Homily on the occasion of the THANKSGIVING MASS
(FR. EDUARDO S. CELEZ’S 25TH SACERDATOTAL ANNIVERSAY)
AUGUST 30, 2016
8:30 AM, UNO-R, Bacolod city
Homilist: Fr. Rafael E. Cabarles, OAR
Good morning, brothers and sisters in Christ.
We are gathered in this memorable MORNING for the simple reason that REV. FR. EDUARDO S. CELEZ, known in Recollect Communities as “EDCEL” OR SOME TIMES CALLED AS “MASTER” is inviting us all to join with him in Thanking the good Lord who called him and sustained him as a Recollect Priest for the last 25 exciting Years. He was ordained priest on AUGUST 25, 1991.
Why thank the Lord? Not because FR. EDCEL is good, but because God is so good. Not because FR EDCEL is faithful, but because God has faith in him; not because FR EDCEL is successful but because every time that he falls, God picks him up.
God has no reason at all to answer our prayers simply because of our past service records. Weekdays Preface No. IV of the Mass says: “You have no need of our praise, yet our desire to thank you is itself your gift. Our prayer of thanksgiving adds nothing to your greatness, but makes us grow in your grace.”
FR EDCEL: Nga-a nag-Pari kaman? “Sayang, sa imong pagka-guapo” suno sa mga “chicks”.. Don’t you know nga pa-it gali ang mag-Pari? Why? Because the priest is the most misunderstood, misjudged by people. Nga-a? Kay kon magwali ang Pari menos sa cinco minutos, masiling ang mga
tawo nga wala ka ka-andam sang imo sermon. Kag kon magwali ka labaw sa cinco minutos, masiling na man sila nga nanga-kig ka. * Kon ang pari mangayo sang amot, kwuarta na man. Kon indi siya mangayo amot, BUGALON kaayo. * Kon may auto – wordly kuno. Kon wala auto, he doesn’t go with the time. * If he visits his parishioners, he neglects the convent. If he stays in the convent, he neglects his parishioners. * Kon iya kaayohon ang simbahan, gasto gasto na man.. Kon indi niya kayuhon ang simbahan, he is tamaran.. * If he is seen with ladies, he after chicks. If he is not seen with ladies, he is agi or misogist. * Kon ma-late ang tawo sa misa, his watch is advance. Kon ma-una ang tawo sa simbahan, his watch is late. * If he is young, he has no experience. If he is old, he should retire, etc. etc. Pobring alindahaw, wala sing pangadtuan.
Yes, FR. EDCEL, Congratulations. You survived these lasts 25 years the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.” No regrets. Keep on going. Yes, continue singing: “I will sing forever of your love, Oh Lord.”(Psalm 89) Yes, continue living with the people and knowing their problems. However, do not solve their problems, live with God and let God solve their problems. Continue being a PLOW and not a bulldozer. BULLDOZER scrapes people, while plow cultivates people. Continue to be a RUBBER BAND more than a RULER. A ruler is always 12 inch- nothing more nothing less. Rubber band functions when it is stretched – meaning, be flexible, be adaptable. Continue to be THERMOSTAT more than just a THERMOMETER. Thermometer just records the heat of your body, while thermostat controls the heat of your car or your air-conditioned room.. In matters of principle stand like a rock. But in matters of policies and taste be flexible. Disagree but not disagreeable.
Continue trying always to look for new and better ways of doing things. Never be satisfied with status quo. Learn to say no to the good in order to say yes to the best, because the good is the worst enemy of the best. Never be satisfied with enough because enough is defined as the worst of the best and the best of the worst.
Yes, Congratulations for you survived people’s criticisms. There are only two kinds of people who are being criticized: a leader and an achiever. If you don’t want to be criticized: be nothing, speak nothing, think of nothing, do nothing and nobody will touch you. Success has many fathers, failure is an orphan. Ang paho nga luto, damo mag-kuhit.
My brothers and sisters: – so that you will understand and appreciate more our priesthood, I’ll quote you what St. Paul said to the Hebrews: “Every high priest has been taken out of mankind and is appointed to act for men in their relations with God: to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins; and so he can sympathize with those who are ignorant or uncertain because he too lives in the limitations of weakness. That is why he has to make sin offerings for himself as well as for the people… You are a priest forever according to the Order of Melchizedek?” Unquote. You are a priest FOREVER, you are not a priest until further notice.
And Lacordaire said: “The Priest is to live in the midst of the world with no desire for its pleasures. To be a member of every family, yet belonging to none. To share all sufferings, to penetrate all secrets. To heal all wounds. * To go daily from men to God and offer him their prayers. To return from God to men to bring pardon, peace and hope. * To have a heart of fire for charity and a heart of bronze for chastity. To teach and to instruct, to pardon and to console. To bless and to be blessed forever, My God, what a life. And it is yours, O Priest of Jesus Christ.”
