August 08, 2004

Angels & Demons of Malate

I just arrived from Malate Church. It's one of my favorite churches and attending their Sunday masses is sheer joy. More like inner joy.

The priests there are mostly Columbans who primarily are Irish. I find their presence very humbling (imagine leaving their homeland just to spend the rest of their lives here in the Philippines) and inspiring (for they're very active in community works.) Their experience in poverty-ridden Negros during the 1980s' "years of famine and insurgency" strengthened their faith and resolve in propagating the Catholic faith through example. This in turn, makes their words effective in touching the heart. They seem to be surrounded in an aura of holiness which is very effusive and infectious. Their sermons are conscience-hitting steeped in suffering and hope, love for the poor and the sick, and most of the time they talk about our obligations as Christ's children to our fellowmen and our duties to Christ himself. Their sermons are based on their experiences with the people of Negros, and not on lofty abstractions that only theologians can relate. What they have is heart and hearing their words can bring about the conversion of one's soul. (The question is: Is that change going to last as soon as you leave the Church?)

Because of their zeal and their holiness, the Columbans of Malate are highly respected and loved by their parishioners. A very good example can be seen right after the mass. It's only in their church where children, as young as 3 and as old as 30, approach the priest to make the "mano" sign. You can feel your heart being tugged as you watch the priest being delayed from leaving the aisle by hordes of people jostling each other so they can all make "mano." Such a sight is far from the hatred and animosity felt by Filipinos for the Spanish friars- but that's another story.

However, I am disappointed with some of the parishioners. Why? They leave at the middle of the mass. They prefer standing up and taking a bow right after the sermon or after eating the holy host. What on earth people think this is? A movie house? A play? A theater? Do they think this is not worth finishing at all? Do they think they can just leave without saying goodbye? It's as if you simply left the banquet table without letting the host know that you're leaving. I don't want to sound sanctimonious or oh-so pious but finishing the mass is the least you can do as a sign of respect for the faith and the religion you are affiliated with. If you really believe your faith can save you, then at least, give it the proper attention it deserves.

Sure, sure, there's that clause which says, we humans have the "freedom of choice." Well, freedom of choice indeed! Blah! Blah! Blah! Rationality sucks sometimes.

Oh well, just another Sunday blues.

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