Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Of Angels and Demons

With last year’s firestorm of criticism from the Vatican and many Church institutions to the film Da Vinci Code, it became an instant box-office hit around the world.

With this year’s muted reaction, the sequel film, Angels and Demons, promises to be way below the producer’s expectation.

Hence, certainly there is wisdom in the silent treatment of things. Yet, on the other hand, our faithful needs guidance and firm teaching or otherwise, one would be misled to think that it’s OK to watch and even promote films that are contrary to history and to the Church.

When is the time, therefore, to endure things that are happening? And when is the time to defend and speak out?

I believe, we are to defend always and all the time. The only question is the proper place, the appropriate time, and yes, the proper and fitting words.

As Pope Leo XII aptly puts it, The first law of history is not to dare to utter falsehood; the second, not to fear to speak the truth.

Within the Church, we need to constantly form our faithful—clergy, religious, and lay alike: to point out incorrect teachings, incoherent beliefs, and inconsistent lives. Outside of the Church, the bigger society, for example, we need to exercise prudence and wise judgment. We cannot afford to speak out all the time, or else, we lose the essential meaning of our prophetic mission.

In the public arena, there is a time to be silent, a time to speak, a time to condemn, a time to praise, a time to correct, and a time to be corrected as well, a time to forgive, a time to ask forgiveness.

Human as we are, there will be times when we shall be confusing the moments of silence and retreat and the moments of militancy and defense. And we have to learn. At times, our pastors and leaders would not be able to rise above the confusion and would confuse the same. During those times, we need understanding and certain degree of courage but never losing hope. We remember St. Catherine of Siena. It took an uneducated woman, but a very holy woman, to put an end to the Avignon Papacy and bring back the Pope to Rome.

Our Bishops are human beings like us, they need sincere and truthful feedbacks and inputs. That is our role in the Church. Not everyone can exercise the mission of governance in the Church, God has reserved it to our bishops. We help them in the wise governance of the Church. When they do commit mistakes, we should be there to help and assist. Remember when in the Old Testament, Lot became drunk and his daughters saw him naked? Were they simply scandalized and ran out? No, they covered his nakedness.

When we see the fallen human nature of our leaders, we “cover” that weakness. No, not covering up the truth. But making up for what is lacking. That is being Church, we fill-up in what we see are lacking in others.

In the great spiritual warfare that we are in, that great fight between the forces of Light and darkness, to unjustly judge and be discouraged is to give in to darkness. The more we see the human side of the Church, the more we stay close to Her, the more we pray, the more we make-up for what is lacking.

These are passing thoughts that I have as we approach the day we mark the culminating stage of the birth of the Church: Pentecost day. With the coming of the Holy Spirit, the weakened and discouraged apostles became empowered and strengthened. The Church was born in the midst of human weakness but supplemented by the grace of God.

We belong to this Church. We are both humbled and proud to be in this Church.

And the Church was born with Mary in their midst. She was there in the Upper Room praying with the apostles. We stay very close to Her, Mater Ecclesiae, Mother of the Church, and that She fills up what is lacking in us. Ave Maria!

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