Cardinal Tagle marks 60th birthday, gets letter from mother
MANILA, Philippines – "I want to tell you how you were born."
Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle recalled these words in a letter from his 86-year-old mother, Milagros, when he marked his 60th birthday on Wednesday, June 21.
"You did not want to get out," Milagros said, pointing out that he was overdue.
She said they had expected Tagle to come out of his mother's womb on June 13, the feast of Saint Anthony of Padua, which explains the "Antonio" in his name. The cardinal instead came out of his mother's womb on June 21, 1957, the feast of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga.
Tagle recounted this story to drive home the point of his homily on Wednesday – to get out of the "womb," to go on pilgrimage, to "return to the heart."
Reading his mother's letter, the cardinal said he realized: "That's how I began my life here on Earth. I did not want to go out. I didn't want to face the world."
"And now look at me," Tagle said, who is often abroad to deliver speeches, to join activities at the Vatican, or to perform his work as Caritas Internationalis president. "I'm always being thrown out. 'Go there, go there.' And to tell you the truth, when I read the letter, I said, no wonder. Every time I have to travel, I suffer. I really do not want to go. It's an ordeal. It's the womb again. But you go."
"Maybe the womb of the Church, the spirit, is pushing you, and you go where you rather would not go," he said.
"Why will I choose to go to the refugee camps? Why will I choose to go to Beirut? Why will I choose to go to Ukraine? Why will I choose to go to earthquake-destroyed cities? Why? The pilgrimage goes on," he added.
Cardinal Tagle hits hypocrisy
In contrast to making a pilgrimage, Tagle pointed out that the heart can also be "in exile." That is "when the heart is not the home of the values that my hands and my body profess."
"That disconnect, that exile experience, is what Jesus calls hypocrisy – doing external things, but in the heart, it is not doing good, but drawing attention to myself," he said. "'Notice me, praise me.' So prayer is not about my communion with God, but about me. Almsgiving is not about the poor and the people I am serving, but about me. Fasting is not about trusting in the Lord, but about me. I am in exile."
"Hypocrisy is play acting. But it is play acting which causes dichotomy, because I play a role, and in my heart, I don't believe in the role. Lives are ruined by such play acting. Communities are ruined, families are ruined, nations are ruined by hypocrisy," he said. "But there is hope."
"When you experience a sense of exile, it's the time to go home – to your heart. Return to your heart, and from your heart, lift up yourself to the Father. And that is your reward. The Father, who sees in secret, will be given a fitting worship," Tagle said.
Among those in Tagle's birthday Mass on Wednesday were his mother, Milagros; his 87-year-old father, Manuel Sr; as well as his brother and his "extended family of aunts and cousins."
In one of the most touching parts of Wednesday's Mass, Tagle's mother and father offered bread and wine during the offertory.
Upon receiving his mother's offering, Tagle took her hand and put it on his forehead, in the traditional Filipino custom of pagmamano, a sign of respect for the elderly. After this, his mother also did the same to him, this time as a sign of respect for a priest.
Tagle performed the same sign of reverence for his father, and the father did the same for him.
After the Mass, Tagle visited the crypt of the Manila Cathedral to bless the tomb of his predecessor, the late Manila Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin, who marked his 12th death anniversary on Wednesday.
"Today we remember Cardinal Jaime Sin, whose pilgrimage of life and ministry led to union with the Son, encountering the never-ending day, 12 years ago, on this same day," Tagle said in his homily.
The Mass was followed by a reception at the Arzobispado de Manila, where Tagle invited his family, friends, and all those who attended the Mass on Wednesday. – Rappler.com