By: Frank Padilla The pastoral thrust of the Catholic Church in many different countries is the establishment of Basic Ecclesial Communities (BECs). The basic goal of BECs is to support, strengthen and deepen the Christian faith of the people...
“What kind of a Church must we be to respond to the challenges of our Society as we journey into the third millennium?” (Second Plenary Council of the Philippines, 87) 1. BRIEF HISTORY: Responding to the challenges of Faith...
“What kind of a Church must we be to respond to the challenges of our Society as we journey into the third millennium?” (Second Plenary Council of the Philippines, 87) 1. BRIEF HISTORY: Responding to the challenges of Faith...
Author: MSGR. ALBERT R. RABE
I- INITIATING AND INSTILLING LIBERATING CONSCIOUSNESS IN THE BEC:
A- Societal Situation as Context of the Vision-Mission:
It is imperative that BEC as Pastoral Thrust must have a liberating Vision-Mission. For a particular Vision-Mission to be “liberating”, it must be based on in depth analysis of the prevailing social situation affecting the life of the people and it must be focused on the transformation of the oppressive situation. However, it must be emphasized that transformation must be anchored on the Gospel, should NOT be influenced by ideology of arm struggle and should NOT be tinted with political motivations. For in depth analysis to be liberating, it must be done from the perspective and paradigm of the victimized poor.
The following guide questions are important:
- a) What are the prevailing social situations/systems that exploit the life of the majority poor?
- b) What are the causes of the prevailing oppressive situations/systems?
- c) What are the dehumanizing effects of these oppressive systems on the life of the majority poor?
- d) What the Gospel has to say about these exploitative social situations/systems?
- e) Based on the Gospel and from the paradigm of liberation of the poor, what can the Families in the BEC do to transform these oppressive situations?
1. Poverty Situation:
- a) Poverty can be indicated in various faces/sectors. Poverty on these sectors is measured by the lack/shortness of income and its inability or difficulty to support and sustain a decent/quality life.
- • Farmers/tenants, they do not own most of the land they till
- • Marginalized fisher folks who do not have the (legal) appropriate tools for effective fishing.
- • Low-salaried employees
- • Laborers on a daily/seasonal basis Jobless
- b) Experiences that manifest Poverty: Poverty is explicitly manifested in various experiences. Indeed, poverty is un-secured life, indecent life and victimized life. Therefore, it is a dehumanized life.
- • The poor are deprived and are in-accessible to the main source of life which is the land. Most of the poor families do not own land, they are merely tenants.
- • Due to meager income or no income at all, support of a balanced nutrition is not sustained. Food in-security is widespread resulting into cases of malnutrition and poor health, deterring mental development, aggravating high rise of diseases and increasing rate of mortality.
- • Poor families cannot afford quality medical services. When a member of the family is inflicted with illness, they settle for the least medical attention. Worse, they simply wait for death to come by.
- • Poor families could not afford to pursue higher level of education. After finishing secondary, poor students are forced to stop schooling and are required to look for a job and they become maids, construction workers, sales ladies or jueteng bet collectors. Poor families will have to loan even with high interest rates just to send a child to college.
- • Poor families are hesitant to pursue justice due to them because they do not have enough money and influence to do so. They, as victims cannot assert and fight for their rights in this world where “gold rules”.
- • In decision making processes, in social events and even in the church, the poor are treated as “second class” or simply reduced as “non-persons”.
2. Culture of Slavery:
- a) Poverty has evolved into a Culture of Slavery, where the poor developed an enslaving inferiority complex, while on the opposite side. the rich and the powerful are asserting their authority complex over the poor. Poverty resulting into inferiority complex has pillared oppressive structures.
- • Poverty has developed a culture of silence and passivity. Poor families simply follow and succumb to whatever is dictated to them by the learned, the rich and the powerful.
- • Poverty likewise brought about a system of dole out, reinforcing the culture of dependency and patronage. By this culture, disvalues have been created where the poor “idolize” the political lords as the one who can save them from their plight of poverty.
- • Culture of dependency and patronage also evolve a disvalue wherein the poor are rendered incapable of determining what is evil and what is good. The sense of right and wrong is clouded by dole out and favors received from political patrons. That is why jueteng, political dynasty, vote buying, election frauds have become “socially accepted” and were even justified as “correct” because the political lords involved are the same political patrons who can give dole out.
