Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Road spirituality

I THINK it’s about time that we be more aware of what we may term as “road spirituality.” The idea struck me when I read Vatican’s most recent

document, “Guidelines for the Pastoral Care of the Road.” The good thing about documents like this is that they gather and express in very high resolution, fleeting thoughts, insights, observations, etc. we can have about our experiences on the road.

It’s amazing to realize how these passing impressions can have many and serious implications. Besides, they introduce us to more interesting relevant issues.

Obviously, the road is an integral part of our life. Just try to pause to think of how much time you spend there, and of what things have occurred there, and you’ll see that the road indeed occupies a significant, even crucial, part in our life.

Truth is mobility is unavoidable in our life. And as we develop more, our need for mobility also increases. It cannot be any other way.

The document deserves to be studied thoroughly by everyone, but especially by bishops, priests and other pastoral care workers. It increases our sensitivity to our pastoral and spiritual duties while on the road.

It is a richly nuanced yet unified consideration of things, from the biblical to the spiritual and moral, from the psychological to the ecological and social, etc. Everything is linked to its religious relevance in our life.

The document happily covers a wide range of concerns. There are four main parts dedicated to the pastoral care for road users, for street women (prostitutes and customers), for street children, and for the homeless (tramps).

In each part, there is a substantial and meaningful discussion of many interesting issues, always relating them to how our relationship should be with God and with one another.

I must admit that I’m learning a lot from this eye-opener of a document. I believe I express the sentiments of many who tend to take for granted the importance of our trips and travels in general.

What usually happens is that these travels get completely relegated to the background as we are only interested and are completely dominated by the immediate reasons why those trips are made.

But our trips and time on the road are not merely human actions that are automatic, like our breathing and heartbeat. They are human acts that entail our deliberate use of intelligence and freedom.

They necessarily involve a certain morality. Much of our human drama takes place on these travels. Even our eternal destiny to a large extent depends on them. They should not be taken for granted.

In fact, in the first part of the document, there is a discussion about the psychological aspect of driving. Many moral questions are involved. A number of dangerous attitudes and sinful practices are mentioned.

For example, driving can mask our urge to escape from everyday reality, to
act out our domination instinct, our vanity and personal glorification.

Driving can unleash the pent-up evil tendencies we manage to hide when we are in our usual places. It can be a treacherously disruptive element in our life.

Thus, the document proposes some ethical considerations, and even a kind of “Ten Commandments” of driving. It also suggests that road safety education be conducted to target audiences in a continuing way.

These together with the other parts on street women, street children and the homeless make up a strong reason why we should develop a “road spirituality.”

We have to be aware of the proper attitudes and habits we ought to have while making a trip to combat the usual temptations and moral dangers while on the road. We need to be wary of what would comprise as sinful omissions while traveling.

Driving can be a great occasion to pray, to practice mortification, and to be generous in living out charity to God and others.

This “road spirituality” can add up to more consistency and effectiveness in our life. We cannot deny that our impressive spiritual and moral gains while we are with the family and at work can just go the drain when we are on the road.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Enhancing Christian education

EDUCATION is always education irrespective of different circumstances. There is something so basic, natural and universal in it that makes it an important concern for everyone.

Education is bringing people to their optimum development. The word itself comes from the Latin “educere,” which means to lead, draw out, bring out or elicit. Education tries to draw out the full potentials of individuals and peoples.

Obviously, its different aspects and foci, and the various approaches, styles, animating ideologies that accompany it open it to several valid qualifications. Thus, you have basic education, technical education, higher education, etc.

You also have American or Japanese education, classical or medieval education, formal and informal education, and so on and so forth.

There’s one kind of education that I would like us to be more aware of. Though it’s been around already for quite some time, I feel it needs to be understood and pursued better.

This is none other than Christian education. Simply put, it is a kind of education animated by Christian faith, grounded on Christian doctrine and developed along Christian ways, marked always by charity, love for truth, freedom, sensitivity to justice, etc.

