Saturday, June 20, 2009
Year for Priests
THE annual themes from June 19, 2009 to June 19, 2010 are a mouthful. First, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) decided during their plenary assembly in January 2009, to declare a Year of the Two Hearts of Jesus and Mary for Peace-Building and Lay participation for Social Change, at the tail-end of the Year of St. Paul. The principal objective being the May 2010 elections: “we invite the Filipino faithful to start preparing spiritually for another crucial transition in the life our nation—namely, the elections in May 2010.
Without the slightest premonition of anybody else outside the Vatican, the Holy Father declared on March 16, 2009 a Year for Priests, announcing it first to the members of the Congregation for the Clergy on the occasion of their Plenary Assembly in Rome.
The Pope did this “to encourage priests in this striving for spiritual perfection on which, above all, the effectiveness of their ministry depends,” and “for making the importance of the priest’s role and mission in the Church and in contemporary society ever more clearly perceived.” Apparently, this was occasioned by the 150th anniversary of the death of the Holy Cure d’ Ars, John Mary Vianney.
In the Philippines, peace-building and lay participation for social change is a very tall order. In fact, while both are still in the stars, bringing them down to actualization or the hopelessness of it, accumulate a tinge of failure on the part of the Church after over 400 years of Christianity. Working for social change, seemingly has not been a job of the churchgoer who have been dutifully “catechized” to observe religious practices stringently without regard for whatever happens to Malacañang or Congress—which, of course, are not within the ambit of the “religious” and, therefore, not part of being Christian, rightly or wrongly.
Truth to tell, the task of moral regeneration is too serious and big to be entrusted solely to religious leaders who, until now, have been too busy with the affairs of the sacristy and, perhaps, barrio fiestas. The arena of battle is right in hearts of lay people.
Says the CBCP Statement on the Year of Two Hearts for Peace-building and Lay participation for Social Change: “The participation of the laity in moral leadership pertaining to every specific discipline and institution in the Philippines society is most essential, if we want the Gospel and the social teachings of the Church to have a tangible and positive impact at all on our life as a nation.”
On second look, it maybe providential, after all, why this is also the Year for Priests if only to give a serious thought of his role in contemporary society which, for some, has gone far and wide to even run for political positions—which is a way of robbing from the laity what rightly belongs to them or, more seriously, a way of wasting what every priest should be most faithful about, his priesthood.