By Tony Morales
On September 28, the Catholic Church in the Philippines will celebrate the Feast of the first Filipino saint and martyr, Saint Lorenzo Ruiz de Manila.
On an auspicious day, some thirty-four years ago, Lorenzo Ruiz and companion martyrs were beatified by Pope John Paul II in February 1982 at Luneta Park, Manila. Five and a half years later, Lorenzo was canonized at the Vatican by the same pope as the first Filipino saint and named "Patron Saint of the Laity".
Lorenzo's life was full of lessons for us, the faithful, which are relevant during his time and up to now. He was a good husband, family man and provider. He was a devoted member of his church, a conscientious church worker, a prayerful person and devout follower of the Blessed Mother.
Just as the heroic quality is inherent in us, Filipinos, the virtue of holiness is likewise not found wanting in us. We have many holy, even saintly, Filipinos in our midst. They are those who serve with utmost charity without fanfare. Hidden from the lenses of cameras, but not from our clear sight, many of them are simple lay people. We must admit that many of them are the ones who serve us, rather the ones we serve. Like Lorenzo Ruiz, they make us examine the veracity of our claim, perhaps not vocal but nonetheless actual, to holiness.
We are capable of holiness not because of our ecclesiastical titles and positions. We can be holy, and many of us are indeed holy, because that is what we are called to be. Filipinos – whether priests or laypersons – can be saints. Canonized by the Church or simply known to God alone, we are a saintly people. Let us be saints together. Saint Lorenzo Ruiz, pray for us!