As such, it is open and respects all the different legitimate forms and manners of education. It does not identify itself exclusively with a specific form. It can blend with any, but goes further.

What is specific to it is its inspiring character that acts like yeast to any dough of a naturally valid educational program or system. That is its default home page.

As such, it can bring any educational plan to its completeness, guiding it with its light, indicating what is right and wrong along the way, both affirming and correcting things, depending on the situation, etc.

We cannot deny the fact that educational systems can just be based on a confined and reduced understanding of what comprises authentic human development.

Some may be based simply on the notion that man is just a material being living only in time and space, and nothing beyond. There’s nothing spiritual or supernatural about him. He is just pure biology, or economics or sociology, for example.

Christian education seeks to show us the fullness of our humanity, and how to get there, without ever ignoring the material and temporal aspects of our life here on earth.

Based on a Christian understanding of man, it brings us to the world of Christian beliefs and faith that goes beyond our sciences, arts and philosophies.

It highlights the spiritual and supernatural dimension of our life, and spends its energy figuring out how these dimensions can be fully developed.

It’s interested in all facts, data and any scientific information we discover, but it goes beyond them. Thus, it strengthens one’s character and spiritual life, one’s faith and virtues. This is its immediate and constant concern.

Christian education covers the whole range of education. It’s not just an adjunct. It tries to be the soul of education itself.

It’s good to be clear about the fact that Christian education does not belittle or undervalue worldly knowledge. It does not hinder the latter’s development. It’s open to it, and makes use of it. But it refuses to stop there and to be dominated by it.

Christian education pushes the arts and sciences to go to the limits, and elevates them by referring them to the common good and leading them to the spiritual and supernatural end of man.

It helps to clarify what is truly natural and human in these sciences. This matter just cannot be a result of human sciences. God and faith have to come in. Christian education can therefore purify the sciences.

It would be good if centers of Christian education be keenly aware of the true nature and purpose of Christian education. They should not get distracted or lost in the world of merely temporal data and info, pursuing only worldly goals.

They have to continually update and refine their guiding criteria, standards and means to impart authentic Christian education. They should have clear focus, and know how to convert principles into praxis.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Children and the media

THAT’S the title of the message by Pope Benedict on the occasion of the 41st World Communications Day celebrated just recently. Its subtitle is, a challenge for education.

It’s done in the Pope’s signature style. The fluid, easy and generous flow of words, thoughts and logic actually embeds a very substantial content, a clear beam of light and a daring challenge.

I encourage everyone to give more attention to papal statements, because this time they are dressed in a more casual style, attuned to today’s youthful sensibility, while the content remains orthodox, provocative and practical.

Thing is we cannot ignore this aspect of our duty to take care of children insofar as they are affected by the media. Children these days are not anymore taken care of only by parents, Church and school. The media also have become their surrogate parents, babysitters, teachers and even priests.

What they imbibe from the media can go deep into their soul, making a big
contribution to the formation, for good or evil, of their character. Everything has to be done to insure that the media leave a positive mark in the children. We cannot be naïve.

I appeal to parents to be more conscious of this duty, and to carry it out with more scientific rigor, without trading off the parental affection and understanding that are always indispensable. The responsibility falls on them first before it falls on anybody else.

Ideally, parents should talk among themselves and set out plans and strategies in this regard, being clear with the criteria and considerations to make, the goals to reach, the means and time-frame, etc., to use.

They have to know well what is objectively good and bad in the media these days, what are the particular characteristics and circumstances of each of their children, and what could be a prudent way of supervising them.

They should know the diet of shows and other materials the children are getting in the media. They should be most sensitive to how these things affect their children, quick to read the good and bad signs.

Are they helping the children, or are they spoiling them, converting them into some junkies who neglect their other duties—observing household schedules, doing chores, studying, praying, errands, etc.?

