2:23 PM

Finding Grace in Disgrace!

Posted by Prosy Delacruz





“It is the mystery that the heart, which is the center of the being, is transformed by God into his own heart, a heart large enough to embrace the entire universe. Through prayer we can carry in our heart all human pain and sorrow, all conflicts and agonies, all torture and war, all hunger, all loneliness, and misery, not because of some greater psychological or emotional capacity, but because God’s heart has become one with ours.” - Henri J.M. Nouwen

I got involved in organizing a public event recently. Here, opinions clashed and differed within the group.

A scriptwriter wrote a one-act play about an immigrant who lambasts Filipinos in the Philippines, regarding them as "undisciplined and without compassion for their own birthplace." To me, it was a put-down for our kababayans, and it made the scriptwriter seem distant, disconnected and detached from his own kind. From this negative perspective, he endeavors to create a new way to connect to his heritage -- by doing a political satire.

It seemed disgraceful to allow the public release of such a satirical presentation to immigrants, as if the organizers did not know better.

However, others seem to perceive this sense of self-deprecation as amusing, even considering it as an art form.

An opportunity to educate
I was labeled as, perhaps, censoring ala Marcos -- arrogant and unable to appreciate art. I had not experienced this shotgun firing of negativity in a long time: reading written toxic words, one after the other on the internet.

I felt bad being compared to Marcos, especially since it came from a good friend. To be compared to a dictator sounded so disgraceful.

After all, we were simply having a discussion about a satirical script. I asked myself, “How many folks did I assassinate to be compared to the likes of Marcos? “

I reflected. While I felt like being emotionally flogged and spiritually battered, I stuck to my pledge of not having ANTS -- automatic negative thoughts. I remembered Fr. Rodel’s words, “We are sacraments, we make visible God’s invisible grace.

I prayed. I waited. I asked for guidance in writing my response. I decided to stay optimistic. It was my political act.

I grabbed the opportunity to turn this into a “ teachable and educational moment.“ I shared my perspective and knowledge about immigrants.

Like me, immigrants hold down jobs to support themselves. We go to church on Sundays to seek refuge from work -- a place where our true worth is unrecognize and where we feel victimized daily by racism. We attend Sunday Mass to feel God’s presence and to be reminded that we, too, are God’s children and that we are grace!

Grace in the sense that we are endowed with personal strengths -- our own set of skills, talents and knowledge. At times, we forget about our own strengths. Adjusting to life in America can be difficult, unless we realize that we are endowed and that God is our unconditionally loving Universal Partner.

I felt that this political satire only added to our daily burdens and struggles. It was not a question of censorship -- it was about being sensitive to the audience. Being creative does not necessarily mean being disrespectful.

I found that the planning group was in need of a good leadership. The profile that was given to the scriptwriter was not based on surveys, nor a crude form of research. It was solely based on assumptions and as a result, the scriptwriter was misguided.

Fortunately, at the next meeting, the poorly written political satire was deemed inappropriate. It did not have what the audience sought for -- spiritual refuge and guidance instead of mere entertainment.

Because of this, the organizers shelved the satire’s premiere. Only when it has been revised to reflect more emotional maturity and a higher regard for the struggles of Filipino-Americans may it , perhaps, be utilized for a fundraiser in the future.

Past behavior need not be the present
In the past, when someone called me names, I reacted with virulence. This time, I felt inner peace and I was determined not to let go of it for someone who I only came to know because of a handful of negative emails.

As for my friend, I forgave her harsh comparison of me with Marcos. I thought that, perhaps, her judgment is clouded because of her hectic schedule and many travels.

I had always considered her as my grace -- a spiritual coach.

This time, I can respond in kind.

How to be grace
I wasn't sure if I could maintain this sense of understanding, this moment of transcendental grace. But I was being pulled by an inner voice and I recalled Fr. Rodel’s words, “ We are sacraments, we make visible God’s invisible grace.“
During the week, two missionaries knocked at my door. They were young men, dressed in white shirts -- one was blonde and blue-eyed, the other had brown hair and brown eyes.

I told them that I, too, am a missionary for Immaculate Heart of Mary Church. We had a dialogue. It went something like this:

Missionaries: “ Where is your church?”
Prosy: Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Santa Monica Blvd. and Alexandria.
Missionaries: What is their teaching or principles that we can take with us?
Prosy: That we are all God’s sacraments, we make visible God’s invisible grace. That we all have one God.”
Missionaries: How is it then if we have one God, we have no one version of God?
Prosy: Have you seen the flowers, are they the same? Have you seen the birds, the animals, fishes?
Have you seen the mountains, the valleys, the rivers? They are not the same. And you know why? Because God loves DIVERSITY! “

I believe that grace is achieved when one recognizes diversity, when one embraces it in its full magnificence. And embrace it even when one seems to perceive disgrace or lack of magnificence.

That became my revelation for the week. Thanks to the IHMC spiritual retreat, I had a better understanding of how grace and disgrace intersect, how one can be transcended to bring out the other.

Hence, when I am confronted with a perceived disgrace, I have to use that particular moment to teach about GRACE.

It is not about merely accepting disgrace or injustice -- it is about standing up to it in order to achieve grace. And in doing so, you exude respect and dignity, not only for yourself but also for others.

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