A Song for a Witness of Faith
Pedro Calungsod will be canonized by Pope Benedict XVI today in Rome. Thousands of Filipinos are now there headed by His Eminence Ricardo Cardinal Vidal and Archbishop Jose Palma. Henceforth he will be called St. Pedro Calungsod. “Lay Catechist and Martyr” is the official title given by the Vatican to this new Visayan saint. He becomes one of the icon proposed to our youth in this Year of Faith.
His title emphasizes two things: First, the need to know and grow in the faith. Though he was a mere teenager when he went to the mission with Fr. Diego, he already knew his Christian faith. As the saying goes: “one cannot give what one does not have.” The French Jesuit, Fr. Charles le Gobien writing in the 17th century referred to him as a “virtuous catechist.” That would mean, he served generously and shared his faith ardently. This year, let us read the Catechism of the Catholic Church. We can also join seminars and on-going formation to deepen our faith. For instance, this October 23-25 I am organizing the 4th John Paul II Conference in Don Bosco Formation Center – Lawaan, Talisay for this purpose (for more information you may call 273-3095).
Second, the need to witness to our faith. This is the biggest challenge for Catholics today. Martyrdom is a gift reserved for a few. Not all can die for the faith, but every Christian is called to live the faith in his or her own particular situation. In the early days of Christianity, to practice the faith was difficult because of persecution. It was a crime to be a Christian then. (It is almost becoming a crime also to some countries today). Yet despite the hardships, they passionately suffered and endured joyfully for their love of Jesus. Such witness was so powerful that the 2nd century Church Father Tertullian wrote: “the blood of martyrs is seed for the Church.” More than an intellectual knowledge of Christ, the need today is a personal encounter with Jesus. More than knowing about Jesus, it is about having a strong attachment to Him for believing in Him means following Him through thick and thin.
In his honor I recently wrote a youthful song entitled: “Witness of Faith.” The lyrics recounts Pedro’s life and ends with a challenge for the youth of today:
There was this boy who loved the Lord,
Who grew up with the law of God within his heart.
He asked to join Fr. Diego’s band;
To teach the faith to people in a far away land.
This young lad is our own – a Bisaya.
He is Pedro Calungsod
Lay catechist, a virtuous youth.
He is Pedro Calungsod
Courageous martyr, a witness of our faith.
He struggled much from the day he arrived;
He couldn’t grasp their language; couldn’t reach their hearts.
He prayed to God, made much sacrifices.
And to the children he became a “kuya” and guide.
This young lad is our own – a Bisaya. (Ref.)
Then came the day the ultimate test,
Of his love and courage to his Master and Lord.
To defend a friend, Fr. Diego San Vittores
He chose to die with great love and forgiveness
This young lad is our own – a Bisaya (Ref.)
Now its our time. We’re next in line.
The future of the faith is right within our hands.
We’ve got to be witness of faith
Let’s make a stand and tell the world our love for Christ
For this lad is one of us – a Bisaya (Ref. / Change Key)
End: Stand and believe!
May St. Pedro Calungsod intercede for all Filipino youth so that they may find in Jesus the true meaning of their lives.
Viva St. Pedro Calungsod!