Wednesday, September 28, 2011

My Father's Devotion

Last night, I texted my mother about many things...asking updates, exchanging info, among others. Then after five text messages my mother stopped sending replies so I asked her if she already gone to sleep, then a reply came stating that she's busy writing the "sermon" of my father for today's morning service at the church because our parish priest is not in town. Then my mother expressed her disgust and rant once again.

Well, I am very familiar with my mother's mood every time my father ask her to write his "church's sermon of the day" so I just uhmmm laughed and texted her something that stirred her heart.

My father has been serving the Catholic church as a lay minister for more than 40 years now, it's his way of life. He is one of the most enthusiast lay ministers in our town and I had witnessed this devotion ever since I was a child. I would often accompany him to the church doing lay ministerial job when I was still in my elementary days.

His energy amazed me, he always prioritized this voluntary service above anything else, even when he was still at the government office working as a Local Revenue Collection Officer. When I was still living in our place, I could not understand his vigor and devotion. I saw how he carefully managed his time. He would even help build chapels in nearby barangays and would fight hard to steer back people who switched to a different religion back to the Catholic faith preaching compulsively what Catholic religion is all about.

I grew up with numerous bibles, liturgy guides and other Catholic church paraphernalia scattered in his study table, in fact the first magazine I'd ever read was The Columbian, the official magazine of the members of the Knight of Columbus (fraternity of the Roman Catholic men through out the world) published in New York City, USA, and sent to all K of C members world wide, my father is one of the founding members of K of C in our town. 

Unfortunately, my father suffered from hypertension and heart ailment, his high blood pressure sometimes would shoot up to an alarming level. He would come and go to the hospital several times in a year. In 1990s he had abandoned smoking and alcoholic beverages and did not attempt to get back (to those vices), he also stopped eating red meat and foods rich in trans fats and sodium, he would only eat unsalted fish and vegetables. But then the hypertension and heart ailment became increasingly worse partly due to his workload in the parish and in our community. 

In 2009 my father became completely blind with cataract because both his two eyes were affected and I could see how he struggled hard. One of the most agonizing facts is that he could no longer conduct lectures on pre-cana and pre-baptism seminars, community service like organizing cause-oriented activities for ecology and environment, preside a church service on weekdays and family groupings on Saturdays, to cut it shortly, it seemed as though my father's life had ended abruptly.

Everything that could make him happy was stripped from him, the books, the service, the lectures and community talk. But what I'd observed about his personality was his positive disposition. He would still attend mass at Sundays guided by my mother and during weekdays, one of his colleagues in the church would come to the house and gave him Eucharistic host every morning. He would laugh and would talk endlessly despite his disabilities. He never questioned God why of all the things that would be stripped from him it's his vision when it is very useful to him. He complained nothing. He just stayed in the house and every morning he would walk around our block to get fresh air and stretched his muscles. He was full of hope.

Cataract is not really life threatening, the surgery is always considered as safe, but in my father's case, this is not as simple as it sounds because of his health condition. There are people with hypertension who became bedridden after undergoing cataract operation.

He had a regular check up on high blood pressure and heart, but to his chagrin, results revealed that his blood pressure could not endure the sensitive process of eye surgery. He continued hoping and praying. And made a promise that if God will allow him to see again even just one eye he would continue doing the church service. Several more months and the check up revealed the same result. Then I continued praying too, every night, every day, that may God perform a miracle for my father. 

Well, time was my father's greatest enemy. At 71 in 2010, with chronic cases of hypertension, heart ailment and mild stroke in the past, it seems my father's system cannot be categorized anymore as "healthy and sound" to undergo a safe medical procedure, there's a great possibility that he would suffer stroke while undergoing the procedure.

But his strong determination to see the light of the day again was so intense that he made effort to stabilize his blood pressure. He was very careful with his diet. Finally on November 2010 when he decided to give it a go, his doctor said he is in a good condition already to undergo the surgery. According to my mother, while on his way to the operating room, my father was chatty to the staff and even cracked jokes to the nurse assigned. 

During the entire procedure, my father's BP remained normal and did not fluctuate. Two hours later, to my mother's relief, the surgery successfully finished. My mother texted me immediately and I was so happy and thanked God endlessly for the big miracle. The surgery was only performed in one eye because of my father's condition. There should have a huge interval of days or months before the other eye could be operated.

When the bandage was taken the day after, my father said he could see clearly again. Several months later, with only one eye working, he made true of his promise, he returned to serving God and became active in the church again.

What amazes me now is the strong and positive responses of the different medications he took for his hypertension and heart ailment. Well, living in the province, now I know, could really contribute to a long life because foods are fresh and the lifestyle is very simple plus the environment is free from pollution. My father is also a great supporter of alternative medicine. He would make Lagundi syrup in our kitchen. Now, he is taking Agaricus and green tea for body cleansing. 

So when my mother heavily complained last night about my father's super busy life again in the church, I reminded her that God performed miracles many times already in our lives and it is just right to return the graces by serving Him and His church. My father never complained, even how tired and uncomfortable he is, when it comes to Church service he is always there doing all sort of pastoral duties as if God anointed Him to perform all those services for free.

There are First Friday of the month (when our parish priest is out of town) that my father would roam around the town visiting the sick, the disabled, the prisoners and those who cannot come to the church to receive the body of Christ. 

After exchanging text with my mother. Her heart softened and according to her, continued writing the sermon of my father for today's service.

God performed different forms of miracle everyday, we just sometimes tend to overlook it and refused to recognize because we are too preoccupied with our own plans, but God has His own plans that human brains never understand. All we have to do is listen to His message in the form of little miracles everyday.

God is so good, He just delays things but He never forget. That's God's graces...and being a Catholic teaches me so many things in life. I always felt that I am protected by God in many ways, it seems there's a giant halo that covered my whole self because amidst the world's recklessness and hostility of the environment, I am safe from danger, I am living in the city alone and I've nothing to hold on except prayers.


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