Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Moral guidance, a call for discernment and formation

Our pastors, the Catholic Bishops have spoken.

The statement may come as a disappointment to some, especially those who want a direct call for the president to resign. It may come as a relief to the president and her men, who obviously have been panicky since the scandal surfaced. But like anything else, we see things according to our own perspective - and interests.

It may not call for the president's resignation, but it definitely does not condone corruption and incompetence in the government.

For every Christian, indeed for every Filipino, it is to be taken as it is - a moral guidance from our Bishops to seek the truth and restore integrity in these times of restlessness and confusion.

The Bishops clarify what they have called for, also through the CBCP President - communal action:
For the long term we reiterate our call for “circles of discernment” at the grassroots level, in our parishes, Basic Ecclesial Communities, recognized lay organizations and movements, religious institutions, schools, seminaries and universities. It is through internal conversion into the maturity of Christ through communal and prayerful discernment and action that the roots of corruption are discovered and destroyed. We believe that such communal action will perpetuate at the grassroots level the spirit of People Power so brilliantly demonstrated to the world at EDSA I. It is People Power with a difference. From the grassroots will come out a culture of truth and integrity we so deeply seek and build.
True enough, what we need is the formation of our consciences - as individuals, as communities, as a Church, as a nation. A regime change would not necessarily result to the end of the systemic ills of corruption and selfish exercise of power, and the cultural imbalances in politics and social life. What is needed is a real change of heart - attitudes, paradigms, directions. One avenue is communal discernment towards formation of consciences towards liberation from the enslaving structures of political and cultural imbalance - like what Freire says of education - a practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world.

We look forward to our own Archdiocese' concrete response to the CBCP's moral guidance.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Portrait of a hero

February 17, in the year 1872, Fr. Jose A. Burgos was executed at Bagumbayan, Manila. He was among those who courageously stood for the rights of the Filipinos. This cost him his life. In a way, Fr. Burgos was a martyr for freedom, for justice, for righteousness.

In 1910, a monument was erected in Vigan - Plaza Burgos, featuring among others, a tall marker and a statue - in his honor.

Here are some pictures of the monument, 98 years after:

Rather surprisingly, no one seem to have remembered at least the day and the event, much less the significance. The statue is visibly chipped. The colors have faded.

A couple of modest bouquets however show that there were some who remembered.

Today more than ever, we are in need of Fr. Burgoses - both from the masses, and from the ranks, both of the Church and the State.

The forgetfulness however is not a good sign.

Friday, February 8, 2008


To put the world right in order,
we must first put the nation in order;
to put the nation in order, we must first put the family in order;
to put the family in order, we must first cultivate our personal life;
we must first set our hearts right.
- Confucius

The Season of Lent, which started on Ash Wednesday, 40 days of Retreat in preparation for the celebration of the central mysteries of our Faith - the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus affords us time to look into ourselves, our lives, our priorities.

The Readings from the Scriptures of the Sundays of Lent (a good 5 weeks) lead us into this.

Let us make the most of the Season, by faithfully attending to the Holy Mass, prayerful reading and reflection on the Scriptures (Scripture reading guides, given for free, are available at the parish offices. There are also some copies available at the Chancery, first floor of the Arzobispado), more intense sacrifice and works of compassion.

The turbulent times in our society - government, politics and communities, the incessant turmoil in our hearts are signs enough that we need a new sense of meaning, a new sense of purpose, a new sense of direction, a renewed life. We begin where else, but within ourselves?