Metro Manila and Quezon City are known to be “cities without rest.” Just like some of the metropolitan cities of the world as New York, London, Sydney, Manila is full of action due to business, work forces, residents, etc. Its heavy traffic known to the world, the growing population in the city due to migration from the provinces that caused congestion, the constant flux of people in malls, markets and public places make one cry out for respite and quiet. This constant buzz for “building earthly kingdom” seems to be an antithesis of the life of the friars in Lagro, Novaliches which, like any of the communities of the friars, follow a different routine and converge on a very different centrifugal force—God.

“The propensity for activism and workaholism does not always indicate something positive. It could most of the time be an indication of subtle form of boredom and “fedup-ness” with life.”

Their hours of prayer whose center is the Eucharistic celebration, their periods of silence and recollection, their work activities in the service of each other and the community, may seem, from the worldly standard to be unproductive and uneconomical, but they do offer a prophetic witness to the world that only religious consecrated to God can offer: “The primacy of God and the eternal salvation of souls (cfr. Vita Consecrata, n. 85, John Paul II March 25, 1996). This certainly has been neglected by the busy world they find themselves, but a serious neglect since it is a neglect of the ultimate meaning of human existence whereby every action and every activity must find its point of reference.

friar_prayerMaterial productivity becomes today, a common standard measure of the value of something and someone, with the forgetfulness to measure how certain activities adds up to one’s ultimate happiness and goal. If the petty Catechism book defines man’s purpose as “being created to know, to love and serve the Lord in this life and in the next,” then most human activities will fall short from that teleological purpose.

The propensity for activism and workaholism does not always indicate something positive. It could most of the time be an indication of subtle form of boredom and “fedup-ness” with life. This Greek word “acedia” which translates into an imperfect English as “laziness” or sloth, is a  fear to exert an effort to be holy and to face the demands required to approach the reality of the divine and the spiritual. It tries to substitute activism as necessary “drug” to forget the need to exert an effort to be holy. St. Thomas Aquinas calls this a “detestatio boni divini.” There is greater effort needed to conquer oneself than to conquer the world. Hence, the busy world prefers the latter to the former.

Indeed, it requires faith to understand that the value of anything is not only dependent on what one does, but rather on what one “becomes.” It takes to be a saint to find out what’s the most valuable thing in life.

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Fr. Martin Mary Fonte is a Franciscan priest of the Immaculate and serving as the current General Delegate of the Institute of Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate in the Philippines. He acts as the current administrator and webmaster of Philmaria.org.

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