FR. PERCY COULD not have said it more rightly when, only moments after he started his Recollection talk last Tuesday night, the projector acted up and there was nothing his assistants could do about it. It was “Taning,” he joked (more seriously than tongue-in-cheek) and, probably because he is closer to Christ (than me, as the reader will later find out), power came back on and stayed until the open forum portion of his recollection.
I’m not as fortunate. I lost my notes and, no matter how hard I tried to retrieve them, prayed the Divine Mercy Chaplet and the rosary (ultimately asking advice from techie friends how ipad’s icloud’s backup works), there was nothing that could salvage the precious words I faithfully followed Fr. Percy by. It was the third time the devil stood in my way, the first two instances during meetings at the Montfort Center of Spirituality (which maximum recall helped recover) but this present loss is sorely rued for the voluminous information that I could not even hope to rescue from oblivion. My senior memory is a handicap that will serve whatever worth it can scrape but I will not lose the faith that God will see to the fruition of this feat.
That this supposedly long story is going to be short is pretty evident. Suffice it to say that I’ll reduce into writing whatever insights that struck me the most in his probably first and last recollection with his congregation.
What strikes me about Fr. Percy’s spiels is their rectitude. As when, in one of his homilies, he shared his seminary days. It was their immersion in the red light district of the city and he and his fellow seminarian “tabled” a girl who, over time, could not help but ask why they always ask for her when they are in the pub. He told her the truth and Josefina sobbed when she found out. Because they have been very kind to her, she returned the kindness by not ordering any more lady’s drink and simply enjoyed the stories they shared from start to finish. She is now working with nuns in a convent.
During the open forum, a man asked if “The Apostles’ Creed” is a prayer. Deftly, Fr. Percy replied that it is a prayer that is included on Sunday Masses as a profession of the faithful’s vows. Weekday Masses no longer include it. Yet is also starts the praying of the rosary. And as a prayer, the believer has the option to put his heart on it, whose intention will never escape God.
As he repeated the Gospel of “The Prodigal Son,” which is actually more apt to be renamed “The Forgiving Father,” a man asked if he did the right thing to a client who would not deliver on her promised payment, which had taken time already, and so compelled him to say harsh things to her. The debt was ultimately settled and they apologized to each other. Fr. Percy replied that it was a good thing they reconciled because, at the end of the day, we are all accountable to what comes out of our mouths but what God sees is what’s in our hearts. It’s the intention, good or bad, that counts. And a word of apology, no matter belated, if said sincerely, is one which God appreciates.
Then he called to mind temptation which is not a sin per se. It is succumbing to it that translates it to an occasion of sin. Like Jesus was tempted three times by Satan in the desert, but never did He give in, because His faith was, like the Father’s, perfect.
There were two questions from the youth. One had to do with the old folks’ reprimand against taking a bath on Good Friday. Fr. Percy said it’s an old tradition that has no religious basis and should just be shrugged off. Whether it is done in the bathroom or in Boracay, if the body has been attuned to the Lenten observance, the bather is in order. The other young man’s concern was EJK killing and forgiveness. Like, is it that easy to forget the lives that were lost in the country’s war against drugs? And Fr. Percy, however disinclined to agree with the present dispensation, can only agree that, however hard it is to swallow the painful truth of losing a loved one’s life, if the Father can give His only-begotten Son to save us, why can we not let go by the same token.
Towards the end, he stressed that Lent focuses mainly on the Easter (or Sacred or Paschal) Triduum, considered the most solemn part of the liturgical year because it recounts the last three days of Jesus’ life on earth. Triduum recalls when the Lamb of God laid down His life in atonement for our sins. This marvelous Paschal Mystery is broken down into: 1. The Washing of the Feet on Holy Thursday, which underscores Christ’s humility as servant even if He is King; 2. Veneration of the Cross on Good Friday, where there is no Mass but communion is available to the faithful, using the consecrated hosts from Holy Thursday, given that the faithful have already made a good confession and are now open to a reconciliation with God; it takes place at 3 pm, the hour that Jesus breathed His last on the cross, which is why we venerate it by either kissing or touching. The priest begins the service prostrate in front of the altar, precisely what Fr. Percy practices every Holy Week; 3. Holy Saturday is still a day of fasting and sorrow, also called Black Saturday because Christ is in the tomb. His descent into the realms of the dead “opened heaven’s gates” for the just who had gone before Him. Before Holy Saturday, there were no souls enjoying the beatific vision of God in heaven!
Easter Sunday is the culmination of the 40 days of prayer, fasting and alms-giving that commemorate Christ’s suffering in the arid, vast, barrenness and, if we were faithful to His example, we would be worthy to celebrate the “Feast of Feasts”. And be prepared for resurrecting ourselves with the King of Kings. Amen.