The physical church is a symbol of the relationship of Christ and our connection with the Mystical Body. We turn to the pope as our Holy Father, and celebrate this closeness of the family of Christ, united by our baptism. How awesome to think that though we are so diverse and widespread, we are also closely connected spiritually through Holy Mother Church. Cardinal Tagle gave Pope Francis this welcome message upon the latter’s visit to Manila last January 2015 and here is an insight he shared :
The Manila Cathedral was the first cathedral church in the Philippines. It can be considered a symbol of the Filipino people. Fire destroyed the first cathedral. The succeeding five cathedrals were either partially or totally damaged by earthquakes, the most massive of which struck in 1863 burying in rubble the members of the cathedral chapter, the choir and lay faithful. The seventh cathedral was mercilessly bombed along with other edifices in the Walled City of Manila (Intramuros) during the battle of liberation in 1945. We are gathered today in the eighth cathedral building that we closed three years ago for repairs. Now it warmly welcomes you. This cathedral has been razed to the ground many times, but it refuses to vanish. It boldly rises from the ruins – just like the Filipino people. Yes, Holy Father, we bishops, priests and religious men and women have seen and lived the suffering and determination of our people. “We are afflicted in every way possible, but we are not crushed.” (2 Corinthians 4:8).
What is the secret to the resilience of Filipinos? Fr. Horacio de la Costa, SJ, historian, writer, priest, religious and nationalist provided an insight. He said that the Filipino has two treasures: music and faith. Our melodies make our spirits soar above the tragedies of life. Our faith makes us stand up again and again after deadly fires, earthquakes, typhoons and wars. And now, as many of our poor people are just beginning to rise from recent natural and human-made calamities, you, Holy Father came to us. You bring fire, not to destroy but to purify. You bring an earthquake, not to shatter but to awaken. You bring weapons, not to kill but to assure. Indeed, “you are Peter, the Rock upon which Jesus builds His Church” (Matthew 16:18). You are Peter who comes “to strengthen your brothers and sisters in faith” (Luke 22:32). We welcome you, successor of Peter, to this blessed land of untiring hope, of infinite music and of joyful faith. With your visit, we know Jesus will renew and rebuild His Church in the Philippines. Mabuhay!