THE University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos opened its University Week last September 9. The theme of the week is "One Soul and One Heart directed towards God." This is an Augustinian principle that tells us to offer ourselves fully to God. This is also a manifestation of the Augustinian recollect character of being monastic or communitarian. The celebration falls on the week where the feast of the Patron Saint, St. Nicholas of Tolentino, is celebrated. The celebration is a fiesta as a whole where it replicates the fiesta culture integrated by the Spanish missionaries to the community celebrations of the early Filipinos. The presence of the rides symbolizes the joyfulness and the thanksgiving made by the early Filipinos to the blessings God had bestowed upon them. It was also a call for the townsfolk to come and venerate the patron saint of the place.
Who is San Nicolas de Tolentino? His parents prayed for a child to St. Nicholas of Myra (Santa Clause). Their prayers were answered so they named their child under his name. Nicholas became a monk at 18 and at 25 was ordained a priest. He gained a reputation as a preacher and a confessor. Once, when weak after a long fast, he received a vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Augustine, who told him to eat some bread marked with a cross and dipped in water. Upon doing so, he immediately became stronger. He started distributing these rolls to the ailing, while praying to the Blessed Mother Mary, often curing the sufferers; this is the origin of the Augustinian custom of blessing and distributing Saint Nicholas Bread (Panecillos).
Another legend is told of the Saint that he was ill and was told by physicians to eat meat. His confreres offered him fowl meat but instead, he prayed and blessed it. It grew feathers and flew out of the window. This is the reason why we see birds in some of the statues of St. Nicholas.
During his life, Nicholas is said to have received visions, including images of purgatory, which friends ascribed to his lengthy fasts. Prayer for the souls in purgatory was the outstanding characteristic of his spirituality. Because of this, Nicholas was proclaimed patron of the souls in purgatory in 1884 by Leo XIII. Towards the end of his life, he became ill, suffering greatly, but still continued the mortifications that had been part of his holy life. Nicholas died on September 10, 1305 after a long illness. People began immediately to petition for his canonization. Eugene IV canonized him in 1446, and his relics were rediscovered in 1926 at Tolentino.
going back to the theme of the University week, the call of community life is strong but St. Augustine also noted that it is not easy to live together because of the peculiarities and differences of the members. But Saint Augustine posted a challenge. There is joy when every member of the community lives in harmony or unity. The feeling is divine anD incomprehensible. It is also a state where one aspires in every academic community that there will be one understanding and interpretation of all and should always be anchored on faith. St. Thomas Aquinas reminds us that faith and knowledge should complement one another. Faith strengthens knowledge and knowledge explains our faith.
In the university, although there are a lot of departments and units, all of them are anchored on the philosophy of Caritas et Scientia, the heart of our existence. UNO-R borrows the logo for EDUCAR of the OAR Generalate. The original logo represents the OAR Generalate and its four provinces bearing the colors of the provinces but all of them carry a uniform heart. This means that all of them have everything towards God. In the UNO-R U-week Logo one could find the consistency of the blue color with the same heart. It means that every member of the community has merged into one and has offered all to God.
So, how glad it is to see brothers living in community.
St. Nicholas of Tolentino, Pray for us.