New Evangelization and Popular Piety: Dialogue between Faith and Culture
In many aspects and in various ways, Philippine culture is intimately connected with Christianity. Many of our fiestas, traditions, practices, songs, dances, visual arts, architecture, cinema, literature, etc. have developed with the Catholic faith in tow. Deep devotion and a strong sense of the sacred are part of the things that identify Filipinos and set them apart. As a predominantly Catholic country, the Christian faith is often recognized as a pillar, even a cornerstone, of our nation.
The cathedral, parish church, and chapel—a number of which are centuries-old, dating back to the time of the missionaries during the Spanish period—continue to be centers of activity in barangays, towns and cities, and come to life not only during Sundays and feast days, but even on weekdays for daily mass and special devotions. Important liturgical feasts and celebrations, including Christmas day, the feasts of the Nazareno and the Santo Nino, Ash Wednesday, Holy Week, All Saints’ Day and All Soul’s Day, Marian feasts, and feasts of patron saints draw huge crowds of people to church. Even overseas-based Filipinos travel home to celebrate these special occasions.
Indeed, as John Paul II said, culture plays “a positive role of mediation in the expression and extension of the Christian faith”; inculturation helps the faith to take flesh and become more discernible and intelligible. This is certainly evident in the Philippine context. In our experience, it is also true that culture needs to be continuously evangelized. It needs to undergo a process of constant transformation and purification. Its encounter with faith can, after all, be superficial—caught up in the beauty of signs and sacraments but falling short when it comes to truly understanding the Gospel message and living it out in full so that it may penetrate our entire existence.
As Don Bosco Center of Studies pursues a closer examination of the dialogue between faith and culture and the necessity of inculturation and evangelization of culture, its research will include an examination of two important realities.
First, popular piety or folk religiosity deserves careful attention. It plays a vital role not only in preserving much-loved traditions of faith expression that have spanned centuries, allowing the people to convey their faith in a way that is heartfelt, genuine, and inherent. Moreover, as Paul VI pointed out, “if it is well oriented, above all by a pedagogy of evangelization… (popular piety) is rich in values. It manifests a thirst for God which only the simple and poor can know. It makes people capable of generosity and sacrifice even to the point of heroism, when it is a question of manifesting belief. It involves an acute awareness of profound attributes of God: fatherhood, providence, loving and constant presence. It engenders interior attitudes rarely observed to the same degree elsewhere: patience, the sense of the cross in daily life, detachment, openness to others, devotion.”
Second, in response to Pope Francis’ challenge and warning, the impact of postmodern culture and ideological colonization on Filipinos needs to be examined. Indeed, these influences are threatening to erode the very foundations of Philippine culture, making what is traditional appear to be outdated, and promoting alternative lifestyles that threaten the true meaning of freedom, the dignity of life, and the primacy of God.
Academic Year 2016-2017
SPECIFIC POINTS OF INTEREST
In academic year 2016-2017, special focus will be given to Amoris Laetitia, as we explore the importance of popular piety in the family and how daily and seasonal devotions figure in family life.
Aside from Popular Piety and the impact of postmodern culture and ideological colonization, our reflection on culture will also focus on Cultural Ecology and the impact of the ecological crisis on the culture of the people who are most affected.
We aim to focus on evangelization through Popular Piety and through the promotion of Cultural Ecology
Target Audience: DBCS students, all theology students, all pastoral workers
Projected Output: website on popular piety; articles or books on popular piety; modules on ecological education which can also be applied in DBCS
Resources: Professors and students of DBCS
Note: Unless otherwise stated the points of interest have been carried over from AY 2015-2016.
Research Cluster Head: Fr. Rafael Dela Cruz Jr, SDB, SThD
POPULAR RELIGIOSITY AND THEODULA
A Theological Dramatic Approach to Popular Religiosity
Popular Religiosity and Theodula is a research blog by Fr. Rafael Dela Cruz Jr, SDB that gathers in one place the following:
(a) All the documentations of varied expressions of popular religion/religiosity, particularly those found in the Philippines; and
(b) All the ongoing theological-pastoral reflections being made on them.
It also documents the ongoing articulation of the Theodula as a theological dramatic approach of doing theology, and the exploration of its usefulness in the challenging task of theologizing on popular religion/religiosity.