We, priests, are “Altar Christus” with the mission and power of Christ. Yes, we are another Christ inspite of our unworthiness. You can call us any name you want: ignorants , traitors or sinners. Yes, we bow our heads and we accept that. When we start our Mass, we acknowledge our failure by praying: “I confess to Almighty God,” and just before receiving Communion we pray: “Lord, I am not worthy.”
As we live among you, we try out best to live up to the challenge of Christ when He said: “Come Follow Me” and “I will make you fishers of Men.” Meaning: continue focusing on people not on programs. Build people not buildings. Touch people’s lives. “Come, Follow me” and “You will be my witnesses” Meaning: People believe more on Witnesses than Priests. People believe on Priests if they are witnesses. It is not the style of clothes one wears, nor the kind of car one drives, nor the amount of money in a bank, nor the position or rank that counts. It is simply SERVICE that measures SUCCESS.
Brothers and Sisters: “Sapagkat kami ay tawo lamang“: kami makadasma, makadalinsa, , makasala. Human as we are, we all commit mistakes. However, it doesn’t matter how may mistakes we commit everyday. What matters is how many the same we commit everyday. The only real mistakes we commit is when we don’t learn from our mistakes. Christ did not promise that all his priests will become instant, perfect saints.
Rephrasing the words of Shylock, in “Merchant of Venice” by Shakespeare he said: “Had not a PRIEST eyes?Had not a priest hands? Organs, dimensions, senses, affection, passion? Feed by the same food? Hurt by the same weapon? Subject to the same diseases? Healed by the same means? Warm and cold by the same summer and winter. If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle, do we not laugh?”
Yes, we are another Christ because when we baptize, it Christ who baptizes, when we forgive sins, it is Christ who forgives
Fr. Edcel, at the back of your invitation you quoted:“Pope Francis & the 7 Pillars of the Priesthood.”
I would also like to share with you the SEVEN SECRETs that keep me going all these 45 years as a RECOLLECT PRIEST. If we remember, the principal theme of the Year of the Priest was “Faithfulness of Christ, Faithfulness of the Priests” Faithfulness or TAMPAD is the key word.
- Be faithful to Jesus Christ who is always there for YOU in good times and in bad. He is the only Master whom YOU serve. Jesus never abandons YOU.
- Be faithful to Mother Mary who is the Mother of the Priests. She loves her priests. She loves YOU. YOU cultivate a personal and profound devotion to her because YOU love her very much.
- Be faithful to Mother Church and her teachings. She teaches YOU to be humble and obedient to the Head of the Church Jesus Christ and his Vicar, the Pope.
- Be faithful to YOUR vocation which is a gracious gift from God. Many are called but few are chosen. YOU treasure it with all YOUR heart.
- Be faithful to YOUR prayer life. Praying the breviary is praying with the Church. YOUR breviary is jokingly referred to as YOUR “Wife” which YOU must take along with YOU wherever I go.
- Be faithful to the holy Sacrifice of the Mass. YOU must not forget that YOU WERE ordained specifically to offer sacrifice to God. Hence the Mass should be said with greatest devotion and love. It is the priest and only the priest who can offer the sacrifice of the Mass. What a great privilege is given to YOU.
- Be contented with the simple lifestyle and be a happy priest of Jesus Christ.
These are few guidelines that have helped me to go through the ups and downs of my life as a priest of Jesus Christ for the last 45 years
Rest be assured Padre EDCEL sa mga pangamuyo sa imong mga utod nga mga kaparian nga wala diri kag ari diri karon naga-tambong sa imong 25th anniversary sa imong pagkapari.. Isip sakop sa Recollectos, ayaw guid magbulag sa grupo parejas ni Tomas nga Madudahon sa Evangelio nga wala makakita sa Ginoo bangod kay nagbulag siya. Wherever you are assigned, love your people, love your community. Bloom wherever you are planted.
And you, brothers and sisters. Remember the word PRIEST. Sa anum ka letra P-R-I-E-S-T, nasulat ang inyo nga mga katungdanan. P – pray for him. R – Respect him, I – Inspire him, E – encourage him, S – Support him, T – Trust him.
Today, as Fr. EDCEL celebrateS HIS 25th. Sacerdotal ordination, he told me to share these THOUGHS to you. He said: “To those HE HAS wronged – he asks for forgiveness * To those he has helped – he wished he did more.* To those he has neglected to help – he is asking for understanding * And to those who have helped HIM – HE sincerely SAYS: “Muchas gracias – Damo gid nga salmat – -THANK YOU”. Let us give Fr. Edcel a round of applause! Congrats FR. EDCEL.