Going another level PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 12 March 2016 13:52




I was in one of these fast-food outlets the other day for a quick snack after a day of excursion, and I saw blown up on the wall a charming picture of the interior of a local church. The picture, in beautiful sepia, was obviously taken some generations ago.

It led my group to comment that the church was certainly a big influence in the community. All the major events of the town must have revolved around the church. Think of baptisms, weddings, burials, fiestas, big events in schools and government offices, etc.

In that picture, the pulpit of the church was given a prominent place. It was still a functional fixture. Of course, nowadays the young ones do not anymore know what a pulpit is, simply because there are no more pulpits in churches. They’ve been replaced with lecterns equipped with powerful sound systems.

Some churches today even have more sophisticated gadgets to facilitate their ministry. Many of them are now airconned, their architecture attuned to modern trends, their altars, reredoes and images gilded or lavishly painted.

In some cathedrals and basilicas, we can see wide screens for a live feed of the ceremonies taking place. Electronics has invaded and blended beautifully with the old and traditional in the churches.

I even saw rolling biblical images painted on canvas serving as backdrops of altars. They are made to shift from time to time according to some plan. Wonderful! This is not to mention the beautiful hymns now produced abundantly.

The churches and chapels of old, especially in the towns and villages, have certainly done a wonderful job in evangelizing the people. They practically had a captive market, since at that time the people were more simple and docile, and the leisurely pace of development must have been more favorable to religious concerns..

That is why we can still enjoy the good effects in terms of a widespread popular piety especially during fiestas and other important liturgical events—Christmas, Holy Week, Easter, etc. It goes without saying that these good things come with some warts and blemishes.

All these are worth praising and thanking God for. We just have to realize more deeply that together with the progress in the technical aspects of church life, there has to be real progress in the spiritual and moral aspects. This is the real challenge now.

We now have to pay closer attention to both the mega, even the yotta level, on the one hand, and the nano level, on the other hand, of Christian life.

Though church life will always be associated with the concepts of a remnant people and the spiritual life, everything has to be done to make it properly reach all people, rich and poor, mainstream and marginalized, and in all their aspects, including our material and temporal affairs.

The churches, from the bishops, priests down to the lay people, should now go to another level if they—we—wish to survive, if not thrive wonderfully in a world immersed in growing technologies and more complicated environments.

There is the disturbing trend, observable in many young people today, that considers the Church to be increasingly irrelevant in their lives. We have to tackle this challenge promptly and effectively.

This does not mean that we do away with what we already have. The old churches are still very useful and relevant. The traditional practices of piety, both personal and popular, are truly indispensable.

We just have to make them grow to greater levels of maturity and refinement, attuned to today’s complexities. This will be a process that is going to be very dynamic, and that can involve a lot of suffering and pain, as well as adding and pruning.

But church life has always been like that. Woe to it when it develops a certain allergy to these things. It can only mean it has grown complacent. It has stopped growing and is only putting up an appearance. It has stopped nourishing people’s spiritual lives.

A crucial element here is education to construct a proper human culture. The right of parents to choose their schools for their children, as well as the kind of education to be given to their children should always be upheld. This is a basic right of parents that has priority over state rights.

We have to resist any attempt to make education fully state-controlled, and values-free or neutral. Sadly, this is the trend in many places, orchestrated no doubt by some ideological groups. We have to be quick to react when certain public figures echo these sentiments. They are a threat to our society.