“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.