HOMILY TRANSCRIPT | Manila Archbishop Jose F. Cardinal Advincula, Feast of St. Rita of Cascia, Minor Basilica and Parish of San Sebastian at Quiapo, Manila, May 22, 2024

Reverend Father Bernard Amparado, OAR, Prior Provincial of the Augustinian Recollects;  MotherMary Ann J. Lumactao, AR, Superior General of the Augustinian Recollect Sisters;dear brother priests, persons in consecrated life, dear brothers and sisters in the Lord:

It is my joy to be with you today, in this historic Basilica of San Sebastian, to celebrate with you the Solemnity of St. Rita of Cascia.  As we gather to celebrate her memory, we are reminded of her remarkable journey—a journey marked by suffering, forgiveness, and unwavering faith. For today’s reflection, I invite you to delve into the Word of God from Romans 8:26-30, our Second Reading, which beautifully encapsulates the essence of St. Rita’s life.  Allow me to share three points for reflection.

First, the Spirit’s Intercession (Romans 8:26-27).  In her life, St. Rita faced immense challenges—losing her husband to violence and mourning the deaths of her twin sons. In our own lives, we encounter moments of weakness and uncertainty. But take heart! The Holy Spirit intercedes for us, even when we don’t know how to pray. His wordless groans bridge the gap between our hearts and God’s will.

There was once a mother who has lost her child to illness. In her grief, she didn’t know how to pray anymore. But the Holy Spirit intercedes for her, groaning on her behalf. Through this pain, she finds solace and strength to carry on, trusting that God understands her heart even when her words fail.

Dear friends, when you feel overwhelmed, remember that the Spirit is your advocate, just like St. Rita.

Second, God Works All Things for Good (Romans 8:28).  St. Rita’s life was a mix of pain and grace. She forgave her husband’s murderers and embraced her vocation as an Augustinian nun. In all things—joy and sorrow, success and failure—God works for our good. Even when life seems impossible, trust that His purpose prevails. St. Rita’s suffering bore fruit—the reconciliation of hearts and the sanctification of her soul. There was this young man who lost his job unexpectedly. Devastated, he wonders why. But over time, he discovers a new career path—one that aligns with his true passion. God’s redirection transforms his life, leading to greater fulfillment.

Likewise, dear friends, our trials can lead to transformation if we remain faithful, just like St. Rita.

Third, Conformed to Christ’s Image (Romans 8:29-30). St. Rita desired to be like Christ. She received a stigmata-like wound, mirroring His passion. As we honor her today, let us strive for holiness. God foreknew us, predestined us, called us, justified us, and glorified us. We are part of a divine plan—a family of brothers and sisters, with Christ as our firstborn.

Imagine a recovering addict who experiences the power of Christ’s redemption. His past struggles become a testimony of God’s grace. He now helps others find hope and healing, reflecting Christ’s image through compassion and forgiveness.

My dear friends, let us remember that suffering, when united with Christ, leads to glory.  Let us always seek to conform our lives to Christ, just like St. Rita.

My dear brothers and sisters, let us emulate St. Rita’s courage and resilience. When faced with impossible situations, turn to the Spirit’s intercession, trust in God’s providence, and seek conformity to Christ. May her example inspire us to embrace suffering with hope, knowing that God’s love sustains us. St. Rita, patroness of impossible causes, intercede for us. Amen.

(Photo by Mio Angelo Hermoso/RCAM-AOC | Photogallery)



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