From the Shared Reflection at the Mass in the LSGH Gym
by Brother Armin Luistro FSC
August 2, 2009
La Salle Greenhills
Cory, the Heart of a Saint
Let us remember that we are in the holy presence of God.
As the world continues to bestow accolades on Corazon Cojuangco Aquino and as the Nation gathers in solemn rites before her mortal remains we cannot help but recall that God is truly with us here and now. Her mortal remains remind us of a time in the not-so-distant-past when we saw with our own eyes the hand of God in our nation’s history. The biblical stories of old were nothing but myths to me until I saw with my own eyes how tanks can be stopped by unarmed civilians, guns can be silenced with flowers and dictators can flee from the power of prayer.
The prophetic vision of Jaime Cardinal Sin and the courage of Corazon Cojuangco Aquino transformed this nation paralyzed by fear into a nation of everyday heroes. At EDSA, we prayed with all our hearts and blessed it with our tears and hallowed the streets with our faith. The world stood in silence and awe at this Biblical story recreated in our own eyes and written in its entirety by ordinary Filipinos who allowed the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to work His mighty wonders in our own land and in our own time.
If we honor Cory tonight, it is because she has kept that memory alive in our hearts so we can share our journeys of faith to our children and our children’s children. God is not dead and Cory’s mortal remains are living proof of that. The Nation should be eternally grateful to Balsy, Pinky, Noynoy, Viel and Kris for generously sharing the gift of their mother to us, for those who are nearest and dearest to her must have shared the pain and the cost of her life’s sacrifices. We have not thanked them enough. And for this distinct privilege and honor to receive her in this campus, now her home, we owe the family a debt of gratitude for, indeed, this place has been transformed into sacred ground and when we bid her goodbye tomorrow, this place will never be the same again. I sincerely pray that those of us, who pay our respects now, can also say we will never be the same again.
PASASALAMAT. Ang gabing ito ay isang gabi ng pasasalamat para sa ating pinakamamahal na Ina. Ang ating mga dilaw na laso ang magsisilbing alay ng bayan at ng ordinaryong Pilipino para sa maningning na liwanag ng katotohanan, kalayaan at katarungan na kanyang pinangalagaan at ngayon nama’y ipinagkakatiwala na sa atin. Malaki ang ating utang-na-loob sa kanya at hinding-hindi natin siya malilimutan.
As her mortal remains entered the halls of this campus, the heavens poured as though to share our grief. The heavy downpour, however, has not dampened the spirits of those who have patiently waited in line, some traveling from distant provinces and some for as along as three hours, to pay their last respects to President Cory and to give thanks for the magnanimity of heart that allowed her to endure many trials and sacrifices for the sake of the nation. It is for our sake that she bore them all. She bears the wounds of her sufferings; her heart has scars to show for them. She is battered but not defeated. And in her powerlessness ordinary Filipinos will surely find the strength to rise as a noble nation, proud of its heritage and secure in its future.
Our immense debt of gratitude stems not only from the acts of sacrifice and courage that she did for the country; it is also about what she has been for us—a pillar of strength and a moral compass for the Nation; a guiding light that constantly rekindles our passion to uphold the democratic values and morals that Filipinos hold dear.
Tonight, I stand in awe and profound gratitude at the person we have come to know through the years simply as Tita Cory. In an interview before she hid from the public eye, she said, “Ako’y nagpapasalamat sa Panginoong Diyos na ginawa niya akong isang Pilipino.” Can we say the same with the passion and conviction of Tita Cory? We can only truly show how truly grateful we are to her if we understand and live that conviction.
PANGUNGULILA. Ang gabing ito ay isang gabi ng pangungulila. Ang mga anak ng bayan ay nagluluksa sa pagpanaw ng isang ginigiliw na Ina. Sa kanyang paglisan, hinaharap rin natin ang kaba na baka tuluyan nang maglaho ang ating mga pangarap at inaasam-asam at matagal nang ipinaglalaban. Maaari pa ba tayong tumayo, kung wala na siya?
After her death, TIME Magazine posted this article in their website entitled People Power’s Philippine Saint: Corazon Aquino 1933-2009. This is what it says: “Whenever the country appeared to be in a crisis, Cory Aquino rose above the bureaucratic procrastination that had always bogged it down, reminding her people that they once astonished the world with their bravery—and that they could do it again. But Filipinos must now take stock. Whom will they march with now that their saint has gone to meet her God?”
How could I forget her when, after the De La Salle Brothers issued a statement expressing our grave concern on the conduct of the last national elections, we felt all alone and perhaps much maligned in that conviction. Were we wrong? Did anyone really care? Would it have been better if we remained silent? But she stood by us, supported us. She marched with us and even in the dark nights of our frustrations when we felt defeated, she reminded us that victory will surely come not in our time, but in God’s time. But we must now take stock. Whom will we march with now that our saint has gone to meet her God? I certainly wish I had an answer to my grief.
PANANAMPALATAYA. Nguni’t ang gabing ito ay isang gabi rin ng pananampalataya. Sa kanyang katauhan ay nakilala ko ang tunay na diwa ng kabanalan: isang taimtim na pagnanamnam ng dakilang kabutihan ng Diyos na nagbubunga sa walang pakundangang pagtataya ng sarili. Ipinakita niya ito sa puso at sa diwa, sa salita at sa gawa.
Cory exemplified how to live sanctity in the modern world. She showed us the virtue of remaining steadfast in our faith in the midst of our daily struggles. In her life, in her sufferings and now in death, she has taught me that my faith must necessarily bear fruit in action. She has taught me that from the cathedral we must return to the streets. But she has also taught me that all of our struggles can only find meaning if I can learn to kneel down in prayer and patiently wait for God’s time. She has left me with a lasting conviction that whatever we do and whatever we fight for is not our work alone. Lord, the work is yours!
She has taught us that those of us who dream impossible dreams can find their sanctity in the sure hope that God is on our side and that, no matter how hopeless, we should fight for the right, yes, without questions or pause. With her we should be willing to march into hell for a heavenly cause. What woman will dare do that unless she lives in the conviction that it is God who leads?
I have thought before and now am more convinced in my heart of hearts that before us is a saint of the modern times. Not in the canonical sense, and surely not a saint in a pedestal or confined to the pious devotions of a cathedral but one who lived her faith in the marketplace and found her life’s meaning in God’s promise: Cory, hindi ka nag-iisa. She shows all of us that the heart of patriotism resides in a passionate love for God. She shows all of us that our love for God must find its expression in our love for our fellow men and women. Why should saints remain in the cathedrals? Why should activists just struggle in the streets? Why should saints be perfect—devoid of human weakness? Why should activists think that there is no God? Ipinakita niya sa atin na ang tunay na Pilipino ay tapat na Kristiyano.
Now she has come home, back in the loving embrace of the God she loves and the God she has dedicated her life to. She has run the race; she has loved God and Country passionately. Love covers a multitude of sins. She has kept the faith. From hereon it is up to us to continue the good fight. That is what we are called to do now. As our Saint watches over us, let us continue her fight to promote and defend the values for which she lived for.
Paalam, pinakamamahal naming Ina.
May the God of Benigno Aquino, Jr., Jaime Cardinal Sin, and Corazon Cojuangco Aquino, continue to walk with us in our journey to faith.