Contemplata aliis Tradere

A meagre contribution to the mission and work of the Order of Preachers: my reflections, thoughts, ideas and the occasional rant on matters mainly theological, philosophical and ecclesiastical, drawn primarily from my reading and experience of life and the world. Striving to be always Catholic, firmly Christian and essentially Dominican, flavoured with dashes of Von Balthasar.

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Location: Oxford, United Kingdom

A son of the English Province of the Order of Friars Preachers (Dominicans); born in Malaysia but have lived in the USA, Singapore, the UK & the Philippines for varying durations. A pilgrim and way-farer, a searcher for Truth on the journey of Life... "Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine, There’s always laughter and good red wine. At least I’ve always found it so. Benedicamus Domino!" - Hilaire Belloc

Sunday, June 12, 2005

In Memoriam fr Romeo Asuzano, O.P.

Today marks the Anniversary of the tragic death of Fr Romeo Asuzano, OP. Fr Romy, as we knew him, was a priest assigned to the parish of San Lorenzo Ruiz in Dagat-dagatan (Navotas), Metro Manila in the Philippines. He was one of the priests in the Dominican community I lived with as a Dominican Volunteer for a year. One year ago, Fr Romy was robbed and stabbed as he was crossing a bridge, which was within sight of the parish, on his bicycle. Unknown to us, he later died of his wounds in a hospital, an anonymous victim... The events of that fateful night and the next morning (the Feast of Corpus Christi) still live in my memories.

I should like to share here some reflections from my personal and private Diary which I kept every day of my mission in the Philippines:

"Today, Corpus Christi, is a day of celebration but perhaps in looking at the Eucharist, I have missed one aspect. In order for this Sacrament of Life to come about, the Lord had to die, and die horribly. When I first contemplated Fr Romy’s death, the passage that came to mind was: 'Unless a grain of wheat should fall upon the ground and die, it remains but a single grain with no life.' This was the Lord’s way and has become Fr Romy’s. As I went straight to the Adoration Chapel and gazed on the Lord’s countenance and said the Rosary, I felt this was very much true. "

I had a limited collection of music on mp3 with me in the Philippines but at that time, the setting of Psalm 23 by John Rutter from his Requiem brought me much comfort and the words of that familiar psalm brought me some degree of comfort in the midst of much confusion, many questions and genuine grief:

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
In grassy meadows he lets me lie.

By tranquil streams he leads me
To restore my spirit.
He guides me in paths of saving justice
As befits his name.

Even were I to walk in a ravine as dark as death
I should fear no danger,
For you are at my side.
Your staff and your crook are there to soothe me.

You prepare a table for me
Under the eyes of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup brims over.

Kindness and faithful love pursue me
Every day of my life.
I make my home in the house of the Lord
For all time to come.
Reflecting in my Diary, I commented then on the psalm:

"Poor Fr Romy, walked in the valley of the shadow of death, but he had no fear. God was and is with him. God was there to comfort him in death, giving him his Sacred Heart as a refuge. And while his enemies, his killers watch, the Lord had already prepared the Eternal Banquet for him, the Table of which Fr Romy had celebrated Holy Mass at here on earth. Fr Romy’s head was anointed at baptism and confirmation and his hands consecrated with the Oil of Chrism and so, he holds the cup of love that brims over, the Chalice of Salvation. So prepared, it is only fitting that the kind and loving God who pursued him as the Hound of Heaven and gave him this sublime vocation to be himself a hound of the Lord, should at last come home to his Master. At last, Fr Romy Asuzano OP has made his home with the Lord, not on earth, where no tent may be built but on Mount Zion, heaven itself." May he have eternal rest.

This remembrance of Fr Romy is also appropriate for today's Sunday liturgy which speaks of apostleship and the demands of this ministry. Fr Romy was a labourer in the vineyard; he was assigned to that parish because he chose to be a Preacher of the Truth and he was called to proclaim the kingdom in Dagat-dagatan. Ultimately, he gave his life to and in that parish and as St Paul puts it: "it is not easy to die even for a good man" (Rom 5:7). I am not saying that he is a martyr but his death is a witness to the love of Christ, who made himself vulnerable to share our sufferings and pain; so too this priest chose to share the vulnerability of the poor and in so doing, he met the kind of violent and tragic death that too many others in Dagat-dagatan have suffered. To this day, his Dominican confreres still labour in that vineyard with joy, fortitude and hope, in spite of many dangers, hardships and even death threats. They do so because the crowds of over 100,000 souls in that parish are "harassed and dejected, like sheep without a shepherd" (Mt 9:36). Such is the cost of preaching the kingdom of heaven and labouring for the Lord's harvest.

To Fr Romy, OP and to his fellow labourers in the vineyard, I offer this tribute, these memories and my prayers.
Requiem aeternam dona eis Domine et lux perpetua luceat eis. Requiescant in pace.


Blogger Andrew [officially retired from blogging 9/15/05] said...

Sad story... May his soul rest in peace in the hands of God!

2:26 pm  
Blogger Philip said...

Thank you for sharing the reflections; May he rest in peace with Jesus forever!

7:03 am  

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