PARADOXICAL

The faith chronicles

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

 

Fulmination


Fr. S.R. is not among my favorite priests because whenever he gives sermons, I oftentimes cringe in fright. So when I saw him on TV giving a retreat one Good Friday, I expected lightning to strike me with remorse and guilt and shame and inadequacy. He hasn't opened his mouth yet but I feel already guilty. Perhaps, it's him, it's me. This Holy Week I've been praying to God to grant me the grace of a genuine sorrow for sin and what I got was Fr. S.'s frightening fulmination. Yet I remained glued to the boob tube just the same. Not because there was not much choice but because he said something that really, really caught my attention. It was something that disturbed my conscience.

"80% of suicides in the Philippines are committed by people in the 15-20 age range,' he said, quoting a study, "...young people, who commit suicide for the inconsequential of reasons."

"They take their own life just because they've been jilted by a lover, or didn't pass the board exam or felt themselves to be a failure."

"What does this statistic tell us?"

"We have lost our values!" he fulminated. "When asked if we really love God, surely all of us will say yes. But the truth is many of us don't."

"These young people commit suicide because they had wrong priorities in life. And I'm sure their parents and our society are just as guilty."

"We place more importance on saving our face in front of society than in front of God." We put more importance on temporal needs, on material comfort and security, on worldly success. We feel unimportant if we fail."

"Even if you perceive yourself to be a failure in life, in the eyes of God, you're still Number One!" Fr. Sonny lectures.

At this point, I was shedding genuine tears of dramatic contrition. Why do I feel lonely sometimes, especially this Holy Week? Why do I feel angry and rebellious?

Maybe it's not just because I feel abandoned, my prayers unanswered? Maybe it's more because I pity myself. Maybe I feel that I am a failure, that until now I couldn't show any proof of so-called success. Maybe I forgot that in my unspeakable state of humiliation, I remain God's Number One. I forgot that He remains my No. 1 fan. That no one can ever be a loser with God.

Thank You Lord for answering my prayer through someone I love to hate. Please forgive my desire for worldly adulation - which I have failed to get. I forgot that You've been there all along clapping for me, egging me on unceasingly behind my perceived failure.

"What matters in life are not great deeds but great love." (St. Therese of Lisieux)

4.13.2001 Good Friday


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