BLESSED BE THY VICARS, LORD

by Luis G. Dato

I. MONS. JORGE BARLIN

Monseigneur Barlin, the ages do not die
But leave behind their monuments of glory,
God-blessed and crowned with immortality,
They mark the epochs of a nation’s story.

And such was you, your consecration proved
Not your own worth alone, but of your race:
Despised, contemned, in you their spirit moved
To the grand heights of virtue, power and grace,

Such as were thought the white man’s gifts alone.
With you the myth retreated to the past
That we lived but to be the white man’s pawn,
That of inferior mould our race was cast.

Barlin! Your served your God, in life, in death,
Christianity here has its strong bastions now,
Largely from men, like you, who gave the breath
Of life, and blood and toll, that it might grow

And strike deep roots in these lands of the sun,
Keeping them ever loyal to the Cross,
That in the sky for Constantine had shone
As pledge of victory against his foe.

When schism threatened, the false pride you scored
As stupid that would cleave our church from Rome;
One Luther was enough, and you abhorred
What could have well destroyed our church at home.

And for your people guideposts you laid clear
From your own virtues in the Christian fold,
Example bright for all who held you dear,
For emulation by the young and old.

A paragon of virtue, a true prince,
Defender, pillar of the church your proved,
The likes of you our land has seen not since,
Hope, charity and faith that mountains moved.

And the mind formed of this your chosen nation,
And blazed the paths of one whole age entire,
To lift whose sights to God in veneration
Because your whole life’s vow and soul desire.

Your country, like our God, you thus served too:
You served her twice — to you the Church and State
Were kindred fields where sons must give their due,
When country called and sought a happier fate.

And so today, past half a century,
The monument you leave behind will stand,
A beacon bright of deathless memory
To all generations of our land.

II. HAIL OUR BISHOP

Hark all ye faithful, festive hours are come,
One solemn day known in all Christendom:
The bells with silver chimes ring gaily forth,
And fairest flowers are strewn whereon shall tread,
As one new risen from the centuries dead,
Another Christ upon another earth.

Ring out, thou glad bells, thy delirious chimes,
And from the poet’s lyre melodies rhymes,
A light of glory blazons from the east
To show the true path to our erring kind,
And Heaven’s band who guides our ways grown blind,
Now beckons kindly to this Christian feast.

Now comes today crowned in the crowd’s acclaim,
Who reign’s o’er us in holy Jesus’ name,
Who marks each little sparrow in its fail,
Who keeps within His book inviolate,
In every page our humble deeds and great,
A shepherd who His straying flocks shall call.

The years, the ages pass to leave their mark,
With statues at strife all groping in the dark:
Lust and ambition usher reigns of greed,
Disease and hunger threaten us with doom,
And our own Babels turn to be our tomb,
But ever shines afar our ancient creed.

Auras of glory, like a central sun,
Shall shine when stars have died and life is done.
Burning as steadfast as the polar star
When night enshrouds the water, wild winds rave,
A hand to rescue and a lamp to save
And land to port through our vagaries far.

Our life is brief, and thin the veil forsooth
That hides the fair appearance of the truth:
The rose soon withers, down departs too soon,
And birth, inscrutable mystery, holds breath
But one small step removed from heedless death,
A hyacinth in bloom — a moment’s boon.

Eternal infinite life! of this alone
God in all capable, a grace to own,
And as of old, His Heaven-born son He sent,
Our souls to save from clutch of mortal sin,
His vicar comes, our heavenly grace to win
And grant the blessings of the firmament.

O Heaven-anointed! all around thee knock
The evils of the world as on a rock
That stands majestic o’er the tempests’ roar;
When the air fills with voices in affright,
You tower through the watches of the night,
O’er the hostile seas, a beacon from the shore.

Ring out, sweet bells, in fulsome accolade,
With paeans ne’er in memory to fade,
Our standards flaunt from ever Christian home,
Our fairest flowers strewn upon his way,
While heavenly music holds immortal away
To herald him who in God’s name has come.

Hail then, friend of our soul! on bended knee,
Our reverence and love we give to thee;
Thy children see, thy brethren all behold!
Whence life’s pursuits have flung them, far or near,
Hither thy praise, thy counsel firm to hear,
As sheep that long have strayed the Christian fold.

Your excellency, with your gracious leave,
This welcome and this tribute deign receive;
As in an altar where with loving hands,
We keep faith burning bright through all the years,
With thee we rest our hopes, our prayers, our fears,
That peace and faith may reign in all the lands.

III. HIS GRACE ARCHBISHOP ALBERTO

And now our ruling prince, to write of whom
Is not, as one may think, a facile task,
Perspectives lend, allow for error room,
For verse on Christ’s young pontiff, blessed of Rome,
From all, indulgence humbly we must ask.

For who are we the things of God to weigh
And his anointed judge, and by what view?
Of the profane and sacred what words say
In praise or censure, we who are of clay,
That Jesus vicar we may give his due?

But there are these — in unstained saintliness
He bides, for its own sake, and that we find
It worth the emulation, our lives bless;
Is not religion this, or more or less,
Not just a trap dialectic of the mind?

Humility, this too another trait
Which to the faithful His Grace so endears,
All strange to him the 1ordly mien or great
As often comes to those who on God wait,
Humble, his Lord, his people both he hears

Humility, first of the triple vow
They make who would on earth serve Him
Here’s utter humbleness, and not for show,
But as a mission felt for here and now,
A grace when lesser lights from pride grow dim.

