Sunday Reflections

33rd Sunday in OT – C November 17, 2019

PROCESSIONS:  TO THE JOURNEY’S END…

PROCESSION [prəˈsɛʃən] n.1. the act of proceeding in a regular formation 2. a group of people or things moving forwards in an orderly, regular, or ceremonial manner

     Gaudium et Spes tells us: “Christians, on pilgrimage toward the heavenly city, should seek and think of things which are above.” (GS,57) That is why in Catholic liturgy processions symbolize “the movement of our lives from life to death to eternal life, or from sin to forgiveness and new life.” (http://www.stmarycmu.org/node/204) These processions, usually accompanied by hymns, remind us that we are but a pilgrim people journeying towards the heavenly kingdom prepared for us by God. Processions are not parades. They are gestural or actual reminders that we just passing by here on earth. Indeed, that we proceed from here to eternity. Since procession comes from the Latin prōcēdere (to advance), our earthly journeys definitely point to spiritual advancement.

But, how do we go about in this procession?  Not so much the marching movement this time, but the living out of this “process” of advancing spiritually? There are two ways, two modes of processions here. Pick your choice.

PROCESSION #1

ALA PROCESSIONARY CATERPILLARS

      Jean Henri Fabrè

          The noted French naturalist, Jean Henri Fabrè, studied this unique little furry insect in great detail.  What makes this caterpillar special is its instinct to follow in lock step the caterpillar in front of it.  This behavior, not only gives the caterpillar its name, but a deadly characteristic also.

        Fabrè demonstrated this unusual behavior with a simple experiment.  He took a flowerpot and placed a number of caterpillars in single-file around the circumference of the pot’s rim. Each caterpillar’s head touched the caterpillar in front of it. Fabrè then placed the caterpillars’ favorite food in the middle of the circle created by the caterpillars’ procession around the rim of the flowerpot.  Each caterpillar followed the one ahead thinking that it was heading for the food. 

        Round and round went those silly insects–for seven days!  After a week of this mindless activity, the caterpillars started to drop dead because of exhaustion and starvation.  All that they had to do to avoid death was to stop the senseless circling of the flower pot and head directly toward the food—less than six inches away from those ever-circling crawlers.

        However, the processionary caterpillars were locked into this lifestyle and couldn’t extricate themselves from this mindless behavior.

Okay. “Caterpillars ‘yun, mga tao naman tayo,” you say? Let’s look at this late breaking scientific news:

     Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics

        (PhysOrg.com) — Scientists in the Multisensory Perception and Action Group at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics in Tübingen, Germany, led by Jan Souman and Marc Ernst, have now presented the first empirical evidence that people really walk in circles when they do not have reliable cues to their walking direction.

        Their study, published today in the journal Current Biology, examined the walking trajectories of people who walked for several hours in the Sahara desert (Tunisia) and in the Bienwald forest area (Germany).

        The scientists used the global positioning system (GPS) to record these trajectories. The results showed that participants were only able to keep a straight path when the sun or moon was visible. However, as soon as the sun disappeared behind some clouds, people started to walk in circles without even noticing it.

        Dr Souman says, “If you are walking blindfolded, the only information you’ve got to tell if you’re walking straight, comes from your body, the information from your muscle and joint movement.” But this information is ‘noisy’ or has errors, he says. “Normally we don’t notice these errors

because we can correct them by looking where we are going.”

        But Dr Souman says even with sight, these errors build up over time and what we think is straight ahead isn’t anymore. Additional, more cognitive, strategies are necessary to really walk in a straight line. People

need to use reliable cues for walking direction in their environment, for example a tower or mountain in the distance, or the position of the sun. These scientists show that people really walk in circles when lost!

        Ayun naman pala. Kaya siguro there are people who think they’re doing the right straight thing when in fact they are not. Well-adjusted na sila sa balikong landas, landas na maraming paliko-liko. And when the Church serves as the sun or the moon or a mountain or a tree as guide, galit pa sila! hmmmp talaga.

        And here’s the sadder news: Some people reach the top of the ladder of success only to find it is leaning against the wrong wall.

Mga Tanong sa Sarili:

   1. Ano ba yung paulit-ulit at pabalik-balik kong kasalanan na kailangan kong maka-wala?

   2.  Ano ba yung maling nakasanayan kong tipong suko na akong tanggapin nalang with the excuse na “kasi talagang ganito ako eh”?

   3.  Saan ba ako madalas sumandal: sa mga bagay-bagay at ari-arian? sa mga taong mahal ko sa buhay? sa pera o pinagkakakitaan? sa trabaho? o sa tulong at awa ng ibang tao? Lagi na lang ba akong sumasandal sa sarili kong kakayahan?

   4.  Sunud-sunuran lang ba akong lagi sa mga taong may katungkulan?

   5.  Do I still consider the Catholic Church my authority in matters of faith and morals? O, “depende” ang sagot ko?

Good news for us! Here is an alternative processional mode!

PROCESSION #2

ALA DRAGONFLY

   Cecil Blount DeMille

        Cecil Blount DeMille was an American film director and Academy Award-winning film producer in both silent and sound films. He was renowned for the flamboyance  and showmanship of his movies. But he was also a devout Christian as can be seen in his best-known films such as The Ten Commandments, The King of Kings and The Sign of the Cross.

        Shortly before his death, he wrote the following:

“One day as I was lying in a canoe, a big black beetle came out of the water and climbed up into the canoe. I watched it idly for some time. Under the heat of the sun, the beetle proceeded to die.”

“Then a strange thing happened. His glistening black shell cracked all the way down his back. Out of it came a shapeless mass, quickly transformed into beautiful, brilliantly colored life.… Before my eyes had occurred a metamorphosis – the transformation of a hideous beetle into a gorgeous dragonfly, which started dipping and soaring over the water, but the body it had left behind still clung to my canoe. I had witnessed what seemed to be a miracle. Out of the muck had come a beautiful new life.”

“And the thought came to me: that if the Creator works such wonders with the lowliest of creatures, what may not be in store for the human spirit?”

   Processional Transformation.

        That’s how I would call this type of processional mode. A deliberate process of proceeding though the route of metamorphosis – of transformation. In Christian lingo: metanoia, conversion. And this is not rocket-science. If you don’t need an M.A. , a Ph.D. nor a theological degree to intelligently explain transubstantiation, then, more so with personal transformation. You just have to “Let God; Let Go; and then, Let God again.”

        In short, just let God be God of your whole life. Not intellectually difficult ‘no? The difficulty lies not in the human mind; it lies in the human heart – the human will. Kaya nga kung napansin mo, ang sabi ko “Let God, let go, then let God again.” First, let God into your life. Kasi letting go relying solely on human powers is insufficient. Di kaya ng weak powers natin yan lalu na kung comfortability natin ang nakatayang i-give up. Kaya, allow God to help you let go. Besides, letting go of sin without having God handle us first might create an empty gaping space where Satan can come back again, dala ang 7 other devils.

        This is our challenge: Let us make a vow to proceed through life through the door of transformation – into the likeness and image of Christ.  ♥