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A Problem of Thinking

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Christian formation in the parish these days cannot be limited to just waiting for the faithful to approach the sacraments. This is a narrow view of the Church that reduces it to its sacramental character. Catholics cannot be reductive. Catholics should be kaq olon, that is “towards the whole”. There is also the dynamic dimension of Church life — a dimension fundamentalists take seriously — and that is, “to seek out and save* (cf. Luke 19:10)”.

“To seek”. This is not a colorless phrase. In biblical usage it also means “I won’t rest, I won’t eat, I won’t relax until I’ve found it.” It was the attitude of the Lord himself who compares himself to a shepherd who leaves the ninety-nine sheep behind to look for the one sheep that is lost. To work in the parish, one must be creative; creative like the friars who almost five hundred years ago brought Christianity to our shores. They went out through uncharted routes exposed to nature and the natives, as a rule alone (to maximize their presence, of course), so as to build up the Body of Christ. They did not wait for the natives to come to them. Like the apostles of old, they went out to go where the natives were.

Even when a priest lives in a country where 85% of the natives are Catholics, he cannot just rest on the fruits of the efforts of others. After all, the reality of 85% Catholics have to square with rising criminality, lawlessness, corruption in government, etc. Where you find a husband who beats his wife and is unfaithful, you can be sure 85% of the time, he is Catholic. Where you find a judge who distorts the application of the law, you can be sure that 85% of the times, he is Catholic. Where you find a politician who uses his pork barrel for his own benefit and not for his own constituents, 85% of the time, he is a Catholic. We can go on…

The outgoing President of the CBCP reminded the bishops of the Philippines that the urgent problem of the Church in the Philippines is the rising secularization outside and within the Church. The problem therefore is in the way people look at themselves, their world and others. Secularization is the death of religious symbols. It was already announced in the sixties but it is only now that we hear talk about it in the Philippines as a serious problem. Our priests today have probably read the book “Honest to God” when they were seminarians, but forgot about it after ordination when they found out how “religious” and how “pious” the Filipino faithful was especially when such religiosity and such piety was expressed in gifts and large amounts of donations to the priest’s support.

What does the challenge of secularization mean? It is a cultural movement. It touches the mind, warps the intellect into thinking that the seculum is all that there is and destroys the taste of the spirit for the poetic and dulls its ability to grasp the connection between the natural and the supernatural. The secularized mind is DULL. It is myopic. It is despairing, and it does not know it.

If the problem is cultural, the answer is cultural. An old Dominican professor (Was it Piñon) already announced it years ago: “The problem we now have is a problem of thinking.”.


*For those who feel that that the word “save” is presumptuous, then read “apply the effects of the Lord’s saving work.”

Originally posted 2005-11-15 18:58:06. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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