Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Theology, Religion,, Local Practice (Part 1)

    It makes me shudder at the thought of writing on the subject of theology. On religion,  I am admittedly bias, as I am and will always be a Catholic. As to local practices, I can very well rely on experiences with different parishes and localities I've been to. But generally, I would observe, research, and listen to different opinions or beliefs with an open mind as much as possible. Mainly my resources in the forming of my own "credo" and thoughts were from the education I had under the Benedictine Fathers, the school library, from the catecheses given in the neo-catechumenate. The last one just mentioned was considerably more extensive as it involved frequent reading of the Scriptures coupled with references on a book by Xavier Leon Dufour-  Dictionary of Biblical Theology. Dufour's Dictionary is just to sort of  put one's mind in the right perspective when it comes to certain terms encountered in the Bible. This does not, as a matter of course, exclude some inspiring works of non-Catholics. There are also the Jewish Midrash and Ditriech Bonhoeffer's works as reference. Years have been spent on "searching" the Scriptures in prayer and sometimes in solitude. It is also done together in community as much as individually. Involvement in the neo-catechumenal activities  is almost endless.  
    Speaking of theology, what makes me hesitate when it comes to,say, expounding on  it?  Frankly speaking, I do believe there are more competent people than I am when it comes to that. Both Catholics and non-Catholics alike have their own theologians. From my church, there are the Bishops and priests not to mention some of the religious brothers and nuns and laymen who have successfully pursued a doctorate's degree in Theology. Nevertheless one may indeed reach a certain amount of competency with regards to the subject even with a minimum amount of formal education. So if I may consider myself as such( i.e., a bit competent), I will attempt to say a little about theology or what it means to me. And all of it would seem to be like going through Theology 101 again.
    Theology commonly means the study of the divine, of God. This we all know. But would it not be better to focus on some questions to better understand it in layman's term. "Who is God for me?" This was initially asked of all members of our community. I found this simpler than the cold calculating almost theoretical approach done in school sometimes bordering on the metaphysical.
    The God that I know of, is He who is somewhere up in the sky that hears my plea whenever I am in a difficult situation and provides relief? Is He someone who just sits in a throne looking down on His mortal creation and lets them go on with their own business having been given free will. Is He someone I can hurt when I commit some misdeeds, that I can sort of hit Him as if using a bow and an arrow or with a six shooter can put Him down? The point then is that, being God, He is someone that comes in my own history. God acts on His own volition in a concrete manner in many events of my life.  If I may cite just this once these verses from Psalm 8:
3 I look up at your heavens, shaped by your fingers, at the moon and the stars you set firm-
4 what are human beings that you spare a thought for them, or the child of Adam that you care for him?
5 Yet you have made him little less than a god, you have crowned him with glory and beauty,
6 made him lord of the works of your hands, put all things under his feet,
7 sheep and cattle, all of them, and even the wild beasts,
8 birds in the sky, fish in the sea, when he makes his way across the ocean.
I have only to realize this- God's intervention as proof that He does exist.  But it is essential for me or for many others as well to look into the Scriptures to comprehend or at least to be aware of what's going on in my life, to see my life in parallel to the history of salvation. In particular, it is as necessary to read the the Old Testament, ponder and reflect  on it. Hence it may be said that the knowledge I have of God is experiential and not something "boxed in" my mind only. He is not stereotyped, not able to change, unable to exist outside that small locked room in our head. He is a God who is a living God. He is a God who humbled Himself first by being born of a woman. He walked among peoples, suffered a crime He did not commit and was nailed on a "tree", and died. But being a Son of God, He was resurrected. If I can find myself realizing this saving grace in all events of my life, suffice it to say then that to be what for me theology is.


  1. "from the catecheses given in the neo-catechumenate. The last one just mentioned was considerably more extensive as it involved frequent reading of the Scriptures coupled with references on a book by Xavier Leon Dufour- Dictionary of Biblical Theology. Dufour's Dictionary is just to sort of put one's mind in the right perspective when it comes to certain terms encountered in the Bible"

    Mentioning Neo again? I share with you parallel thoughts about the importance of this Leon Dufour dictionary. For 15 years that I am walking in the "Way", I was constantly asked by the oldies in our community to translate it! Out of service to those who will never understand big words like "eschatology", I took time to interpret to them, sometimes right there during the so many "preparations" for the celebration of the Word. The next thing I know, I was assigned to translate ALL the Second Readings in the Lauds, specially during Advent and Lenten season! Whew, half of my waking moments were spent in the computer, struggling to find the proper Tagalog word to use.. Now, Advent is coming and I still have to compile everything I've done and make a book out of it to give to those who hate English :) May the Holy Spirit continue to inspire me...this is the only service I could think of specially now that I have been severed from my community life - no Eucharist, no Word, no Knocking.. I want to scream, "Death rather than this!" I feel I'm slowly dying anyway due to this illness of mine.
    Thank you, my ikabod, for giving me this chance to write my thoughts. (I don't even know whether you will approve my comments!) :(

  2. Thank you! For taking some of your precious time to even notice my blog. What more could I ask for. Am much flattered and glad.
    See it as a blessing your being on a "mission". Also it will give you now the time to continue on the compilation. Time to have that much needed sleep and rest in the evenings which in turn is also necessary for your health. With my prayers, please do go on, Babes.

  3. I just noticed only the words Adam, glory and lord can be readily read. Thought of changing the font color so's the whole citation be seen. But then better leave it as it is. It's still there only it blended with the background color. Amazing indeed.

  4. Go on with the translations assigned, compile and make a book of it. I believe it's a worthwhile endeavor. and may be you can find some priest friend or a bishop even to sort of have an imprimatur on your work.


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