Four Jesuit priests in Jose Rizal’s life: Faura, Pastells, Balaguer, and Sanchez

Horacio de la Costa, SJ

Homily delivered at the Ateneo Alumni Mass on Rizal’s birthday, June 19, 1952

RIZAL AND THE ATENEO

Alumnus Jose Rizal kept in touch with the Ateneo mainly through four men. There was Father Faura, who prophesied that he would end up on a scaffold. There was Father Pastells, who sought to restore his Catholic Faith by patient argument.  There was Father Balaguer, who reconciled him to the Church before he died.  And there was Father Sanchez, who was his friend.

I think it can be said that these four men, each in his own fashion,
express what the Ateneo should mean, and would like to mean, to all its alumni.  The Ateneo is a school; first and foremost, it is a body of teachers; and the essential duty of a teacher is to speak the truth.  The truth is often unpleasant, often unpopular; but the teacher, if he wishes to be faithful to his profession, cannot afford to dilute or debase it.  He must speak the truth as he sees it, no matter how much it hurts.

Rizal had worked out during his sojourn in Spain a thoroughgoing plan ofcolonial reform.  Whatever Father Faura thought of that plan, he saw at least one thing clearly – that the Spanish government would never stand for it.  Sooner or later it would try to crush both the plan and its author. That was what he meant when he said that Rizal would end up on a scaffold.

We could wish that Father Faura could have put it a little less bluntly, a little more diplomatically.  He might have spared Rizal’s feelings.  But there are times when to spare a man’s feelings is to betray his friendship. What Father Faura said was shocking; he meant it to be.  He wanted to shock Rizal into seeing that he was faced with a choice, and that his very life depended upon what he chose.  He did not tell him what to choose. Rizal was not a boy any longer but a man, and it was a man’s privilege to choose; but it was also a man’s privilege to be told the consequences of his choice.

Rizal saw and chose; and the fact that he chose with his eyes open, with the scaffold at the end of the road having been pointed out to him, is his claim to be our greatest alumnus.

All of us, at some time or other in our lives, will be faced with the
necessity of making a similar decision. Beset by fears and forebodings, we shall go to seek strength and comfort from those we miss.  I do not think we shall ever lack friends who will try to soothe us with ambiguities, who will blur alternatives, dull the horns of a dilemma on the mistaken principle that what we don’t know won’t burn us, on the childish principle that medicine doesn’t taste half as bad if taken with eyes shut.

But rare indeed is the friend who will tell us the truth; who will pay us the supreme compliment of assuming that we are not afraid to act on our principles.  It is our hope as alumni that we shall always find such a friend where Rizal found him – at the Ateneo.

However, it is equally important to remember that respect for the truth must go hand in hand with respect for the individual conscience.  To force the truth on the people’s minds, to ram the truth down people’s throats, is not only unjust: it is unwise.  Nothing breeds error so quickly as truth accepted under constraint.  It was to be regretted that Rizal lost the priceless heritage of the Faith; but granted the fact that he lost it, there was only one way of restoring it to him: by convincing him, by convincing his mind, that he had erred.  There were easier ways; threats, cajolery, flattery, the emotional argument; but Father Pastells used none of these. He chose the hard way; he appealed to that in Rizal which was hardest, diamond-hard–his mind.  For he knew that a faith based on anything else but conviction would be of no use to this man who lived solely by his convictions, and who would not hesitate to die for them.

Jesuits believe that their system of education is fashioned to produce men of this calibre, rational men, men whose faith, while fully supernatural, is based on reason.  Whether that system actually does so or not, is not for them to say.  But this certainly can be said: that if the schools of the free world do not produce such men in greater numbers than hitherto, that world is doomed.

