To start with, I grew up with a devout Catholic Mother. Mama of course inhereted it from Lola. My Grandma led the praying of the rosary every night with all of us surrounding her in prayer. Kids that we were, there were times when out of nothing, we giggled and laughed. And our Lola would gave us her most arresting stare, thus we gained our prayerful composure back. When it was summer, together with other kids, I joined Ma and Lola in praying the dawn rosary. And of course Sunday meant attending the holy mass as a whole family. I attended Cathechism classes in the afternoons of May and I was once a member of the Kids for Christ.
Growing up, I remember Mama asking me if I want to be priest one day. Although I cannot exactly recall how I answered her. Maybe I just smiled. How I made her happy one day when I told her that I passed in an Entrance Examination for would-be Semanarians. Her smile was deep. Something that I did not see before. But going into the priesthood is like going to a different world. Something beyond the ordinary. To put it more aptly, there were more questions than answers in my head. And so I feared it.
And so I continue practicing my idea of Spirituality. In College ,Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays were Church days. I have a regular conversation with my God. And that's when I learn to appreciate the work of Catholic priests and their vocation.
I came to know Father Ramonito Maata or Father Ram because he used to celebrate the Youth Mass at the Dumaguete Cathedral. And I notice that whenever he celebrates the Mass, the huge cathedral will become hot and humid with no space left for air and oxygen. People were like ants filling each space possible, notwithstanding humidity and comfort.
I was already in College when I chanced to attend mass in the so-called Church-for-the-Chinese, the Mary Immaculate Parsih Church. There I met Father Enrique Balongag or Father Eking. And then I noticed how much people have gathered inside, rubbing elbows with their seatmates, and people's back were already leaned against the church's wall.
And so the question, why are people attending their massess amidst the inconveniece brought by less space, no seats at times, less air to breath, and the humid environment. Hence the following reasons.
Father Ram and Father Eking are both singing Priests. Which means to say, both have good singing and speaking voices. Of course, not everyone is gifted with that. Pardon my personal bias. I know it is being judgmental if we purely base it on how good they sing or not. But more than that, they speak excellent English. Their homilies are sometimes academic. They speak with great enthusiasm. They speak with gusto. What I like in their homilies is the fact that they refrain from being too bible.ish. They don't paraphrase and retell stories in the Gospel reading. They focus on the human application of the Gospel. Both Priests relate the biblical story and wisdom in the current times. Father Ram and Father Eking use humor in their preaching. They use anecdotes. Or even use teleserye's to relate to the Gospel message. And most important is that fact that they leave you with something to ponder on. Something to bring home and think about. And gives you the feeling of being inspired and fired up for God.
I am toying with the idea of writing this in the middle of a not-so-good homily. And then I realized that the things we learn in toastmasters will really transform a not-so-good homily to a more engaging, inspiring, and heart-warming homily.