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clueless in the pulpit…

When I led the school’s penitential service yesterday morning and spoke again about repentance to the kids, I suddenly felt drained and powerfully overtaken for preaching such a fire- brand sermon two weeks in a row. Innocent and good-humored as I frequently seemed, I’m without a doubt, a tender-hearted creature. This, by the way, is an updated version of myself.  

Much as I wanted to know what to say in the pulpit in advance, the substance of preaching is never self-evident. It’s not so much about scattering words of wisdom but a patient process of discovery. There’s no free ride to interpreting the Word of God. It takes a lot of discernment which varies in each circumstance. To say the least, I was thrilled but remained clueless 30 min before the service. I spent sometime in the kitchen, seeped a cup of tea, heated four links of pre-cooked sausages in the microwave, made a sandwich and meditated which way to go. I started panicking and thought of using a similar sermon I previously had. But, I needed to come up with something new, fresh and inventive not only to get their attention but also, to offer something valuable and practical and help them think differently about life. As you know, Junior High is the hardest to preach, they shut you off in a split of a second and tune in to a preferred virtual channel if things make no sense. They seemed to fix their eyes on you but their minds were actually traveling thousand miles away. I discovered to my surprise ‘gadget’ and I ended up using cellphone, the most powerful means of communication, at least from my standpoint, as a prime example to drive home a message. 

For many, I said, cellphone has become an indispensable technology that runs people’s lives. Some folks have been completely dependent and obsessed and couldn’t even live a day without it, myself included. Even at parties, there’s a huge inclination to browse the features once in a while for no serious reason at all, except maybe in the Mass. When asleep, it’s by no accident that we leave the power on as if we’re paid for an on-call service. In an era whereby people are increasingly addicted to gadgets, there’s a growing temptation to constantly pull that piece of toy off the pocket/purse, almost every minute and look at the screen for messages, even if 90% of them are unimportant. This I think is a very consuming, nail-biting effort. 

But, I wish to say, it depends for the most part on the nature of messages. If you know, the text came from your parents in the middle of the night, telling you to go home asap, you’d better reply at the earliest possible time, if you haven’t heard the word ‘sanction’ yet. Those are the kind of messages we try to avoid. However, if they’re from someone you like, a close friend, a suitor, a crush, a best-friend forever, whose message makes you feel dizzy, it’s a different story. 

Nowadays, world’s information can be accessed by the touch of one’s fingertips and the click of a mouse. A nice cellphone doesn’t only help us  dial a number of our choice but also, deliver email, surf online, send multi-media, give driving directions, locate gas stations and yep, google. Well, if you dream of having an active social life and be clearly in touch with your friends, I bet, a cellphone free life won’t work for you, anymore.  

Others are slightly different. For them, cellphone is used as a necessity. They carry it around but never let their lives be enslaved by it. And yet, there’s a few individuals who simply get rid of cellphones either because of the cost of the monthly subscription, the expense of a high maintenance gadget, the difficulty, of course, of mastering a blackberry, droid, my touch or iphone. Or maybe, they  just don’t want to be disturbed, shut the world off, savor the moment and bliss out. Sort of, if you want to contact me, talk to my secretary, leave a voice message in my office or drop me a line at home, I can be reached at 1-800 nevermind. These are the folks who dislike the way the phone rings, whines about a sensitive touchscreen, resents a tiny keypad and loves the fact that no one can get hold of them after office hours. 

So, whether cellphone is for entertainment purposes, a necessary gadget, an essential tool for shopping or an intrusion into your life, don’t ignore this message for that may be for your own benefit. Amen. 

Did I say repentance? 

Was I talking to Junior High? 

This entry was posted in: Parish


A Filipino Catholic Priest, born and raised in Virac, Catanduanes, Philippines, ordained for the Diocese of Tucson, AZ, eleven years in ministry and counting, Pastor of St. Christopher Catholic Parish, Marana, AZ.

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