Thursday, August 15, 2013

Homily delivered during the Burial Mass of Rev. Fr. Vicente Cajilig, OP

Most Rev. Jacinto Jose, Bishop of Urdaneta
Most Rev. Manolo de los Santos, Bishop of Virac
Most Rev. Antonio Tobia, Bishop of  Novaliches
Most Rev. Teodor Bacani, Bishop-Emeritus of Novaliches
My brother priests priests in the consecrated life,
Brother priests from the different dioceses in the Philippines and Sri Lanka,
Brothers and Sisters in Christ: 

We gather together around the table of the Eucharist, the table of Thanksgiving, to give thanks to the Lord for the gift of life and ministry he gave our Brother Vicente.

When we received last Monday the sad and shocking news that Fr. Cajie has expired at the UST Hospital, we were stunned, and could not believe that he was gone so swiftly.

In death, even in life, many of the brothers do not readily believe everything about Fr. Cajie. When he invites brothers and seminarians for merienda, or a meal, they do not believe it is on the one who invites or a treat in the usual sense but a “Dutch treat”, a “special Fr. Cajie’s treat”. When he proposed a new set of mysteries of the Rosary, the Mysteries of the Way, many of the brothers thought he was trying to outdo St. Pius V, the Pope who decreed a uniform praying of the Rosary, or Blessed John Paul II who added the Luminous mysteries. When Fr. Cajie was superior of St. Dominic’s in Sri Lanka, a kitchen fire threatened to reduce the entire house to ashes. Fr. Jun Sipalay witnessed how Fr. Cajie courageously raised his hands over the fire and pronounced loudly, “In the name of Jesus, be quenched!” The fire was miraculously extinguished. Still, many of the brothers were skeptical and could not believe that Fr. Cajie was capable of extinguishing a fire with sheer words and faith. They even suspected that Fr. Jun was merely deceived by his senses.

Yet Fr. Cajie took such reactions with humility and a good sense of humor. It did not matter that many of the friars did not take him seriously, what was important for him was he took seriously his faith in a powerful God. He knew that extinguishing the kitchen fire was not his handiwork but God’s.  He exhibited the faith of one who is a fool for Christ’s sake. When he passionately promoted the Mysteries of the Way, it did not matter to him that some joked he merely wanted to travel around, to be on the way, in order to promote the new meditations on the rosary. What was important for him was to manifest his devotion to the Blessed Mother who accompanies us every step of the way in this life.

While we acknowledge that silver and golden priestly anniversaries are extraordinary gifts, the priesthood is not about longevity but the quality of our ministry. Someone wisely said: “not everything that can be counted, counts; and not everything that counts, can be counted. Love, commitment and vocation count the most; yet they are not countable. Psalm 90 says that compared to eternity, life is short:  our span is 70 years or 80 for those who are strong. At 63 (Fr. Cajie would have turned 64 next month), he did not make the mark. But the prayer of the psalmist must have been Fr. Vincent’s very own:  Make us know the shortness of our life that we may gain wisdom of heart! Fr. Vincent’s wisdom rest on the way he counted his days, which made him truly wise of heart. His ministry as priest was fruitful and holy. He has served for many years as Executive Secretary of the Office of Education and Students Chaplaincy of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences, and in many various ministries in Letran, UST and the Dominican Province of the Philippines. As confessor of the Student Brothers, professor at the Faculty of Theology and formator at the Central Seminary, Fr. Vincent has shown us an important dimension of his priesthood that has helped so many to be ordained to the same priesthood; his priesthood has a “multiplier” effect.

All of us here must have been touched by Fr. Cajie. His beloved family, friends, former students, brother priests, and bishops, have fond memories of Fr. Vicente. The former Master of the Order, Carlos Azpiroz, expressed, in an email, his admiration for Fr. Cajie. He informed me that the Capitulars of the General Chapter prayed for Fr. Cajie during their Eucharist last August 6. The many priests and bishops who paid their respects during the wake at Letran indicate the many holy friendships Fr. Cajie has nurtured in his life. I am certain that he has touched the lives of many people in inspiring ways that we, his brothers in the Order, do not even know. But I am sure we will all fondly remember Fr. Cajie for his reassuring presence, for being “there” always for us. Fr. Cajie was always present in fraternal gatherings. He had a unique way of showing his brotherly concern and support for everyone. We will certainly miss him, but we hold in faith that he will continue to support us with his prayers in the company of St. Dominic and with all the blessed, in the loving presence of God.

And so we pray,

“We seem to give Fr. Vicente back to you,
O God, who gave him first to us.
Yet as you did not lose him in giving,
so do we not lose him by his return.
Not as the world gives, do you give, O Lord.
What you give, you do not take away,
for what is yours is ours also, if we are yours.
And life is eternal and love is immortal,
and death is only a horizon,
and a horizon is nothing, but the limit of our sight.
Lift us up, strong Son of God, that we may see further;
cleanse our eyes that we may see more clearly;
draw us closer to yourself,
that we may know ourselves to be nearer to our loved ones
who are with you. And while you prepare a place for us,
prepare us also for that happy place,
that where you are, we also may be.”[1] Amen.

Gerard Timoner III, OP
9 August 2013

Editor’s Note: The homily was delivered by Rev. Fr. Gerard Timoner III, OP, Prior Provincial of the Dominican Province of the Philippines, delivered during the burial mass of Rev. Fr. Vicente Cajilig, OP last August 9, 2013. Miss Angel Guinto and Mr. Arnold Manalastas, publication staff of the UST Ecclesiastical Publications Office were beside Fr. Cajie when he passed away. 

Eternal Rest Grant unto Fr. Cajilig, O Lord and let the perpetual light shine upon him.

[1] From the Prayer of Fr. Bede Jarrett, OP

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