This is not a matter of control and domination. Effective parenting and upbringing of children always respects and fosters freedom, the kind that goes together always with responsibility. For freedom is not freedom unless it is accompanied by responsibility.

How good it would be if parents can do this task hands-on with their children! Parents should value highly the need to spend, even to ‘waste’ time with their children. The ideal is when they can talk with their children in a natural and spontaneous manner.

That way they can effectively monitor the children, and can give in a direct, immediate way the proper responses the situation may need at the moment.

Parents should have a way of knowing whether the children are learning how to be discerning and discriminating in the selection of shows, how they are living order and sense of priority amid the many things they have to do.

They should know whether the children are developing good habits, like studying and praying. Of course, example more than lectures works best here.

They should be active in giving suggestions to media outlets about the kind of shows that would be proper to their children. Especially now when there’s trend for more participative media programming, they should let their ideas be known.

Educating the children on media is also educating the media on children. The media should be made to be more sensitive and responsive to the real needs for children to grow up properly.

At the moment there are shows, songs, printed materials, Internet sites that need to be purified, if not changed completely. It’s amazing how some ditties, for example, with filthy lyrics, can still be played in the open with impunity.

Some people may have a good laugh, but these songs are clearly deforming,
especially to the children. Parents, and any citizen, should take proper action.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Silence and recollection

WE need silence and recollection. Urgently. Especially these days. Our mind needs it. Our heart longs for it.

Thus, when occasionally we find ourselves in some quiet place, perhaps disturbed only by the rustle of leaves, chirping of birds, murmur of flowing water, we feel we are in Paradise, a kind of heaven here on earth.

All of a sudden, we feel relaxed and our thoughts become long, slow and delightful. The memory creates wonderful images and sensations. A feeling of a transformation takes place, a shift of place and time, letting us to enter more deeply into the world both inside and outside us.

People may dismiss all this as just a play of our senses, a result of our body’s yearning for rest and comfort. I am no expert in this area. But what I can say is that there’s some urge in us to go out of our senses. And even of our reasoning.

A mysterious part of us is attracted to something beyond our senses and reason. Of course, our usual problem is that we often get entangled and are attached to them. They offer irresistible delights and can hold us captive and addicted. Still, there is something that drives us to go beyond them.

This is not easy to describe. But I was happy to discover a point in the Catechism of the Catholic Church describing the heart in relation to prayer. The description resembles this urge of ours to go out of our senses and reason.

“The heart is the dwelling-place where I am, where I live,” it says. “The heart is the place ‘to which I withdraw.’ The heart is our hidden center, beyond the grasp of our reason and of others.

“Only the Spirit of God can fathom the human heart and know it fully. The
heart is the place of decision, deeper than our psychic drives. It is the place of truth, where we choose life or death. It is the place of encounter, because as image of God we live in relation.” (2563)

So it seems that there is an urge to go beyond our senses and reason, on the one hand, and a force that attracts us to it, on the other hand, again beyond our reason and psychic drives. And the basis of all this is our being an image of God, children of God who necessarily live in relation with

In another point of the Catechism, a relevant teaching is made: “The desire for God is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God. And God never ceases to draw man to himself. Only in God will he find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for.” (27)

But this encounter with God in our heart, a result of our desire and of God drawing us to himself, requires certain conditions. One is grace. But in the human level, what is needed is precisely silence and recollection.

It is the effort to put our senses and reason in their right setting, orienting them toward a spiritual and supernatural reality. What usually happens is that our senses and reason, our usual means to know things, can be so aroused as to prevent our heart from doing what is proper to it.

These senses and reason can be a barrier, a prison that does not allow our heart and soul to fly to God and to listen to his voice. We need to discipline them to allow our heart to have an encounter with God.

The heart in that condition lets God to speak to us and we to listen to him, and vice-versa, we to speak to him and he to listen to us. This is when true prayer takes place.

A ninth-century monk describes true prayer as “the work of the heart, not of the lips, because God does not look at the words, but at the heart of him who prays.”