We must have men of conviction, but they must also be men of faith.  Reason can go far, but there is a point beyond which it cannot go; the deepest questions that reason can ask, only faith can answer.  It was Father Pastells who raised these questions in the mind of Rizal, but it was Father Balaguer who answered them.  To the death cell in Fort Santiago came this simple man, came, not with subtle argument, not with the persuasive words of human wisdom, but with the word of God, sharp as a drawn sword, cutting deep, even to the marrow of the spirit, cutting and healing, slaying and giving life.  And the work that the learned Father Pastells began, this simple priest finished.  Yet not he, for what are these but men?  Poor, brittle instruments, of what avail are they, of themselves, in the titanic struggle of good and evil for the immortal soul?

No, not they, but God, in that lonely hour between dusk and dawn, between life and death, when Rizal sank to his knees at last with a strong cry and tears, in that lonely hour he was alone with the Alone, the man about to die with the God who died, and lives.

What folly even to think that such a man, at such an hour, could have been tricked into repentance!  If there was trickery in the business, God was the trickster; let them complain to God.  If there was trickery in the business, it was prayer that did the trick.

There was one man at least whose prayers were with Rizal continually,
through all the years of doubt, all the years of agony, all the years of exile; that man was Father Sanchez.  Perhaps he was to blame for Rizal’s conversion.  At any rate, he was the most subtle Jesuit of them all, for he used against Rizal’s infidelity the one irresistible weapon; the power against which nothing is proof; the power of prayer.

“More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of”; and we like to think that among these good things is that fellowship of Ateneans with the Ateneo and of Ateneans among themselves, which not even death can break. For even in maturity, even when we are old, the mother of our youth yet has something to offer us; yes, four things, to all her alumni as to her greatest alumnus:  the plain truth, the path of reason, the light of faith, the love of friends.

(Text of the homily courtesy of Fr. Victor Badillo, S.J.)

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Jose Rizal’s statue of the Sacred Heart: Travel history and other notes

RIZAL’S TRAVELLING STATUETTE
by Fr. Victor Badillo, S.J.While a student at the Ateneo Municipal in Intramuros, Jose Rizal (14) made a small statue of the Sacred Heart, about nine inches in length.  He carved the statuette in baticuling wood with a penknife at the request of his professor Fr Jose Leonardo S.J.  Father intended to take it with him to Spain, but the domestic helper forgot to place it in his trunk.  It was left behind and was taken by Rizal’s fellow students.  It was placed on a shelf above the door of their study hall where it remained for twenty years.

In August 1887, Rizal (26) returned to the Philippines and stayed till early 1888.   Now a liberal in matters political as well as religious, he visited his Jesuit friends at the Ateneo.  On his way out, the Jesuit porter showed him the statuette.  Rizal replied, “Other times, Brother, other times.  I no longer believe in such things.”*

In December 1896, after Rizal (35) was sentenced to death by the Military Tribunal which had tried him for treason, he asked for some Jesuit priests to visit him.  Fr Miguel Saderra Mata, S.J., Rector of the Ateneo Municipal, together with Fr. Luis Viza, S. J., went in haste to Fort Santiago to the cell where Rizal was imprisoned. They were greeted warmly by Rizal.

Rizal asked them if the statuette of the Sacred Heart which he had carved as a boy was still at the Ateneo.  Fr Viza, in reply, took the statuette out of the pocket of his soutane.  He had guessed rightly.  Rizal would remember it at the hour of his death.  Rizal took it and kissed it in his hands and placed it on the table where he would soon write the Ultimo Adios.

The statuette remained in the cell.  On the night before his execution, it was to Fr Jose Vilaclara, S.J., his former Physics teacher, that Rizal made his sacramental confession and be reconciled to the Church.

The following day, 30 December, before leaving his cell to go to Bagumbayan, Rizal held the statuette to his lips for the last time.  With two hands holding it close to his heart, he moved slowly to give it back to the Jesuits who were with him to the last day.

