MANILA, June 23, 2013— A high-ranking official of the Philippine clergy on Saturday urged lay leaders to live the faith they profess and not to perceive holiness as a mere ritual that has to be observed by virtue of one’s Catholic obligations.
Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle said that a tripartite system of faith—one that is grounded on believing, living, and leading—must be observed by the faithful to gain a holistic approach to Catholic faith and spirituality.
“In order for faith to succeed, it is a must for us to believe and possess an intimate relationship with Christ—one that leads to a change of life as faith becomes a way of living,” the Cardinal said in the vernacular in his keynote speech during the 8th General Assembly of the Family Rosary Crusade held at the Pope Pius XII Catholic Center Auditorium.
The prelate said that possessing a sharp knowledge on biblical scriptures and other religious documents would never suffice on itself for people must also apply those learnings to their day-to-day living.
“It is not enough for us to possess gainful knowledge about religion and spirituality. What is important is for us to truly internalize the faith we profess,” he said. “Does the Jesus I know become the true son of God whom I have an intimate relationship with? Does knowing Him lead me to conversion?”
He noted that contrary to what most Catholics do, the profession of one’s faith through Eucharistic celebrations and other religious rituals must not be perceived as mere obligations that have to be fulfilled.
“It is possible for us to attend masses only with the intent of fulfilling our obligation as Catholic individuals. But we are missing the point here, because our Eucharistic celebrations should lead us to deepen our faith, to become closer to Jesus,” Tagle said.
“We must not forget what Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI once said—that all of the faith, knowledge, and service we do must not settle as mere rituals that do not penetrate ourselves within,” he added.
Furthermore, he encouraged the faithful to nourish their faith not just by believing in Christ, but through living His ways and leading others toward Him.
Tagle criticized cases of hypocrisy wherein Catholics do not remain true to the faith they believe in and just pretend to be virtuous and pious individuals who are actually detached from the religious principles they profess.
“Possessing gainful knowledge about the church and its teachings is not a guarantee of having an intimate relationship with God. What is important is for our belief to be translated to a way of living so that Christ may become not just as a figment of the imagination or figure of the past, but a real persona that lives among us,” Tagle said.
Faith as a ‘precarious’ reality
Brought by the responsibility that comes with being true to one’s faith, Tagle said that most people are fearful to commit themselves to the faith they profess. Instead, they just settle to superficial expression of belief and perceive acts of holiness as rites that must be practiced.
“Believing is dangerous for it will require a lot of adjustment in living. That is why believing on the level of rites and obligations are easier than living by one’s faith,” he said.
Tagle recognized faith as a precarious reality that becomes directly affected by human temptations brought by worldly factors such as money and power, which are sometimes perceived by many as more real compared to Christ.
“Faith is precarious, delicate. It is a grace from God that requires vigilance. If you do not take extra precaution, you will not notice that something else has already replaced Christ in your heart. Money and power can become more real than Jesus,” he added.
He noted the teachings of the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines (PCP II) that points out the dichotomy between faith and ordinary life, wherein the beliefs professed do not coincide with the manner on how life is lived by the Catholic faithful.
“We say in our prayers that God alone is almighty. But if you look at reality, everyone is struggling to be almighty. How come you do not think of yourself as a steward?” he said.
Leading others to Christ
Tagle said that once people are able to live by the faith they believe in, they are able to lead others closer to Christ by means of inspiring them through their works and deeds.
“Through believing and living by the faith we profess, we lead others to Christ. It is a package,” he said.
He added that the way Catholics carry themselves greatly affect the influence they will bear for others to either follow or avoid the path they have treaded.
The prelate reminded the faithful to remain true to their mission of believing, living, and leading, further noting that the mission would only be accomplished if these three acts go hand-in-hand for the fulfillment of the other.
Tagle said that an exemplar being who has manifested all three acts is the Blessed Virgin Mary who lived a life of faith devoted to her son.
“Mary’s living relationship with God is made evident by His undying presence in her life. She is a special woman, a special mother. She became Christ’s mother for she accepted both the mission and the Holy Spirit to come into her life,” he said, urging people to be like Mary in professing their faith to the Divine. (Jennifer M. Orillaza)