Sunday, July 18, 2010

Of Foolish “Charismatics” and “Activists”

Hope you still remember that I am into a formation process called Christian Life Program or CLP which is required to all individuals joining the Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professional in the Philippines or BCBP. BCBP is a Catholic charismatic renewal organization fully recognized in all diocese where it operates nationwide.

We had our Baptism of the Holy Spirit session and all of us candidates are asked to render testimonials on our previous activity. My sharing was unusual, brief and it bothered me a lot. Was my testimony really inspired by the Holy Spirit? You be the Judge. Here’s what I’ve said direct from my recollection of the important parts of what I’ve said yesterday afternoon:

By way of introduction I told them, “Bago pa man umpisahan ang ating gawain kanina ay sinabi ko sa ang aking sarili : “Charismatic na nga yata ako.” Then I continued, “Pero alam ninyo, may panahon sa aking buhay na ang mga charismatic ay tinatawag na “sira-ulo” ng mga Katolikong aktibista. Gayundin, ang mga aktibista ay tinatawag ding “sira-ulo” ng mga charismatic. “Sira-ulo” daw ang mga charismatic sabi ng mga aktibista dahil sa gitna ng mga karunal-dumal na kaso ng paglabag sa karapatang pantao at dangal ng tao ay wala nang ginawa ang charismatic kundi ang mag-“praise the Lord”: Bible sharing, prayer at umawit ng papuri at iba pa. Wala raw kongkretong aksiyon ang mga charismatic para baguhin ang lipunan. Labanan ang kawalang-katarungan at iba pa.” They are all eyes and all ears on me but the expressions coming from their faces vary from one individual to another.

I had a short breather and went on, “Sa kabilang dako, sabi ng mga charismatic, “sira-ulo” din daw ang mga aktibista sapagkat wala na silang ginawa kundi mag-rally, manggulo sa lipunan at hindi man lamang pinahahalagahan ang pagdarasal at ang kanilang personal na ugnayan sa Panginoon. Pinupulitika na raw ng mga aktibista ang pananampalataya.” Some of them clapped their hands.

Then at the middle of my sharing, I do not know why I suddenly remembered that brutal massacre of a young Mangyan couple and their children in Magsaysay some years back. The so-called Blanco Massacre was perpetrated by some elements of the Philippine Army. And I almost cried. Is the Holy Spirit has something to do with these? I do not know.

In parting I said, “Pero sa magkaparehong ka-sira-uluhan ay tiyak na pareho ring kinikilusan ng Banal na Espiritu. Ang pagiging tunay na Kristiyano ay batbat ng pag-aalipusta pero ang Banal na Espiritu ang nagbibigay sa ating ng lakas ng loob at tapang na magpatuloy…” I can see relief in their faces and they gave me a very brotherly, warm and sincere appreciation through hugs and other gestures,- specially from women members, that I am not used to. They congratulated me for being newly-baptized in the Holy Spirit. “Welcome to BCBP”, said the BCBP-San Jose Chapter top honchos. I had a hunch that next month, I will be a bonafide member of BCBP, a (charismatic) renewal organization with social responsibility.

During the last election, BCBP officers in San Jose Chapter has been a mission partner of our local Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) in all election-related activities. They (or shall I say “we”?) are active in their/our Be Honest Campaign which is an advocacy campaign for good governance and anti-corruption. But there are still a lot of things to do especially in the area of going into the pastoral concerns of the local Church and its parishes. The BCBP must find itself and be relevant in the mission and program of our diocese. Or else, it would wastefully reduce itself to a social club or an organization of the Church-going elite aimed only at socialization. In finding itself with the pastoral concerns of the parish and its different ministries and committees,- we can have a charismatic approach, in particular, to social action or ministry of a certain bigger community like our diocese or parish.

Since the early 1960’s, the word “charismatic” characterized a widespread renewal movement in various Christian churches. A essential core of the movement has been the experience of gifts or charismata of the Holy Spirit, namely the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discernment of the spirits, speaking of tongues, and the interpretation of tongues. During the early years of the Charismatic movement, the emphasis was very much on prayer, Bible study and spiritual growth of an individual. On the other hand, the theology of social action, in some ways, became a reaction against a one-sided or over emphasis on the individual.

Yes, those “charismatic activities” are necessary and must be sustained but it should not stop there. It should not stop inside an individual but go beyond that,- to the bigger society, to something that has something to do with the social structure. That is the difference, at least as far as the its tenets as an organization, of BCBP in many of the charismatic movements in the past for it includes in its mission, “professional excellence, community and nation-building, practice of justice,…” And that is why I like it here.

By the way, I realized this morning that there is a common thread between the “Catholic charismatics” and the “Catholic activists” : A conscious sense of the Holy Spirit’s initiative and intervention and the conviction that faith is not something we humbly receive but something we do bravely. So, we are all “charismatics” and “activists” if we bravely understood the gift of the Holy Spirit.

As brave as the fool doing foolishness all the way…

(Photo softlinked from BCBP website)

1 comment:

  1. In the first place, there shouldn't be dichotomy between being charismatic and being activist. For both are -- as it were -- two sides of one coin (MS).