‘Men of brave hearts’
As always, in the see-judge-act framework, the hardest thing to accomplish and the most difficult to sustain is the third step: TO ACT. Sustaining the third step, with the help of God, differentiates ordinary men from courageous leaders, to whom Archbishop José H. Gomez attached the magnificent title, “Men of brave heart.”
Even if others lack the firm resolve to continue doing what is right under all conditions of adversity, or even if others step out of the race as soon as it hurts, the good shepherd does not blink, much less waver, in the face of whopping stumbling blocks.
How I appreciate what Fray Domingo de Salazar, OP, Manila’s first Bishop, did in the 1580s, who, with Divine Providence, moved and shook heaven and earth to accomplish his apostolic mission with few human collaborators and little material resources.
Indefatigable as he was, he initiated the construction of the Manila Cathedral (not yet the solid concrete building) within Intramuros, assigned Fray Miguel de Benavides, OP, to open a school, corrected various abuses committed by the civil authorities and guardia civil, created three new dioceses (Cebu, Nueva Segovia, and Nueva Caceres), and established a hospital.
Everything was done within the period of his actual episcopate from 1581 to 1594, sans PLDT, Meralco, Manila Waters, MegaMall, Cebu-Pacific, Internet, laptop and the conveniences of the new millennium.
How edified I am by our martyrs, the Gomburza padres, San Lorenzo Ruiz, San Pedro Calungsod and many others, who, refusing to be cowed into silence by clear and present danger, finally offered their dear young lives to God in the bloody and tortuous altar of sacrifice.
ACTION differentiates the good shepherd from the rest
Leadership is neither a title nor a position; it is good example and action. Thus, in 2019, after due diligence and due canonical process, Pope Francis defrocked a cardinal (a Prince of the Church)! The Bishop of Rome acted appropriately.
Taking the bull by the horns, also early this year, His Holiness summoned 190 Presidents of Episcopal Conferences and major superiors of religious orders worldwide to craft a doable plan of concrete actions, shifting the focus from the predators to the “protection of minors and vulnerable persons in the Church.”
Although that all-important Vatican summit was designed to educate all Catholic bishops, what the Supreme Pontiff said that he wanted were concrete actions, not discussions.
Men of brave hearts, with Holy Bible at hand, do not switch off the light bulb during meditations. They believe what they read, teach what they believe, and practice what they teach!
How inspired I am by hundreds of holy Filipino bishops, priests and religious men and women, who – scattered in the most difficult situations in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao — did not give up so easily: Bishop Prudencio Andaya Jr, CICM, of Tabuk; Bishop Valentin Dimoc of Bontoc; Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo of Kidapawan; Archbishop Antonio Ledesma, SJ, of Cagayan de Oro; Bishop Edwin de la Peña of Marawi; Fr. Romeo Saniel, O.M.I of Jolo, Fr. Teopilo C. Maximiano (my paternal uncle, once parish priest of Sabtang, Batanes); and other courageous men of the cloth assigned in far-flung missions in isolated islands.
They prayed hard to the GOD OF WORK but worked harder than the rest, and themselves did not rest until the WORK OF GOD was done.
Jose Mario Bautista Maximiano ([email protected]) is the author of 500 Years Roman Catholic: The Future of the Filipino Church (2020).