The malicious depiction of the Discalced Carmelite nuns in Cebu playing mahjong with the late former President Cory Aquino in the movie “Maid in Malacañang (MIM)” took me down memory lane and reminded me of my visit to the monastery years back as well as my friendly conversation with the members of the religious community.
Still working at the Vatican at that time, I was invited to give some updates on the new norms governing contemplative life, particularly the two recent documents: the Apostolic Constitution “Vultum Dei Quaerere” (Seeking the face of God) and the Implementing Instruction “Cor Orans” (Praying heart). After the talk, I stayed overnight in the area reserved for visitors.
The titles “Seeking the face of God” and “Praying heart” speak volumes about the vocation and mission of the nuns. Comparable to the two lungs of our human body, consecrated life has also active and contemplative members.
The active consecrated men and women (called sisters) devote themselves mainly on apostolic works while the contemplatives (called monks and nuns) spend most of their time in prayer and penance. They complement each other and enrich the Church all the more.
Faithful to their calling, the Carmelite nuns were praying, fasting and having vigil for our country at that very crucial time of our history. Hence, it is beyond comprehension why some people have the audacity to malign them and distort history on the process. The simplicity of their life and the amount of time spent in silence and prayer to intercede for this broken world are enough reasons to accord them with utmost respect.
I was in EDSA in 1986; the nuns were in their cloisters. But all of us fought for our freedom: either by facing the tanks standing or praying on bended knees. With the unabated proliferation of fake news and disinformation, not only in the movie MIM but in every facet of social media, we continue this noble fight to seek the truth with praying hearts.
For it is also there that we seek and find the face of God!
Fr. Elias L. Ayuban, Jr., CMF, JCD, is currently the Provincial Superior of the Claretian Missionaries of the Father Rhoel Gallardo Province in the Philippines and chairperson of the Conference of Major Religious in the Philippines, formerly known as the Association of Major Superiors in the Philippines. He served as canon lawyer at the Vatican’s Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life and professor of canon law at the Claretianum in Rome.