Saturday, December 31, 2011

Anyone who know me or have read at least a couple of posts in this blog know that I am not a big fan of religion. I'm a big believer of God but not necessarily any established faith available in the country (or the world for that matter). This fact, however, does not make me immune from being dragged to church almost every Sunday, Christmas Day was not an exemption. 

I want to make it clear that I have nothing against going to church. It's just that I can't find any meaning to these rituals, especially if the homily is, yet again, about some mindless ramble about the importance of the church, the duties of Catholics to their church, how one should go to church more often, be more active in church activities, give more money to the painting/restoration of the church et. al. I mean, I understand that a religious institution, even as big as The Catholic Church, needs support from their flock, but lately, I've been finding these kinds of lectures bothersome. 

For a massive powerful force that offers salvation and hope to millions of people, all I've been hearing recently are these kinds of needy litanies about being a "True Catholic / True Christian". If that is not the case, then lectures about the pathophysiology of the Holy Trinity and dissection of *enter vague religious term here* dominates most homilies I've had unpleasure of hearing. My spider sense could sense the crowd's simultaneous mental snores.

However, the Christmas Mass we went to last Sunday was different. It completely stood out from all the homilies I've heard since I started scrutinizing the words that come out of a priest's mouth. We attended the 6PM Eucharistic Celebration at the EDSA Shrine, December 25, 2011. I didn't catch Father's name, but you just have to to take my word for it, he was awesome.

And because it was Christmas, I expected a story about Jesus in the manger with the animals and itchy hay. I was ready to sneak in a quick nap while standing up (just got off from work before heading out to go to mass) when my subconscious told me that this priest was doing one hell of a job in that pulpit. With an American accent and a voice that could replace the smoothest DJ in Philippine radio, he rambled on with this unexplained magnetic charisma. He first talked about the thousands of street kids in the metro. On how one would eat inside a fast food beside the glass wall and have at least 2 kids staring at you while you much down on your Big Mac, then if you give one a treat, a stampede of other street kids will follow and surround you before you can even plan your nearest escape route. 

Point 1 for father. Good thing to know that at least one of the Catholic clergy acknowledges the existence of street children in the country. With their arguments against the RH Bill, I would have believed that they are blind to these conditions.

Second, he talked about the story of a an older brother sharing to his sibling half of the food he got from a donation drive. Just when the world seems so hopeless with the sight of never ending poverty and suffering kids with bleak future, he said that that image gave him hope. And this was the time he said the words that I never would have expected someone in the clergy would say.

He said that we, Catholics, Christians, have been so convinced, so assured, by our culture and even by our own church that God is always there for us. We have been so complacent and compelled that whatever hardship or suffering happens, God will help us, will not forsake us and thus will make everything better. All we needed to do is pray and have faith. Although this is true, what is lacking in these belief system is that, we have also in us the power to help ourselves.

In the bible, when Mary was in labor with Jesus, it was people who helped her and Joseph find a suitable place to give birth. It was the Three Kings who gave additional assistance to the holy family. Christmas is all about empowerment, he said. It is about us knowing and believing that we could make things happen for ourselves, our lives, and that we can help this country change for the better. 

In the hundreds of hours I've spent inside the church, I have never heard a priest acknowledge the power and the potency of human capability. Normally, sacred lectures like these concentrate on the power of God, our dependence on him, how everything should be offered and lifted up to him, how we are nothing without his saving grace etc. But his speech was different. Although there is God, looking after us, WE, ourselves, have the power to reach for our dreams and change the world entire. We are not as powerless as we thought we were.

People were already singing the Apostle's Creed while my mind was still reeling from aftershock. This is exactly what I wanted to hear from the church. For them to acknowledge that not all things can be achieved through sole prayer and veneration. At the end of the day, it is OURSELVES that we should believe in, that we have the power within us to achieve our greatest desires and change the world entire.

Come communion time, I can hear people still talking about the homily. I can tell that for people who regularly attend masses, this was a breath of fresh air for them too. It got me thinking, as long as there are young visionaries like father who sees reality as it is and steers away from ancient and impractical beliefs, there is hope for The Great (but slowly crumbling) Catholic Church after all.

Merry Christmas everyone!

**Photos from Google Images


Cha Kuris said...

Ganda nung "self-empowerment" message ni Father. That should wake up the fervent church-goers from their reverie that not everything will be handed to Juan while he just waits for the guava to fall from the tree. =)

Clarriscent said...

@Cha Kuris

Precisely! I really have never heard of a homily like his before. Most of the lectures I've heard from priests just reiterate our weakness and absolute dependence on God's mercy. I wish you could have been there. Even the way he talked sent shivers down my spine. :)

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