A talk about Eucharistic fasting

SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Valeriano Avila - The Freeman

It’s been four long, boring months since we had a lockdown in Cebu City. To be totally honest, the long months of stay at home has taught me that we really do not need new shoes or new clothes and, in fact, we are wearing only home clothes every single day. I’m blessed that I live with two great cooks: my wife Jessica and my daughter Katrina, who is also my nurse.

If at all there is something gravely missing in the last four months of my life, it is my physically going to the Holy Mass and receiving the body, blood, soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist when I take the Holy Communion. Instead, we hear the Holy Mass by watching it on the Facebook page of the Church or on TV, and receiving only spiritual communion. The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) is of no help either as it has only allowed 10 people inside a huge cathedral. This also means I have stopped visiting the Blessed Sacrament in the last four months, something I did at least twice a week before.

In this time of the coronavirus pandemic, many Catholics have been forced to grapple with their relationship with the Church, the community and especially with the sacraments, which typically require a physical closeness that is nearly impossible to do right now. For many, the experience of being separated from their usual patterns of prayer and worship has been challenging spiritually and emotionally.

I am one who truly believes that God has a huge role in this pandemic, simply because for many centuries, he has allowed humankind to develop with Satan’s help and veer away from the presence of God. Thus, despite all our prayers during the Holy Mass on TV, where we pray to God to help ease our suffering, God doesn’t stop the pandemic because as foretold by his mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary in many of her apparitions that “the cup is already overflowing.” And it is time for us to repent, and return to God, go on confession and pray for God’s abundant mercy.

Thus, I consider my fasting from the Holy Eucharist as my way of suffering the loss of our Lord Jesus Christ. As Pope Benedict XVI said about eucharistic fasting: “Today too, I think, fasting from the Eucharist, really taken seriously and entered into, could be most meaningful on carefully considered occasions, such as days of penance. A fasting of this kind and of course it would have to be open to the Church’s guidance and not arbitrary could lead to a deepening of personal relationship with the Lord in the sacrament.” Thus, this is my way of grieving the loss of the Holy Eucharist and pray and hope that Jesus would return to my life when normalcy returns.

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During his last State of the Nation Address (SONA), President Duterte warned the telecom industry that if they do not improve their services by December, he would be forced to do something. Of course, the President must have heard that the Filipino people had trouble with the two major telecommunications businesses, Globe Telecom and Smart Telecom.

But as what I wrote right after the SONA, President Duterte cannot pin the blame on the telecom industry, simply because too many local government units (LGUs) take their time to approve those cell sites. They literally slap those seeking permits for cell sites with a bureaucracy. So in the end, this is not only the problem with the telecom industry but also with the LGUs.

A few days ago, I learned that President Duterte has ordered the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to hold accountable LGUs that fail to process in three days pending applications of telecommunications companies to build cell sites or towers. Interior Secretary Eduardo Año called on LGUs handling pending applications to approve or reject them in accordance with requirements.

Clearly, this is in response to what Globe Telecom chairman Ernest Cu did when he went to Malacañang to explain to the President the predicament of the telecom industry. This recent news where the President directed the DILG and LGUs to fast-track the permits would certainly result into a better telecom service in the near future.

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For email responses to this article, write to vsbobita@mozcom.com  or vsbobita@gmail.com . His columns can be accessed through www.philstar.com .

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