Those that abase themselves Cod will up lift,
But those of prideful heart He humbles low,
Be what it may, the humble hold a gift
To draw the faithful near, no chill, no rift
To make the shepherd of his flock the foe.

And third is industry. Who in God’s name
Would lead to soul-redemption early wakes
The blazons of His glory to proclaim,
God’s piety to reach all doors as aim,
Daily the rounds of parishes he makes.

How do his pastors in each parish live?
As guardians of the flock, how true their care?
What foot they limp on, how do they believe?
The erring do they chide, and those who grieve
Of His compassion do they make aware?

In stations far and near, o’er Caceres,
He brought with s warm zeal a knowing heart,
Naga, Ligao, the palm-fringed wilderness,
His ministrations all have reached to bless,
And when time came regretful saw him part.

Example teaches best, and so each page
In the pure life of him’s an open book,
For profit and perusal of this age,
How here to live the human pilgrimage,
Whose have doubts at it have but to look.

When minds in innate darkness dwelt, it was
The church that for the forward plod the way
Illumed, the day of God made come to pass,
Its martyrs’ sacrifices to amass
To light Man’s conscience to the present day.

In other times, the Church, its mettle tried,
The storms survived, its sainted champions found
To rally all the faithful to its side
Against Time’s follies — war, greed, regicide —
With creeds consoling and with dogmas sound.

In its high moments, the Church sought to live
Ever in saintly ways to truth to lead
All discord quelled, all error to retrieve,
Its paladins more for her could not give,
Whose hearts would e’er with tender mercies bleed.

The Philippines dominions are as well
Of Christendom, the Papacy and Roma,
But centuries passed, while empires rose and fell,
She lived forgot, no native names to swell
The hierarchy, no tiaraed sons from home,

Until but recently when o’er the years
Of grim neglect, our rightful place we won,
The mistress came, the Vatican now hears
Our voice, for in the face of doubts and fears,
With worth our prelates came into their own.

So in the darkness that engulfs our time,
Be his the light o’er the abyss, the star
To shed rays soul beneficent, sublime,
His godly life and deeds extolled in rhyme,
To bring the end of earthly sin and war.

IV. MONSEIGNEUR TEOTIMO PACIS

Lord, bless thy vicar new, O Lord, do thou
Who maketh all earth’s things, upon him now
The blessings of thy grace and mercy deign
Bestow, who ask from thee ask not in vain!
For, Lord on this auspicious, so glad day,
He will commence the episcopic sway
In earthly stead of thee, Almighty Lord,
O’er all thy chosen flock, thy faithful horde
Who in a world in strife, a clouded time,
To thy bright mansions need thy light sublime.

The Lord’s good shepherd must, like thee, be meek
The guidance of the eternal hand to seek,
To show through darkness the lost, oft-missed road
To travel which alone can must lead to God,
None but thine image of humility
May lift from sin to thy eternity,
Where shadow falls not, basking in the light
That makes the infinite both vast and bright.
Thy vicar, Lord, is humble, keep him so!
Thus may he and his flock cleave to thy law.

And he who would the hosts of Jesus guide
Must earthly pleasures, mundane things deride
That would deviate from purity in word
And dead to pride, the sin the most abhorred,
To lead to their expulsion in the Fall.

Thy vicar has the gift of holiness
May it the Mitre through long, bright years bless
And keep the flock the saintly fold within,
Nor wander not astray in mortal sin,
And, though temptations on the road beset
Thy pure injunctions dare not to forget,
Nor barter for a transient moments pleasure
The joys divine, thy chastisement to measure.

Give Thou to him as well, O gracious Lord,
Thy wisdom, all action, thought and word
That he with clarity unfailing scan
Through the devious paths the destiny of man,
Behold through o’ercast skies Thy utmost star
Illumining earth’s chasms from afar,
To see that not in books Thy wisdom lies
But in Thy truth man finds his paradise,
That not in Reason solely but in faith
May man, a mortal, triumph over death,
That only thus may he end earth’s exile
And reach his heaven lost in sin the while.

Above all, Lord, give him the gift of love,
Such as shines on us warm from skies above,
For love is all the secret core, the strength
Of soul which man immortal makes at length,
The grace that in the neighbor, enemy
The handiwork of she divine may see.
“Behold all these my long-lost brethren be”,
Exalted Jesus through His agony
Created in the image of His God,
God’s love forgetful, man the earth has trod,
Those many centurles and wars and years
His heaven thus to make a vale of tears.

O God of mercy, God of life and love,
Let shine on him thy graces from above,
Let cease the conflict, both within, without,
Efface from minds benighted all the doubt,
And peace descending on a world at strife,
Immortal give thy gift to mortal life.

And now for this, today our flow’es we give,
May Heaven hear our prayers, may you long live
For you our candles at God’s altars light,
May they shine luminous in earth’s dark night.

Luis Dato
Luis Dato

Luis G. Dato (July 4, 1906 - January 29, 1985) was a poet, writer and educator from Sta. Cruz, Baao, Camarines Sur. He published books in English including Manila A Collection of verse (1926), My Book of Verses (1936) and the Land of Mai in 1975. He also wrote several books and text in Bikol such as, Vocabulario Bikol-Ingles-Kastila (1963), Cantahon na Bikol (1969), Morfologia kan Tataramon na Bikol (serialized in Naga Times), Patotodon sa Bikol (Bikol Mail) and Sarabihon sa Bikol.

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