Monday, December 21, 2009

We Worship in the Whispers: Why Prepare for Advent

In omnibus amare
In omnibus servire
In omnibus amare et servire Domino
In everything, love and serve the Lord

These words, sung by the Bukas Palad Music Ministry in their current album To Love and Serve (and which may also be found in the emblem of Ateneo de Iloilo), recalls in a sense the very manner of life by which we, as the people of God in this dispensation, should follow. Having been called through vocare, we are expected to be not only mindless followers of doctrines and manners of living that our beloved Mother Church has set for us, but also a life that has been well thought out and consulted with not only our spiritual guides, but also those we love and those around us. It is, in a sense, what differentiates the Christian religion amongst others: it is a religion based on immersing oneself in the world and speaking to instigate change, not mere meditation away from the world or a violent negation of the world (not that I disparage them, mind you).

It must be in this light that we see our duty as Catholics in a world that has, in Nietzsche's words, "killed God" by assuming His position, to disastrous effects. In modernity's understanding of life as mere supply which should be sustained but could be disposed of carelessly when the necessity arises, masking it with the honor and glory of the secular world but are as vain as the empires and temples of antiquity, we as members of the community of Christ should seek to engage those among us to rethink life as we know it and rediscover that which is age-old, but ever new.

For the past years, I for one have been struck by that jadedness that comes with our hyper-commercialize d, somewhat spiritually- devoid Christmases of years past. Despite the warming feelings of having friends be with me when attending simbang gabi, that feeling dissipates, ironically, when I come home to our ancestral home in the province. The ennui of the environment, the inanity of the situations by which I find myself in there, as well as the ill-behavior of some of our family members (even elders) somewhat intensified my antipathy to celebrating Christmas in the province, preferring to remain at home and live out Christmas Day like any vacation day, without fanfare and devoting it to my more pressing responsibilities like papers and the like, to the consternation of my parents. No matter how I try to psych up myself to behave like a good family member and join in the traditional family gatherings, I just felt out of place and view things as senseless.

I was only reminded of how wrong was this when I remember that homily of Fr. Vic de Jesus last December 16's Simbang Gabi mass, which once mentioned how our God is a God which takes his time, which chooses to speak one on one to those who are in need. Our God is a God who will not deny His time to those who need His Help, those who would be willing to stop and talk a while and get to know each other. (Yeah, I had to put it in.)

But probably that is exactly what we need. We've had enough of the parties, we've had enough of the wastage, we've had enough of all the fluff and the noise. It's about time we stop, talk to those who need someone to talk to, and then sort out the loose strings on our relations to each other. It's not my fault, likely, but it might be that my absence is why some of my cousins are suffering indifferences with each other. It might probably why my younger cousin is already a mother at the age of 17. All because I was not there to talk to. That over-quoted statement of Edmund Burke remains true: All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

Fr. RB Hizon, Principal of the Ateneo de Manila High School, once mentioned in a homily last October 6 in the aftermath of Typhoon Ondoy:

Mother Teresa, I am told, once asked to address the American Senate as she and her sisters were looking for assistance to feed and clothe the big numbers of homeless in Washington , D.C. One high government official (who was not particularly impressed by her nor convinced that what she was doing was particularly good or helpful) wanted to embarrass Mother Theresa and asked her: “So sister, would you mind please telling us how it is you intend to feed the thousands who are hungry and homeless in DC?

Mother Theresa looked at him and said simply, “One by one.”

One by one. That is perhaps the best way we can respond right now…one by one…one student, one staff, one teacher, one neighbor…one community…one by one.

It's probably that reason why, despite all the academic work that has been thrown upon myshoulders by "challenging" professors (the term "inconsiderate" would be inappropriate I would presume), I shall still strive to attend to my duties to my relatives and friends. In that way, I would probably be able to deserve that name of Catholic that I carry. The best gift I would give to my family is that which is what I am best at: what I know and what I feel. After all, we also have for a God one who is not in the rumblings, but is in the silence or the faintest whisper:

And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him (1 Kings 19:11-13).

A merry Christmas to all.

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