Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Of Robes and Men

It was my first time to witness a very special and sacred event of one man’s journey from being a common person to one that will be revered and regarded highly as a priest. As I entered the San Carlos Borromeo Cathedral, the voice of many vocal chords which were intertwined and beautifully harmonized by a Good Friend, Juan Carlos Solidarios, greeted my ears and the choral started it all. All the moments of the ceremony never stopped giving me goose bumps.

It was the ordination of “Cho-cho” Benlot, who, I know during his RCBC days. I have heard of many who have been ordained yet I never took another chance to ask for Cho’s permission to take pictures of the event for I know this will be something I could remember forever and for the celebrant to cherish for the rest of his glorious life.

I have never seen a cluster of cream and white robed priests in one place. It was the holiest of all holiest I should say.

The singing of the Litany of the Saints is an especially moving and memorable moment in the ordination ritual. This is when the celebrant prostrates himself before the altar as the prayers of the Litany invoke God's saving mercy and the intercession of all the saints to send down the Holy Spirit upon this man who will soon become a priest.

As the ceremony continued to the washing of the celebrant’s hands, I cannot help thinking of the word “celibacy”. As a “not-so-active” religious person, I consider the “priesthood” as a calling, one choice that one has to think about his whole life. Priesthood is a noble inclination for me and for most of the Filipinos; we look highly of these “God-sent”
Messengers as representatives of the One we call “God”. Cleansing oneself of his “human” dirt and be thoroughly clean and spotless before Him. But what if he makes one mistake that could stain his cleanliness?
Can “sin” just be erased by five “Holy Marys” and five “Our Fathers”?
For a common person it can be erased by words like “Sorry” or even a simple misspelled text “sori” will do, but what if one who cleanses himself before the trusting public and before the watchful Big “Father” make one honest mistake?

Can he say that he is only “human” and if "He" can forgive, who are we not to forgive? Then there are always crimes to be committed, money to be laundered, children to be exploited, wives to be had. We can always be forgiven.

Tears started to congregate in my eyes as Cho’s mother helped him vest his stole, surrendering her son to His Maker and let him be the instrument that he chose to be. It felt like pride became a virtue for me, I have a friend who became a priest and I am sure that he is one that will not use the reason of reasons just to be excused.

“Is it congratulations?” I asked him in my phone call about taking the photographs. After witnessing the beautiful event, I can say it really is a “Congratulations, Cho!”

May we be guided always.

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