‘What a wonderful gift to the youth of our land’
(Editor’s Note: Excerpts from the Reflections of Fr. C. G. Arevalo, S.J, from the booklet, “Pedro Calungsod: Young Visayan Proto Martyr,” edited by Sister Bernadita Dianzon and published by Paulines Publishing House)
What a wonderful gift to the youth of our land, at a time when our faith seeks to affirm the realities it believes in, in the face of the corrosion of unbelief which the spirit of the times (and its control of so much of media) surrounds us with, … what a wonderful gift to place before our eyes the figure of the 18-year-old Visayan youth, martyr of the faith! Pedro Calungsod lives: he inspires us not only as a hero from the past, but as one who stands before God to pray for our Filipino young people today. He speaks to today’s young people, who must face other times and other struggles, but who will find, like him, the final meanings of their lives in the faith they have been born to, and must now make truly their own, in obedience and love.
We pray that Pedro Calungsod may come alive for our young people, especially for our young men; that he may inspire them to “fill out their lives with faith” and make their lives, lives of witness to that faith: their faith in the meaning and power of the Cross and Resurrection in human history. The martyrs are a gift of God to us. On Oct. 16, 1998, the gift of life which Richie Fernando gave at Banteay Prieb [Cambodia] awakened not only in those of his own age, deep questioning of their own lives and their own faith. It questioned all the rest of us too, asking us what was the true meaning of our endeavors and our lives, asking us whether there was any truth to the words we sing at Mass:
Only this I ask,
but to love the Lord
and to bear his cross,
so to wear the crown he wore.
Pedro Calungsod’s canonization should be an hour of rejoicing and inspiration for the Church in our country, and a summons to authenticity and courage, a summons which his death at the dawn of manhood rings as a trumpet call in the depths of our hearts, there where our dreams lie, waiting to be reawakened, waiting to come true.
As we think of Pedro, perhaps imagine what he was like, recreate in our minds the scenes of his life, perhaps he will come to life in our imaginations, and in our hearts. Something like this has happened to me, I think, as I have tried to find out more about him and his Jesuit mentor, blessed Diego Luis de San Vítores. I think Pedro has much to give us all, not only in the Visayas, but in all of our land. Surely he prays for us and our country, because he must, in heaven, keep a love for this land from which he came, the land he gave up, to give his life for the spreading of the Gospel, finally to pour out his blood on the shores of another land, of another people, across the seas.