Restore the sense of penance PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 28 May 2015 09:21

REFLECTION

BY FR. ROY CIMAGALA

Let’s  do something about this grave concern. We cannot deny that we are losing the genuine sense of penance. It’s a word that nowadays hardly figures in the vocabulary of the people, especially the young.

But we, of course, have to be optimistic about this. No matter how ugly things look at the moment, there is always hope. I personally believe that the uglier the things are, the bigger also, the brighter and the more beautiful the potentials for redemption are, if we know how to react to this predicament.

Yes, our general sense of penance is in crisis, mainly because people are turning away from God who in the end is the one who sets what is right and wrong, what is good and evil, what is virtue and sin and vice.

Our sense of penance is in crisis because our idea of what is good and evil is now reduced to our personal preferences, or at best to what can be termed as our social, political, cultural or even ideological consensus. Our legal system is often regarded as explicitly atheistic or agnostic, to free it from the so-called religious bias.

In short, we are not anymore referring things to God but to ourselves. This is what is called the post-modern thinking which, as the Wikipedia defines or describes, views “realities as plural and subjective and dependent on the individual’s worldview.”

It proclaims that there can be diverse interpretations of truth, being and ways of seeing. It rejects sharp distinctions and global and dominant truths. It sees truth as highly individualistic and subjective.

And so now, we have public figures like US President Obama and singer Bono saying that the Christian definition of marriage should not be imposed on all, which is a distortion of the reality of things.

First of all, the Catholic definition of marriage is not so much a matter of religion as it is a matter of the very nature of marriage. And it is not imposed. It is simply taught with the authority of the Church magisterium. Everyone is always free to go against it, though obviously he has to face the consequences.

This post-modern thinking is very much in the words of Bono who recently said: “Marriage is now an idea that transcends religion…It is owned by the people. They can decide. It’s not a religious institution.”

Many people today do not anymore have the healthy fear of God, nor of sin and temptation. What would terrify them more is when they see the low-batt sign in their cellphone, or the low internet signal and the circling buffering sign in their computers.

But we should not be daunted by all these developments. What is needed is a continuing or ongoing catechesis rendered in an atmosphere of friendship and personal apostolate. If this can only be done, as in fact it should, since it is a basic duty of a every child of God, then we do not have much to worry.

Our country is still a strong bastion of Christian faith, supported by a still large amount of humility, simplicity, docility to Church authority or any rightful authority, and a breathing piety. Let’s take advantage of these blessings to counter the onslaught of post-modern thinking that is afflicting some of our public figures and political leaders.

With gift of tongues, let’s remind everyone that we are all sinners because we have offended God and not just anyone, and that we need redemption, which God so willingly gives us. We have to learn how to avoid sin, fight temptations, stay away from occasions of sin, and to make up for the consequences of our unavoidable sins.

Let’s remind everyone that there is a wonderful sacrament called Confession that more than a tribunal of strict justice is a seat of abundant fatherly mercy from God. Let’s reassure everyone that God wants to heal us, to sanctify us, to make us like him since we are his image and likeness, and children of his.

Let’s tell everyone that God has given us everything we need to be a true child of God, full of love and goodness, of truth and wisdom, etc. But let’s not be afraid to go through some suffering which is a way of our purification and atonement for sin in general, ours and those of everybody else.

Let’s do all these with joy and optimism, without bitter zeal. God makes wonders far beyond our wildest and fondest expectations. If we persist in this hope, then we can truly recover a healthy sense of penance.