- • Indeed, culture of slavery is a life contrary to Human Dignity. It is repressive to Human Liberty. It is deterrent to Fullness of Life. Therefore, it is sinful. It is anti-Kingdom of God.
- b) Culture of Slavery is not only caused by Poverty. It also aggravates Poverty. Culture of slavery and economic poverty are inter-linked social situations. They are supportive of each other. Both are systems of cause and effect. These are both sinful systems that threaten Life.
3. System of Political lordship:
- a) Poverty and slavery are NOT the will of God. Jesus said: “I have come so that they may have life in its fullness.” (In. 10:10). Poverty and slavery are man-inflicted. Both are caused and aggravated by oppressive political lordism. Systematically, poverty and slavery are contributories to political lordism.
- • Political lordship owns and monopolizes the main sources of life like vast portions of , land and big businesses. It likewise controls major institutions, power and laws to protect and advance its own interests.
- • Political lordship occupies power via fraudulent means like coercion, violence, vote buying and electoral frauds, using its immense power to manipulate government agencies to cover up its exploitative agenda.
- • Dole out and bribery with intimidation and coercion are effective strategies of political lords to gag possible and potential critiques, including religious leaders who are indebted with donations and gifts from political patrons.
- • Vote buying as tool of political lordship has become large scale and organized because of organizations and associations that are controlled and bribed by political lords.
- • Political power is shifted from one family member to the other without the burden of campaigning because the political family is un-opposed. If there is anyone who would dare to challenge the reigning political lord, bribe, coercion or violence will deter aspirants. Or a “paid opposition” is dictated to file candidacy and a “moro-moro” electoral contest is done to make it appear that “democracy is alive”.
- b) Analysis of the political situation focuses on the complexities and intricacies of the system. It does not attack persons, but it denounces the whole system of oppression like economic monopoly, cultural corruption and political lordism. It is one interwoven system of exploitation.
- c) However, political lordship is the over arching situation that has dominion over the other situations because it imposes power and authority. It mis-uses and abuses laws to impose its oppressive designs. It can legitimize and legalize whatever is illegal, just to preserve its status and promote its agenda. This is the sinful system that ruins Dignity and Freedom.
From the analysis and discernment of the societal situation, a Vision is formulated. The Vision adheres to the features of the Kingdom of God: New life, New History, New World Order. It is a process of Personal Conversion, of Social Transformation, of Liberation from sinful systems and structures. It is a Salvation process. It is an IDEAL and it continues to be pursued.
To concretize the Vision, a corresponding Mission must be articulated and implemented. The Mission aims to realize the Vision. Therefore, the Mission likewise adheres to the framework of the Kingdom Vision.
The Vision-Mission must be crafted, validated and owned by the BECs. It is not dictated by the Parish Priest or the Bishop. It is not the property of the Parish Priest or the Bishop. The Vision-Mission is the “way of life of the families in the BEC”. It is the basis and focus of all the activities and principles of the Families in the BEC.
1. Vision of Human Dignity, Freedom and Fullness of Life.
- • On the situation of dehumanizing poverty and culture of slavery controlled and manipulated by oppressive political lordship, the Families envision Church of the Poor, where the marginalized and victimized poor shall be able to live in the Fullness of Life accorded with Dignity and Liberty.
- • Families envision Church of the Poor, where the majority poor can be able to uphold and defend their rights and at the same time perform their responsibilities. It is a Church of the Poor wherein the poor will be independent in their decision making processes and the poor are able to support and sustain their life without depending from dole out that may breach their freedom and dignity.
- • Families envision Church of the Poor in the consciousness and framework of the Kingdom of God. “Your Kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
2. Mission of Families to Follow Jesus in the Kingdom Mission:
To gradually realize the Vision of Church of the Poor, families in the BEC are enjoined to act collectively and collaboratively the following Mission:
- • DISCOVER and DISCERN on the social situations that affects their Life.
- • DENOUNCE and DISSOCIATE from the oppressive systems and structures that exploit their Life.
- • DESIGN, DEVELOP and DESSIMINATE a formation program for the Youths to equip them with liberating values and instill in them the mission spirit as they are prepared to continue the Kingdom Mission.
- • DESIGN, DEVELOP and DESSIMINATE a program to implement and concretize the elements of a secured and independent life like Organic farming method, food security for every family, communal potable water system, protection and restoration of ecology and community based preventive herbal medicine and disease management.
