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The importance of organized religion

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After much contemplation, I decided to heed Arnaldo‘s months-long advice and attended the Holy Mass for the first time (except last Valentine’s Day) in such a long time. I attended an afternoon English-language mass in nearby San Pedro Apóstol; humorously, the sermon was conducted in Tagalog (but that matter is for a future blogpost).

Anyway, I would like to reiterate that my haughty contempt for the Novus Ordo Missae still remains. Regrettably, there is nothing much I can do about it at the moment. And as I wait for the opportune time to act for the return of the Tridentine Mass –the mass of all time–, why should I not attend my Faith’s congregation anymore?

The above case is what I scribbled about in a previous blogpost. An online friend of mine, Roberto, a frequent visitor to this humble blog, wrote a comment there that oganized religion should not matter anymore as long as I have faith in Jesus. However, this has been the belief of many a deist and a few agnostics for many centuries. It is understandable that these kind of people are fed up with religious strife in all parts of the globe. That is why John Lennon fancied a peaceful world without organized religions in his celebrated song Imagine. Marcelo H. del Pilar et al. lived proudly as a deist for years in Spain. Young freethinkers guising themselves as intellectuals have decreed that organized religion and faith are but for desperate fools and ignoramuses.

But, by shunning religion from their lives, did they find true peace and contentment that everyone has been yearning for ages? No. For a brief period of time, I myself eschewed the idea of a god and an afterlife many years ago. Trust me, it was the gloomiest part of my existence.

People who believe in God but do not believe in religious groups are like spiritual orphans, believers of God but without direction because without a community. And the danger lies in the fact that uniquely individual concepts about God will only lead to further division instead of unity. Now, if they say that organized religions usually lead to religious discord, it is not the fault of religious organization’s fault per se. All organizations are made up of humans, and we know that humans are not perfect creatures corporally and mentally. As such, it is not unusual to find cracks or dents in a seemingly well-fortified organization. Such people are what we call fanatics or extremists, unmindful of dialogue but advocates of jingoism and war. Worse, some founders and leaders of religion tend to be warmongers themselves by writing pugnacious remarks and decrees against nonmembers.

Be that as it may, religious discord should not be made as an excuse not to affiliate one’s self into a certain congregation. Becoming a member of a certain religious group does not mean that a person has already downplayed spirituality. Religion and spirituality complement each other. One should take note that the word religion originated from the Latin infinitive verb religare which means “to bind together” or “to reconnect”. It is because religion is what “binds us together” and “reconnects” us to God.

We have a duty to praise God and not to merely pray nor talk to him. God is not simply a “spiritual friend”. Realistically speaking, God is not a friend for the simple reason that he is God (you do not praise your friends nor do you pray to them, do you?). In a congregation, one can find himself in a community praying to God. There is a sense of belongingness, that the people around you believe what you believe. And that is what God wants; that is what is written in the Holy Bible. So why should it be defied in the first place?

In addition, I do not claim that salvation is a monopoly of the Catholic Church. Regarding the salvific fate of members of other religions, only God should know.

Organized religion is not the cause of wars. It is caused by men who do not understand their religion, as long as that religion does not exhort its members to wage an all-out war against other groups.

The battle lines will soon be drawn…

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I’ve been thinking a lot about launching a party list group to advocate for the full return of the Spanish language. Not just in schools, but in the national government. However, comrade Arnaldo Arnáiz‘s skepticism toward something political is beginning to discourage me as well. Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean it will not push through.

Admittedly, it’s going to be a tough ride to achieve such a feat. We’re virtual unknowns, we neither have the political machinery (i.e., funds) nor enough number of supporters, and we’re beholden to wage slavery which eats up our time. And worse, I even fear that there could only be three of us (with Señor Guillermo Gómez Rivera) who share the same line of thinking; we’re not very much sure with José Miguel García yet because, although we’re readers of his PATRIA, we really haven’t talked to him nor seen him in person. We still have to consolidate our thoughts. And we think that Traveler On Foot (who recently pledged support to our advocacy via email) still needs to be “lectured” more on what Filipino identity is all about (this popular blogger’s got full potential).

This lonely war that we’re waging is not merely confined to the struggle for the Spanish language cause in the Philippines. That is just the tip of the iceberg. We consider ourselves as iconoclasts. We go against bigoted and twisted versions of Philippine History, originating particularly from hispanophobic UP professors and instructors (including US-centric walking tour guides who are trying to distort the way you look at Manila — one step at a time), from what Arnaldo calls the “Agoncillo standard” (taken from Teodoro Agoncillo’s myopic and infantile viewpoints on Philippine history). And I even go a step further to declare that –despite Fernando Ziálcita’s objection to it– Christianity and the study of Philippine History should go together, that they are inseparable, that the other one could not go against the other.

In the long run, we would end up going against those who attack our faith no matter how hard we try to distance ourselves from it. As written in my Spanish blog

…Filipinas es, en realidad, una creación española… una gran creación española. Y me atrevo a decir que la reunión entre España y Filipinas es una fuerza mayor increíble. Una obra milagrosa de Dios

He may be our national hero (and I have the highest respect for my tocayo), but his views weren't always rational. And he himself admitted to that.

The greatest paradox this side of the nationalist cosmos would be to defend our Spanish past while assaulting the Catholic Church (which I erroneously did from 2003 to 2004) at the same time. Now, what is hilariously upsetting is to find people on the internet parading the legacy of our national hero, José Rizal, to simply suit to their pseudo-intellectual braggadocio without even knowing who Rizal really was or what he was fighting for. These individuals proudly appear in dailies and radio shows harping about “rationality” here and “godlessness/agnosticism” there, implying that it is “cool to be a freethinker”, and alleging that the Catholic Church is a “destructive force” that needed to be brought down. They take pride being tagged as the “new Filibusters”, wittingly or unwittingly pretending to be the noble saviors of those who are still “wallowing in ignorance” wrought about by an alleged Catholic despotism. I may cry.

These irrational filibusteros keep on whining about Catholic faults and failures. But Arnaldo wisely observed that they are exactly the fruits of what they claim to be as Catholic errors.

Something’s gotta give. They’re looking for war. We’ll give ‘em one.

This we swear: the battle lines will soon be drawn. Just wait and see…

The mist is rising.

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