Let’s take care of our heart. Let it find silence and recollection, especially in the frenzy of our life these days. Let it find its true repose.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Erring celebrities

EVERYONE errs and sins. That’s for sure. Still the fact should not excuse
us from not doing anything about it. Quite the contrary. And especially if the ones involved are celebrities and public figures.

Yes, our Lord forgave the woman caught in adultery. But he also warned her to sin no more. We all deserve mercy, it’s true, but we also need to behave according to God’s will, which is what is truly good for us.

Some people claim the celebrity world should not be taken seriously, since it’s more make-believe than anything. Ok, noted. But we cannot deny that it also ‘inflicts’ quite an influence on the public, especially the young.

Besides, with the rush of reality shows lately, the line between fiction and fact is blurred, leading many of us confused, prone to being misled.

Of course, we have to care for one another. We should try to find excuses, and not to take offense easily, and to be very understanding and merciful. Still, all this does not exempt us from our duty to do something about this sad phenomenon embroiling erring celebrities.

The issue, I believe, involves a lot of aspects and parties. First of all, you have the celebrities themselves. Then the media, and other players, like talent managers, publicists, producers, etc. Then the public, the audience.

All parties have to understand that we have to be guided by a strong sense of morality, a sense that should be keener the more of a public figure we are. Actually, this indication is a no-brainer. But many still miss it!

Morality is an intrinsic, inalienable aspect of our life, and therefore, applicable to all, whether celebrity or ordinary Joe. We are not mere animals ruled by instincts and hormones. We are persons whose actions are governed by intelligence and will meant to attain an end proper to us.

I wonder if this principle is observed. My impression is that many in the celebrity world feel they are exempted from following moral criteria, since they believe theirs is simply to lend glamour to our otherwise drab life. What cheek!

Some of these celebrities even think they have privileges other ordinary mortals don’t have. They are free to break rules, they can marry and unmarry anytime with anyone, etc. They can even wash their dirty linen in public.

They feel they are above the law and above morality. They consider themselves a different species, a kind of a superman or woman. They think nothing can go wrong with them. They have forgotten that they, like all of us, have feet of clay, and that they need to walk carefully.

And so you have the phenomenon of seeing very talented, charming people whose beauty is often described as divine or irresistibly earthy, yet whose attitudes and character are still Cro-Magnon. What painful contradiction!

Because of these primitive attitudes, they know hardly anything about decency, refinement, discretion, sobriety and logic. They feel that to be creative and imaginative so as to catch and keep public attention, they can do anything and should not be bothered by petty restraints. Gimmicks galore explode!

How about the media and other players? Thanks to God, there are many good elements among them, who are working even up to a heroic degree. But we cannot deny that there are also many rotten elements.

They fawn, they flatter, they bootlick not only the erring celebrities, but the dark causes behind these bright stars. That is to say, they play many devil’s games to gain money or any advantage at the expense of morality and the genuine common good.

They weave myths and fables just to grab attention. Often intoxicated by the perks of their trade, they now often miss the elementary distinction between good and evil, let alone the fine print required in good taste and prudence.

All of us should strive to develop a keen sense of morality to stop this slide to vulgarity we are witnessing these days. Let’s help one another, making suggestions and corrections, giving good example, being patient and focused in achieving a proper moral ecology in our celebrity world.

Monday, June 11, 2007

The real word power

WE all use words. In our speech and writing, words are the raw material we
use. Like air, it’s so basic and banal, we hardly pause to consider their significance.

And yet how important for us to realize some fundamental aspects about words! To fail in this level certainly has dire consequences. It can be like poisoning the very water supply of the whole populace.

Words, by necessity, reveal what’s inside our mind and heart. They ultimately reveal whether we are with God or not, whether we love the truth or not. They reveal our faith or the lack of it.

The problem we have is that words are often used purely for our personal purposes. There’s hardly any effort to let them conform to some objective truth. If there be any such reference, the whole exercise is likely to serve selfish aims.

