Fight materialism, secularism through prayer, UST seminarians urged

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Photo by Miah Terenz Provido

UST seminarians were urged on Monday to combat materialism and secularism through contemplative prayer.

In the annual Theology Week, Archbishop Charles Maung Cardinal Bo of Yangon, Myanmar talked about the need for intense solitude, silence and greater intimacy with God.

“In approaching towards deeper communion with God, contemplative prayer has increased in popularity. We are all aware of the business or livelihood. Headphones, road traffic, Facebook and Twitter, they are all destructive. People are very much occupied with the fear of so much [that] they gradually [forget] God,” Bo said in his keynote speech at the Buenaventura Garcia Paredes, O.P. Building.

Bo said people should clear their minds of “outside concerns” so that God’s voice might be heard and His presence felt.

Coming from Myanmar which has all the five major religions of the world, Bo shared his experience on how communion is shown through interreligious dialogue.

“Being Catholic doesn’t mean becoming a stranger from one’s family or being unfaithful to one’s culture, but being in communion with [the] true God. We have experienced the values of different religions. This is why the Christian spirituality based on the Gospel [becomes] realistic and relevant in the concrete interreligious context of Myanmar,” he said.

“If you can look at someone in the face and say this is my brother and sister, then you have dawn, you have light in your life. If you say this is a Muslim or non-Filipino, you are still in darkness,” he added.

Fr. Gerard Francisco Timoner III, O.P., former prior provincial of the Dominican Province in the Philippines, said prayer was the foundation stone of Christian theology.

“The ultimate sense of religion is revealed in the simplest act of religion – prayer, the foundation stone of any theology. [A]t the heart of our prayer, we will find the persons most important to us, thus it is always heartwarming to hear people tell us, “I am praying for you.” When the people ask us for our prayer, they are actually asking us for a space [in our hearts],” he said.

Timoner, the sole Filipino member of the International Theological Commission, lamented the culture of political dynasties in the country and the narrow concept of family.

“The Filipino family may seem so large but not large enough to encompass the whole human family and that is the problem here in the Philippines. Political dynasties abound and perpetuate power. The sense of the family is so myopic, so narrow, so small. [T]he local Church of the Philippines has the mission to expand the Filipino’s heroic and holy love for one’s own family to include and embrace the larger human family. We must begin acting as though we are real brothers and sisters,” he said.

With the theme “Church in Communion: Theology and Expressions,” the Theology Week 2018 consists of the 4th Leonardo Legaspi, O.P. Lecture Series in Religious Studies and Ethics and the St. Thomas Aquinas Forum 2018.

The week-long event is a collaboration between the Faculty of Sacred Theology, Center for Religious Studies and Ethics and Institute of Religion.

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