Sunday, September 14, 2014

Exalting the Cross of Renewal and the PCP-II

Allow me to share to you that as I grow old, the Cross to me is gradually becoming a symbol, above all, not only of salvation but of renewal.  What the people in the grassroots and far-flung communities really aspire now is again seeing our local church actively participating in socio-pastoral situations and realities affecting them. My mentioning of the “Cross of Renewal” here also hinges on the belief that we, as people of faith have to move on for a new life. Let go of the shadows of the past, embrace the light to re-start from our tradition of struggling with the aspiration of the masses even those who are not church-goers (Gentiles?). Nobody can afford to just keep his fingers crossed in the face of inhuman social and political realities in our midst till Kingdom come!  

We cannot renew ourselves by discarding everything that we have started just because of the ugliness of the past. This “Cross of Renewal” is challenging us to be relevant in said context and dimension. In his book called, Called to Communion (p.142), writing as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVII taught us, “It is true that purely spiritual attitudes also have an impact on social structures. This shows that the spiritual element does take effect. It is necessary, yet it is not sufficient. There is in fact a density proper to impersonal and collective structures which has to be reached.” On the other hand, we are not suppose to forget that the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines (PCP-II) is a council of renewal renewing, among other things, the performance of her mission at the service of the transformation of the Philippine society (Well for many of us, PCP-II doesn’t ring a bell anymore). If we continue to be visible in our Basic Christian Communities (BECs) concretely struggling with the Mangyans in asserting their right to their ancestral domains or with the fisherfolks in their vigilance over illegal fishing methods and the peasants against usury for instance, we together “exalt” (rise on high) the Cross of renewal and salvation.

Call me an old fashioned parishioner but I believe that the tenets of the almost 23- year old Council need to be constantly revisited and revitalized. But it is sad to note that it seems diluted into a mere event than a tool in reading the times in the light of the Good News and “Unite all things in Christ” (Eph 1:10) as its theme have suggested. The PCP-II for me is always relevant to us Filipino Catholics. To some personal reminiscence, PCP-II was the “hot” when I first set foot at the door of the Church as a lay worker and that was 1991 until I tendered my resignation in January 2, 2011. From a radical street militant fixed to Marx’s Dialectic Materialism, I was able to gain example and inspiration of mainly from the Man “fixed” to the Cross.

The decrees embodied in the PCP-II are gems of faith but it is sad to note that it is now seldom referred to in various formation, manuscripts and homilies addressed to the people of God. Like her social doctrine, it is becoming another “best kept secrets” of the Church. The documents were crafted by the Council from January 20 to February 17, 1991. The Apostolic Vicariate of San Jose de Mindoro then is represented by Fr. Vicente C. Panaligan, Mr. Gaudencio M. Espiritu, Sr. and the late bishop Vicente C. Manuel, SVD, DD who heads the Conciliar Commission on the Religious. Fr. Panaligan, a jolly and friendly but intelligent clergy was among my early mentors on how to be involved in various active peaceful initiatives like pro-environment, the peace process and anti-illegal gambling campaigns towards putting into action the Social Doctrine of the Church. It’s the cross that we fearlessly put up high those days. It is the same cross that I am trying exalt now as a government employee and as a member of a Civil Society Organization (CSO) and as a Mindoro blogger.

Today is September 14, Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross (or Triumph of the Cross) and we Catholics honor the Holy Cross by which Christ redeemed the world. And before going further, allow me to greet everyone in Sta. Cruz a Happy, Happy Fiesta!

Here’s a little “throwback” on the Church’s history. The public veneration of the Cross of Christ originated in the fourth century, according to early accounts. The miraculous discovery of the cross on September 14, 326, by Saint Helen, mother of Constantine, while she was on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, is the origin of the tradition of celebrating the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross on this date.

As we celebrate this feast, let us all remember Our Lord’s words, “He who does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake shall find it” (Mt 10:38,39).Meditating on these words we unite ourselves — our souls and bodies — with the cry and aspiration of the Anawim right here in our diocese specially both in the rural and urban areas. We owe a preferential option for them, remember? With this, we are worthy pilgrims who walk with Jesus throughout history in this part of the universe.

People would be glad seeing our local Church taking up the crosses of renewal of our marginalized and deprived brethren by keeping alive her essential pastoral programs that deals with seminary formation and social action ministry, among other related programs or commissions.

The hierarchy has to pick up the Cross of Renewal even at the point of suffering or feeling the weight of a wounded institution brought about by our, to borrow from PCP-II’s (665) description of the Philippines, “chronic, almost compulsive dividedness”…

(Photo : Forum Andrew Gough)

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