It’s school time again! PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 10 June 2015 08:35

REFLECTION

BY FR. ROY CIMAGALA

That’s right, and I am now again back to school. It’s just one among many other pastoral assignments given to me this year. But I welcome this opportunity to be involved in a school, since the suspenseful work of forming people is made easier by the more or less controlled and structured conditions schools have.

Still I know I have to keep myself strong inside and out to cope with all the burden that undeniably is also great. Just the same, I also know that it also has its sweet and gratifying moments. It’s not all sweat and blood.

As chaplain, I say Mass everyday for everyone there—students, teachers, staff, some parents and guests. I hear confessions, conduct recollections, retreats and doctrine classes, and sit for hours in the confessional for personal spiritual direction. I’m happy to learn that this year the population has grown tremendously.

These are very delicate tasks but also a very privileged honor. Not everyone gets the chance to be of help and to make some crucial impact on the most intimate aspects of the lives of young people.

Much of this work is done hidden and in silence, without fanfare and worldly rewards. But what consoles is the thought that that’s how things and persons grow. And if I do things well, I know that together with God’s grace, I would be making a big difference in the lives of people.

It’s in these personal chats that I can clarify matters and issues, give pieces of advice and words of encouragement, sow reasons for hope, open horizons and broaden minds and hearts by pointing to our ultimate common goal while learning how to avoid getting entangled along the way. My desire is to be able to motivate people.

In a sense, I would be journeying with them. And given current world conditions, the effort is not without difficulties. Complicated minds and attitudes have taken root in many people. One really has to be very patient and creative with them, knowing how to make timely detours, when to stop, when to go, etc.

The effect of all this is many times very heartwarming, as people make welcome changes in their lives. Some people think miracles do not happen anymore these days. My experience is different. I see miracles taking place every day, though most of them do not have external manifestations.

Among the things I do in school is to give a class on Christian morality to high school seniors. While I have been giving classes and talks on this topic, there’s always the challenge of how to present the same ideas and doctrine especially to young people, given the obvious generation gap.

There’s always the need to adapt oneself to his audience, to talk their language, to be at their level. He needs to be most perceptive of the subtle shifts of mentality that takes place among people through the years and to attune himself to those conditions.

It cannot be denied that giving classes also involves some skills in performance and theatrics to be able to catch and keep the attention of the students. Especially when the students are young, the teacher has to contend with the notorious fickle-mindedness of these students. But he should not lose sight of the essential things to be imparted.

Due preparation is a must in giving classes. A teacher has to bear in mind that his presence alone should project a certain wholesomeness that would attract the young students, including the laziest and the most distracted and inattentive ones.

He should try his best that he is consistent himself with what he is teaching. What frustrates students most is when they see their teachers not living what they are  teaching.

In this class on Christian morality, I immediately felt the need to clarify what morality is not. That’s because nowadays, many people, especially the young, come with very distorted ideas and biases against the mere mention of morality.

I had to say that morality is not just about human sexuality, though a good part is dedicated to it since it is where many of us have our weakness, if not, our Waterloo. Neither is morality simply about rules, though rules there also are.

The challenge is how to make a keen sense of morality an integral, natural part of one’s thinking, speaking and acting. Sad to say, with the thick cloud of confusion nowadays, many people have practically lost this sense, and if they still have it, it is quite damaged, needing repair.