Saturday, March 17, 2007

Magsaysay Requiem

For the second time, I feature Horacio de la Costa, SJ who delivered this eulogy 50 years ago in St. Patrick's Cathedral.

"Only God, who knows the innermost hearts of men, can say with complete truth what a man is worth. That is why we pray for his infinite mercy over all our dead. Yet, judging human wise, I do not think there are many for whom we can make this prayer as confidently as we can for Ramon Magsaysay.

"We have Christ’s own warrant that what we do for the poor, the weak, the homeless, the oppressed, he shall regard as done to himself. Surely, then, a man who made the welfare of these very people the paramount business of his life, who used the great powers entrusted to him to protect the poor, to defend the weak, to shelter the homeless, to right the wrongs of the oppressed, has little to fear from God’s justice, and from his mercy everything to hope.

"We must take up without delay the tasks which he left unfinished. There are so many obstacles still to be surmounted between ourselves and that free, prosperous, and self-reliant nation to which our fallen leader taught us to aspire.

"We must bring to our own labors for the common good that same sense of urgency which he brought to his; that consuming zeal which gave him almost no respite from his public duties, which so often got him up in the middle of the night to answer a cry for help, to save a life, to see that right was done.

"And there is something else that we must learn from him if we are to build as sturdily as he did: his massive integrity. In the grave crisis in our affairs which first brought Ramon Magsaysay to public notice, it was this quality above all that attracted our people to him, this that decided them to put in his hands the supreme executive power. Cutting across the tangled intricacies of party politics they chose, very simply, a man whom they could trust.

"All our hopes for the future depend, beyond question, on our ability to maintain a government that deserves the confidence of the people and the world. Our plans to improve our economy, to redress the inequality of our social structure, and to contribute our modest share to the peace and happiness of mankind, are premised on public office in our land being held by men who will keep faith with God and with their fellow men.

"We shall make true progress only if every citizen from the highest to the lowest can look upon their government as truly theirs; not the instrument of a party or the private preserve of the powerful. We must seek first, the kingdom of God and his justice; then, and only then, shall all things else be added unto us.

"The sword of death, so pitiless, has yet this virtue in it, that what it destroys it preserves. It hews away from a man what in him was gross, was fallible, was mortal; but by the same stroke it fixes forever, both in itself and in the regard of men, that part of him which is immortal, and being spirit, is most himself.

"Even so has it dealt with our beloved leader, that we may see him as he was essentially, and seeing find the courage to be in our small measure what he was in so large a measure: a man who loved the people, who kept faith with them, who gave all he had to their service, without stint, without compromise, without regret, and unto death."

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