PARAÑAQUE City, April 15, 2014—In what became a theology lesson of sorts, a high-ranking churchman explained to his parishioners on April 12 that while piety is a good thing, a faithful Christian would do better if he couples it with a holy life.
“Holiness is the perfection of charity. Holiness is the perfection of Christian living,” Novaliches Bishop Emeritus Teodoro C. Bacani, Jr. told his eager audience in a sermon that ran for three hours during St. Andrew’s Cathedral Parish General Assembly.
Pabasa, mass, rosary
In a way that even grade-schoolers would have understood, the witty prelate discussed how piety and holiness differ, and how despite their seeming differences they play complementary roles in the lives of “God’s children”.
“Piety consists in participating in the outward trappings of religion, which taken on its own is commendable. When you go to Mass without fail, you are pious. When you join a religious procession or a pabasa or pray the Rosary daily you are pious,” Bacani explained.
“You are holy when you ‘love God with all your heart, with all your life, and with all your strength’, and also when ‘you love your neighbors as you do yourself,’” he said quoting the Gospels.
The bishop stressed that a serious problem arises when a Christian becomes obsessively pious that he or she forgets the call to true holiness.
Everyday life holiness
“It all too often the case that a regular churchgoer, while inside the church hearing Mass, is the paragon of meekness, but becomes the poster boy of brutality once outside,” he said.
He regretted that, “The same lips these people use in praying the holy rosary and in receiving the holy Communion are the same lips they use in cursing, in quarrelling, and in making the lives of their fellow humans miserable.”
An anecdote the bishop shared made the difference between the two much better understood. It tells of a man who begged to have his confession heard, and who was so sorry that he had failed to attend masses because of a sick brother he had to look after at the hospital.
Denied a confession, the man asked Bacani what he should do to make amends for his sins.
“Remain at the hospital. Take care of your brother. Don’t worry about attending Mass next Sunday if you really find that impossible. But as soon as your brother gets well, then you must do all you can to go to church together,” he said. (Raymond A. Sebastián)