Many fail to understand that words, though discovered and developed by us, ultimately have their own origin and end, and follow their own laws that we have to acknowledge and respect.

For Christian believers, words flow from the eternal and living Word of God, the original as well as the final word. They get their impulse, purpose, consistency and meaning from there. But how many people realize this? How many exert effort to have their words inspired by God’s Word?

It’s when words come from God’s eternal Word that they convey truth and love, concern for justice, the common good and solidarity. That’s when there would be an abiding sense of compassion for everyone.

That’s when they manifest patience and understanding, and other positive and unifying qualities, in spite of our conflicting views especially in our temporal affairs like business and politics.

What is happening these days is that many people misappropriate words, claiming them as completely their own, subject only to their own designs and the meaning they give.

Because of this sad phenomenon, words are used for lying. They are vulnerable to become tools of pride, conceit and vanity, distorting reality. They begin and end with man alone, forgetting God, and everything that can come only from God.

The anomaly can be so developed, it becomes part of a culture. It can harden itself into such aberrations as sophistry and nominalism.

Sophistry is the clever use of words in an argument, a manipulation actually, lending it credibility, and yet the argument is fallacious and wrong.

Nominalism is a more intriguing aberration. It is when words are just words. With no basis in reality, words are mere names. You can just imagine the amount of harm this attitude can unleash.

With this doctrine, words are like toys, and can be enjoyed if you are smart enough to use them by playing around with people’s weaknesses, biases, whims and fancies.

This is what we are seeing and hearing everyday, mostly in the media and in other public fora, including, sorry to say, the pulpit.

The criteria of the words’ success now depend more on how they sound and move people’s feelings, rather than on whether they have real substance and objective truth.

Words are used to appeal more to emotions than to intelligence, more to the flesh than to the spirit. Words are used to evoke a clever play of images and sensations, more to lull people than to reveal truths.

Words can be inflated and deflated at will. They can be stretched and shrunk to convenience. That’s why we have invented many tricks of rhetoric.

Things can be so bad that we can reach the point where words are given in whim, and also received in whim, thus perfecting the confusion around. Everything becomes a lie even if we say many truthful things.

St. Paul once warned us: “They are ever learning, yet never attaining the knowledge of the truth.” (2 Tim 3,6) This is because their words are not inspired by God, who is Truth, but rather by the devil, the father of lies, spoiling truths by cleverly mixing them with falsehoods.

Thus, the story of the Tower of Babel continues up to now. God’s Word should leaven our words!

Thursday, June 7, 2007

On priesthood

THANKS be to God, every year there are priests being ordained in many dioceses all over the world. In our country, in spite of problems and difficulties, we have quite a number of ordinations. This is, indeed, a true blessing from God!

Every time I attend one, I can not help but reflect on priesthood, once described by Pope John Paul II as both a gift and mystery.

Either as a gift or as a mystery, priesthood immediately transmits to the mind that it is something tremendous, something overwhelming. Personally, it leaves me frozen in deep awe.

Priesthood, no matter how trivialized and devalued in a certain culture or person, makes Christ present in the flesh now. An exaggeration? I don’t know. But after doing some math and supplying the missing parts of the equation, that’s what I get.

Everyone, of course, with his baptism is conformed to Christ. He is “alter Christus,” another Christ, if not “ipse Christus,” Christ himself. But there is something more mystical in a priest’s being another Christ.

With the sacrament of Holy Orders, the priest is not just conformed to Christ in any way. He is conformed to Christ as head of the Church. He has certain powers other Christians do not have.

A priest acts in the name and person of Christ, with the authority of Christ who came on earth with the sole purpose of saving man, reconciling him with our father God. He brings about human salvation, which ultimately is a spiritual and supernatural event.

For this, Christ did many things that culminated in his passion, death and resurrection. It is for these things that the priest has to lend everything he has—his body and soul—to Christ. Christ wants it that way. A priest has to want it because of Christ.

