I go to the church because it’s a matter of convenience (I don’t have to argue with anyone about not going) and I pick up something to think about from the priest’s homily.
Yesterday, I walked out of the mass. I was so pissed, but I had something to think about.
The priest was asking the people to clap their hands ‘for God’ .. and people clap. I didn’t. Then the priest goes on to tell that people clap louder for Charisse than they do ‘for God’, then he asked the people to clap again. This time, the chorus of the claps became louder. I still did not clap.
Seeing some people did not clap, he went on to tell a story about this one time, he asked people to clap and he saw someone from the front isle that only crossed his/her arms and did not clap. Then he said, ‘Alam niyo anong nangyari? Buti nga sa kanya. Balita ko, may arthritis na sa kamay.’ I grit my teeth. Some chuckled. Then he quivered his hands. Laughter around. People found it funny, I didn’t. I was seething with anger.
Maybe people read the message as: “If you don’t clap ‘for the Lord’, He’ll punish you,” but I read it as: “If you don’t do what this priest tells you to ‘in the name of the Lord’, God will punish you.” Bullshit. Ad baculum.
So, if he asks you to do jumping jacks “in the name of the Lord,” you’ll do it? Baaaaaa~.
Then he went on to tell a story about how he got a backstage pass to Charisse’s concert the night before. He prayed intently, says he. People should pray so they get what they want.
How come the Philippines is still the way we are?
Oh yeah. We prayed.
Then, wanting to be funny and relevant, he said that something should be done about the Ampatuans, the rapists of Florence and for the victims of Typhoon Juan. That after the mass, he’ll go out and kill the Ampatuans and the rapists, because nobody is doing anything.
Sir, I think I know what everyone is doing: praying.
Then towards the end, he asks the people to clap again “for the Lord.” More claps this time. He basks in the sound, “Parang concert!,” very pleased with himself. I was already pissed at this point.
Then the gospel reading for that day came into mind:
“[...] Those who raise themselves shall be put down, [...]”
As people rose up for the next prayer, I walked out of the church. I just sat in the parking lot, lighting up a cigarette of thought then I smoked contemplation.
I don’t believe in religion.
I believe in the collective wisdom of humanity.
I lose hope sometimes.