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Thursday, March 24, 2016

My heart says ... A Reflection on Lenten Season

Motherhood is the noblest job a woman can have, in which an internationally accepted recognition in our society, Mother’s Day, is celebrated every year. It takes a lot of sacrifice to take care of one’s own child from infancy to adolescence. It’s a continuous obligation where the responsibility of a parent doesn’t stop even when one becomes an adult or gets married.  It’s a long struggle that we, as a parent, need to endure and make sacrifices regardless of our social status in life. 
I happened to talk to one of my close friends whom I just recently visited last week.  I was surprised to see her sad because of her family problem. She has three grown-up daughters and two of them are already married. She has 2 grandsons – one who is 8 years old and another who is 5 years old.  She has been separated from her ex-husband for 10 years already. She told me that her youngest daughter, who is an OFW,  arrived to visit them and brought some goodies for the family. Since her youngest daughter had only  a week to stay, she decided to set a get-together dinner in her house the following day after her arrival. Her two eldest daughters came to know about it, but a problem causing frustration and sadness to her came up.  Her eldest daughter didn’t want to attend the dinner, but her elder daughter was willing to attend.  After getting both sides of the story from her two daughters, my close friend narrated to me the reason behind the problem.

One weekend before the arrival of her youngest daughter, both the families of her two eldest daughters decided to go to her ex-husband’s house to have a dinner in the early  evening.  There are 2  big dogs just roaming around the yard, but her ex-husband didn’t bother to put them in a cage or put a leash on them. One of her grandsons, the eldest one, is an active boy and he is the son of her eldest daughter. He was warned not to go near the dogs or even play with them.  While both her two daughters, together with their respective husbands, were resting inside the house after the dinner, her oldest grandson went around the yard to explore the surroundings, while her youngest grandson also followed him. Suddenly the dogs became intimidated by their presence and  growled at them. Upon seeing the blazing eyes of the dogs with their big fangs showing, her eldest grandson run as fast as he could yelling, while her little grandson was left behind scared and crying. They all went out of the house immediately when they heard the yelling and crying of the children. After shooing the dogs away, the next thing happened was-- her elder daughter got mad, looked intensely at her nephew, and with a loud voice, she told her nephew, “Stop, stop, stop,” as he was telling something about the incident to his mother.  This irritated her eldest daughter and decided to go home at once. The supposed-to-be happy moments of family togetherness during that night was shortened. 

The get-together dinner at my friend’s house never happened till her youngest daughter flew back to her place of work.  Each family of her two eldest daughters made their own respective schedules  to spend time with her youngest daughter during her stay.  The eldest daughter told her that she wanted to shield her son from further psychological and emotional damage caused by his aunt’s anger.  She said that it wasn’t the first time that her son felt his aunt’s anger. On the other side, her elder daughter was willing to disregard her feelings for the sake of family’s unity.  She was also apologetic about what she did to her nephew, but she said that she acted only that way at the moment when her own son was almost got bitten by a dog because he was  the one behind while running. She said her own son also suffered psychological and emotional trauma because of the incident.

Out of frustration and sadness, my close friend said that, if she can only have the wisdom of King Solomon, then she can also give a better judgment as to who is right or wrong between her two daughters’ claims. Instead of wealth and power, King Solomon asked God for gift of wisdom on how to rule his people with justice and fairness. He was really a wise ruler and to cite an instance -- there was an incident between the two women each claiming to be the real mother of a child.  King Solomon was able to determine who the real mother was. It was a difficult one to solve at that time.  There was no DNA or maternity test invented yet to prove that during his time. He asked God to help him solve the problem. Likewise, having disputes among children is a difficult one to solve, too.  Parents should not play favorites to one child at the expense of the other child. When a parent turns blind to his or her favorite child’s mistakes, this is a disheartening one to other children.      

To analyze the situation, I gave my close friend few thoughts to ponder: 
First, being a mother is really a hard task.  Loving one’s own child is a great asset to have, but a liability to other mothers when they neglect their own children.  To cite this --many reports on the newspapers and television tell stories about many children being neglected and left alone in the  streets mainly for the number one reason – poverty. Others drive their own small children to work instead of them trying to work to provide for their children’s needs. We can see small children begging in the streets or highways.  The most horrible stories we can hear are about child prostitution. I really salute those mothers who are so protective of their own children aside from being so responsible to provide their basic needs.

Second, life is full of struggles because it’s not perfect.  No one is exempted from not getting hurt whether physically and emotionally, but it can be avoided or prevented, if we take action to prevent it. For example, we need to wear our seatbelts when riding in our car. But because of stubbornness and negligence, we don’t take action to use it.  When accident happens, we blame others for our own shortcomings.  Another thing to reflect about is – when we have this kind of negative thinking. The power of negativity in our mind can only beget negativity and more likely, can cause more harm than good to others. Taking responsibility for a negative outcome is not being a responsible person.  In other words, we don’t need to wait for something to happen negatively to us or someone else before we realized that it was wrong or a big mistake at the beginning. 

Third, unity in the family is our weapon against life’s imperfections. When one is being selfish and uncooperative, the harder it gets to solve a problem. For example, if the wife is the only one doing the hard work in the family, while the husband doesn’t mind anything at all or feeling insensitive to the needs of the family, how can this family survive? If respect and unity are no longer maintained in the family, where does love go?