- • ACCEPT conflict, persecution and suffering for the sake of the Kingdom Mission.
- • COMMUNICATE and CONNECT to God through Prayer.
- • TRUST in Jesus that the Kingdom of God shall triumph over evil.
C- Goals to be Achieved:
1.BUILD equal relationships based on Dignity.
2.ENCOUNTER Jesus through the Word.
3.CREATE ministries in the communities.
4.SET UP linkages and network for wider issue advocacy and collective mobilization.
D- Strategies to Achieve the Goals and Concretize the Mission to Realize the Vision:
1. IDENTIFY the indigenous cluster of families called Sitio/Purok/Zone. Maintain the name of the Sitio/Purok/Zone. Avoid imposing other names. List down names of families and names of Langen-Agassawa (Couples).
2. IDENTIFY a space/venue within the vicinity of the Purok for the families to gather regularly. Venue for regular gathering can be transferrable. The venue must be spacious and shady, preferably in a house yard, not in a barangay hall or school premises.
3. IDENTIFY, form and train a Langen-Agassawa (Couple) to act as Facilitator of the BEC. Tapping Langen-Agassawa must be based on Consciousness, Passion and Skills for the Mission. The Role as Facilitator shall be rotational, collaborative and teamwork.
4. INITIATE regular and consistent activities of the BEC like the following:
- a) Tongtongan-Pamilia (Family Sharing) to be facilitated by the Parents (evening,1st Sunday of each month). Tongtongan-Pamilia will initiate the family to pray, share experiences, analyze, discern and act on issues affecting the family. Tongtongan-Pamilia will open the communication line among family members and this will foster closer relationships. Venue: family house.
- b) Tongtongan-Adal-Gimong (BEC Awareness Sessions for Mission) to be facilitated by a Langen-Agassawa (afternoon, 2nd Sunday monthly). Tongtongan-Adal-Gimong aims to gradually transform consciousness and shift the paradigm of the families. TAG is a strategy to initiate the families into analysis, discernment and collective action to respond to identified community needs and concerns. Venue: House yard in the BEC.
- c) Lakbay-Kabataan (Youth Mission Journey) to be facilitated by a young Langen-Agassawa (afternoon, 2nd Saturday monthly). List down all youths in the BEC ages 14-19 (young category), 20-30 (young adult category). Gather the youths in separate category for the Lakbay-Kabataan formation. Lakbay-Kabataan aims to inculcate liberating consciousness unto the youths. Venue: House yard in the BEC.
- d) Tongtongan-Mannalon-Mangngalap (BEC Collective Action for Mission) to be facilitated by Amma (male parents). It is done every afternoon of the 3rd Sunday of the month. This aims to initiate the BEC into wider and deeper analysis of the situation and encourage the BEC to act collectively to respond to urgent and important community needs and concerns. Venue: House yard in the BEC.
- e) Rambak-Gimong (Community Worship for Mission) to be facilitated by Commentators, Lectors and Lay Ministers in the BEC. It is done in the afternoon of every 4th Sunday of the month. This aims to initiate the BEC into a liberating worship activity to be connected to God. It is likewise the opportunity for the families to offer their “Sagut-Pamilia” (Family Support for the Mission). This is also to encourage all the families in all the BECs in a barangay to gather together and share and evaluate mission experiences as basis of charting a common mission direction. This is also a strategy to deepen relationships among BECs. Venue: House yard which can be hosted alternately by BECs in the barangay.
5. INITIATE the BEC to learn and practice organic farming method. This will instill new awareness among the families as it hastens restoration of the fertility of the agricultural lands which was ruined by chemical farm inputs. Organic farming method will likewise emancipate the farmers from the bondage of debt and political control. This will also promote food security, ensures healthy farm outputs and toxic-free environment.
6. INITIATE the BEC to learn how to make herbal curative medicines and encourage the use of it. Train the BEC about the basic skills of disease management and prevention focusing on hygiene, sanitation, nutrition and healthy lifestyle. Train the BEC on disaster preparedness and risk reduction. All these will free the families in the BEC from the bondage of manipulative dole out by oppressive political lords.
7. INITIATE the BEC into developing and sustaining a communal potable water system. A water system that will teach the families on how to conserve, preserve and safeguard the water sources.
8. INCORPORATE and INCULTURATE the Word of God in all the activities of the BEC. INTEGRATE the spirituality of the Eucharist as Mission mandate of Jesus. “Do this in my memory.”
