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On Cardinal Sanchez: “We remember Pepito… and how he reminded us how good our God is!” - Cardinal Rosales

Presiding over the Eucharistic celebration for the Blessing of the Crypt beneath the altar of the Cathedral-Shrine of the Good Shepherd reserved for the bishops and clergy of the Diocese, Cardinal Rosales commemorated the “giftedness” of his brother bishop, another prince of the Church whose life was spent in humble service to the church, his Eminence, the late Jose Cardinal Sanchez.

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Rosales, the Cardinal emeritus of Manila affectionately referred to Cardinal Sanchez as “Pepito” as he was fondly called by fellow Filipino bishops and cardinals.  He said that through his life, Pepito taught us to give more and offer more to the Lord.

Pasalamatan natin ang Diyos na hindi lang kanyang abo ang ating dinadalaw at inaalala kundi ang Kabanalan ng Diyos na ipinahiram sa kanya,” (Let us give thanks to the Lord, that we are visiting and commemorating not just the ashes of [Cardinal Sanchez] but also the holiness which God lent him) Cardinal Rosales said.

The event was supposed to be a blessing and inauguration of the Cathedral Crypt, but the Crypt was obviously ‘blessed and inaugurated’ months before with the presence of Cardinal Sanchez as his body was interred there in March 12, 2012 before the Crypt was even completed.  Cardinal Rosales described the crypt as a place dedicated for the ‘repose not just of mortal remains but also of memories of the goodness’ of the people who has given up their lives in serving God through the church.  

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The blessing was attended by priests, religious communities particularly the Dominican Daughters of Mary Immaculate who took care of the cardinal while he was still alive, friends and relatives of the Cardinal including former senator Kit Tatad, and other lay people from the Diocese of Novaliches.

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“Ours is a God of contradictions”

Reflecting on the Beatitudes, the Gospel read for the mass, Cardinal Rosales said: ‘Ours is a God of contradictions”, and he meant it positively.

Citing the contrast of the values of the modern world with what Christ teaches, Cardinal Rosales said that God reverses worldly values which considers riches, fame, approval and honor as the measure of a quality life into its opposite.  He said that God ‘takes the little things even dirty things that we have because in Christ we are forgiven and are made worthy to stand before him’.  “We just have to offer our being small to God and it will all become better than gold”, explained the Cardinal in Filipino.

He also emphasized the importance of the role of prayer in making us understand the things that may be of no sense for others and thus ‘make sense out of the nonsense’. He described prayer as a means of sharpening our consciences in order to help us develop better awareness of what is good and grasp the meaning of the beatitudes.  He also said that the key in achieving this in prayers is listening to Jesus.

Cardinal Rosales invited those present to always ‘count the gifts that God provides daily’ and to learn to appreciate and value them every day. "Huwag na natin hintaying maipasok pa sa kripta bago natin pahalagahan ang mga biyaya ng Diyos" [We should not wait for the our time to be interred in a crypt before we appreciate the graces from God], he quipped.

Repository of memory

Bishop Tobias, on his part highlighted the most important purpose of the crypt as a repository of the memories of bishops and priests of the Diocese of Novaliches, saying that we bury their bodies but not their memories.  The bishop quipped: “Nai-offer ko na kay Bishop Bacani ang katabing libingan, pero sinabi nyang mauna na lang daw ako,” [I have offered the other tomb to Bishop Bacani but he told me to, use it first] which made those present laugh.  Bacani, bishop Emeritus of Novaliches was the first bishop of the Diocese.

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An important announcement

Just before sending the people off, Cardinal Rosales broke very important news: at the recently concluded International Eucharistic Congress held in Dublin (June 10-17) and attended by a number of Filipino bishops including Cebu Archbishop Palma, the Pope, through a video message, announced that the next Congress will be held in 2016 in the city of Cebu.

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The release from the Vatican website quotes: (emphases added)

My dear brothers and sisters, I pray that the Congress will be for each of you a spiritually fruitful experience of communion with Christ and his Church. At the same time, I would like to invite you to join me in praying for God's blessing upon the next International Eucharistic Congress, which will take place in 2016 in the city of Cebu! To the people of the Philippines I send warm greetings and an assurance of my closeness in prayer during the period of preparation for this great ecclesial gathering. I am confident that it will bring lasting spiritual renewal not only to them but to all the participants from across the globe. In the meantime, I commend everyone taking part in the present Congress to the loving protection of Mary, Mother and to Saint Patrick, the great patron of Ireland; and, as a token of joy and peace in the Lord, I willingly impart my Apostolic Blessing.

by Dexter Tiro