Fourth, emotional outburst is part of our human nature, but controlling our anger is a big problem that is so hard to manage.  Sudden emotional outburst can lead to a devastating effect to anyone, especially if one becomes physically and verbally abusive. We feel sorry at the end for getting angry at someone, but the damage has been done already.  They say time heals the wound you inflict on somebody.  A scar forms in our hearts after the healing period, but who can say that one can’t remember anymore what happened after those emotional outbursts?  

Fifth, empathy is a valuable gift of grace that we can ask God to give us. It’s a way of removing the selfishness in us. Putting ourselves in the shoes of another person is very important to help you relate to his or her feelings in times of trial or problem where moral support is much needed. For example, when one member of the family got an accident, it is a normal reaction of the whole family to feel sad about it.  Sudden emotional outburst follows and can be diverted to anyone involved in the situation. At the end, when everything is calmed down, an important lesson should be learned and realized by everyone – “what would you feel if your loved one was hurt?”

Sixth,  to forgive is easy to say, but it’s hard to do. In this area, we need to seek also for God’s grace to help us to be forgiving to someone who hurts us. On the part of the offender, accepting one’s fault is also of equal importance to consider and should ask forgiveness from the person whom he or she hurts. An area where we find so hard to forgive is when our trust in a relationship has been damaged. It takes time to heal, but rarely heals to perfection. We need to take precautions to protect ourselves from a persistent offender, especially if we are in an abusive relationship. To forgive is a matter of choice or decision to make. As humans, we are unlike our Lord, Jesus Christ. When He was crucified on the cross, He even asked our God the Father to forgive us, sinners, who sinned against Him.  Mary, our blessed mother, whose heart was bleeding to death while looking up at her own son,  was helpless to protect her own son from dying on the cross.  How she was able to forgive those who put her son to death is really a remarkable one.  She was given such amazing grace in order to fulfill  God’s will.  Being a mother herself, she made a great sacrifice for the sake of all humanity -- a great task she handled fully well.    

I empathize with my close friend’s feelings. Being a mother myself, is not always perfect.  I have flaws and shortcomings, too.   What matters most is the intention of trying to be a good mother to our children rather not trying at all.  Acceptance of such shortcomings and flaws and sense of appreciation play an important part in bringing unity, happiness, peace, and love into the family. I’m still very proud of my own children regardless of their own flaws and shortcomings, too.  They are my precious jewels in my life. I feel fulfilled as a mother when they are having peace and harmony in their own respective family life and among themselves as  siblings.  I will feel sad and frustrated, too, if my children are not in harmony with each other.

What is more consoling to do for my close friend is to seek God’s mercy. I asked her to do our spiritual traditional practice every year called “Visita Iglesia”, just in time for this Lenten season. She felt relieved emotionally and spiritually after the rosary prayer, novena, and the mass we attended.  I felt the same way, too. 

I always marvel at the  beautiful churches built magnificently by our fellow countrymen who excel in this craftsmanship of church building.  We visited the following churches and look at each adorable main altar as shown below:

Blessed John Paul II Parish Church

The Nativity of the Lord Parish Church

Parish of the Lord of Divine Mercy

St. Andrew Parish Church

St. Claire Parish Church

San Juan de Dios Parish Church

Poster of Precious Blood of Jesus Christ
The moment I stepped down from the vehicle, I saw this miraculous, big poster of my Lord, Jesus Christ.   I was really happy to see it because I have a prayer leaflet with the same picture as shown below.  Seeing this poster was no accidental to me.  God works miraculously in many ways.  He knew what I was feeling about at that time.  He used my close friend to invite me and my sister-in-law to come and visit this place.  We attended the mass and I asked my sister-in-law to take picture of me and my Lord.   The small table in the background was the nun’s little area selling religious items.  

Prayer Leaflet of Precious Blood of Jesus Christ
Actually, my mother owns this prayer leaflet.   She had a fall and became bedridden. While in bed, my mother and I always pray together the Holy Rosary while I hold this prayer leaflet in my hand. The story of why I got it from my mother and the miracle it brought to my mother was this:  I asked the nun managing the little area selling religious items in that church if she has a prayer leaflet of the Precious Blood of Jesus Christ that I could buy, but she said she didn’t have one.  That’s why I got the prayer leaflet of my mother, so I can pray for her always while looking at it, even I’m away from home.  When I returned to USA, I continuously prayed for her through this prayer leaflet and she was miraculously healed and able to walk again after two months.   

Image of Jesus Christ on the Mountain
This place is really beautiful, filled with God’s nature and spirit of love, joy, healing, and serenity for all people who come and visit this place.  Many groups of people whether they are sick or healthy come to this serene place like going on a pilgrimage.  The church is located on the top of the mountain.  It took us several hours before we reached this place.  We attended the mass and had an opportunity to touch the relic of the crucifix of Jesus Christ placed in a golden box under the main altar afterwards.  The officiating priest mentioned the history of the church and how the relic was recovered and given under the care of this church as shown below.

Monasteryo de Tarlac

Relic of the Crucifix of Jesus Christ

This Lenten Season, let us commemorate the passion and death of our Lord, Jesus Christ, who died for the eternal salvation of all human mankind. Infinite love He gives us; reconciliation is to love Him in return.

Happy Easter to  all !!!


“Whatever your heart feels and says,  it is the essence of who you are, what you are, and how you are.  Your heart is the engine of your body.  Maintain a good, healthy heart and be glad you did.”  

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