In a recent comment, I was chided by a kiko about the number of people who went forward for a "vocations call" at the recent Party in Paranaque. As we know, the kiko's are monstrously obsessed with numbers (which in itself should tell us something about the authenticity of their Christianity).
The kiko chided me that he didn't see my daughters go forward. I answered that my daughters listen to God not Kiko. (Of course it is quite easy to see how the kiko's can confuse the two.) But the issue of these "Kiko-calls" at these "Kiko-spectacles" is something that needs to be addressed in a larger way. And so I have.
The Kiko call for vocations at these big ritual Kiko-spectacles uses both the psychology and form of the protestant-fundamentalist "altar-call": towards the end of a stirring session of preaching and music, the emotionally elevated crowd is told to stand and come forward for Christ.
I have sat through several of these. The pressure to stand is enormous. Not to stand is to NOT want to give your life to Jesus. Music is playing, the preacher is pacing and preaching, pacing and preaching, you see your friends go up, the pressure mounts, the music crescendoes, the preacher becomes more impassioned, pacing and preaching, pacing and preaching, people start crying, you stand, the current sucks you in, you stumble forward, burying your mind...
For all of Kiko's wanting to restore the church of the first centuries, the "altar call" method of invitation is not only a completely protestant invention, it is relatively new. The 19th century evangelist Charles Finney is credited with creating it during what became known as the Finney crusades (c. 1830). Finney wrote:
"Preach to him, and at the moment he thinks he is willing to do anything . . . bring him to the test; call on him to do one thing, to make one step that shall identify him with the people of God."
The method was developed by Finney to force a decision. It didn't matter if the decision was real or lasting. What mattered was the spectacle of people physically standing up and going forward. It allowed Finney, and all the other evangelical imitators since then, to point to visible results and thus serve as an immediate resume enhancement, making news and attracting larger crowds at his next stop.
In the world of evangelical protestantism the numbers of those who "went forward" is the currency with which preachers buy power and influence. In the Catholic world, power and influence resides with the bishops - whose currency is vocations since their number is normally how the health of a diocese is measured. And this is something Kiko supremely understands and masterfully employs.
Of course the "altar call" or mass invitation is not unique to protestants or Kiko. "Herd mentality" or - more politely - "crowd psychology" is used by everything and everyone from dictators to advertisers to born-again preachers to Kiko. It is the ultimate use of "peer pressure", and psychologists, social scientists, political strategists, teachers and parents have long understood its use and power.
The use of it, however, in stimulating vocations is anything but what Jesus would do. Christ's call to follow him is always individual. This is so because God is Love, and Love, at its core, is absolute freedom. That freedom, freedom of the will, is compromised by emotions, particularly those stirred up in the context of mass motivation ritual events like Kiko's.
The sad thing is that if anyone knows this the bishops know this, but yet allow themselves to serve as pawns in Kiko's march to self-glorification anyway. Why do they do this? It's easy to see. Vocations, real vocations, like raising good children, is a lot of work and rarely glamorous. How much easier it is to let Kiko, with his mastery of ritual motivation, to do it for them. He gives them vocations, they give him the keys to wealth and power, and everyone goes to brunch.
But the truly sad thing is the young people who are damaged by this. Publicly making a commitment to become a priest or a nun or to enter religious life before one has had any serious opportunity to discern or availed themselves of objective spiritual guidance is dangerous, for the fall is long and hard.
And one suspects that many "kiko-vocations", made in the throes of a purposely orchestrated emotion-laced event, probably went through with ordination or a profession of vows, with the help of a Kiko-bought bishop in need of his own resume enhancement, simply because of the fear of humiliation. And we are just beginning to see the wreckage.