9. INSTILL in the BEC the Mission orientation, principles and focus.
10. INSPIRE the BEC about the triumph of the Kingdom Mission over evil.
E- Families in the BEC as Anchor and Agents of the Kingdom- Mission:
1. The families in the BEC shall serve as anchor and agents of the Kingdom-Mission. Not the Parish Priest, not parish commissions, not religious movements, not the political lords, not sectors and not civic organizations. The Parish Priest animates and supports the BEC. This will defuse dependency and it shall ensure continuity of the Kingdom Mission.
2. Activities are done in the BEC, for the BEC, by the BEC and of the BEC. The Parish provides for a system and structure of support for the BEC. The Parish serves as link to other BECs.
3. Incases, where Parish leadership does not support BEC, the families which constitute the BEC shall continue the Kingdom Mission. The Kingdom Mission is not confined and limited in the parish, it is a WAY OF LIFE OF THE FAMILIES, A COMMITMENT TO THE LIBERATING GOSPEL.
F- Langen-Agassawa (Couple Animators) as Facilitators of the BEC:
1. The main facilitators/animators of the BEC are the formed and trained Couples in the BEC.
2. Main characteristics of leadership in the BEC must be Trustworthy, Alternate, Passionate, Animating, Team work (TAPAT).
3. Tapping and developing .BEC leadership must undergo the basic process. It must be based on consciousness, attitude and skills, not on election and appointment, NOT necessarily on education, possessions and positions.
4. Leadership in the. BEC must know how to listen to experiences of families. Must know how to relate and communicate and should how to animate and manage conflict for the interest of the Kingdom Mission. Facilitators and Leaders of the BEC must know how to empower, and NOT to develop dependency.
5. Leaders and facilitators in the BEC must practice and implement the Mission principles and activities in their own families. Leaders and facilitators should NOT put credit unto themselves.
G- Way of Life of the Families in the BEC:
1. Consistent monthly Tongtongan-Pamilia in the family level.
2.Consistent monthly Tongtongan-Adal-Gimong in the BEC level.
3. Consistent Rambak-Gimong of all the BECs in the Barangay level.
4. Regular bi-monthly meeting of BECs in the Cluster Barangay level, following the process below:
- a) Opening Prayer/Hymn
- b) Roll call of participating BECs
- c) Objectives: (tentative as may be set)
- • Share experiences of mission in the Family, BEC and Barangay.
- • Discover the areas/aspects of mission that necessitate improvement. Suggest possible actions to improve participation and co-responsibility in the mission.
- • Discern and plan to implement collective mobilization to respond to identified needs and concerns.
- d) Workshop on mission experiences (by Barangay)
- • What are the significant changes of consciousness among the families in your BEC as a result of the implementation of the mission activities and principles?
- • What are the community concerns that were surfaced and identified? What was done to respond to these needs and concerns?
- • What do you suggest to improve the activities of the BEC?
- e) Sharing of workshop output/Synthesis
- f) 1 Awareness Session for Deepening (Mixed groups)
- g) In big group, present collective action plan as result of the workshop. Remind continuity of activities in the Family, BEC, Barangay and Cluster levels.
- h) Closing Prayer/Hymn
- i) Fellowship/Games/Snacks
5. BECs to participate in the quarterly meeting (morning of 2nd Sunday of each quarter, Parish level)
6. BECs on collective mobilization to respond to issues victimizing the poor (BEC and-Network level)
- a) BECs acting collectively on issues of injustice
- • Who is the victim of injustice?
- • What are the circumstances of the event of injustice?
- • What are the corresponding actions to be done? (legal remedies, psychological assistance, medical intervention, etc.)
- • Who will do what? When is the deadline? What are the documents necessary to the issue? What government agencies into which the issue/complaint shall be endorsed?
- • What is the progress of the issue? What has to be done next?
- b) BECs acting collectively to pressure the stoppage of illegal collection of fees in public elementary and secondary schools as prescribed by DepEd Memorandum Order. This is in line with the Constitutional provision of right to free basic educations as enshrined in the 1986 Constitution.
- c) BECs acting collectively to denounce and protest against black sand mining along the seashore that may pose high risk to residents on the coastal areas. BECs also to protest deforestation that may cause flash floods, landslides and other hazardous impact of forest denudation.
