By By Rev. Fr. Rommel M. Arcilla
House of God
posted 19-Dec-2018  ·  
673 views  ·   0 comments  ·  

I can still recall my younger years, when I was just an altar boy at the Cathedral. I was in grade two when I started as a sacristan and spent most of my free time serving those old priests in their masses. I could still recall the oratorical voice of Fr. Divine (+Antonio Divinagracia) of a happy memory, how that voice intimidated me for no reason at all. I can still recall when Fr. Villaranda angrily spoke in Spanish because I woke him up from his siesta. The late Mons. Ping scolded me because I was running towards the kampanaryo and he told me to walk decently because I was inside the House of God.

When I started my high school at the Minor Seminary in Tabaco City, I would always look forward to sleeping and stay at the Cathedral during vacations because I just love to be in that sacred place. It was there were I experienced using the electric polisher to scrub the entire cathedral floor from end to end. It was there where I learned to drive cars and, later, experienced my very first major vehicular accident.

On the positive side, I learned a lot under the guidance of the late Mons. Ping, whom I considered as my formator, my parish priest, and a dear friend. He would always remind me of the things I must do, and I learned a lot from him about those simple things like treating sacred places with dignity and on how to relate with people with respect and love. Of course, his strict policies on the level of intellect cannot be negated because he was also the reason why I tried a lot to maximize my time for studies. I did not prosper much in this latter part because up until now I still hate the sight of books and all that.

During those moments when I would go with him to serve in his barrio masses around Virac, he would point out to me those old churches made of stones, like the chapels of Antipolo and Buyo. He always wanted to preserve the external looks of those churches to serve as a reminder to the younger generations that those who helped build those churches really made extra efforts gathering those huge stones and eventually build up the house of God. His idea is to bring to the present generation all the sacrifices that our forefathers did just to come up with a noble project for God and for His faithful.

The church is where we would normally go to thank God for all His blessings. It is where we go for our spiritual nourishment and hear the Word of God to guide us in our daily life. It is a place where we feel the sense of the sacred in our prayers for healing and guidance for our worries and problems. We go to the church and there we confess our sins to the priest acknowledging our human weakness and sinfulness and try again to live in grace. Almost every event in our human existence are reasons for us to get in contact with God and we can always feel His presence inside the church.

However, as days passed by, a lot of things has changed. It seems to me that people, especially the younger ones, are no longer aware of the sanctity of the church. I mean, there had been a lot of violations committed regarding the sanctity of the place. The most violated rule is about the dress code. I still believe that we must dress up decently when going to the church and behave properly especially during liturgical activities.

Most old churches have antique images which are priceless and now they had become targets of robbers and thieves. Poverty is widespread, but it can never be accepted as a valid reason for stealing sacred statues and images of our Lord and other Saints.

Some other people, as I have observed in my past assignments in some urban areas, make the church as their meeting place. They are not regular church-goers but they had become a familiar sight within the vicinity of the church because they will meet there and go somewhere else to satisfy their immoral acts.

I have a high respect for churches not only because of what I learned from my greatest mentor, the late Mons. Ping, but I was taught by my parents to respect the house of God even as a child. I believe that it is the duty of parents to educate their children about these important things so that they may also learn to and treat the House of God with due respect. Almost every value that a person learns in life are taught to them by their parents. And so, if we are starting to miss those values and principles, I believe that we, as parents, may have neglected to teach our children those time-tested values. For most cases, this failure to teach them started when we failed to live our lives as models for them to follow. I hope we can still do something before we arrive at that point where regret is our only choice.

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