(A Features Article as Prelude to the Upcoming IFI Leadership Change)

By: The Rev. Fr. Hermogenes P. Verano, DPA
Mission Priest, Diocese of Greater Manila Area

"Change is not always a good thing. It may force us out of tired habits and impose better ones upon us, but it can also be stressful, costly and even destructive. What's important about change is how we anticipate to it and react to it." – Rick Newman

Every passing of an old to a new dispensation, or perhaps a change of leadership in the Church, taking-over ensues. There is another set that reigns supreme. Inescapable, there is a change of people, change of roles, and change of policy directions. Theoretically, change is a concept which is absolute yet sometimes arbitrary. "You can't step on the same river twice,"  a philosopher of old once said. But change always has a looming resistance, a force that contradicts the current to flow in.

In the Church, as an institution, there are "cases of malicious resistance which spring up in the misguided minds and come to fore when the devil inspires ill intentions often cloaked in sheep's clothing." Many of us will always stay in our comfort zones and any instigation of shaking our status quo will create a commotion. Some of us will run berserk and explode like balloons. Creating a ripple effect, it invites others who enjoy the long moments of pleasure and comfort to close ranks. Hence, moving on forward to progress and development constitutes askance on our part. Stocked and hidden in us are "words of self-justification and accusation, taking refuge in traditions, in appearances, in formalities, in the familiar, in the desire to make everything very personal and in failing to distinguish between the act, the actor and the action."

Always prepared to justify actions laced with self-agenda and vested interest, we often are prepared with alibis and ready excuses just to defend our moves for decisions. With the cunning use of wit and cleverness, we always come up undetected of our vile intentions. Sometimes absolving ourselves, we look for someone to blame and accuse others. When we speak up, we would oftentimes block some snippets of truth to avoid culpability. We resort to the theory of language, as propounded by George Orwell by "using fabricated language as substitute for thought in order to hide the indefensible." In the Book of Genesis (3:12), Adam's reasoning pointed to blaming Eve when they were caught eating the forbidden fruit.

Apparently, taking refuge in traditions, we always say, "Sorry, it is the tradition, or sorry it is the common practice; just do it." We are so enamored with pompous liturgy that we devote much in costly celebrations. Sometimes, there are practices that are no longer practicable. Indeed, we have lost simplicity. "Essentials are invisible to the eye," so it says.

Nonetheless in perceptions, appearances can be seemingly deceiving. The saying "What you see is what you get" is not always correct. Insight is more important and better yet critical thinking. We should "see not through the eyes but through the mind." Being critical is an antidote for seeking the truth. Passivity will only condone the wrongdoing. 

Perceivably, formalities lack substance. Realities are sometimes hidden in grandiose, lavish and superficial presentations. It can be awesome to spectators but it is bereft of its essence. It exclusively belies the truth in many times. It is always the case that form and substance assist hand-in-hand to support the change. 

However, being familiar shortchanges progress. It is like a routine, hence a cycle. Yet we are being used to it. Being stocked, we take it as our comfort zone. The ripple effect seems just to stay within the confines. The adage "Familiarity breeds contempt" can be dangerous. It is convoluting the progress that we desire.

Knowingly, some of us take things very personally. We cannot take away our own subjectivity on things that should be decided objectively. When we speak, we tend to do some verbal wrangling; hence, our argument is faulty and irrational. Professionalism seems to be a stranger. As a consequence, problems will not redound to resolutions. A logician was correct when he theorized that "If emotion is on the throne, then reason is overthrown; but if reason is on the throne, then emotion is overthrown." Being very personal is selfishness to the highest degree. 

In the light of the discussed circumstances above, change is far from possible. We have to move progressively but the change should not be circular and routinely spiteful and malignant. What we wear transcends to what is true, what is institutionally good and in adherence to the Church's ultimate mantra "Pro Deo et Patria." Otherwise, we will suffer from the “Spiritual Alzheimer’s disease,” as lamented by the Rt. Rev. Jerry Sagun (Bishop of the Diocese of Santiago), during our clergy convocation in Puerto Princesa.



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