7. Families in the BEC to promote and practice simplicity and austerity in all celebrations.
8. Families in the BEC to promote and practice equal relationships based on Dignity, NOT on wealth, title, education and stature.
9. Families in the BEC to uphold Truth and Justice. Safeguard Dignity and Freedom, not succumb to the system of vote buying, lures of jueteng and coercive political pitfalls and pressures.
10. Families in the BEC to worship only one GOD, not vow down and or “worship” political lords, jueteng lords and drug lords. Families in the BEC to make the essence of the Eucharist as Mission mandate, not merely optional devotion, but an imperative mission to implement.
H- Behavioral Indicators of Transformed Consciousness of Families in the BEC:
It can be said that there is a transformed consciousness if the Families in the BEC shall be able to perform their mission responsibilities even without the Parish Priest. The following are some manifestations of a transformed consciousness:
1. Families in the BEC have become DISCERNFUL of the social systems and structures that affect their life.
2. Families in the BEC are ready and able to DENOUNCE and DISSOCIATE from the oppressive systems and structures that hostage and downgrade their life.
3. Families in the BEC have the courage and independence to assert, defend and pursue their RIGHTS in accordance with the Gospel.
4. Families in the BEC are consistently doing and improving all the activities of the Kingdom Mission.
5. Families in the BEC have sustained PASSION for the Kingdom Mission.
I- Role of the Parish Priest in the BEC:
1. The Parish Priest serves as the Parish Administrator.
2.The Parish Priest exercises pastoral will to implement order and principles on parish activities, personnel, financial system, Liturgy and Sacramental celebrations and Mission stance of the Parish related to social issues relevant to the Kingdom Mission.
3. The Parish Priest acts as custodian of all the properties of the Parish and the Diocese which are within the jurisdiction of the Parish.
4. The Parish Priest animates the Families in the BEC. He listens, deepens and focuses mission experiences. – The Parish Priest journeys with Mission.
5. The Parish Priest develops EMPOWERMENT for the Families/ BECs to continue the Kingdom Mission, even after his transfer to another mission assignment.
If there will be assistant priest in a Parish, the assistant Priest shall support and assist the Parish Priest in all of the implementation of BEC.
J- Basic Principles of BEC as Kingdom Mission:
1. BEC as Kingdom Mission adheres to Liberating Gospel. NOT influence by arm struggle. NOT politically motivated.
2. BEC as Kingdom Mission is anchored on and implemented by the Families in the BEC. NOT concentrated on the Parish level.
3. BEC as Kingdom Mission is facilitated by emerged, formed and trained Couple Animators. NOT monopolized by exclusive and competitive religious movements.
4. BEC as Kingdom Mission is centered on Faith that promotes Dignity, Liberty and Fullness of Life. NOT only political change and economic prosperity.
5. BEC as Kingdom Mission maintains an independent financial system. NOT solicitation from political lords that may jeopardize the Prophetic Mission.
6. BEC as Kingdom Mission attains the Vision-Mission of Church of the Poor. NOT collaborate with the oppressive systems that exploit the poor.
7. BEC as Kingdom Mission denounces and dissociates from the oppressive systems that have become structures of SIN.
8. BEC as Kingdom Mission follows the Spirituality of the Cross: The Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus.
9. BEC as Kingdom Mission pins it hopes on the Resurrection of Jesus as the triumph of the Kingdom of God over the forces of evil.
10. BEC as Kingdom Mission trusts in GOD of the Poor. BEC is at the service of the Kingdom of God. It is a way of life, a state of consciousness and a transformative culture of Families. It does NOT depend on hierarchic religion.
II-DISTILLING AND DEEPENING THE LIBERATING CONSCIOUSNESS OF THE BEC: (Level 2)
A- Spirituality of the Cross:
1. Conflict, Suffering and Death as Necessary Prices of the Kingdo Mission
2. Resurrection of Jesus as Prize and Victory of the Kingdom Mission Eucharist as Salvific Celebration
B- Passion for the Kingdom Mission:
1. Radical Gospel
2. Learning Exposure for Advance Formation and Training
3. Networking and Linkages for Collective Mobilization
C- Liberation of the Poor from Slavery:
1. Exodus Event
3. People Power
4. Active Non Violence
5. Economic Independence, Political Maturity and Cultural Integrity.
III- SUSTAINING THE LIBERATING CONSCIOUSNESS IN THE BEC: (Level 3)
A- Evaluating the BEC:
B- Advance Formation and Skills Training
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