By Peter Paul Marcelo, BCBP Pasay
“What am I thinking?!” I scolded myself after learning the countless bloopers I had made during the simulator checkride. It was a wake-up call. Foolish me. For those of you who might not know me very well, I am a pilot with a respected international airline.
It was truly folly to go through procedural motions without knowing the reasons behind them. Once in awhile I was asked why I need to flick, or not, a switch or what preconditions are to be considered before actions become valid. I was racing through my mind for answers. If not the usual “I don’t know”, the answers totally missed the mark, and some were close but no cigar. Luckily I passed the checkride, but not after driving the instructor up the wall.
Once, St Paul reprimanded the Galatians the same way. In Galatians Chapter 2, he called them, “Foolish Galatians” because they were observing the prescribed practices of the Jewish law, but were merely going through the motions without understanding the reasons behind them. The quintessential be-all and end-all element of their faith was the observance of the law.
Throughout his ministry, St Paul often mentioned that observance of the Law will not bring about salvation. It is by our faith in Jesus that we come to experience the Holy Spirit. It is a mistake to say that the Holy Spirit can come to us and animate our life because of the food we eat, the dress we wear, or the practices we observe. It is through faith – the belief and trust – yielding to the dependence on God and welcoming the Holy Spirit to come into our lives and guide our decisions.
It is not about merely practicing the law or going though the rituals; it’s something more. The rosary is a good example. Obviously, we can grab a bunch of beads and on each bead correctly say the prescribed prayer, the Hail Mary, but in a manner that just goes through the motions. We blabber through the prayer as if we get additional points by reciting it very fast. By completing 50 repetitions in record time, we expect something good to happen. If this is what we are doing, then we are missing a very crucial point.
I have learned that praying the rosary should come from the heart. Reciting the Hail Mary gets me in the proper disposition that leads me to a deeper relationship with Jesus and Mary. Each bead on the rosary means that I am humbly coming before Jesus’ mother for intercession and reflecting on what I have done in my life so that I can live more like them. If this part is not present when I pray, and if after going through several decades of the rosary all I can think of are all the bloopers I made on my checkride, then I am indeed foolish as described by St Paul.
The same can be said with going to Mass. What we do in the Mass is not just hearing words and performing ritual actions. Nor is it a venue to display our latest clothes and shoes. The Mass is a Holy Sacrament that delivers God’s sanctifying grace that we need to live holy lives.
And how about the routine activities we do in our Chapter? Are we conducting them just for the sake of complying with regulations and requirements? It is so easy to get fed up with routine work, I should know because I have experienced this as chapter head. But if we truly know the value of what we do, we can never get tired. I just lift it all up to the Lord, pray for endurance and stronger faith, and voila, everything turns out all right!
“Have passion in what you do” were my instructor’s parting words. These words reverberate today and should be applied in every facet and activity in our lives. I now am always asking myself, “Where is my passion for this BCBP activity?” I also pray for the Lord to infuse me with passion, enthusiasm and commitment in everything I do, whether it be for the BCBP, my family, my workplace, or other activities.
My recent checkride and St Paul’s reminder to the Galatians are lucid reminders to me that whatever ways we practice our profession and faith, they are just the tip of the iceberg – one that we see above the waterline, but what essentially matters the most are those that are below it, hidden from sight – whatever supports it to keep it afloat. Observance of practices, rituals, and procedures are easy. The true challenge is to know and to value the reasons for their being. Hence, we need to go deeper in understanding and to have our faith in God as the root of all our practices. We must have passion for what we do.