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5 Ways to Celebrate the Feast of St. Luke, the Evangelist
October the 18th is the Feast day designated to St. Luke, the Evangelist. Personally, this evangelist is of particular significance to me growing up in the seminary. He has been our class patron until we finished Philosophy in College. That said, our identification with the class patron goes way back to the very time when priestly vocation was just a dream or probably a flicker of thought in our adolescent and young adult lives. I am not so sure if we have enjoyed those years being secluded inside the four walls of the seminary, but St. Luke has always been and will always be a part of those crucial stages of formation.
Out of the 41 candidates who first entered the minor seminary, the class was able to produce six (6) priests (myself included together with two others who joined us when we were in College). Thanks to St. Luke, the quote: “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few,” (Luke 10:2) has always been like a yearly challenge reminding the batch of how great there is a need to serve in the vineyard of the Lord. Six, though may not be a biblical perfect figure, is still a good number given that not all batches that graduated from our seminary was lucky enough to produce that much.
And so, as a tribute to St. Luke and to my fellow “Lukans,” who celebrate our 25th anniversary this year counting from the time when we first entered the seminary in 1989, I would like to share some ways to better celebrate this feast all throughout the anniversary. Allow me to do so by closely getting to know our Patron Saint:
1. Above anything else, St. Luke, like any of us, was first a “pilgrim.” But, what defines a pilgrim? Ralph Waldo Emerson puts it so clearly, “Life is a journey, not a destination.” A pilgrim, therefore, is a man on a journey. He is not caught up with the where as when someone quantifies the number of countries or cities he’s/she’s been to – a feather in one’s cap. More than the where, he/she is concerned about the how as to how one finds the “treasures” hidden behind the journey. Affirmatively, it goes with what I once said in my Facebook post: “A traveler goes for a trip to explore sceneries and historical sites. A pilgrim on the one hand, seeks "to see" the image of God reflected in those sites.” Hence, for a pilgrim the destination is not his/her ultimate end, it is rather a means towards it.
St. Luke, inspired by Christ’s apostles, knew what he was to live for as a fellow pilgrim. The words of Christ reflected in their very lives have led him to follow Jesus unconditionally. Though his life was at stake, he knew that what he was doing was the right thing. He knew his journey could lead him to his death, but regardless, it will lead to Jesus however painful it may be. He knew that the path is narrow but the promise of eternal life is great.
- A pilgrimage to Church Heritage sites within the province or even outside of it ending with a Mass in the seminary where the Feast of St. Luke is celebrated each year.
- Or to a wider location, organize a pilgrimage to the places where St. Luke’s relics are venerated:
Santa Giustina in Padua
France-Italy Pilgrimage 2013
St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague
3. His rib, at his tomb in Thebes.
St. Luke's tomb in Thebes, Greece
Week for Christian Prayer for Unity 2014
2. St. Luke was considered an “outsider.” Though it’s quite debatable whether St. Luke was a Jew or not, he was considered to be either a Hellenized Jew or a Gentile because of certain nuances and attributions found in his writings. Some scholars believe that he came from Troas (this region is now part of the Çanakkaleprovince of Turkey) as evidenced by his shift in the use of pronouns from “he” to “we.” For instance, in chapter 16:11 of the Acts of the Apostles, he writes “Setting sail therefore from Troas, we made a direct voyage to Samothrace, and the following day to Neapolis …” This shift continues until the group leaves Philippi, when his writing goes back to the third person. Luke never stated, however, that he lived in Troas, and this is the only evidence that he did.
Nevertheless, Jew or Gentile, we cannot deny the fact that St. Luke was a convert. His association with Christ’s apostles and love for the Savior are clearly manifested in his writings from the moment he surrendered his life to follow the Christian path.
- An ecumenical encounter with our brothers and sisters “outside” the Catholic fold through an ecumenical Mass where two or more faiths could worship together in a liturgy as one. This could coincide with the yearly Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which usually takes place on January 18-25 covering the original days of the feasts of the Chair of St. Peter (January 18) and the Conversion of St. Paul (January 25).
- A basketball league joining our brothers and sisters from different “faiths” in a friendly competition.
- A symposium highlighting “common grounds of faith and doctrines” from different “faiths” and work out ways for Christian unity. This must end in a more peaceful and not hostile dialogue.
3. St. Luke was a Doctor. Our batch has been blest with people active in the medical field, which brings the devotion to St. Luke even more relevant to many of us. In the Letter of Paul to the Colossians 4:14, St. Paul addressed St. Luke as the “beloved physician.” Moreover, aside from the universality of Christ’s mission as a Lukan characteristic, the beloved physician has been known for his emphasis on Jesus as Savior of the lowly and the lost which could be attributed to his profession caring for the sick and the deprived members of the community.
- A medical/dental mission to the depressed areas of the community.
- A novena in honor of St. Luke involving doctors/physicians in the local community. On the final day of the novena, the batch can acknowledge outstanding doctors/physicians, who give generous time and effort to help the lowly and lost in their localities.
Medical Missions, Philippines 2014
4. St. Luke was a Historian. He is regarded as a great historian even by present-day archaeologists and historians alike because of his accuracy in description of towns, cities and islands in his writings. It would, therefore, be an understatement if one overlooks such accolade from the beloved physician.
- Give honor not only to historians of one’s alma mater, but to all teachers who sparked our interest to embark on the realm of the intellect. The batch can incorporate this goal during “Teacher’s Day” in any school or university where those teachers are being honored. A simple gesture of acknowledgment or plaque of appreciation could be more than enough.
- To promote the recommendation above a notch higher, invite a professor/teacher to join in one of the Lukan gatherings and share a meal with him/her and his/her family to work with him/her in an educational project or endeavor. What more to pay them back by helping in their cause to guide students achieve intellectual and moral excellence.
St. Luke, the Evangelist stained glass
5. St. Luke was an Evangelist. The last but not the least (among many other features and possible ways to celebrate the feast), Luke was one of the great four (4) Evangelists, who wrote one of the synoptic Gospels. In his own right, he possessed great distinctions in his writings. As an evangelist, he is not just a writer. More than just a writer, he is a proclaimer of the Good News. One thing it is to write about something valuable and another to actually live what he/she is writing about and give witness to it. Such is St. Luke in his time. His words are as sharp as a two-edged sword, but his very life manifests its sharpness even more. The great Thomas Aquinas once puts it: “The fruit of knowledge is love and the fruit of love is service.” Clearly, St. Luke was not only inspired by the Word of God, he too, was compelled by it.
- A day of catechesis on the life of St. Luke and the importance of the Word of God. The batch can work hand in hand with the different schools, or even Catholic colleges in the area.
- A day of celebration on the Life of St. Luke, which could carry a theme: “Making the Life of St. Luke Come Alive in Our Life Today.”
- An "essay writing contest" remembering the beloved physician and evangelist.
- A tribute to modern-day evangelists who give witness to the word and teachings of Christ.
There you go, my fellow Lukans, how are these five (5) ways for starters? Mine is not the “be-all” and “end-all” of to-do-list about our dear patron. Treat these recommendations as guideposts to our journey together. May we truly find the meaning of what a “True Lukan” should be and continue to inculcate in our hearts the spirit of the word which continues to be proclaimed each time a Mass or celebration is said in his honor.
Happy Anniversary and God bless!