This is something that I’ve had in mind for a long time now, and seeing that tomorrow here in Spain we would be having the feast of Our Lady of the Pillar, which is a big celebration here, I couldn’t find a more proper time to “solemnly declare” and make known (to them I suppose, to others and to myself) those whom I have chosen as my holy patrons being here in the midst of my studies in Pamplona. The role and the figure of the saints with respect to us is twofold, and is best expressed in the liturgy. In the Preface of Holy Men and Women, as the Church directs itself to God, it states: “You are glorified in your saints, for their glory is the crowning of Your gifts. In their lives you give us an example. In our communion with them, you give us their friendship. In their prayer for the Church, you give us strength and protection.” The lives of these people are proof of the power of God’s grace; their death is the testimony of the power of the Risen Christ over death and the life promised us by Christ. Entering into full communion with God, they continue to live, and intercede for the Church on earth. As Christian models and powerful intercessors their figure is relevant to us, despite of the distance that seem to separate us from them, whether it be historical, cultural, or existential, since the life that they live in communion with God is vastly different from ours, at least for the moment. The devotion to the saints is coherent with the faith in the Son of God who calls us to be His disciples, and to share in his unique relationship with his Father in Heaven. This is coherent with the faith in the Risen Christ, who has conquered the power of sin and death and continues to be present in the Church through the Holy Spirit. The communion of saints, which we profess in the liturgy, points out the relationship that we all enjoy in the Church, one that transcends the limits of mortality and race and time. The glory that they have is an incentive for all of us who ascribe to their help: “This great company of witnesses spurs us on to victory, to share their price of everlasting glory.”
At the start of this period of formation, both academic, intellectual, human and spiritual, I have always looked to the saints, inspired by their example and confident in their heavenly aid.
|The image in Zaragoza|
|the image that i have in my worktable in my room|
NUESTRA SEÑORA DEL PILAR. As a seminarian in Pamplona the figure of Mary our Mother has always been present, both in my joys and especially when things got difficult. In the Church of San Nicolás in Pamplona where I was ordained a deacon, there is a shrine dedicated to this Marian title. I used to go there in order to pray at this shrine and implore her intercession. On the day of my diaconal ordination I felt that it was a matter of justice and filial piety that I pass by her shrine before going to the sacristy to get vested and ready for the ordination. The story of the Virgin of the Pillar is unique in the sense that it talks about the only time in the Virgin’s life that she bilocated. According to Tradition, it was St. James the Great who evangelized the Iberian Peninsula, and while he was going from place to place he was getting discouraged in his mission for the lack of converts and because of the difficulties that he faced along the way. The Virgin appeared to him in order to encourage him and strengthen him with her motherly solicitude. As a sign of her visit and a token of her maternal love for the apostle, she left him with a pillar of jasper, which is the same one preserved in the Basilica built in her honor in Zaragoza.
Do I not find myself in the same position as the Apostle? Away from my homeland, and placed in the apostolate of study and formation in order to be in a better condition to serve the Church, I have my daily share of disappointments and trials that I have to face. I am deeply aware that one of the major enemies that I have is discouragement, and so like the Apostle James, I look time and again to Our Lady and ask for her intercession and grace, that as I continue and finally conclude my studies, her love and intercession before her Son will be for me a pledge of strength and consolation.
ST. MICHAEL THE ARCHANGEL, defend us in the day of battle; be our safeguard against the wickedness and the snares of the devil...thus we pray to one who is the sign of God’s invincible power in the heavenly court. Invoking the patronage of St. Michael the Archangel, “Who is like unto God?”, I pray that I may be kept from evil in all its forms, be kept safe, and grow in the strength to do good and be able to defend the Church as well.
ST. AUGUSTINE OF HIPPO, this great Father of the Church, who pursued the Truth and thirsted for wisdom and found it in the person of Jesus Christ. He is a model inasmuch as he shows that man was made to know and love God with all of his powers; that man ought not to be afraid of the truth and to where it may lead him, that man finds his true fulfillment in the embrace of God. He also teaches us priests that part of our daily conversion unto Christ is the service that we owe to the Church as shepherd who feed the sheep and protect them from wolves, keeping them out of harms way through sure doctrine. May this holy pastor, the model of how reason could be taught how to love and that love ought to be taught how to think, intercede for me and obtain for me the grace to be as wise and as loving as he is.
BLESSED JOHN XXIII, companion and fascination of my years in the minor seminary, along with Ven. Pope Pius XII and Paul VI. His sanctity and learning comes into my mind, most especially considering that he himself was a historian, and was interested in history. I especially implore him in my historical studies. But he serves as a model also in the way that he happily lived his priesthood, with fidelity and simplicity. May he help me to attain that gladness that comes from a heart that is truly offered to God in the altar of the priesthood.
BLESSED JOHN PAUL II. This list would not be complete without the invocation of this man who has definitely played a big role in my vocation to the priesthood. For us priests of the Twenty-first Century he has given us an example of a priestly witness that is faithful and fecund, because it was the fruit of the total offering of himself to God and to the Church. May he intercede for me as I continue my priestly formation here in Spain.