Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Thy Temple, Thy Will
I was out for a couple of days for I was asked by Sr. Paz Duerme, MCJ, coordinator of the Catechetical Coordinating Office or CCO of our vicariate, to be one of the speakers for the Annual On-going Formation for Catechists held May 21 to 23, 2011 at San Isidro Labrador Formation Center here in San Jose, Occidental Mindoro. Around 70 participants – fulltime and volunteer catechists - coming from all over Occidental Mindoro attended the gathering dubbed “Pantaunang Pagtitipon ng mga Katekista" or “PantapaK”. Among the participants were graduates of Sienna College who took up Bachelor in Secondary Education (BSE), major in Religious Education. “Pantapak” in English, as we all know, is “sandals”. The sandal,- by the way in Jesus’ time, was simply a sole, made of wood or palm-bark, fastened to the foot by leathern straps. In the Old Testament, sandals were proverbially a man's cheapest possession (Amos 2:6; 8:6), and therefore "a man without sandals" was the poorest of the poor. With this periodic formation, our catechists do not go down to their communities and classrooms "evangelically barefooted" each school year, hopefully.
But when I was little, my father’s sandals on my behind at night were reminders of his orders I have forgotten to obey. But hey, before I forget, the topic I and the catechists dwelled was about the Catholic Social Teaching or CST.
The social doctrine of the Church proposes a set of principles for reflection, criteria for judgment and direction for action. And in this particular juncture, the topic is addressed to the untiring and dedicated (mostly) women in the base communities of our local Church, the catechists. It is important that the faithful engaged in evangelization effort should have a firm grasp of this precious body of teaching and make this integral part of their pastoral work, specifically in catechesis.
Here’s the theme of the formation activity: “Buhay…Biyaya… Alagaan, Ingatan at Mahalin”. Taking a clue from its theme, all of the topics are anchored on the most controversial issue that divides our nation today, the Reproductive Health Bill.
In discussing the CST, I focused mainly on the Catholic hierarchies’ understanding of human freedom. And this is more or less a run-down on that particular canto of my sharing:
The Catholic Church teaches that freedom, including freedom of choice, is not a license to do whatever we like. It is not a license, indeed, to do evil. And freedom of choice, even over one’s own body, is not merely a right that one claims for oneself neither merely a drive inspired by an ideology or sentiment but ALSO a duty that one undertakes with regards to the wisdom and will of God and serving our neighbors. So, that “pro-choice” slogan that firmly states “My Body, My Choice” may sound sensible if one uses his/her legal and ideological spectacles and biases but there’s another theme/slogan that is worth discerning employing our biblical lenses: “Thy Temple, Thy Will”. Although both may be correct to some degree, while taking the risk of being accused as using biblical passages to strengthen my position, Jesus said in 1 Cor. 6:19-20, “You are not your own. You were bought with a price. So glorify God in you bodies.” Believing to any of the two themes or slogans I have cited above depends on how we understand the radical ontological difference between good and evil as thought to us by the culture of whatever country that we are in, the faith that we believe in, the ideology that we embrace, and other external factors that surround us. And let us not count out our biases against certain religious groups’ dogma, tenets and doctrines, including its office holders and pastors, whether we are a member of that congregation or an outsider, or even if we already loose faith in any religion.
When we view our freedom not coming from God and for God, when it is not lived in service and charity for others, then we make choices that cater our own will and not anymore of God’s, we abuse our freedom and pursue what we want, we disobey Him.
Pope Benedict XVI states that the root cause of abuse of freedom is the “dictatorship of relativism”. In such self-styled post-modern philosophy, the ultimate goal is solely one’s own ego and desires as the measure of all things and not God. This made it contrary to CST. He’s the very same Pope who urged Filipino faithful not to give up fight against RH Bill.
Before we closed the session, we prayed together that may the freedom that we receive as gift live in the hearts and minds of every Catholic in whatever field of endeavors they are in. Wherever soil they are planted and expected to bear fruits. For in our different capability and capacity, just like Mary, the apostles and the Christian martyrs of yore and in our midst and the early Christian community, it is Thy temple that we are building and it is Thy will that we must follow.
Not ours and the worldly gods, certainly…