Tacloban City (Jan. 25, 2015) – “Look and contemplating on Jesus in the Holy Eucharist and go to the Blessed Virgin Mary for succour.” This is how Fr. Virgilio Manaog, a spiritual director of the Opus Dei and a member of the board of consultors of Archbishop John Forrosuelo Du, contextualized the message that Pope Francis delivered before a multitude of pilgrims who braved the storm to hear and see the Holy Father on January 17 in the open air Papal Mass at DZR Airport this City. “We look at Jesus and we go to our Mother Mary for support, for anything that we need,” he said quoting what Pope Francis articulated. Manaog underscored the word used by Pope Francis in Spanish language which is “mirar”. This word for him goes beyond the mechanical act of seeing Christ because one has the sense of sight which in Spanish is “ver”, but looking at Christ and contemplating on Him embodied in the Holy Eucharist and reposed at the tabernacle. “Go to Jesus, talk to Jesus and be with Jesus. What Pope Francis is trying to say is ‘Be serious in your moment of prayer’. In your one week do you have a schedule to be with the Lord? If you do not have, then you are not serious with the Lord,” he exhorted the faithful in a recollection held at the St. Jose Maria Escriva Chapel, a mission station in Brgy Apitong, Tacloban City.
Manaog focused on the Biblical Lordship of Jesus which calls on the faithful to “submit their whole life to God because the Lord has dominion over his subjects, persons,” challenging though that “To make Jesus as your Lord is very serious such as going to Mass on a Sunday even if a calamity just passed.” He likewise gave emphasis on “silence”, a word which Pope Francis spoke in his homily describing how he felt when he gazed at more than a hundred thousand people gathered before him at the airport apron for hi Holy Mass, all of whom were actual survivors of super typhoon Yolanda on November 8, 2013. The Pope, in his understanding talked of silence, because silence is already lost in our culture. “We are so noisy inside our mind, so it is good to be with the Lord, spend a time with Him,” he said, focusing on the importance of regular moment of prayer everyday as the Opus Dei members constantly do. “I really thank the spirit of the Opus Dei because one of the norms, one of the things that we are encouraged and asked to do is to spend 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the afternoon for prayer and once a week to go to confession. Norms of Piety that St. Jose Maria asked from his children in Opus Dei, lay and priests. And attend mass every day,” he said. “As to Mary, Our Lady of Hope, let us hold on the mantle of the Blessed Virgin Mary whatever happens,” he stated putting emphasis on the Spanish word used by Pope Francis in his message which is “agarar” and not just to touch. “Pope Francis in his message told us to go to marry because when we go to her, we all know, Mary does not disappoint anyone,” citing the Prayer of Memorare that speaks “Never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection, implored your help, or sought your intercession was left unaided.” Accentuating an affirmation of St. Jose Maria Escriva, he said, “Even if the hearts of all the mothers all over the world will be combined, the love of our mother is greater than all those hearts. She loves us so much.” Manaog likewise highlighted Pope Francis’ call on the faithful to “think well, feel well and do well” equating them to the spirituality and virtue ofdiscernment, empathy and prudence.
“Before you do anything, think well, confront your decisions, your actions with the Ten Commandments then a second moment with the 8 Beatitudes and finally with the theological virtues or any human virtue such a prudence – or else we become tactless,” he commented. He said that acting properly is practicing the virtue of prudence, the virtue that tells “what is the right thing to do at the right time, right moment and right place.” “You may be doing something good but at the wrong time,” he remarked. Compassion he said must be divine and not simply human compassion. “The best alms is spending time with the poor, talk to them and know their needs. That will be more charitable than giving 20 pesos and shoo the beggar away,” he said. Poverty, however, he said is not just in material aspect, but could be in the spirit. “Jesus made poverty as first virtue, not hope, not faith, because poverty is having only God as one’s treasure, the one that “makes you happy and makes you sad.” By: Eileen Nazareno-Ballesteros