PREACHERS took turns speaking out against proposals to legalize divorce in the Philippines during the Good Friday “Siete Palabras” (“Seven Last Words”) at Santo Domingo Church in Quezon City.
The speakers were from the Order of Preachers or the Dominicans, the religious congregation founded by St. Dominic de Guzman and historically deployed by the popes to counter heresy.
This year, the 25th year of the Siete Palabras broadcast, some of the Dominican preachers zoomed in on the divorce bill, which passed the House of Representatives last month, as well as the drug war.
The Philippines today is the only country in the world without divorce, not counting Vatican City.
Fr. Sonny Ramirez delivered the opening salvo, stressing that the marriage vows are sacred vows made before God, in his first public preaching in years.
“You said before God, I will love this person, whatever happens. You did not say I will replace this person when I don’t want this person anymore. We cannot replace our family. Let us put Christ in our family. Our strength is in our unceasing prayers,” he said in Filipino.
Fr. Christopher Garinganao spoke out against what he called a culture of carelessness and negligence.
“If we support the bill on divorce, isn’t this a form of negligence? If the culture we support tells us that ‘One day, you know, I will abandon you, I will abandon your child because I can’t fulfil my promise, we are far from Christ. Christ does not abandon,” he said, also in Filipino.
Reflecting on the sixth word of Christ on the cross, “It is finished,” former Dominican provincial Fr. Edmund Nantes urged married couples to be faithful and to develop a “culture of maintenance” to prevent marital breakups.
“Our happiness does not depend on what other people are doing for us. Also important is what we are doing to maintain the relationship. Find someone who will make you a priority, not someone who is temporary, and promise, we won’t need the divorce bill,” he said.
Fr. Tereso Campillo Jr., chaplain of UST-Angelicum, urged parents to use uplifting words when conversing with their children, as he reflected on the seventh word, “Father, into Your hands I commend my Spirit.”
“Our children must hear the words: ‘This is my beloved, with whom I am pleased,’ not only during their triumphs. It’s important that they hear these words, too, during their lowest points,” he said.
Citing the hardships of family members of “Tokhang” or drug war victims, former University of Santo Tomas rector Fr. Rolando de la Rosa said offering a prayer for one’s “undeserved suffering” was an act of forgiveness as he reflected on the first word, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
“Don’t feel guilty that you cannot forgive. Don’t feel guilty that you are still hurt. Forgiveness is not an action. It is not a one-shot deal. Forgiveness is a process. Undeserved suffering, when made into a prayer and offered to God, becomes an act of forgiveness,” he said.
LEXANNE O. GARCIA AND MAREM A. DE JEMEL