I have more posts waiting for upload, but I want to have better pacing in terms of posting, so I decided to just end this month with only the monthly update post after the last one. And since said end of the month is Halloween, a.k.a. All Saints’ Eve, why not have a reflection post about it and All Saints’ Day?
When I accomplished my BA Creative Writing thesis (which, by the way, also has acknowledgments to fellow Catholic bloggers Medieval Otaku, Mrs. Melanie Jean Juneau, and Mr. Brian H. Gill), accompanying it was a surprising sense of fulfillment. For context, I went to the University of the Philippines, which is quite known for being secular and progressive on top of being considered the Premier State University. And if you consider the numbers, the Philippines is predominantly Catholic, but as tempting as it can be, I’ve already learned not to trust statistics to the point of equating it to the country’s faith. Besides, with the sort of community Jesus had to deal with when He was here on earth, we should know that such an issue shouldn’t be considered so new. Cruelly imperial conquerors, religiously corrupt officials, and judgmentally nominal believers? All those should be quite familiar to a Filipino, if you ask me.
But while such insights can be cause for further self-loathing, such an action is something that, as I came to realize through the making of my thesis, I had to fight against. One important question my adviser asked me as I wrote stories went something like “Why do you have to have such a jerk in your story?” I had grown quite a fascination for the lowest of the low not in the golden underdog sense, but in the prison manure sense. Among the four stories I wrote for my thesis, which is a Catholic short story collection, I have a domestic abuser and a violent ex-boyfriend as protagonists to be redeemed, and they’re not the last ones people will see from me, considering my plans for the expanded and commercial release of the collection. Considering Flannery O’Connor and Gregorio Brillantes, my primary sources for the thesis, writing about such mean beings is nothing new. But while I’m pretty sure my blood would boil at such people, much like any person with a decent sense of justice would, there was also something else in the way mine boiled that asked me to go somewhere else. In hindsight, it’s certainly somewhere better, but at the time, I had my doubts about it, especially “Would other people even bother to believe in the repentance of such mean beings?”
Still, I knew that I must, I knew that I can, and all that’s left was for me to declare that I will. As much as my professors and classmates had their points about the stupidity of Catholics, among other majorities to be found in the world, I saw that they talked about the problems about us better than they talked about the solutions for us. It pissed me off, honestly. But I don’t think that was what pissed me off the most.
One thing I had to learn: Of course they wouldn’t know much about solutions fit for the Church. If a Catholic like me has doubts about the Church, then what more for those outside it? What pissed me off the most, then, was that I had allowed my own doubt to grow my self-loathing. My rage was waiting for my faith to empower it into throwing all those wasteful things away, whether or not those around me liked it. Besides, if salvation also requires taking the most humiliatingly unjust punishment from humanity, then why should I be afraid?
Now here I am, equipped with the guts and gray matter to write about a chill and open gay guy going on a date with another guy like it’s another ordinary date. On top of that, I also have him as the kind best friend of the violent guy who got dumped by his girlfriend. I’m pretty sure that God answered my prayers, considering that, for example, I had also been wanting to more respectfully write queer characters while keeping the story sufficiently Catholic. Praise and thanks be to Him very much again, then.
But all that’s just a part of the beginning. I still need to spend more time and effort and all that before people would be interested enough to dig up this site, my social media accounts, and more for treasure chests and skeleton closets. And I gotta remember that Jesus’ community back then also had awesomely faithful martyrs, surprisingly friendly foreigners, and tear-jerkingly repentant fools, something that the Filipino today should also be familiar with.
Speaking of the Filipino, I find being one worth thinking about during the Solemnity of All Saints as well. We have Saint Lorenzo Ruiz and Saint Pedro Calungsod, both of them martyred missionaries who lived during the Spanish Colonial Era, which possessed and spawned a bunch of weird juxtapositions. So yeah, they make me wanna go for Sainthood even more. If I wanna go to heaven, then I might as well try to go all the way, yeah? I’m not sure about how God has my death scheduled, but His plans are all good, and I just need to believe and follow. I might die beaten up by dismissive foreigners insecure about their worth, I might die burning at the stake thanks to some paranoid locals, or I might just die from plain exhaustion after so much ordinary work. Who knows? God knows. No Haruhi.
But anyway, Filipinos and Sainthood. Those two Filipino Saints died overseas. Saint Pedro Calungsod died in the Marianas Islands. Saint Lorenzo Ruiz died in Japan. I’ll admit that I have more knowledge and interest in the latter, considering my interest in Japanese pop culture (Filipino missionaries and Japanese converts during the time of the Tokugawa Shogunate? I wanna write a short story about that!) and my thoughts on recent tensions involving the Philippines and China (I have nothing to brag about when it comes to political know-how, but I’m pretty sure that there’s also nothing to brag about when I see that both countries can be equally oppressive, be it to themselves or to each other). Still, both Saints remind me of the value of having to deal with the foreign as well to help God out. We Filipinos have a complicated relationship with the foreign, especially the Western world which introduced us to Catholicism, but again, it’s nothing new in history, and dearly loving God Almighty understands.
With the help of such growth that God helped me gain, I found myself not only surviving but also thanking the education I got from the University of the Philippines. I don’t think my ignited sense of mercy and justice is the same as the sort I found ruling the place, but I wouldn’t have found it without the differences, and besides, we all wanna be unique, yeah? I can never sanely deny that the marginalized require care, but at the same time, I wonder why we ask already rotten people to only rot even further in prison? If they’re gonna rot like manure in the dirt, then we might as well put them in good soil and have seeds of virtue grown from within them. Meant for the death penalty or not, we still gotta help their spirits out. Remember the repentant criminal during Jesus’ crucifixion in the Gospel of Luke? People can argue about whether the criminal deserved such capital punishment or not, but in the end, he’s like the rest of us: a sinner bound to die yet can and should be redeemed by the grace of God. The punished criminal also showed how different he was from the rest of the unfaithful humanity he had been a part of not only through his humble and courageous defense of the crucified God Almighty but also through his request to be remembered by Christ in heaven. Such faith also makes the phrase “making a name for oneself” sound meager in comparison.
Now, I’d say that entering the Communion of Saints would be a breeze, but I’d be getting way ahead of myself, a mere temple and not God Almighty Himself. So yeah, I guess this is it for now. God Almighty keep on helping us all. And Happy Hallowmas, because not many peeps know about Halloween actually being All Saints’ Eve. If you’re looking for the usual monster, though, then congrats! You found one.