The Next Prayer Rally

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The Next Prayer Rally I Shall Attend

There were big plans for the 17 December Sunday Prayer Rally at the Rizal Park (the old Luneta) right where there is always a beautiful view of the sunset at Manila Bay. (Sunsets in the tropics are always magnificent, more so in the Philippines, I say.) The organizers called it a ‘Watch & Pray Rally,’ which Susan Ople described as a ‘gathering of citizens concerned over the incessant efforts to change the Constitution through improper means’ (14 Dec, susanople.com/), the same which Leslie Ann Aquino said was ‘a prayer rally of thanksgiving’ (17 Dec, mb.com.ph/). Somebody was misinformed? Leslie Ann noted that the original goal of the rally was ‘to protest the moves of administration (read: Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo) allies at the House of Representatives to change the Charter through a Constituent Assembly (Con-Ass),’ but this was changed when the House archived the Con-Ass resolution. They were going to hold rallies in Manila and other key cities of the country. With the shelving of the Con-Ass, CBCP President Angel Lagdameo, Bishop of Jaro, Iloilo, is quoted by Leslie Ann as saying:

God answered our prayer even before we directly addressed it to Him. And so that prayer rallies of petition are now converted into prayer rallies for thanksgiving. God has heard our un-articulated prayer. He loves the Philippines. He has converted our crisis-laden situation into ‘Kairos,’ a moment of grace. Let us give thanks to God and exalt Him above the heavens.’

Leslie Ann said that despite such welcome development, ‘Church leaders said the people should still continue being vigilant and this is the reason why they chose the theme ‘Watch And Pray: Magmalasakit Sa Bayan’ as the gathering’s theme.’ Do good works for your country. On Sunday, you are invited to do good, and that isn’t bad at all.

She also reported that simultaneous prayer rallies will be held by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), Catholic Education Association of the Philippines (CEAP), the Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines (AMRSP), the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV), and the Catholic charismatic group El Shaddai, ‘to mobilize the faithful to be more watchful and to pray for the enlightenment of our leaders in government in Manila.’ Good.

But: ‘To pray for the enlightenment of our leaders in government in Manila’ – that disappoints me hugely, because it does not call for the enlightenment of our leaders outside government in Manila. I believe all of them need more enlightenment.

Now, for the prayer not answered: In fact, the huge prayer rally was a big flop’ – in the words of Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago (Roy Pelovello & Company, 18 Dec, manilastandardtoday.com/). Roy & Co reported that police estimated the crowd at the Rizal Park at less than 10% of the 500,000 that the rally organizers expected to attend. Reuters estimated 50,000. The PNA reported a maximum of 20,000 people attending. I was watching TV today, the day after, and the cameraman would show only a small portion of the crowd; my estimate would be 10,000, and that’s generous. In any case, the afternoon rally ended peacefully.

I’m very, very disappointed. Yesterday, judging from experience, if the clout of the CBCP held and the exuberance of the anti-Charter change activists and anti-GMA militants were any indication, if the boisterousness and vehemence of the righteous were to be given credit, together they would have been able to muster in one place at least one million warm bodies to give thanks to God. That would have been a sight and a shudder.

So, blessed are those that have not seen and have not believed? It does appear that not many people want to give thanks to God for something or other.

Notwithstanding my huge disappointment, I’m all for prayer rallies of such kind. They demonstrate that Democracy is alive and well in my country. They show that those of us who disagree with those who disagree agree to let the others speak for themselves. I don’t believe in the separation of Church and State. Prayer rallies are a means by which priests can speak against those in government for the people what they believe is the voice of God.

There ought to be more prayer rallies. Is anybody thinking of holding a prayer rally anytime soon? I assure you I shall attend:

If, considering leadership, the next prayer rally is led or organized by any of the following interesting people:

Cory Aquino, once President and now a reformist. (Image by Erikboi who captions it ‘Up Close And Personal’ [flickr.com/] shows Cory being interviewed by Susan Enriquez, TV reporter.)
Joseph Estrada, once President and now a reformist
Gringo Honasan, once Senator and a leader of the reform movement
Ping Lacson, Senator and a reformist himself
CBCP President Angel Lagdameo, Bishop of Jaro, Iloilo
Loren Legarda, once Senator and once popular broadcast journalist
Christian Monsod, convenor of One Voice
Fr Gerry Orbos, popular columnist
Susan Roces, wife of once candidate-for-President Fernando Poe Jr
Bro Mike Velarde, leader of El Shaddai
Bro Eddie Villanueva, bishop of Jesus Is Lord Church.

All of them are reformists. I don’t agree with any of them, by the way. But I will attend their prayer rally:

If, considering reason, the next prayer rally is for faith accompanied by works. For faith without works is as dead as a doornail, useful only if it stays in one place and no other, if it doesn’t move at all.

If, considering the fragility of the flesh, the next prayer rally is for hope. For we walk by hope, not by sight. Hope is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. I continue to hope.

If, considering the peoples of this country, the next prayer rally is for equal cultural recognition, something that the Americans have not achieved in the last 200 years. We should be so proud of ourselves: Aetas, Apayaos, Bicolanos, Cebuanos, Chabacanos, Gaddangs, Ibanags, Igorots, Ilocanos, Ilonggos, Ilonggots, Kankannaeys, Manobos, Maranaos, Negritoes, Pampangos, Pangasinenses, Tagalogs, Warays and all the rest of some 100 tribes in these islands.

If, considering higher education, the next prayer rally is for the State University (the University of the Philippines) to learn the lesson of the relevance of creating and not merely criticizing, of construction and not merely deconstruction, of denouement and not merely denial, of ingenuity and not merely engendering civil disobedience.

If, considering economics, the next prayer rally is for the Filipinos to realize that employment here or abroad is not the only option, that entrepreneurship is a better option because it has a great multiplier effect.

If, considering sustainability, the next prayer rally is for the conservation of nature, which means wise use and not mis-use or abuse; if it is for Filipinos to recognize and respect the laws of nature which are beyond their control if violated. Or,

If, considering the health of the nation, the next prayer rally is for healing any hurts, any harm done, any woundedness – and for getting rid of unforgiveness once and for all. Love your enemies! was spoken to everybody.

If so, then I shall attend the next prayer rally, really.

If not, I shall attend to the spectacular sunset at Manila Bay.

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Revised 20 December 2006

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Explore posts in the same categories: Angel Lagdameo, CBCP, Conservation, Constituent Assembly, creative thinking, Creativity, essence of democracy, Give peace a chance, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, GMA, God, House of Representatives, Love your enemies, Luneta, Miriam Defensor Santiago, prayer rally, rally of thanksgiving, Return to nature, Senator Santiago

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