Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Delivering Stories of Progress



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Dr Dencio Acop

Courage is what sets these men apart, said Fr. Dennis Soriano at the Cubao Cathedral. It was the recommissioning of the church’s lay eucharistic ministers after Sunday Mass. The Rector’s message resonated as it rings true especially in today’s secular world. Times may no longer be as they were for the early Christians who had to practice their faith in secret, but it is still the same courage that is needed today to truly practice one’s Christian faith. It took courage then to believe in Jesus Christ and worship the Trinitarian God. For nothing short of painful death awaited those who worshipped other than the pagan god adored by the Roman rulers. Even after Constantinople itself converted, the same persecution of Christians was repeated in pagan lands reached by the Jesuits and other missionaries. It has never been easy to practice the Christian faith then until now. Despite the great success of Christian evangelization throughout the world, the conversion of populations seems to have plateaued and may now be on the decline due to secularism and relativism.

Secularism and relativism have managed to stifle then dwindle the progress of the faith since the last great war. The hard-won freedoms that exalted the role of faith immediately following the great carnage have cannibalized themselves resulting in the marginalization of the faith that enabled them. In today’s world, the Christian finds himself in a damned-if-you-do and damned-if-you-do-n’t dilemma. If the Christian religiously practices his faith according to liturgical doctrine, he is persecuted by atheists and agnostics who find religious faith both an annoying and disturbing obstacle against their amoral and or immoral pursuits. Not to mention those who have rebelled against the original church because its emphasis on the cross is too much to bear. And if the Christian fails to practice as he ought, then he is called out by modern-day pharisees and sadducees from either left or right of the spectrum.

Courage, therefore, is what it takes to be a practicing Christian. Most especially today. A most glaring example is what Fr Dennis pointed out. It takes a lot of courage to say yes when called to serve the church today. Why is that? Because one who volunteers to serve knows that his life will have to change. He will have to change. He might even have to suffer persecution of some kind. In fact, the decision to serve means that you will have to follow Christ a lot more seriously now and avoid the occasions of sin. It is a very life-changing decision. As a lay minister, one’s life will need to be conformed to following the path that leads to holiness. It will take a lot of courage to say no and keep saying no when old friends tempt you to sin. But overtly casting one’s lot with the Lord will also strengthen one towards following the righteous path. It will provide the courage one needs to persevere in his conversion and new-found vocation serving the Lord. It develops good habits of prayer and ministry on a regular basis. Which in turn strengthens one’s resolve despite challenges from the world. I have served as a lay liturgical minister for almost twelve years now. It has been a path that leads towards nourishing the soul. How can we not have courage, even when courage eludes us if we are following the word that leads to eternal life as St Peter said?

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