25th Week in Ordinary Time, Friday
The Gospel Today
One day when Jesus was praying alone in the presence of his disciples, he put his question to them, ‘Who do the crowds say I am?’ And they answered, ‘John the Baptist; others Elijah; and others say one of the ancient prophets come back to life.’ ‘But you,’ he said ‘who do you say I am?’ It was Peter who spoke up. ‘The Christ of God,’ he said. But he gave them strict orders not to tell anyone anything about this.
‘The Son of Man,’ he said, ‘is destined to suffer grievously, to be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes and to be put to death, and to be raised up on the third day.’
Feast of St Lorenzo Ruiz and Companion, Martyrs
The Philippines celebrates the martyrdom of San Lorenzo Ruiz, together with the other missionaries who were martyred in Japan.
Lorenzo Ruiz, born to a Chinese father and a Filipino mother, was a devoted husband and father of three children. He was born in Manila, serving as altar server in the parish of Binondo at the Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Church. Falsely accused of murder, he fled with Christian missionaries to Japan where they were tortured in the name of God. Lorenzo’s last words were: “I shall die for God, and for him I would give many thousands of lives if I had them.”
Lorenzo Ruiz (birth ca 1600) died on 29 September 1637 in Nagasaki, Hizen Province in Japan. San Lorenzo is the first saint of the Philippines. Pope John Paul II beatified him in Manila on 18 February 1981, and later canonized on 18 October 1987 in the Vatican City. His image is depicted with a rosary clasped by his hands.
The church in Binondo where he served has been named in his honor as Basilica Menor de San Lorenzo Ruiz.
Feast of San Lorenzo
It’s been a long time since I heard Mass in honour of St Lorenzo Ruiz. I used to hear Mass each year on his feast days. After all, he is our country’s first saint. But then, my spirit started to become lukewarm.
The Catholic Church in the Philippines truly celebrated with joy and gratitude beginning on San Lorenzo’s beatification, then canonisation, until the next few years. Churches, chapels and schools were built in his name, not only in the Philippines, but also in other countries like Canada. Sadly, after a few years, the enthusiasm of the Filipinos to St Lorenzo started to dim.
Today, I recalled how devoted I was for our first saint. Personally, I felt, he has been forgotten; and I felt sad about it. So, I made a point that I would be able to celebrate the Eucharist on San Lorenzo’s feast day.
Earlier that day, I was preparing my lunch: 2 fried eggs and rice. Surprised to see that one egg had two yolks. Must be a lucky day today, I thought. But, it was not, at least, as far as my finances go.
Later in the afternoon, I went to church to hear Mass. There were only a few of us inside the church; perhaps less than fifty. Years ago, during the feasts of St Lorenzo, hundreds would go to Mass.
Other than finding 2 egg yolks in one egg, I felt much luckier, or perhaps the exact words are more blessed to receive the Holy Eucharist. What I received was a piece of the big host that the priest raised during the consecration. Maybe, it’s no big deal; but for me it was. I had wanted to become a priest and had hoped that one day I would be able to raise the bread and wine during the consecration. Sadly, I never met my dream. That’s why for me to receive that piece of bread raised during the consecration is something I truly love and cherish.
Feast of the Archangels
The next day was the Feast of the Archangels. I am an avid devotee of St Michael. For that reason, I didn’t want to miss this day without celebrating the Holy Eucharist. The celebration on that day was not something you hear often. It was special. The parish priest concelebrated the Mass with his fellow priests. It turned out that our parish priest was celebrating his 34th anniversary of ordination together with the other priests.
During the communion, one faithful dropped the holy host. No one saw it; he tried to look for it but he didn’t find it. He went back to his pew without receiving any. Back on my seat, I was about 4-5 meters away from where the priest was standing giving communion. When the aisle was clear, I tried to scan the floor where he could have dropped it. I saw nothing the first time. I looked again. There it was, I saw a white circular piece on the floor but I wasn’t sure if it was the sacred host because my position wasn’t that near to be certain. I glued my eyes on it. The people on the nearest pews could not notice that there was a sacred host lain on the floor. Any time, somebody could step on it.
At that time, the priest was speaking before the community. I didn’t want to cause any distraction. Moreover, I didn’t know what to do. Should I pick it up and receive it by myself; or give it to the Extraordinary Minister seated just near?
The Holy Mass was about to end. The priests and the servers would converge to that area in a few seconds after the priest’s final blessing. I feared once they stepped down for the recession, more than one foot may step on it. Then, wait, the priest suddenly invited the community to sing Salve Regina after the blessing. I found an opportunity to approach the Extraordinary Minister nearest to that host on the floor. I told him that there was a host on the floor. He didn’t see it the first time. I pointed at it again. As he walked closer, there he found the sacred host. He knelt down, and with a white cloth, he picked up the sacred host.
For non-Catholics, perhaps, it was no big deal. What’s a piece of circular flake? But for us Catholics, especially those who understand the meaning and significance of the Holy Eucharist, that Sacred Host lain on the floor is the Body of Christ.
I don’t know that for two consecutive days and celebration of the Holy Mass, the Holy Eucharist stamped something in my mind and heart. Is God telling me something? I don’t know. Maybe, not this time yet.