On being Catholic

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By Nina S. Custodio


Saturday, August 23, 2014

WHENEVER I am in Manila, I always try to visit Padre Pio's chapel in Libis. It has become a staple destination during my visits to the Metro. Going to Manila just wouldn't feel complete without coming to see him.

In all honesty, I only came to know about Padre Pio around 2008, during my cancer days. Having been diagnosed with colon cancer, undergoing surgery and chemotherapy, I had friends constantly sending me prayers, holy water, oil, white hankies as well as rosaries. I have never felt so loved by the people around me and it also made me aware of the many "avenues" to God that a person needing guidance and strength.

I am not what you would call your next door Catholic. I do not know all the standard prayers and I have trouble remembering the mysteries of the rosaries. I remember being asked if I knew how to pray Our Father. I was even called, although jokingly, an atheist. I didn't mind really, which does not mean that I admit to being one, but rather knowing for a fact that I did believe in God, although I may have other ways of showing and practicing my faith.



I had come into the chapel when it was near full capacity. The line to "hold hands" with Padre Pio took up a whole section of the chapel. I knew I had to be patient because I was last in line. After all, to hold hands and pray with Padre has always been my agenda whenever I visit. I pray my generic rosary (like I said, I do not know the days and mystery that correspond to it.

While doing 2 sets of the rosary, I had two realizations.

First, there is always birth and death in two prayers. One thing I had trouble with when praying memorized prayers is that there is a tendency to trail off and get lost in thinking about other things during prayer.

I personally find this disagreeable because we are supposed to be communicating with the Lord. I often find myself lost somewhere in between Hail Mary and Holy Mary, not remembering which of the two have I already finished. Yesterday, I discovered how to differentiate the two.

Hail Mary talks about birth, actually Mama Mary's pregnancy while Holy Mary talk about death mainly with us praying to Mama Mary to pray for us when the time comes for us to leave this world. Go.ahead, recite it. You will realize I am right. The same goes for Glory Be it also talks about beginnings and endings.

Second. It is difficult to be "holy." While waiting for my turn, I had noticed there were people trying to get ahead in the line. Hmp. I find that so unfair. And I could not believe they would do that inside a church. I could see too, that other people were also irked. Who wouldn't be? I felt so uneasy feeling irritated. I had been praying it was such an awful thing feeling that you want to smack someone for trying to get ahead. I just felt very guilty about the ill feelings that I had despite praying and being inside a church.

But really, one cannot expect to be the same with everyone else. Of course, we all have our own ways of practicing our faith. What is more important is that we try to be humane and treat others with respect and be mindful of goodness and appreciate it for what it is. In the end we all have our ways of showing our love for God. As long as we do not step on anyone's toes and respect each other as human beings, we will be able to peacefully coexist.

Happy Sunday!

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on August 24, 2014.


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