Chapter 31: - Page 6 of 8

The Sermon

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

Of the second part of the sermon—that in Tagalog—we have only a few rough notes, for Padre Damaso extemporized in this language, not because he knew it better, but because, holding the provincial Filipinos ignorant of rhetoric, he was not afraid of making blunders before them.  With Spaniards the case was different; he had heard rules of oratory spoken of, and it was possible that among his hearers some one had been in college-halls, perhaps the alcalde, so he wrote out his sermons, corrected and polished them, and then memorized and rehearsed them for several days beforehand.

It is common knowledge that none of those present understood the drift of the sermon.  They were so dull of understanding and the preacher was so profound, as Sister Rufa said, that the audience waited in vain for an opportunity to weep, and the lost grandchild of the blessed old woman went to sleep again.  Nevertheless, this part had greater consequences than the first, at least for certain hearers, as we shall see later.

He began with a Mana capatir con cristiano,[4] followed by an avalanche of untranslatable phrases.  He talked of the soul, of Hell, of mahal na santo pintacasi,[5] of the Indian sinners and of the virtuous Franciscan Fathers.

The devil! exclaimed one of the two irreverent Manilans to his companion.  That’s all Greek to me.  I’m going. Seeing the doors closed, he went out through the sacristy, to the great scandal of the people and especially of the preacher, who turned pale and paused in the midst of his sentence.  Some looked for a violent apostrophe, but Padre Damaso contented himself with watching the delinquent, and then he went on with his sermon.

Then were let loose curses upon the age, against the lack of reverence, against the growing indifference to Religion.  This matter seemed to be his forte, for he appeared to be inspired and expressed himself with force and clearness.  He talked of the sinners who did not attend confession, who died in prisons without the sacraments, of families accursed, of proud and puffed-up little half-breeds, of young sages and little philosophers, of pettifoggers, of picayunish students, and so on.  Well known is this habit that many have when they wish to ridicule their enemies; they apply to them belittling epithets because their brains do not appear to furnish them any other means, and thus they are happy.

Ibarra heard it all and understood the allusions.  Preserving an outward calm, he turned his eyes to God and the authorities, but saw nothing more than the images of saints, and the alcalde was sleeping.

[4] Brothers in Christ.

[5] Venerable patron saint.

Learn this Filipino word:

may hangin sa ulo