The buzz is getting louder as days after Tita Cry’s death roll by. The Roman Catholic voice of the buzz is beginning to overlay again our religious landscape, subtly summoning from the ground up to canonize her eventually as another possible lay saint after San Lorenzo Ruiz and Blessed Pedro Calungsod. The possibility alone of another saint from the rank of the laity is worth pondering: what is God doing in the midst of our loosening Catholic piety? In the midst of a tight religious hierarchy that continues to evolve since 4 centuries ago? Amidst the trend of the surging conversion to Evangelicalism both from the affluent entrepreneurs/celebrities and the extremely poor among us? Or in the midst of the seemingly silent knock of atheism on our door, drawing the attention of our postmodern Pinoy intellectuals?
As the campaign for the eventual canonization unfolds because it will, other questions will surely slow down even if insignificantly this post-death urgency: Is canonization necessary? Was Cory holy enough to pass the institutional requirements? How soon shall we witness the first miracle? Inquirer columnist John Nery wrote as a response to what seem to be the other side of the campaign – How do we know she wasn’t a saint?
At the height of the funeral mass at the Manila Cathedral, an ultra-high liturgy for that matter deepened by the profound homily of Fr. Arevalo (my Christology prof), the emotional eulogy of daughter Kris Aquino, the sweet and sorrowful farewell address of Bishop Soc Villegas, I sensed of the many hints of calling Tita Cory a saint in her own many ways. The eloquent preacher Bishop Chito Tagle no less compared her to a “wheat that falls off the ground” whose fruits we now enjoy in our democratic living. The gamut of her suffering while on earth and the wisdom and joy she had drawn out from it, a characteristic prominent among declared saints, seem to convince the spiritual director in Fr. Arevalo that Tita Cory is one among the exalted humble ones.
I am one in the faith that she will be one day. Generally, I have no qualms against the campaign because I understand Catholic signposts where there are – elaborate liturgy, Holy Rosary, institutional unity and support, faith in miracles, and culturally, some intellectual advantage that could be translated into some technological or rhetorical eloquence. Tita Cory apparently was embedded within these trademark expressions of Catholic spirituality. But typical of Catholic piety often sidetracking the direct engagement with the Holy Scriptures, I like to hear and see within this campaign how the Bible played an equal prominent formative role in Tita Cory’s life. It is equally attention-worthy I suppose and again, educational for the whole Filipino Catholic culture.
Photo credit: Keen