Sunday, November 24, 2013

Addressing the greatest needs of the Filipino Christian

Strengthened and inspired by the Year of Faith which ends today, let us take on the ordinary challenge of addressing the greatest needs of Filipino Catholics Christians.

Last year, I conducted a Quick Survey about the "top three formational needs (or faith-moral failings) of Filipino Christians, which if effectively addressed will have the greatest impact on Filipinos' personal and social life."

There were 101 respondents, most of whom are involved in one way or another in the Christian development of Filipinos. Most of them gave three replies.

Here are the top formational needs:
1. Basic catechesis on the Catholic Faith – 40 votes
2. Church teachings on marriage, family and Christian parenting – 22 votes
3. Social Doctrine of the Church – 18 votes
Chastity and the Theology of the Body – 18 votes
Consistency of faith and daily action – 18 votes
4. Prayer life and relationship with Christ – 14 votes
5. Morality: commandments, values and virtues – 12 votes
6. Sacramental life – 11 votes
7. Centrality of God and his love – 8 votes
Church doctrine on work and professional excellence – 8 votes
8. Rational control of emotions and self-discipline - 6 votes
Magnanimous mission to share the faith – 6 votes
Supernatural concept of Church authority – 6 votes

What do we do with these data? I suggest that we focus our efforts using the principle of First Things First -- which implies second things are second, and third things are third. It is the very logic of Jesus: Seek first the Kingdom of God and everything else will be given you besides. Give our utmost effective involvement on the greatest need, which will then have the greatest impact on the life of Filipino Catholic Christians: provide basic Catholic catechesis. According to the survey respondents, this catechetical teaching should be clear, complete, regular, and, as several insisted, not watered-down.

Archbishop Soc Villegas suggested that young people teach catechism to fellow youth. A couple suggested that all public school and private school teachers be taught the catechism to achieve a great multiplier effect. Some suggested that the preaching of priests should have good doctrinal content. I would say that the rest of the list of formational needs point to aspects of the basic doctrine that need stressing when one gives these catechetical classes.

The results are in fact totally in sync with the conclusion of PCP-II, the greatest gathering of Filipino Catholic leaders to think through the top priorities in the Philippine Church. And they even explained the rationale behind the prioritization of Catechesis: "the most basic area of renewal, and the one that must receive first priority is catechesis. Without education towards maturity in the faith, the social apostolate will become activism and will fall prey to the temptations of unchristian ideologies. Without catechism, worship will degenerate into formalism and will slide into superstition and a magical mentality."