Patapak kay San Vicente

YESTERDAY, after bringing my son and his family to the airport for an early flight, praying that super typhoon "Ruby" will not be a nuisance as yet and bring them safely to Cebu, I decided to offer my First Friday Mass at the San Nicolas de Tolentino Church in Talisay.

During First Fridays, there is the tradition of the Patapak kay San Vicente and in Talisay they added also the Patapak of the Virgen de la Consolacion.

Friday is market day for Talisay. Thank God my grandfather's (Simplicio Lizares Sr.) ancestral home is just across the plaza so I had a place to park.

The fruits in the stalls looked freshly plucked and the wares on display were an assortment but that was not the reason for the trip.

People were lining up for the patapak so my Nana Nita and I followed the queue. It was long but the two men doing the task were swift and brisk but also accommodated the faithful who wanted specific areas in their bodies to be blessed and healed.

The Patapak kay San Vicente has been a long practice in Talisay. When I did a feature on this for television some years ago, the people I interviewed expressed various healings of their ailments. Children especially have been cured by this devotion. Yesterday morning, there were many parents with their kids in line.

San Vicente is often pictured with wings. He resembles a bird soaring to great heights to worship the Lord.

St. Vincent was born in Valencia, Spain and became an illustrious son of St. Dominic by taking the Dominican habit. He was offered many ecclesiastical dignities, even the post of cardinal, but refused them all for he just wanted to be an apostolic missionary. He evangelized almost all provinces of Spain, and preached in France, Italy, Germany, Flanders, England, Scotland, and Ireland which generated countless conversions.

The Church was then divided by the great schism, but the saint was honorably received by the two claimants to the Papacy. He was even invited to Mohammedan Granada, where he delivered many converts. He lived to witness the end of the great schism and the election of Pope Martin V.

San Vicente is very much known for the extraordinary miracles he performed. It is believed that during his lifetime, St. Vincent freed more than 70 people from the devil and many more were freed at his tomb. He raised more than 28 people from the dead and 400 sick people were cured by resting on the couch where he had lain during his illness.

The change of a sinful heart is even the greater miracle than the phenomenal miracles he performed. With St. Vincent soaring to every mission he could muster, thousands of sinners became penitent, including Jews and Moors.

St. Vincent is the patron saint of builders and in Spain, the patron of most orphanages. And Breton fishermen invoke his aid in storms. With "Ruby" raging, perhaps it is a good time to pray to St. Vincent. He is also the patron of lead founders and invoked against epilepsy, fever, and headache.

While he was a man who studied much, in his book, Treatise on the Spiritual Life, he writes: "Do you desire to study to your advantage? Let devotion accompany all your studies, and study less to make yourself learned than to become a saint. Consult God more than your books, and ask him, with humility, to make you understand what you read. Study fatigues and drains the mind and heart. Go from time to time to refresh them at the feet of Jesus Christ under his cross. Some moments of repose in his sacred wounds give fresh vigor and new lights. Interrupt your application by short, but fervent and ejaculatory prayers: never begin or end your study but by prayer. Science is a gift of the Father of lights; do not therefore consider it as barely the work of your own mind or industry."

Perhaps, this is good advice for us writers, too.

Despite being a phenomenal miracle worker, he remained a humble friar and preacher. "Many believed that his success as a saint can be attributed foremost, to a life as a living image of the Crucified. He was gentle and patient and never murmured a word of complaint. He loved poverty and his purity consisted in excluding all thoughts that did not tend towards God. He preserved this awesome purity by obedience. As great as he was, he excelled more than anyone in submitting to his superiors. Second, he was an imitator of his spiritual father, Saint Dominic. It was said of Saint Dominic that he was 'a light of the word, a dazzling reflection of Jesus Christ, a rose of patience, another precursor and a master in the science of souls.' Vincent was a worthy disciple who would himself protest that he was only imitating his holy founder. God is glorified in His saints!"

The patapak experience reinforced my belief that God works through His saints and also among the people He sends to us. Let us pray to St. Vincent especially with the harrowing news of this dreaded typhoon before us and also for godlike virtues exemplified by St. Vincent which will enable us to weather any storm from without and within!

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