Fernando: Defend the faith


AUXILIARY Bishop Broderick Pabillo, head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines – Episcopal Commission on the Laity asked the faithful earlier this week to defend the faith. It is good that the good bishop specified what he meant when he said defend the faith because in the early times a call to defend the faith was likely a call to arms.

As specified, we defend the faith by doing our responsibilities as Christians, attending mass, joining Church activities, reading the Bible and spreading the love of God to the community.

Defending the faith before was bloody. Remember the Crusades. Remember the early Christians who were burned because of their faith. Emperors of the Roman Empire except since the time of Constantine continued to persecute the Christians because of their belief.

The only way to defend their faith was to continue to practice their faith despite the persecutions because it was the best thing to do and the only thing they can do. They celebrated mass in catacombs and undergrounds for other not to see them. They created symbols such as fish (we can still see this symbol today) to avoid detection. They are hunted, fed to the lions and fires yet they did not stop.

On the other hand, they their faith even grew. They became more inspired and passionate to do what they do until the people noticed the truth of their faith. Then people began to embrace the faith. Christians did not only defend their faith but it led to the conversion of others to embrace it.

In showing love to others and living a truthful life, the faith is surely defended against all criticisms today. Others cannot contest that the teachings of the Church are wrong if people practicing that faith live a peaceful and contented life.

We know the priests like us even with their background can be tempted. They sin but it is not enough to let go of our faith. The Church need to remind the people to become strong so that they cannot easily be persuaded. Faith in the example of the Apostles and the early Church is following Christ. It is helping the poor, feeding the hungry, and visiting the sick.

I was told of a certain place in Burnham Park where some people gather and debate about religion. I wanted to visit the place and witness these defenders of faith outwit each other yet until now I could not find this place. It must be exciting out there. I expect ordinary Catholics could not match the familiarity of other religions on Bible verses.

Yet Catholics should not be disheartened even if they can’t tell the chapter or verses of a Bible quote as long as they do not forget the message of the verses and put them into practice. As a matter of fact in the beginning the books in the Bible had no chapters and verses. They only placed these chapters and verses for people to familiarize the contents better.

To defend one’s faith is to show one’s positive attitude towards the belief despite the criticisms of others. That is why the bishop is encouraging everyone to practice their faith by joining Church activities and by continuing to join mass celebrations. In doing this, the faithful show that they are not affected by the tirades of the president.

For sure, solid Catholics are hurt every time they hear the president mocks the Church’s teachings and tell people to rob and kill the bishops. It is infuriating. My mother finds it difficult to digest this mockery so I think this was one reason why she refuses to watch news at times. I surely understand. It is not easy to hear people badmouthing the priests and bishops especially when you have a high regard on them.

One of the concerns of the local Church today I think is the lack of Knights of the Altars. We call them Altar Boys or “Sacristans.” In other churches, there are more girls serving as ‘Sacristans.” The concern here is not about the girls who are serving because it is only high time that girls be tapped as altar servers, but the lack of young boys who are interested in serving. Faith can be defended by making it relevant to the younger generations. In defending the faith, the Church can focus more on strengthening the flock, guiding the people back to the Church, to prove that the Church is forever here to guide and show the love of God.

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