Monday, September 22, 2008

On Being A Thinking Catholic

It bothers me to even think this, but how do you quit being Catholic? 

I've been proud to be one.  Knowing that you chant the prayers and celebrate the Sacrament of the Eucharist as they were done decades, even centuries ago gave me comfort.  Saying the Rosary always makes me calm.  I carry one during childbirth, difficult periods in my life and even during plane rides.  I even bought a CD recording so I could upload it to my iPod.  In the Visayas, everything stops at noon and 6pm for the Angelus.  I remember the post-war stories of my father growing up in a small town.  He and his brothers had to run home barefoot (which was faster) when the Angelus bells would sound.  It comforts me that we had even this prayers in common. 

I've been devout since junior year in high school when it was a conscious choice.  Although baptized and essentially educated Catholic, I was largely agnostic until Father Caloy Rodriguez, SVD spoke with me at boarding school in Tagaytay.  I may write about the meeting during some other post, but the experience taught me to trust my heart.  It taught me that Catholicism was not all blind obedience but a religion with intelligence.  Later in my life there were times I had trouble reconciling modern sensibility with archaic dogma but it always worked out in the end.  I even bought the book above for additional guidance.

The Religious of the Good Shepherd opened my eyes and taught me social responsibility.  I was already reading Ibon pulications before I went to Diliman.  I learned about the plight of political detainees and the urban poor.  A two-week immersion program with the rural poor further developed my empathy.  It was the ultimate merging of Faith, intellect and emotion. 

I attended Friday night's talk with an open mind, wishing to see the Church' view on the controversial Reproductive Health Bill.  I had hoped that a younger version of a Father Caloy was there again with his intellect, common sense and zeal.  I really wanted it to happen.  Instead, there was a convoluted version of the facts from a lay minister and his wife.  Instead of an academic discussion, there was hot-air rhetoric.  The current version of the Bill was not even available. 

The Catholic Church hierarchy has a structure equal, or even superior to the military.  There is chain of command.  They protect their ranks.  There's no doubt in my mind that the CBCP knows that their "soldiers" engage in mis-information dissemination.  The fact that I live in Pasay and not in an exclusive subdivision is not even worth considering.  I refuse to believe that the Church treats me as an idiot in this part of town.  I can't believe that theses speakers from Makati would speak to their neighbors in some other "manner befitting their status."  I do know that it's happening exactly this way in parishes all over the Philippines.

If that's the case, then I have more cause to champion the Reproductive Health Bill.  At least it will provide me information and options.  It acknowledges my value as a thinking Filipina without bias. 

I have listened to their side and they maltreated my mind and my Faith in one brutal blow.  It's done.  Over.

I recorded the "talk" on my phone if anybody cares to hear.  But the recording is so bad because I did not count on the acoustics of the structure.  If I'm not mistaken, there are three echoes marring the sound.  If anybody knows how I can clean it up, please let me know.

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