Faith and our fa­thers

Cebu Daily News - - OPINION -

Be it Apoli­nario Mabini, An­dres Boni­fa­cio, or Jose Rizal, some of the great­est Filipino he­roes were shaped by their spir­i­tual roots. The writ­ings of th­ese found­ing fa­thers of the Filipino na­tion bear this out.

Mabini spoke of God as the ul­ti­mate ob­ject of love and de­vo­tion.

Boni­fa­cio spoke of love of coun­try as a man­i­fes­ta­tion of love of God.

But it is in the lit­er­a­ture from the pen of no less than the na­tional hero him­self that we glean the long­stand­ing im­por­tance of faith to our na­tional cul­ture.

Rizal’s faith was Chris­tian, specif­i­cally Catholic, ap­pre­ci­at­ing not only Je­sus Christ but also the Sav­ior’s mother, the Blessed Vir­gin Mary.

It was Rizal who re­ferred to the Philip­pines as “pue­blo amante de Maria,” a peo­ple in love with Mary.

While Rizal railed against the cor­rup­tion of the Catholic Church in the Philip­pines in his time, it can­not be de­nied that he saw the re­li­gion in a more holis­tic man­ner than its pow­er­ful crit­ics to­day.

He saw both the glory and the ig­nominy of the Church, epit­o­miz­ing the cor­rupt in the hyp­o­crit­i­cal Padre Da­maso and the ones strug­gling for good­ness in Padre Florentino.

His cri­tique had style. He did not sink to the level of mud­sling­ing, and so his words ed­ify in­stead of cre­at­ing re­sent­ment or pro­vok­ing coun­ter­pro­duc­tive con­tro­versy.

Rizal, whose death for our free­dom we com­mem­o­rate again to­mor­row, re­fused to go the way of ex­hort­ing peo­ple, even in jest, to stop go­ing to church, of call­ing for the be­head­ing of cler­gy­men, or of say­ing God is stupid.

His po­ems to Mary and to the Santo Niño at­test that one can cri­tique the flaws of faith with­out drag­ging through the mud what he­roes and peo­ple on the street hold sa­cred, what de­serves re­spect if not rev­er­ence.

“Why have you come to earth, Child-God, in a poor manger? Does For­tune find you a stranger from the mo­ment of your birth?

“Alas, of heav­enly stock now turned an earthly res­i­dent!

Do you not wish to be pres­i­dent but the shep­herd of your flock?” (Rizal, 1875).

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