True Faith Does Not Need a Grandiose House of Worship
By Apolinario Villalobos
True faith regardless of leaning is found in one’s heart and not impressed upon a person by ceremonies in a grandiose house of worship. One need not go to an impressive church or cathedral full of antique icons to show that he or she has a strong faith in God. If God is All Knowing… in other words, Omnipotent, He should be able to hear the faithful who prays even under a tree while resting after toiling his rice field, or out in a field while harvesting vegetables, or out in the open sea, while casting his net.
Instead of spending money for the expansion of an already comfortable house of worship that could accommodate the faithful, these “representatives of God on earth”, should instead build chapels in far-flung villages for an effective effort on spiritual outreach, as this is what God wants in the first place. As implied in the Bible, the shepherd is supposed to be herding the flock which can only be done if he goes to them, and not the other way around, in which the flock goes to the shepherd.
As regards the effort of the “shepherd” in going to the “flock”, this is true in the case of the Eastern Catholic and Orthodox churches. They have simply-built chapels in the midst of the less privileged such as slums and villages. Their house of worship is a simple chapel made of light materials. On the other hand, the “shepherds” of the “other churches” conduct spiritual service in the chapels and multi-purpose halls of subdivisions that are conveniently and comfortably visited in a car. Commendable also is the effort of New Christian evangelists who make do with open spaces, vacant stalls that saw good old days as stores, old garage, etc. which they convert into house of worship.
Along this line, “shepherding of flocks” should result to closeness between the “shepherd” and the “flocks” for better spiritual administration. But how can some of these supposedly “shepherds” develop close affinity with their “flocks” if they are pulled out from their assigned “religious territory” after a certain number of years of “duty” which is akin to a wordly or temporal corporate operation? Is not “shepherding of flocks” supposed to be a spiritual advocacy? How can these “fathers” be able to effectively reach out to their “children” if after a certain number of years, there is a switching of posts? Questions…questions…questions…that can lead one into asking more, but which hypocrites view as signs of faithlessness.
Lack of “shepherds” is not a plausible alibi why it is necessary to centralize the worship in a parish church or cathedral. Why not train volunteer catechists in villages, so that even simple sharing of the Words can be made? On the other hand, while “religious groups” are practically teeming in any parish, they are observed to be occupied only in social bonding and prayer meetings, as well as, attendance of church activities. For any one or two, or several members of these “religious groups” to have even attempted to conduct catechism in a slum or a barrio is a big question.
Again, there is a nagging question as to who among these supposedly “shepherds” or church “heads” are willing to do the task of reaching out to their far-flung “flocks” when they even consider the one day/week rest a necessity since, as they insist, they are only humans who need to rest. But why not come up with a schedule for a 7 days/week “duty”, such that while the “leader” takes a day- off on a certain day, the “assistant”, can take his on another day…thereby, leaving no gap in the their spiritual administration? Why must the two take their day off at the same day?
I was prompted to write this blog after a friend told me that she “loves” to attend a Mass in the Cathedral near their home because the “ambience” is very different…very captivating, and that by just closing her eyes makes her cry! By the way, this lady friend hired a fourteen-year old girl from their province, and whom she pays one thousand five hundred pesos a month wage. The housegirl serves the family of six – the woman and her husband, and their four children. The woman also “lovingly” calls the housegirl “punyeta” and “tanga”, which I heard when I visited her several times. One time, the housegirl told me discreetly that she has no day off. So there’s our “faithful” woman who cries a river inside a cathedral because of its ambience…what a faith!