Monday, September 23, 2019

Recalling and Retelling a Long-forgotten Apostolic Work

The careening new technologies disrupting our once rustic life somehow bring us back to the bygone days of youth when things were a lot simpler and coarser.  When life somehow was easier to understand and live.  Now with dizzying speeds we are hard-pressed even at keeping pace with the consumer technologies available out there.

Noticing beyond just the physical characteristics our gadgets and their almost limitless capabilities to connect us virtually with a world well beyond our physical reach, we begin to realize and wonder about them juxtaposed with the simpler things we had then.

Yesterday, I woke up to the realization that with the smartphones I possess. Yes, I have several yet not one of them is equipped to connect me telephonically with the rest of the world.  Said differently, none has a local SIM card or with load purchase to allow access to other cellphones.

All details aside, this thought brought me back longingly to the time when I was still a college student at XU-Ateneo de Cagayan, which would be in the mid-60’s.  I faintly recall being approached by somebody, am not sure if it was Jesuit priest or a layman, to continue with the practice of broadcasting the 7am Sunday Mass at the XU chapel via the reaches of the local premier AM station, DXCC.  A sweet and serious offer that an avowed Atenean could not refuse.  It was made known to me that the one initially assigned to do it would not be available anymore, so the need to find another.  Okay, I said, and so what is next?

I was handed a brown folder with a few worn pages of script inside.   It was essentially a summary of the typical Mass, from beginning to end, from Entrance Hymn to Final Blessing.  The job was simply to provide audio when the celebrant would remain silent going through the different phases of the Mass.

It was then my responsibility to assess if the documentation was sufficient for my purposes, and more importantly, to present myself to the DXCC technician, who would be responsible for setting up the system to allow the regular broadcast.

Had to rewrite the whole script and armed myself with good reading materials to fill out radio silence during the services.  Met with the DXCC technician who fortunately was already familiar with me, a few minutes before the start of my first broadcast.

So dutifully every Sunday before 7am we both met up at the left side of the XU chapel.  He laid all the wirings and the mikes to be used for the broadcast, while I located myself on the same side close to the altar, holding on to my folder with the script, and the few prayer books I brought along.

This we did with almost no fail for at least a year and maybe closer to more, going to the air at the appointed time and place and reaching to all who tuned in to the radio during that time.  The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and its message of redemption propagated far and wide to the devotees unable to be physically present.

And all that time, we never received any feedback to apprize us of the work we were doing.  Not an iota of comment or emoticon to a Facebook page or other social media.  Complete radio silence.

And just as hazily, this work stopped, and everybody concerned went about their separate ways.  And I am just left to wonder, how crude and limited methods were then to disseminate data and events to the people at large.  Worlds apart from the ways we now handle such things.

That same smartphone that most people, from all strata of society, now possess in their hands, is now capable to do what we once did with great attention and labor, and a lot more, simply with a few clicks, tender taps of the fingers over the screen, etc.