A Test of Faith and Spirituality
What has this past year, filled with fear and anxiety, done to our faith?
It was for me one of total surrender. It was is not easy but it had to be.
Our work from home set up doubled my work loadIt, It tested my creativity in turning out new dishes as we are not able to eat out, and wanting to have a more meaningful human interaction with my husband and a bachelor son.
We did not let the pandemic define us. Instead we used the limitations to advantage specially in the area of Faith. We have never attended so many masses in one day, to condole with the family of a departed friend, or to celebrate a 50th wedding anniversary! Praying the Divine Mercy chaplet and novena, the holy rosary, all had its own time now.
But what really gave this crisis more meaning is how community is being defined. As we realize that we are all in this together, faith families in the community began to organize block rosary , Way of the Cross , caring circles, retreats and recollections on line. Then there are viber groups that at one click, makes fund raising a success, helping feed the hungry and provide for the needs of prisoners or fire victims.
Suddenly we opened ourselves up to sharing the joys and responsibilities as part of the community, reaching out to the depths of our generous heart.
I was raised in an all girls school from elementary until college. My mother entrusted me to Mama Mary, May being my birth month. Flores de Mayo was my everyday summer activity, happily being with friends, singing Marian songs and offering flowers to the Blessed Virgin.
From a Sodalist as a student, to a founding member of a Marian Circle, my devotion to Mary grew even stronger. Specially since I married a more religious person and devotee of the Sacred heart, in the person of Lito.
Our children all grew up close to the Church, as altar boys, choir members, youth leaders, members of praise and healing ministries and as lay ministers. Now with three of them having their own families, they do the same and our grandkids were just as active in church before the pandemic. God was at the center of our lives.
We had our share of challenging times as a family and we survived them because of our stong faith. And when things happen beyond our control, we search for a deeper meaning. Oftentimes faith presents itself in the experience and you see God’s hand in it.
Just a month ago, one sad experience turned out to be a meaningful and memorable one.
Let me share with you this story of Faith, where God’s presence was definitely felt by many of us.
Our Maryknoll College class 73 viber group is as diverse as it can get, specially during the US elections. A message was posted that the husband of our classmate was asking for prayers as his wife Cora was very sick and may go any time soon.
We were all shocked as no one knew that she was even sick. A very private person, she kept her condition, even from her best friend.
I was praying for her, and I realized that it was almost 3:00pm. What happened next was unexpected. I posted a viber message to our classmates and attached the entire chaplet of the Divine Mercy. In my message, I urged everyone to pray with me the entire chaplet, at exactly 3:00 pm. Many confirmed. I then sent out another message at 5 minutes to to 3:00 to remind them that we were about to start.
As soon as we finished praying the chaplet, a message came in that Cora just expired! Our collective prayer to the Divine Mercy was our send off! She was breathing her last while we were praying and entrusting her. What an overwhelming feeling of fulfilment we all had, and with so much sadness at the same time. We could not get over what just happened.
What prodded me to rally everyone in prayer was beyond me. I took it as a message to all of us, that God was listening and we were reassured that Cora received a glorious welcome.
This experience, I believe, is God telling me to increase my faith, to pray and never give up.
Our spiritual experiences and practices are influenced by our faith. These experiences are both individual and communal. Each of us needs to find what brings us meaning and be open to the fact that what we are about to do may be very different from what we have done before.
This is a great time to explore what it is that will work for us in this time of pandemic, to find meaning in what we do and to find God in all that we do.