This article is in SunStar Newspaper (online and print editions) on August 27, 2017. All photo credits: Tanchi Photography Studio.
CDO has been my home for a little more than a decade. Every time fiesta season rolls near, I can’t help but feel excited because as early as the first days of August, the city is already abuzz with activities like: promotional sales, parades, pageants, and processions. Fiesta also equates to food, festivals, family/friends time, fireworks, and fun. On top of that, there’s no class/work day. Everyone is in “higalaay mode”.
However, amidst the festivities and chanting of Viva Senior San Agustin, I can’t help but wonder if we know what we’re celebrating about. I asked a lot of people, including those who have lived here since birth, and many are clueless about our patron saint’s life and work. He is, after all, the reason for the fiesta.
I find it rather ironic that practically everyone in town is in joyous fiesta mood, but we are not clear about its true meaning and purpose. Consultation with my good friend Google gave me an extensive list of St. Agustin’s rich life history and contributions to the world.
As I read about this Godly man’s life, I was amazed that some of the quotes I actually hold dear were written by him. As an example, “You aspire to (do) great things? Begin with little ones!” But he emphasized that even if we soar to greater heights, we cannot let our pride get the best of us because “it was pride that changed angels into devils; it’s humility that makes men as angels.”
Imagine, this saint was alive from 354-430AD, and yet somehow, his written works have transcended the test of time and still resonate with people of the modern world. He believed in the power of prayer, and he also did not discount strong work ethics. He said: “Pray as though everything depends on God. Work as though everything depended on you.”
He coined the mantra of all wanderlust-loving travelers: “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page!” Keep in mind, this was the era before airplanes, budget airfares, and selfie sticks. If St. Augustin was able to travel to expand his horizons without the conveniences of our era, then we can all certainly do it too!
Another old favorite quote of mine on love and service was written by him— “What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like.”
Saint Augustin believed that “God loves each of us as if there were only one of us”. He said, “Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe.” May we indeed all feel God’s handiwork in our lives and may we be able to use His gifts for a greater sense of purpose. It is essential to “find out how much God has given you and from it take what you need; the remainder is needed by others.”
Most of all, St. Augustin said that, “God had one son on earth without sin, but never one without suffering.” May we all be reminded, especially in this era of staged-to-perfection-selfies and cool status updates, that no person is without suffering or problems. We all have our own crosses to bear. We just need to remember to carry our own cross well.
Our Patron’s History
According to Catholic.org, St. Augustin of Hippo is the patron of brewers because of his dramatic conversion from a hedonistic life, which included parties, women, and other worldly entertainment. Through the prayers of his holy mother, Saint Monica, he finally embraced Christianity. He eventually became Bishop of Hippo, Africa converting many to the Catholic faith.
His complete turnaround and conversion continue to inspire many people who struggle with vices and bad habits. He is called “Doctor of Grace” because he played an important part in developing the Church’s theology of grace (newtheologicalmovement blog).
More than spreading Christianity, St. Augustin was also a philosopher and prolific author. He has over a hundred titles, such as: Confessions, The City of God, On the Trinity, and On Free Choice of the Will (why God gave us Freewill).
The most popular is Confessions, which documents how God moved him to turn away from sin and, instead, do great things with this life through His grace. St. Augustin’s story is inspiring because he was able to evolve from a selfish man with worldly wicked ways to be an honorable man in service for others.
Tradition of fiestas
Fiestas are one of the Spaniards many contributions to our culture. They came here to colonize and Christianize; thus, most of our cities have a town patron saint. Traditionally, fiestas were used to entice common folk into venerating saints instead of their pagan gods. Fiestas were effective in attracting people to come into church via religious dramas, colorful processions, and an abundance of food.
Even when the Spaniards left, fiestas were celebrated to thank and praise the patron saint for his abundant blessings like good harvest and health. On the other hand, some fiestas were celebrated to also ask for blessings from the saints.
However, these days, it’s quite evident that the religious aspect is no longer the highlight. The merriment certainly takes prominence. Nothing wrong with that as we could all use a break from the tediousness of life! However, before digging into that lechon skin, don’t forget to remember St. Agustin and say a little prayer of thanks! His feast day is our fiesta day on August 28.