That’s why a priest is Christ in the flesh. In his ordination, he has to realize deeply that he, like Christ, should be willing to go all the way, even offering his life on the Cross. He should be willing to be crucified, considering it as the culmination of his priesthood.

That’s why, it overpowers me to think of the kind of spiritual life a priest should cultivate to be able to come to this realization. This is the reality of priesthood. A priest has to bridge the gap between the objective and subjective aspects of his priestly identity.

A priest has to pray always. He has to have the mind of Christ, and to replicate Christ’s very sentiments and passions. Indeed, he has to echo St. Paul’s “It is no longer who live, but Christ who lives in me.” (Gal 2,20)

So a priest who cares little for his spiritual life, and who understands his state simply as a matter of exercising a profession like any other, easily becoming a bureaucrat, a performer, etc., is making a big mistake. And he necessarily harms others severely.

That’s why everything has to be done to keep a priest’s spiritual life vibrant, since the spiritual life is the most delicate thing to govern. St. Gregory the Great once said that governing souls is the art of arts.

This is because every man is a universe of possibilities, both good and bad. He is capable of going up and down anytime, of going to extremes and through endless combinations of both good and bad possibilities.

A priest should be humble enough to acknowledge his nothingness and helplessness so as to seek all the assistance he needs—to go to spiritual direction, confession, recourse to sacraments, to study, to have a plan of life, etc.

He has to be sincere, completely transparent to his director and confessor. Once he has this indispensable sincerity, then he opens himself to all God’s graces and the means available in the Church.

This way, it is easy for him to reach out to other priests and to all people. He gets strengthened. A lonely priest is a dangerous anomaly, a disaster waiting to happen.

A priest should be what he preaches, celebrates and administers, and that can only be Christ, Christ crucified! Pray for priests.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Market-driven morality

THIS came to my mind when a group of friends, all laymen and professionals working in different fields, talked about developments in the economy here and abroad.

They were amazed at the rate China is developing and at how it is fabricating imitation products whose quality varies according to price, material used, expected lifespan of the item, etc.

The Chinese, they said, can also produce high-quality copies that can last. But, of course, they will be more expensive than the usual ones that last only for a month or two. Still, they are much cheaper than the original, and can be a real good buy.

I remember that some years ago, in preparation for my ordination in Rome, I went to buy a new pair of shoes. When I saw a pair that I liked, I asked the saleslady if that pair would last long. She immediately retorted, “But why do you like it to last long?”

I took a double take before I could process what she just said. It went frontally against how I was brought up. I tried my best not to look third-worldly. I was not sure whether I succeeded.

Anyway, I just bought the pair because it was within budget—beggars cannot be choosers. But the retort of the clerk lingered long in my mind. As it turned out, the shoes were good only for a few uses.

Now, I can understand why there is need for products to move fast in the market. I have to apologize to my parents and elders, because I think there’s also a reason why products should not be made to last very long.

Business needs to go at a fast clip, so money circulation can get faster, employment can also go up, especially giving room to our creative minds who never run out of new ideas and styles. All these are good for the economy.

Besides, there are people, like the yuppies, who like to change styles very often and who can afford. In other words, there is demand or market for it, especially considering the growing population and improving economy.

And there’s the expected over-all effect that such dynamism will lend vitality and modernity to our society. That’s the upside.

The downside is that this market-driven behavior undermines one’s conscience, giving the impression nothing is permanent and absolute, everything changes and is relative, and leading people to materialism, consumerism, etc., all against the Christian virtue of poverty and detachment.

It takes away our soul’s moorings. It can harm the spiritual character and supernatural tone of our thoughts, words and deeds. Our attitudes can suffer serious damage, as they lose their linkage with God and his law.

All these can come about because in a market-driven economy, the tendency is only for external, purely social and economic values to be considered.

The finer values are often omitted. The work of one’s conscience is skipped, while the impulses of the hormones and emotions, and the play of the blind market forces are given full rein.

