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Filipino spirituality not yet ’transformative’

Redemptorist releases book on local societies cultural relations with the divine

Karl Gaspar Karl Gaspar
  • Perla Choudhury, Manila
  • Philippines
  • January 5, 2011
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"Filipino spirituality" is not yet transformation-oriented, said Redemptorist Brother Karl Gaspar who launched his book "The Masses are Messiah, Contemplating the Filipino Soul" last month.

After a two-year fieldwork, research and extensive literature review, Brother Gaspar concluded that Filipino spirituality "is at a level where it still has to evolve further so that the country can be said to already mirror God’s reign in terms of just, tender and compassionate relationships among peoples."

The Redemptorist brother, who is also a playwright and Filipinologist, said Filipino spirituality has seven elements.

"One is reclaiming the roots of our being connected to the Divine from our ancestors’ indigenous belief systems, especially in recognizing the presence of the spirits, as being part of our legacy," he wrote in his book.

He said the other elements contextualize the legacy within family and kinship; the Filipinos’ specific way of coping with tensions and insecurities; folk wisdom of the indigenous peoples; relationship with others; and concern for victims of calamities and disasters.

Brother Gaspar said Filipinos, however, need to develop and mature in "living our lives in integrity and compassion; engaging in actions to liberate the poor; working toward all kinds of transformation; facilitating dialogue while enhancing a sense of forgiveness and reconciliation; and promoting a mystical relationship with God."

He said that although the institutional church can still be "ambiguous" in accepting studies like what he has done, "there is basic openness to dialogue."

"I’d be very curious how the hierarchy would read my book.... The book might create a little stir because... (I) said that we’re not doing enough to expand the discourse on spirituality," Brother Gaspar said.

To come up with the book, Brother Gaspar held focus group discussions with 369 people from all over the country. He also personally interviewed 35 "key informants," corresponded with 19 others online, and renewed ties with nine key informants of his earlier study on mystic wanderers to get what he called "stories of spiritual journeys."

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