The Priesthood and the Blessed Virgin Mary: Obedience and Offering
Rosalinda, a Filipina working abroad was asked by her friends, “If you will get married where do you want it to be celebrated?” They pressed on her, “Surely it will be better here in Rome, at Saint Peter’s Basilica or in Siena, under the Tuscan sun.” She shook her head at all their suggestions, “Ah, I wish to be married in the Philippines.” Her friends then proposed, “Oh, in Calaruega (in Tagaytay City) then where it can be solemn and so romantic!” And Rosalinda said, “I prefer my wedding to take place in the Bataan, where I was born. It will be in our church in Orani. My groom and I will be facing our patroness, Our Lady of Holy Rosary, as we make our life-long commitment. She will be in front of us, watching us, a silent but enduring witness to our exchange of vows to love and be faithful to each other until death do us part.”
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Today as you receive the Holy Sacrament of Ordination our Blessed Mother is with us, she is among us. Mary, who “stood by the Cross” (cfr. John 19,25) of her Son, will surely be at your side today, and will accompany you—as she continues to accompany us priests—in our priestly ministry. Mary, who was entrusted by her son Jesus, “here is your son” (John 19,26), to the beloved disciple, will stay with us and accommodate our pleas for her maternal intercession and protection.
When God calls and chooses us, it is as if He is telling us, “You will be mine. You will be for my mission.” This is our priesthood: we are His. And He is ours. And so that we will never be separated from Him, Jesus lovingly gives to us His mother. He gladly hands us to the care and guidance of His Mother Mary. In this way Jesus also is telling us, “There is your mother” (John 19,27).
If there is to be a special woman in our life it should be the Blessed Virgin Mary. She is the woman we have to listen and attend to. She is the woman we have to love and serve, to obey and follow. Today, right now in this church dedicated to her as Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary (Virgen Milagrosa del Rosario del Pueblo de Orani), our Blessed Mother is witnessing your priestly vows and will surely walk with you even through your Golgotha (cfr. Matthew 27,33) for the fruitful completion of your priestly life.
We can imitate two attitudes of the Blessed Mother if we profess her as the only woman in our life. She acknowledged the message of the archangel Gabriel and consented to God’s bidding thereby cooperating unconditionally with the divine will of God. She firmly and resolutely said to God through the angel, “I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me as you have said” (Luke 1,38). This was her “yes” to God. It was her resounding “Oo” to the salvific plan of God the Father. This “Oo” meant her union, her oneness with the will and ways of God the Father. With this “Oo” of the Blessed Virgin Mary we come to know that umasa ang Diyos, at hindi Siya nabigo. Nagtiwala ang Diyos, at hindi ito nasayang (God put His hope and trust in Mary who did not disappoint Him).
During the ordination rites you answer, “Adsum!” (Present!) when your name is called. You also say “Yes.” Tulad ng ating Mahal na Ina, gawin mo ang ang iyong “yes” ay “oo”. Your O-O means Yes but it mean also:
The first O means “Obey.”
The second O means “Offer.”
Obey. Obedience. As a priest you must obey what Jesus asks you to do and follow in his footsteps. To obey is not just a duty but a virtue. Do what you are told to do and obey according to the intent of what is being asked of you to do and according to the will and plan of the one who desires your obedience.
Our Blessed Mother did not raise objections to the angel, except to point our her situation (“How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” Lk1,34). There was no “why” that issued from her lips after the angel had explained everything; there were no protestations, conditions and doubts. She did not tell the angel, “Let me think about it, and get back to you.” She did not quiver and say, “Hold on, maybe not now. Why don’t you ask some other women first?”
As an ordained priest you must obey and be obedient. Don’t ever reason out and say, “let us first discuss this.” And never seek refuge in these words, “There must be a dialogue or compromise.” With our obedience we don’t think about what is best or beneficial to us. We consider primarily the good of the Diocese or of our Religious Congregation. In our obedience we rely on God’s benevolence and providential care. We obey as in the words of Holy Father, “usque ad effusionem sanguinis,” that is, “even unto shedding of blood, if necessary.”
Like the Blessed Virgin Mary our obedience is wholehearted, complete, and ungrudgingly. We do not qualify our acquiescence with, “I think there should be a consultation or discussion of this matter.” Our obedience should approach that of our Lord Jesus Christ who submitted Himself completely to the will of the Father, “He humbled himself by being obedient to death, death on the cross” (Philippians 2,8). Our obedience does not rest on what is comfortable, easy or pleasing to us. We obey despite the difficulties and temptations because we set our sights not just on on our personal interests and desires but on the good of others and those we serve.
Obedience is based on the will of God, His desire and plan for us. Obedience can never be about just our plan or mood or what we feel like doing. Obedience is TO God, and not to ourselves. Yes, Oo, to God and not to a “kapuso” or “kadugo.”
Second is Offer. All that we have is from God and for God. We are to use all that have been given to us for God’s work. We cannot keep these gifts for ourselves, or store them up as our own personal treasure. Everything that we have accomplished, earned and amassed are offerings that bring us to God and that should give Him greater glory.
The Blessed Virgin Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth and selflessly offered her time and services, unmindful of her own condition. Our Blessed Mother offered Her Son for the fulfillment of God’s plan of salvation. And at the foot of the Cross, she offered herself at the bidding of her Son to be the mother of all who believe in Jesus Christ.
Do not be afraid. As a priest you do not stand to lose anything; you will not be shortchanged, you will not lack for anything. As a priest you will always gain; you will always receive. That is why you should be generous and always have open hands to help, to give, to care for those who are in need. God will not abandon you or leave you in the lurch. He will not be stingy with you and he will not keep you in want. That is why, always give your all, your everything, your time, strength, talent and treasure to the Church and in the service of the Church. Give yourself entirely to God, in all sincerity and truthfulness. Give your yes, your Oo, to our Diocese. Obey and Offer.
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Rosalinda, the overseas worker came home. And so did her fiancé, who was a seafarer. After paying their respects to their parents and renewing ties with friends and relatives, they immediately visited the church in Orani. There, in front of the image of the Virgen Milagrosa del Rosario del Peublo de Orani they prayed and asked for her blessing. They also visited their alma mater, the nearby Holy Rosary Parochial Institute.
They went to the mango tree standing tall in in the middle of their former school’s courtyard. Rosalinda ran her fingers on the tree trunk and sighed, “Wala na ang inukit natin puso sa manggang ito.” She was referring to the twin hearts, pierced together by an arrow, that they carved on the tree many years ago. Below the hearts were their initials “RA.” Antonio remarked, “Wala na nga. Datapuwa’t narito ka na, nag-iisa sa puso ko. Tanging buhay ko, iisang puso ay iyung-iyo.”
May dear priest, you are in the heart of Jesus; your name is carved there. He knows you by name. Is Jesus in your heart? Does your heart beat for Him? As a priest your heart should only have Jesus, only Jesus. United, becoming one. Cor unum in Deum.
+RUPERTO C. SANTOS, D.D
Bishop of Balanga