By Apolinario Villalobos
Frustrations are not confined among laymen. Even religious people are experiencing these. In the role that they play – as shepherds of the God’s flocks, they too, have expectations. Foremost of these is that what they preach on the pulpit every time they say Mass is not given substance or not put into practice by those who religiously attend the service.
During an informal gathering of bloggers that I attended, I met a guy whom I did not suspect to be a priest. He was simply clad in t-shirt and denim like the rest of us. In his blogs he uses a different name (as expected) because his forte is criticism. I came across his blog site and in fact I had been tagging my comments in poetry which made him took note of my name, hoping that I would attend the occasion. He could have felt perhaps that he can trust me, that is why he confided to me his identity. He is young, about in his early thirties. Nobody knows about his identity as a blogger, not even his family.
When he told me that he is frustrated about the attitude of most purportedly Christians, I told him I was not surprised. I even told him that I knew of a priest who got married after realizing that his efforts as a priest have been useless. Before he could relate more frustrations, I cautioned him about his vow of secrecy. It was of course a joke. He laughed, assuring me that his frustrations are based on observations that cover even politics, but most especially, the religious community, of which he is a member.
He shared his thought about those who claim to be Christians or Catholics but don’t act as such. I told him it is “normal”. But added that God is not blind. I reminded him that the hypocrisy that has been catching his attention has been observed since the Spanish regime. That is why some have been made into jokes, most popular of which is about a religious woman who heads a legion of Virgin Mary. She donates flowers for the altar and big sum during offertory. She goes to church in immaculate white dress, but when she arrives home, she would start berating her dog that pissed at the gate, scold the maid for some reasons, calls her children names. Neighbors would know she has arrived from the church because of her loud voice that can be heard, two houses away. She also gossips a lot.
I told the blogger/priest that like him, serious and honest community leaders and politicians are also frustrated because of corruption around them. Even the home is not spared by it. Some parents are frustrated about their children who are not serious in their studies, most especially, if some yet, are hooked to prohibited drugs and other vices. Some wives are frustrated about their philandering husbands. Some husbands are frustrated about their nagging wives, and worst, spend money as if they own a bank. Some children are frustrated about their parents who just got no time for them.
I was thankful that he listened to me. I encouraged him to keep on blogging about religious issues, especially, because we have a new non-traditional pope, but suggested to soften his punches, as he relates his blogs to some political issues such as pork barrel, corrupt politicians, vote buying, etc. I promised to keep on tagging my comments in poetry which he likes. Before I could ask about his parish, he asked me to visit him, giving me an address which is familiar to me. When I went there the following Saturday, he introduced me to his superior, the parish priest. I pretended to know the family of my priest friend which is the reason for my visit. Deep in me, however, I was sorry to have doubted the honesty of my new found friend. During the occasion during which we met, I just entertained him for the sake of conversation, but doubted his being a priest.
This all happened in February of this year. Two weeks ago, we met again. He told me that he is leaving the parish. I thought he would go on a vacation or be assigned to another one. I was shocked when he told me that he is leaving priesthood. He will join a community outreach organization based in Cambodia. He will stop blogging for awhile so that he could concentrate on community projects in Cambodia. He is excited as this group has projects even in Africa. I wished him the best for his new-found advocacy and asked him to keep in touch with me through emails.
Frustration is part of life. On how we carry its weight on our shoulder is part of God’s challenge to test our faith in Him. For us to forget about such burden, we can do something else to fulfill our desire just like what my friend did – exert his effort in another advocacy.