On August 15th, a few years ago now, Cardinal Tagle visited our parish church of Our Lady of the Assumption for Mass and to bless the newly renovated church.
The walls of a church, it has been suggested, store within themselves the prayers of the faithful; and in time I am sure that’s true. In the beginning though they are cemented together with toil, sweat, sacrifice and pain. I am referring of course to one of the major fundraising events, where the 1500 ‘volunteers’ in the inappropriately named ‘Fun Run’, gave their all.
In his homily the Cardinal warned against arrogance and lifting oneself up saying it is better to wait for God to lift you up. Similarly he spoke against competitiveness especially in the church.
Perhaps more than a few of us took that to heart. Whilst the fun run probably was enjoyable for the youngsters, and the old ladies walking their dogs, for the men of a certain age it became a bit more serious. Whilst the glory of 1st place would certainly not be attained, the humiliation of last was to be avoided. Thus as the theme tune to Chariots of Fire rose to a crescendo (in my head), we were off. The wind was howling through thinning hair, as an overweight pack of ageing warriors pounded the tarmac to dust all the while being shadowed by a private ambulance hoping for a customer as blood pressures rose, arteries constricted and cartilage and bone grinded.
The outgoing Mayor of Manila, Fred Lim, presented the prizes at the event in May, the incoming Mayor, former President Joseph Estrada attended last night’s celebration Mass; the Laurel wreath of glory fades quickly for politicians as for our runners; as we too acquired (painfully) a sense of our own mortality. But it was good to be part of it, the lesson learned; generations will worship there now, live and die under the new roof and sturdy walls.
It’s not so much about the building really, but community. It’s a poor parish, but everyone participated somehow in this massive project of rebuilding, even the Parish priest was offering to take in laundry to stress the need for participation and all responded, at least for this moment in time all stood together, a band of brothers and sisters.