Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Healers

Fr. Fernando Suarez of the Companions of the Cross, the priest most sought after in the country today, can draw throngs of thousands at every appearance. It is said that he has the gift of healing. With a touch he can cure cancer, make the dumb speak, make the deaf hear. He can even make the dead rise, as zealously covered in a national daily (though reports of the man's resurrection had been greatly exaggerated -- he died again three hours after.)

I first heard of Fr. Suarez in late last year. He was the guest presider on a televised Mass at SM. The main celebrant introduced the unassuming young priest and praised his special charism. Was there any doubt of the following that he was sure to gather?

Fr. Suarez makes no claims to his own greatness. Neither he nor his congregation seem to have capitalized on his gift, except perhaps to hold their healing crusades which assemble more often and to greater numbers and greater attention.

Of Fr. Suarez's gift I can make no judgment, having neither seen nor heard of spectacular cures from trustworthy and temperate witnesses. But neither do I deny the possibility that, beyond the ken of science, some people may be so favored by the Holy Spirit.

It is of the sea of devotees that assembles with Fr. Suarez that I wonder: Why do they follow? Is it for the hope of instant healing? Is it for the promise of miracles? Is it for that intrinsic inclination to commingle with crowds (and the more the merrier?)

More than the marvels, is there faith? Does this faith go beyond the man and into the province of God whom he claims is the source of his power? Does this faith find expression in hope and in charity and in justice and in repentance? If not, then Fr. Suarez might as well be street corner charlatan.

In other news: the patient-to-doctor ratio in the Philippines currently stands at 30,000:1. More than a thousand hospitals have closed since 2005. From 2000 to 2003, the Philippines lost 51,850 nurses. Over 5,000 registered doctors left from 2001 to 2004. At least 6,000 doctors are studying to be nurses. Senators, congressmen, and doctors squabble over finer points in the Cheaper Medicines Bill. And pharmaceutical manufacturing companies continue to make obscene profits.

But that's okay, right? Fr. Suarez is coming soon to a city near you.

6 comments:

  1. Hala ka Dom, gabaan gyud ka! Atenista raba ka. He-he-he.

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  2. When Fr. Suarez arrived here in Iloilo a few weeks ago, we asked Lola if she wanted to go and having seen and went and sometimes helped organize some of these events before she said that her ailments might get worse with all the people going there.

    She views Fr. Suarez as an instrument and not necessarily the source of healing. I wonder if other people view him that way.

    Anyway, with the state of health care in the philippines, Quacks and Manong Albularyo are back in business ;)

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  3. Hi, Gilbert: uy, ngano man? Kinahanglan mapakita sa atong kayod ang atong pangandoy nga ma-ayo, dili lang sa pag-ampo.

    Hi, Spidamang: smart woman your grandma is.

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  4. Hi Dom,
    Don't know if you read this post from Jan. 2007
    A visit with a quackdoctor in Siquijor

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  5. Hi again Dom,
    After reading your post, I did a google search on Fr Suarez and learned that he will be in my area in March I will definitely make it a point to attend one of his Masses.

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  6. I had the privelage of meeting Fr. Suarez briefly on a one to one basis and attended one of his healing masses. he is as you describe him - an "unassuming young priest". he doesn't boast of his healing abilities nor does he claim to be the next messiah.

    A couple of things impressed me about him. The mass we attended was filled with people of importance (or at least self-importance) including among others - FG Mike Arroyo and his brother Iggy, Vice Pres. Noli De Castro, the ambassador to Spain, etc. when he offered communion, these "important people" who were sitting in front immediately stood up to take communion in front of the altar. Instead of giving them communion, Fr. Suarez had one of the other officiating priests give communion and proceeded outside the church where a crowd of "masa" were gathered and gave them communion instead.

    he also repeated several times during the mass that all masses are healing masses because God is present in all masses and is the source of all healing irrelevant of who the officiating priest is.

    It's such a pity that like the Pharisees did in Christ's time, the bishops (at least some of them) have banned him from giving any more healing masses in their jurisdictions not realizing that it's people like Fr. Suarez who bring those of us whose faith have been shaken by some event or other in our lives, back to God while it is people like these bishops (at least some of them) and their corruption (like those who take money from the likes of Bong Pineda and Mrs. Arroyo courtesy of PAGCOR to ignore the wrongs that they see in our country) who drive us from the church.

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