This is something which we should try to avoid always. In grappling with our material needs, we should never ignore the important role played by our conscience.

Our conscience is that judgment we make to determine whether a choice we
are making is good or bad because it truly brings us to God or away from him, or because it truly enriches us as a person, a good citizen, a child of God, or not.

The judgment made by our conscience goes beyond the practicality or convenience of a matter considered. It goes beyond purely human and temporal criteria. Rather, it brings us to our ultimate supernatural end.

I am afraid that many people, especially the young ones in developed but very worldly countries, are neglecting this. They appear to be at the mercy of purely human and temporal criteria.

The usual result is that they end up being selfish, self-contained and indifferent as well as vulnerable to other vices and weaknesses like lust, frivolity, disordered ambition.

We have to think of an effective strategy to remove them from this very anomalous predicament.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Priests and politics

Standard disclaimers by Church leaders were made when some clerics decided to run for various government posts in the last elections.

Everyone was warned that these priests were running on their own, without
sanction and permission from the Church or their bishops, and were actually suspended from their priestly duties.

All these disclaimers spring from, among others, the Church’s Canon Law which specifically prohibits priests from getting involved in politics. Its Canon 285,3 states:

“Clerics are forbidden to assume public office whenever it means sharing in
the exercise of civil power.”

This provision is preceded by the admonition that says that clerics should shun anything unbecoming to their state, and also should avoid whatever is foreign to their state, even when it is not unseemly.

For a priest to get involved in politics is clearly considered in the canon as something unbecoming and foreign to his state. In short, he makes himself a fish out of water, a square peg in a round hole, a misfit, no matter how popular or well-loved he may be by the people.

A priest in politics is a clear case of clericalism, a disease quite common in the dark parts of the Church’s long history when there was no clear distinction made between Church and civil powers.

It was a bitter and bloody lesson learned. Hopefully, we don’t have to go through it again.

“Sharing in the exercise of civil power” can include executive, legislative and judicial power like being a governor or mayor, congressman or senator, judge, etc.

This prohibition is based on the very nature of the ministerial priesthood and on the sacred object of its mission. A priest is a witness and dispenser of supernatural values on behalf of Christ and with Christ’s power.

In the first place, a priest with his holy orders is conformed to Christ as head of the Church, and not just to Christ as member of the Church just like what happens with everybody else with his Christian baptism.

As such, his main concern is the salvation of souls which has an eminently spiritual and supernatural character. This spiritual and supernatural character transcends the unavoidable variety and conflicts of positions allowed by the autonomous nature of our temporal affairs, such as our

Though he can have his own personal views in political issues, the priest as priest should try to be above all these to unite the people for what is absolutely necessary for us, without getting entangled in divisive matters, no matter how important they are.

When we hear that priests should speak only about God, it means that even
if they have to touch on political issues, it has to be clear that the purpose is to conform things to God, and not to take sides or to get involved in the technical aspects.

Besides, they have to do it such that there is always charity and mercy. Speaking with the forcefulness of God always respects freedom. There is no bitter zeal involved.

Relevant to this point, the Directory on the Ministry and Life of Priests says:

“The priest cannot take an active role in political parties… In fact, even if these are good things in themselves, they are nevertheless foreign to the clerical state since they can constitute a grave danger of division in the ecclesial community.

“The priest ought to refrain from actively engaging himself in politics in order to be a central point of spiritual fraternity.

“To intervene directly in political activities and in social organization forms part of the lay faithful’s vocation, in which they work by their own initiative together with their fellow citizens.” (33)

I think part of the problem we have now is the perception that we lack credible laymen with authentic Christian spirit and zeal to intervene directly in politics. But is this really so? I have my doubts.

Related to that problem is the well-known clerical mentality quite widespread among us, a result of our history and culture, which leads the lay faithful often to run to the clergy to settle concerns that belong more to them than to the priests.