Monday, May 18, 2009


During the retreat he gave in Puerto Princesa in December 2007, Fr. Jim told us this story which happened in the beginning of the Work in Mexico:

Don Pedro Casciaro, one of the earliest members and the one whom the Founder sent to start the Work there, came into possession of an antique crucifix, almost lifesize. The corpus or “crucified” was very well-done artistically even though the wood of the cross needed to be replaced so they decided to place it in the Oratory of the Center after a new cross could be made on which this crucified could be attached. For that purpose, they contracted a carpenter who, on a given date, came to the Center to deliver the new cross.

It appears that this carpenter had to walk some distance through the streets carrying his cross (without a corpus) until he reached the Center where he was told to attach the antique crucified by nailing it to the new wooden cross he had made. While the carpenter was doing this, hammering, he began to weep; and when he was asked what the matter was, he said he could not do it anymore; that all his life that was just what he had been doing: nailing Christ to the Cross.

That story surely moved all of us who attended the 2007 retreat, and during dinner on Saturday night, April 4 (2009), we asked Fr. Jim why he did not relate that same story during the retreat last December 2008. Fr. Jim said it is necessary to vary the stories from one retreat to another.

From hindsight, asking Fr. Jim might have demonstrated that he was growing older and more forgetful (fortunately, it did not turn out so!), since this April 4 dinner-get-together was a slightly belated celebration of Fr. Jim’s 57th birthday (which fell on April 2) at Blue Marlin Restaurant (Doc Leo’s treat).

Aside from the birthday celebrant and host, also present were Sammy, Orphy, Bongsoc, Bing, Manny, Jess, and me. Anyway, we learned that evening that Fr. Jim heard this story of the carpenter and the crucifix from Don Alvaro in person (now Servant of God, the process for his beatification very much underway). Apparently, the story has not yet found mention in a book or other medium for publication so we thought it would be good to relate it on this blog (for future reference). Indeed, it makes a good starting point for any meditation, especially during Lent; and I was informed by Mrs. Devanadera who attended the recollection the following day (April 5), which was Palm Sunday, that Fr. Jim told them this story, mentioning how it came up the evening before.

After the Morning of Recollection for Women, Fr. Jim had lunch with the spouses Nelson and Doody Devanadera, Orphy and Maricon Ordinario, Sammy and myself, at Leslie’s Restaurant.

On April 18, the third Saturday of the month, Henry arrived to give us our circle and receive our chats. Since Bing Cabrera was not available that morning, Bong and I were able to take Henry on a small tour of the city during the time allotted for him. Among others, we visited the Mitra home (it is a regular tourist site) on top of a hill in Barangay Santa Monica with a terrific view of both the Puerto Princesa Bay and Honda Bay (Sulu Sea). Congressman Baham Mitra happened to be home nursing a knee injury (which Henry had been through as well) and we had a pleasant, even longish, banter with him about his political plans, common acquaintances, and the Work in Palawan. The congressman even offered the use of the house as venue for some future activity of the Work. On leaving the Mitra home, we could not help but observe that the estate would be very good for a Conference Center.

From the Mitra home, we paid a visit to Kiko Aquino at his home in the neighborhood; then we went off to lunch with Sammy.

Henry flew back to Manila the following day, Sunday. Orphy and I flew out that same afternoon to attend the annual course for supernumeraries at Samar Study Center in Quezon City.


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