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THE HANDS THAT GUIDED US

Second Anniversary of the Death of

Jaime Cardinal Sin

June 21, 2007

 

By

 

Bishop SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS

 

As I looked prayerfully a few days ago at the bust of Cardinal Sin on top of his tomb, it suddenly dawned on me. Oh my! The Cardinal has no hands! How I miss those hands! Is it really impossible by now to hold those hands again and feel secure and safe again? In his last years with us, you saw with your eyes how his body turned from weak to weaker with every passing month and year until that sad morning of June 21 two years ago. From a robust 220 pounds, when he passed on to eternal life, he was only 170 pounds. The rosy cheeks of the youngest Cardinal of Pope Paul VI had been replaced by wrinkles and marks of sickness and age. The firm knees and legs that climbed the mountains of Panay had become unstable and needed lots of help to be able to move his frail body around. The eyes had dimmed and the voice cracked each time he spoke. We saw the signs of ugly and fearsome death.

 

But there was something beautiful about Cardinal Sin that the ugliness of sickness and death dared not touch or failed to destroy--his hands. The hands of Cardinal Sin remained the same until his last breath. The beautiful hands of Cardinal Sin!

 

How can the hand that blessed us so many times in this same cathedral and in many more churches all over the country not remain beautiful? The hands of Cardinal Sin that touched the host and chalice everyday of his priestly life as he whispered “This is my Body, this is my Blood” will always beautiful. Those hands that millions kissed with great reverence are the beautiful hands of Jesus. When we kissed his hands, we knew we were kissing Jesus.

 

Those hands were laid on most of the priests of Manila in the beautiful rite of ordination. By the laying on of those hands, we his priests shared in the beauty and power of holy priesthood. Those beautiful hands anointed the hands of the new priests with oil and made them the hands of Christ for the people.

 

Those hands embraced us priests when we came to ask his pardon for our mistakes. He embraced us many times with his long arms and loving hands after we had hurt the Church and whispered to us: Because you have sinned, I should love you more!”.

 

Those hands reached out to countless brothers and sisters needing consolation in the jails or in the congested government hospitals. Those hands guided us, shielded us from harm, drove away our anxieties and pointed us the way to the Promised Land beyond EDSA 1986.

 

Those hands wrote and signed countless pastoral letters that condemned evil and soothed the weary hearts of freedom fighters during the dark years of martial law.

 

Those hands pounded on his study desk at Villa San Miguel in anger and frustration he negotiated for peace between political foes in order to insure the welfare of the people.

 

How much those hands suffered when he had to be pricked by hospital needles almost on a daily basis, sometimes even more than once a day, so that the doctors could give him the best medical care. He bore those painful pricks in his hands with faith and patience and love without a word of complaint although we knew they were painful from the tears that rolled on the side of his eyes.

 

The hands of Cardinal Sin were also the last hands that my own father touched and clutched a few hours before my father went to heaven. My father would not release the hands of Cardinal Sin until the Cardinal told my father, “ If you are worried about Soc, do not be afraid. I will take care of Soc”. My father released the beautiful hands of Cardinal Sin and breathed his last peacefully.

 

The hands that guided us through two peaceful EDSA revolts were also the humble hands that sought help from other hands and recognized his need to be helped. Not all powerful men are willing and ready to seek and receive help. That is what distinguishes powerful men from great men. Great men are always humble. They know they need others.

 

How I relished the feeling of holding his hands to assist him as he walked. How much I enjoyed holding hands with him as he sat watching children sing and dance for him. Even if he was seated, he would grope for my hands as if to say I just want to be sure that you are around.

 

I miss the strong guiding hands of our prophet to lead us from darkness to light. I miss the tender hands of our shepherd to soothe our worries and console us in our fears. I miss the humble hands that asked for help, the anointed hands that made us feel the hand of Jesus Himself.

 

How beautiful are the hands of our priest and prophet Jaime Cardinal Sin. Those hands are beautiful because those are the hands of Jesus, wounded and pierced yet loving until the end.

 

Your Eminence, reach out your hands to us and bring us safely to heaven our true home.

 

Let us put our hands together and give Cardinal Sin an applause of love!

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The Roman Catholic
Diocese of Balanga
(Bataan, Philippines)