Visit your conscience

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014


TV 5 reporter King Perez is going to Bantayan, Frankahay Ta! co-anchor Omar Redula to Argao and law student Katreena Bisnar to Ormoc. Like almost everybody else, we’re going away from our urban prisons to enjoy the freedom offered by the Lenten holiday break.

Wherever our itchy feet take us, it should always be a journey of faith, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle reminded us during last year’s Holy Week. We should spare time to deepen our faith during this season, the Manila archbishop urged us.

“We hope that this… Holy Week may really be a journey of faith with Jesus. It is not easy to walk with Jesus who will die on the cross. It’s really faith that will enable us to journey with Jesus who will suffer out of love for us,” Tagle said, according to a Philippine Daily Inquirer story on Black Saturday, last year.

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Tagle added that “by journeying with Jesus, hopefully we can journey with one another especially those who are suffering and bring them love too so that we could also experience the resurrection or new life.”

Tagle’s call is reiterated this year by Bishop Socrates Villegas, president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines. The best place to visit during the Holy Week is not the beach or even the Church, he told reporters last Monday. That place is “your conscience,” he said.

“The way to your conscience is by solitude… and then asking yourself ‘How does God (see) me?’ How God (sees) you is (what) you really are, because what you do when no one sees you is (what) you really are,” Villegas said, as reported also by the Inquirer the other day.

The call for reflection is very timely and relevant. As Villegas observed, many people are no longer in touch with their conscience and could use the Holy Week to listen to their inner feelings. Omar was more emphatic yesterday on Frankahay Ta: we visit our conscience only when we are troubled, he said. In other words, our conscience visits us first and we return the favor.

And why is that? Why has conscience become a distant acquaintance instead of next-door neighbor? Why is listening to one’s inner feelings rarer than going to the beach? Why has it become some form of luxury that many of us cannot afford?

This is not intended as an excuse but too often, we become so engrossed with what we want to be that we tend to forget what we already are. Ambition isn’t necessarily bad.

It is so only when we allow it to become our slave-driver.

I remember the day I graduated from college. My mother arrived from the province to attend the ceremonies but I advised her against it, explaining that it would only bore her. It was an excuse. I was not sure if my name would be called; I had too many failing marks after the mid-term examinations in my senior year.

I lied to my poor mother and it bothered me. So on graduation day, I went to a near-empty movie house, reflected on what I have made of myself after six semesters and three summer terms in college and got drunk. Just as Omar would say more than four decades later, I was paying my conscience a return visit. It wasn’t bad.

There will be a lot of breast-beating and other similar public gestures of contrition in the next few days. Some will imitate the passion of Christ by having themselves whipped and then nailed to the cross.

Those of us who do not have the stomach for histrionics or the tolerance to pain, heeding the call of Tagle last year and Villegas last Monday should be ideal. Let us spend more time in solitude, visit our conscience, walk the journey of faith and savor the liberating taste of silence.

(frank.otherside@yahoo.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 17, 2014.

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