When the fire of 1932 engulfed the Ateneo, the principal concern of the Jesuits was the safety of the students.  No one got hurt.  Many valuable irreplaceable collections went up in smoke and presumably the statuette.  The Ateneo resumed operations in Padre Faura.  In 1945 the Ateneo was destroyed completely during the liberation of Manila.

Some time in 1952, when Ateneo was in the Loyola Campus, Q.C., the statue was returned, presumably by the student who saved it from the 1932 fire, and inadvertently from the 1945 fire as well.

Replicas made from ash from the bowels of the earth hurled into the sky by
Mt Pinatubo in 1991 were distributed to friends.

After some twenty three years in the Board of Trustees room, Fr. Bienvenido
Nebres, the President, turned it over to the Ateneo University Archives.  I
wish to thank Miss Carina Samaniego, Archivist, for sending me photos of the
statuette and of the plaques.

NotesRizal was condemned to death for the crime of treason.  He advocated not revolution but evolution.  He wished the Philippines to be independent when it was ready for it.  Up to the time of his death, he thought the time had not come.  For him, independence would happen like a fruit automatically falling from the tree when it was ripe.

He enrolled at the Ateneo in 1872, the year Fathers Gomez, Burgos and Zamora were garroted to death for treason.  They were innocent of this crime.  The event so moved Rizal that later he said, “I would have been a Jesuit, but I had vowed to do something about their death.”

Baticuling is a hard wood used in carving, which now is not easily available.  Without carving tools, Rizal carved an excellent statue using just a penknife.

When did Rizal carve this statue?  He enrolled at the Ateneo when he was eleven. He lived at the Ateneo as a boarder.  He got an AB degree at 16 in 1977.  That year, he enrolled at the Ateneo and UST, both in Intramuros and a few blocks from each other.  He left the Ateneo when he was 17, certified by the Ateneo as Agrimensor (Surveyor).  I guess he carved the image when he was about 14.  He still had to study anatomy.

Musings

Rizal carved the statue for Fr Leonardo.  Did Fr need one for himself, or did he want Rizal to develop his talent?  Why did he ask Rizal to carve an image of the Sacred Heart and not of someone else, like Our Lady?  Did he specify whose statue he wanted?  Rizal was the Prefect of the Sodality of Our Lady.

What thoughts passed through Rizal’s mind as he carved?  Did he have lectures of the Sacred Heart in mind? Did he research his subject? What did he know of the devotion to the Sacred Heart?  What did his devotion, if any, to the Sacred Heart consist of?  What does the actual statue say?  What was the state of the devotion at the Ateneo?  How did he think of carving a statue with a hole in the chest?

Fr Leonardo’s sorrow on failing to bring the statuette that he could not bring the statue with him resulted in the statuette staying in the Ateneo.

It was painful for the nameless Brother that Rizal refused to even look at his statue.  Would he have a statue if the houseboy had not forgotten? Would Rizal have thought of his statue in his cell if the Brother had not brought the statue as Rizal left?  Did the Brother on his own or had someone asked him to show it to Rizal?  How did Rizal feel when he gently rebuffed the gesture of the Brother?  Did he feel sad?  Was it like meeting a girl friend he had outgrown?

On leaving his death cell, Rizal held to his heart, the statue of Jesus holding his heart against his heart.

*When Rizal received the statuette, he kissed it and placed it on the table
where he would soon write the Ultimo Adios.  Sentiments expressed in the
poem are inspired by the love of the Heart of Jesus.  Would that I had more
blood to shed, more lives to die.*

Beloved Filipinas.
Gladly now I give to thee this failed life’s best,
And were it brighter, fresher, or more blood,
Still would I give it, nor count the cost.
There was no rancor or anger.  Only the peace and joy of one who “had run
the course, fought the good fight and had kept the faith”

For I go where no slave before the oppressor bends,
Where faith can never kill, and God reigns o’er on high!  *
(From translation by Charles Derbyshire.)

