ZARRAGA, Iloilo, May 17, 2015 –- With the Church’s recent remembrance of one of the most popular saints in the country, a priest reminded the faithful, especially husbands, about St. Isidore’s powerful witness as a married man.
“The greatest gift a husband can give to his wife is to lead her to holiness,” said Fr. Renato Cuadras, main celebrant and homilist at the Eucharistic celebration of the patronal feast of San Isidro Labrador Parish in Zarraga, Iloilo on May 15.
Isidore with his wife, known as Maria de la Cabeza, lived as farm laborers for the rest of their lives. They had only one son who died unexpectedly as a child. But the difficulties of life, together with their love for the poor, only served to lead Isidore and his wife to become saints.
Example for modern times
“St. Isidore’s life reminds us of the importance of the sacrament of marriage for couples to grow in love in the midst the joys and travails of family life,” Cuadras also observed.
Cuadras, who is currently the Director of the Archdiocesan Commission on Migrants and Itinerant Peoples and Parish Priest of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage in La Paz, Iloilo City, spoke of the many challenges Filipino families have to confront in modern times.
“Today, only 30% of couples are married in Church while the rest are either civilly married or are living in common-law unions. Added to this is the dismal fact that a huge percentage of Filipino workers abroad are separated from their spouses,” he said, emphasizing the significance of St. Isidore’s example for couples today.
He also called St. Isidore, a farmer and a husband, a “reachable model” for holiness for the majority of Filipinos who raise their families in rural areas and make a living through agriculture.
Mass before his work day
Looking closely at the life of the saintly laborer, the priest cited three “devotions” that led the man to holiness: devotion to prayer, devotion to work and devotion to marriage and family.
Cuadras pointed out that to foster a life of prayer in the midst of the heavy work in the fields “Isidore always began and ended the day in prayer.” Isidore was known to rise early in the morning to attend Holy Mass.
According to the homilist, to be a saint one has to be truly devoted to one’s work and not to give in to a “puwede na” or shoddy work mentality.
He also underlined Isidore’s integrity as a workman even if some accounts claim that the saint usually reported to work late or that the plowing of the field was accomplished for him by angels.
The priest observed that while St. Isidore lived and worked as a humble laborer his degree and fame of holiness led the Church to canonize him in 1622 along with a group of four notable saints which included St. Teresa of Avila, St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. Francis Xavier and St. Phillip Neri.
of the significance of St. Isidore the Farmer (San Isidro Labrador) especially to the contemporary Filipino family.
The priest also reminded the faithful present that fiestas are meant to help us learn from the saints in responding to the call to holiness and not occasions of overeating, accumulating trash, or falling into debt.” (Fr. Mickey Cardenas/CBCPNews)