VOICE FROM THE SOUTH
By FR. EMETERIO BARCELON, SJ
Bishop Robert Barron, auxiliary of Los Angeles, was praising the Filipino Catholic community both in Chicago and Los Angeles. All over the world the Filipino migrant communities bring their faith. And they are the bulwarks of the Catholic faith. In all the 30-plus churches of Rome there is a Filipino Mass. From Australia to Europe and Africa and wherever there are Filipino migrants there are manangs who keep praying the rosary and attend Mass on Sundays. At a certain level of society the faith is vibrant in the Philippines.
But there is a cancer growing. The other day I checked on some workers. Of the six workers, four knew their catechism but two, the young ones, did not even know how to make the sign of the Cross. Both of them used their left hands to make some gesture. It is catechism that they need. In the United States there are about 35 million Catholics and beyond that there are about 23 million fallen-away Catholics, those baptized but do not go to Mass. For every new convert, there a six who fall away.
In South America, Evangelical Protestants are making large inroads on the Catholic population. And yet there are a good number of Protestant ministers who are turning Catholic, especially those who study the Early Fathers of the beginning of the first centuries of Christianity. The ones that are falling away are those who do not know their catechism. They do not appreciate the Mass and the sacraments.
The conversion stories of brilliant Protestant ministers like Dr. Scott Hahn and many others featured in ESPN is riveting. Beyond the Bible they see the importance of the Sacrifice of the Mass which was always held necessary from the early days of Christianity. Scandals have always surfaced in the Catholic Church. There have always been scandals and there will be more. They are so shocking because the main Catholic community are so firm in their following of Christ. Bishop Robert Barron is critical to listen to. He points out that the three obligations of Catholics are 1. To worship God 2. To go out and evangelize, and 3. to take care of the poor.
For the Chinese, catastrophes are signs of interesting times and we have had fires and floods and now we have volcanoes erupting and the epidemic of Novelle Corona Virus spreading all over. We also have political mavericks like Pres. Trump and Pres. Duterte. We still have wars going on in the Middle East and rampant use if firearms to kill innocent people and abortion. Then there are illegal drugs spreading all over the Americas and in our country.
What is our solution? Our belief says that we cannot do it by ourselves but we have to pray to God for help. But we have to cooperate with His grace. We have to learn more of the faith at home and in our schools. Knowledge of the faith is critical if we are to preserve it. We pray for God’s grace and cooperate with it. The world needs us to spread the love of God and His mercy.
But how can we spread that good news if we ourselves are ignorant of the treasures of our faith. Each one of us has an obligation to learn more of our Faith. It must not be left to the level we had of our first communion. We can listen to Bishop Barron and Dr. Hahn on the Youtube and review our catechism and the pronouncement of the Church.