by KRISTELLA DANIELLE S. BOO
“Okay, you lead the prayer!”
I bet you have heard this request—more of a demand—a lot of times from your relatives. When you ask why you should, they would respond, “Because you are studying in UST.”
It is not that I do not want to lead the people in putting themselves in the presence of the Lord, but it is the fact that I do not understand why they would automatically equate studying in a Catholic institution to merely learning how to pray.
Four years of stay in the university has changed my views toward Catholic schools. Back when I was in high school, when I was studying in a “semi-private, semi-public” school, I had a few acquaintances from a Catholic school in our province who shared with me how tiring their morning routines were. They also ranted about the school policies ordered by either priests or nuns. Back then, I had no clue what they were talking about until I experienced it myself when I entered college.
Honestly, I did not dream of studying at the Pontifical and Royal University of Santo Tomas, the Catholic University of the Philippines. Unlike most of my friends and blockmates who, at a young age, had all dreamed of studying in UST, I, a self-proclaimed obsessive-compulsive planner, did not think of it right away. If not for choosing journalism as an undergraduate degree, I would have not experienced studying in a Catholic university.
When I was in first year, I thought it would be hard to cope with the new environment of new faces and new subjects, but I later realized that what actually helped me embrace these things is being a Roman Catholic. Growing up in a family where religiosity is given high regard, my initial dose of theology classes put a lot of questions in my mind such as, “If Jesus and God are one and the same, does that mean that Jesus is just actually praying for him to himself?” (More questions like this came to me and my friends when we had our social communications class.) The more questions that came up in our conversations, the more that I believed in the saying, “fides quaerens intellectum” (faith seeking understanding), a line I learned from our Theology 1 class, which for some unknown reasons never left my mind.
However, as much as I “enjoy” the Catholic atmosphere of the University, I also do notice the stereotypes or the generalizations like Thomasians are “super religious” and don’t know how to have fun. Ironically, as we are being taught of kindness and open-mindedness, the secular world beyond the walls of the University was forming opinions and judging based purely on stereotypes, which should be broken. We are way more than that. The University does not only teach us, students, to pray but also to embody its three core values: competence, compassion, and commitment.
At this point, I want to thank my beloved publication, The Flame, for giving my griffonage (illegible scrawl) a voice. F
Editor’s Note: This column was originally published in Vol. 54, Issue No. 4 of the Flame. View the entire issue through this link.