown Wednesday for a wreath-laying ceremony and Mass in memory of the only Filipino saint, Lorenzo Ruiz. [That did not sound right, did it? A saint whose memorial is celebrated especially on a BASILICA dedicated to him, does not have a Mass in his memory! Sound like a Mass for a person who is not even a saint! And wreath laying?!? What's this Independence Day?!]
Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales of Manila led the commemoration of the feast of Saint Ruiz, patron saint of Chinese-Filipinos, at the saint’s Minor Basilica in Manila’s Binondo district.
Cardinal Rosales praised the life of the “extraordinary” saint. “This is his home town. He grew up in this church where he befriended God as an altar server for Dominican priests ministering to the Chinese,” he said in his homily.
“He was accused of a crime he did not commit. He was scared so he fled and joined Dominican missionaries abroad. But he never realized what awaited him in a foreign land,” Cardinal Rosales said.
“Blessed are those who seek nothing but God. We should befriend God just like how Saint Lorenzo did,” he added.
Local government officials and members of the Chinese-Filipino community attended the Eucharistic Celebration concelebrated by 22 priests.
Filipinos of Chinese ancestry represent about one percent of the Philippine population of 90 million, according to Jesuit priest Aristotle Dy.
Monsignor Geronimo Reyes, parish priest and rector of the Minor Basilica, said the celebration is a good opportunity to reflect on the life and martyrdom of the Filipino saint.
“Before his death he was asked by the executioner whether he wanted to live and to be with family. He said, ‘Yes.’ The executioner had one condition, ‘Just renounce your faith and destroy this statue of the Blessed Mother.’ Lorenzo said, ‘I can never renounce my faith. Even if I have a thousand lives, I would offer them over and over to God,” said Reyes.
Reyes said the saint’s martyrdom became a symbol of faith in God. “In that act of offering his life, there lies the supreme act of love for God.” [He followed Christ all the way to the cross!]
Reyes said the Philippines will most probably have more saints but “their papers are still being processed.” [The diocesan processes here are very slow! Maybe because of documentation or the tribunal is not working double time?]
St. Lorenzo Ruiz is our first kababayan to be raised to the honors of the altar in the Universal Church. How did your parish celebrate the day?