Pacete: San Diego: Who is he for Silay?

THIS story is a story about the story. His parents in San Nicolas del Puerto in Spain were poor peasants like our “dumaans” and “sacadas” in the haciendas. He was named Diego, a variation of the name James, the apostle.

He learned from the story of James the virtue of the complete trust in God. That was a motivation for him to enter the Franciscan Order that followed the life of poverty. He joined the order as a lay brother and interpreted the rule of poverty preached by St. Francis of Assisi, the founder.

Diego was really a man of God. He touched lives and many considered him as a man with a gift of miracle from God. The people who were able to share his blessings made good stories about him and those stories produced more stories. He could manage to live on bread and water alone.

To shorten many long stories about Diego, there came a time when he has to rejoin his Creator. Friar Diego submitted himself to God’s will while kissing the wooden cross (his symbol of faith) that he often carried. He was canonized a saint by Pope Sixtus V on November 12, the day of his death. His fiesta was moved to November 13. (That could be explained by the Church.)

He is the patron saint of Silay. I have collected stories about his so-called “miracles.” I don’t want to elaborate on them because I do not intend to have a collection of fiction. Miracles should not be gauged on something magical. The Church disapproves fantasy as a product of faith. True miracles happen when Diego is able to transform you from being the son of the world to the real image of God. (It is hard to do.)

Some priests who have been assigned to Silay (others are dead already) told me that it is challenging to be like Diego. One has to surrender totally his lordship for the worldly wealth and his cravings for human flesh that is beyond God’s standard. To be like Diego, the rich should share to the poor that sometimes goes beyond hurting their affection of the rootedness to wealth.

The poor should not be just poor but they should have enriched their spirits who are in their bodies… the temple of the Holy Spirit. The Church (where we belong) should be the Church of Mercy that dispenses equality with justice. Politicians who belong to the Church should be like Diego. Politicians who are in moment of lucidity should have Diego in themselves to attain tranquility.

Diego, our brother, could always inspire us. He can transform husbands to be good fathers if they only leave their “other women” and curse their gambling as a part of lifestyle. Wives can be perfect mothers, if like Diego, they would devout their time to their husbands and children.

Children should have “Diegoism” in their life to experience the abundance of God that would protect them from drugs and immoral practices. Those who copy Diego will always hear celestial music in their hearts. Government employees and workers should render labor for God like Diego who in his lifetime provided the peasants with a sacred quality in their work.

Silaynons are having the fiesta of their patron saint, Diego. A fiesta celebration should not be anchored on sad rituals, haunting songs, lavish food, cultural presentation, and more litanies alone. A fiesta is a strengthening of faith… a commitment, a dedication, and a willingness to elevate the dignity of man… no more corruption, no more gossips, no more injustices, no more envy. Diego can only be himself… humble.

In our celebration of Diego’s life, let us not be pagans who bow down before statues and fill the streets with thieves, cheats, gamblers, drunkards, and pretenders. Diego learned the vanity and brevity of the world. He taught himself to live an ascetic existence. Let us follow Diego because he is Diego.

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