“Fr. Roque Ferriols, S.J.: the man who goes for broke”: a homily by Fr. Arnel C. Aquino, S.J.

Today’s 11:30 a.m. mass at the chapel of the Immaculate Conception at the Ateneo de Manila University was officiated by Fr. Arnel C. Aquino, S.J.  (see his picture here at the Jesuit Music Ministry blog; he is at the top picture, the priest with a stole).  He is a little priest, but musically gifted.  I only knew him by name before, since he is one of the liturgical music composers in my Himig Heswita songbook.

His homily was about Fr. Roque Ferriols.  After the mass, I approached him and asked for a copy of his homily.  He readily gave it to me and signed it.  He gave me the permission to post it on my blog.  Here is his  homily:

Homily on Fr. Roque Ferriols, S.J.

by Fr. Arnel C. Aquino

A day after I arrived in Manila last week after two years of being away, I saw Fr. Ferriols.  I was told that he was going to class.  “He still teaches a class?”  I asked, as though the answere weren’t right before me.  Fr. Roque was literally, literally inching his way to class, his destination for that day.  By the way he walked, you wondered not only if he’d make it to class on time.  You also wondered if he would even make it at all.  You wondereed what he felt, what was going on in his mind.  But most of all, you wondered, “Why?”

As I wearily unpacked my luggage later that day, I remembered when I was in Philosophy, oh, about 2000 years ago, and Fr. Ferriols taught us when he had fire in his eyes and fire in his mouth and fire in his fists.  And there was great honor in being under Ferriols, because the spirit of the times was that if you didn’t go through Ferriols, you didn’t quite go through the Ateneo.  But then, coming back to the present, I thought that dear Fr. Roque had already reached his dreams.  He should really be just resting, reading, watching tv, hearing confessions here and there, saying mass, and wish for the end of the Arroyo regime–things that a good old man should be doing after a job well done all of his life.

But the truth of the matter is: here is a priest, a man, a creature of God who goes for broke, and keeps going for broke.  Fr. Ferriols makes you wonder if at such an age you would still go for broke over something you were so very passionate for all your life–or would you just rest upon a silent rock like a dry, wet leaf and allow the seasons to slowly return you unto the earth?  Fr. Ferriols makes us wonder if there is something in our lives that we have done out of powerful love for God, that we go for broke over it–despite being mocked for it and being asked why.  Fr. Ferriols makes me wonder if I have loved God enough at any single point in my life, so that I go for broke: broken body, broken heart, broken bones and broken spirit–and yet keep inching my way towards my destination, because deep in my heart, God is still on fire.  Even when the world around me things if I would make it there on time, or if I would ever make it at all.

Go for broke, that’s what I strongly sense is the message of today’s gospel.  To give everything that we are for a particular passion for God and God’s people; to lose ourselves in that passion, so that broken pieces of ourselves fly all over the place, leaving us with hardly anything, anything except God.  Only God.  And in God, we are made incredibly whole.

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About Quirino M. Sugon Jr
Theoretical Physicist in Manila Observatory

9 Responses to “Fr. Roque Ferriols, S.J.: the man who goes for broke”: a homily by Fr. Arnel C. Aquino, S.J.

  1. Fr. Arnel says:

    Thank you for publishing this. I am very honored. –Fr. Aquino

  2. Gil Alba says:

    Leaving a class of Fr. Ferriols was like coming out of heaven: You felt like you were so saintly, so cleansed, so profound. Somehow, the holiness of this simple man left some of its fragrance on your clothes. With him, you realized how beautiful the world is, because it is soaked with the presence of God.

    But his temper was also well-known, and feared: He could virtually rain fire and brimstone, and be the wrath of God for those unfortunate to be so unprepared, so illogical, so Taglish. Perhaps that is because, as you say, he always goes for broke.

    And how he expressed his love for Philosophy: “Kay sarap mag-isip!”

  3. John argie escalante says:

    I am currently studying philosophy at ateneo de cagayan…. and our teacher always mention about Fr. Ferriols… i am so inspired and longing to see this man… who is this man… i hope someday i can…

  4. M. P. says:

    Thank you for sharing this. I am a follower of Fr. Ferriols from afar: I took Philo classes under his students, but never got the chance to sign up for any of his due to conflicts in sched. :(

    Was only able to attend one seminar, and had the chance to interview him once for a project. Those were some of the best moments in my college years.

  5. thank you, father arnel, for writing this, for the blogger for uploading it, and my brother, jay hernando, a fellow “ferriols baby” (the name of a group on facebook dedicated to our teacher) for leading me to this page through an fb link.

    i have since then shared the link (on fb as well!) to this site and tagged my friends who were father ferriols’ students or whom i’ve shared my memories of padre roque with.

    i continue to pray for his health so he can continue doing what he is “breaking his body” for as well as join a few more ateneans in reflecting about “pagpapakatao.”

  6. Quirino M. Sugon Jr says:

    Hi Jules,

    Thanks for bringing a boatload of 700 visitors who would barely fit the Immaculate Conception Chapel where Fr. Arnel first gave the homily. I am glad Fr. Arnel’s homily reached more people. Fr. Ferriols never became my teacher, but in our Philosophy of Religion, I was able to read his writings on God as Mysterium Tremendum, Mysterium Fascinosum, and Mysterium Familiaris. Those divine descriptions kept popping up now and then whenever I read the Scriptures.

  7. Esperanza says:

    Pls. Give me info on how to get in touch with ,myLolo Roque, father Ferriols officiated our wedding in July 20, 1996. I remember him spending his vacations in our family house in Sarrat, Ilocos Norte with his driver Kuya Ben from Pansie

  8. Quirino M. Sugon Jr says:

    Hi Esperanza,

    I think he stays at the Jesuit Residence in Ateneo de Manila University. http://www.ateneo.edu/jesuit-residence

  9. Scipio Maius says:

    I met Fr. Ferriols when I applied at San Jose. my friend and I ate lunch with him. as I recall, we had the “carabasa ken utong (pumpkin and string beans)”. after he had his fill, he told us to eat more as we were young and that we needed it for the day. I cant forget that lunch with Fr. Roque.

    I was able to read some of his books too – such a simple guy with such profound thoughts – and with the language he used (they were written in Filipino). I had a great philosophical journey with his works especially with philosophy of religion. although I remember the mysterium tremendum et fascinans with Rudolf Otto, it was with one of Fr. Roque’s work that I was able to actually feel the meaning of the experience with the Holy. from the Filipino language, he lets you walk through the experience of being in the presence of the Holy – the experience of overwhelming power, that strikes the very core of your being with fear and trembling. yet being at the presence of the Holy comes also a feeling of immense joy; a joy so profound that even if there’s that fear and trembling coming through that overwhelming power, there’s the feeling of peace – that peace and joy that I can say I am at my Father’s house; that I am home. and that’s the feeling whenever I attend mass or visit the adoration chapel or just siting at the pew – being in the presence of the Holy.

    thank you for the post Mr. Sugon. It is with joy, delight and humility to have a good read and a moment of reflection before a good nights rest.

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