At the incarnation, God emptied himself.  On the cross he emptied his body
of blood.  In the Heart of Jesus, he emptied his body of his heart.  In the
field of Bagong Bayan, Rizal emptied himself to enrich Filipinas.

On leaving his death cell, Rizal pressed the heart of the statuette against
his heart.  By this he expressed his acceptance of the heart of Jesus
graciously offered.  Would it be too much if the Fathers saw that the heart
in the statuette returned to them was gone?

But now, Rizal had no need for an image.  For he had with him the Risen
Jesus, walking with him and at the supreme moment carrying him over the
threshold into life.  Jesus would not desert one who so perfectly made dumb
wood proclaim eloquently the totality of his love by imaging him with an
Emptied Body.

Rizal’s request to be shot facing the firing squad was refused. But with a heroic effort, he turned his body after he was shot and he fell face forward.  To kiss Filipinas, his heart against the land.


Man hears our words.
God hears our thoughts.  Augustine
God bless you.  Victor

blog:  pedrocalungsod.blogspot.com
God bless you and all your efforts.  Victor Badillo SJ

Traditional Latin Mass music at Intramuros: Book launching of Prof. Maria Alexandra Inigo Chua’s “Kirial de Baclayon ano 1826: Hispanic sacred music in 19th century Bohol, Philippines”

Close to two hundred years after it first existed, the Misa Baclayana
from Bohol’s Baclayon Church will come alive in words and music on
Friday, April 30, 2010, 4pm at the Almacenes Reales, Fort Santiago,
Intramuros, Manila.

The occasion will be the launch of Prof. Maria Alexandra Inigo Chua’s
KIRIAL DE BACLAYON ANO 1826: HISPANIC SACRED MUSIC IN 19TH CENTURY BOHOL, PHILIPPINES, under the auspices of the Intramuros
Administration with the directorship of Ms. Bambi Harper, and the
cooperation of the Filipino Heritage Festival.

Published by the Ateneo de Manila University Press, the book brings to
wider public attention the painstaking research work of musicologist
Alexandra “Sandy” Chua, professor at the University of Santo Tomas,
and highlights the discovery of the complete and intact Baclayana
choir books, expounds on the important role of the Augustinians in the
religious and historical context of Bohol out of which the musical
tradition grew, and delves closely into the musicological properties
of the various Mass compositions that likewise existed during the same period in the 19th century.

The book, published under the Press’s Cultural Heritage Series, comes
with a compact disc of performances of the Loboc Children’s Choir of
the Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei of the Misa
Baclayana, conducted by Ms. Alma Taldo with Father Manuel Maramba on the organ, and of the UST Singers of the same parts of the Misa de Sales, conducted by Mr. Fidel Calalang, Jr., also accompanied by Father Maramba on the organ.

The launching on Friday will feature a presentation on the KIRIAL by
Prof. Chua, and commentaries by Father Ted Torralba, Executive
Secretary of the Permanent Committee for the Cultural Heritage of the
Church of the CBCP, and Father Rene Javellana, Jesuit scholar on the
arts and editor of the AUP’s Cultural Heritage Series.

Also during the launch, the Loboc Children’s Choir will perform
excerpts from the cd and other pieces mentioned in the book,
specifically: the Kyrie of Misa Baclayana from the Kirial de
Baclayon,1826, the Sanctus from the Misa Baclayana, Kirial de
Baclayon,1826, the La Salve Portuguesa from the Misal de Baclayon,
1827, and the Ay Dueno de mi Vida from the Manual-Cantoral de Santa Clara de Manila 1874.

The book and cd edition will be available at a special launch price,
and may be ordered through the Ateneo Press bookshop, other bookstores and special venues.

Thank you, we hope to see you there.


Ateneo de Manila University Press
Bellarmine Hall, AdMU Campus
Katipunan Ave., Loyola Heights
Tel 02-4265984; 4266001 ext 4613
unipress@admu.edu.ph