Saturday, May 26, 2007

Praying with the Faithful

It was a long trip to the convent where the nuns from the Religious Virgin Mary (RVM) congregation were staying. Their place almost seemed like one you’d see in developing provinces: in its obliquely pristine state lie traces of modernity.

It was a special day for the RVM nuns because the image of the Our Lady of Fatima from Portugal was gracing their chapel and would be staying for I-don’t-know-how-long.

The RVM nuns had prepared a series of prayers starting with the recitation of the joyful mysteries of the rosary, a mass, a special healing ceremony, a living rosary that celebrates the glorious mysteries, a parade and, finally, another round of rosary, this time the saying of the sorrowful mysteries while everyone encircles a pentagon area where several candles have been lit for the special intentions of everyone there.

I was on my first visit while Dad and Nichi were on their third. Both Dad and Nichi have been attending Mass and healing sessions for the past two Tuesdays there—the same place where Erap, our infamous ex-president, sought help for his health.

Many sick people were present when we came but I noticed that Nichi may have been the youngest among them. All were probably praying that their pain and suffering be alleviated, if not totally washed away. Unlike them, I may not be sick but I do feel what they feel and I was probably praying their prayers because like them I, too, am in pain.

I always have my self to deal with but then there’s Nichi. I’ve seen him at his worst last year and I’ve seen him recover. But then things have to turn around again. And although I am aware that I am not the bravest sister to stand beside my ailing brother, I try to support him in whatever means I can. For that alone, I try to be braver than I usually am, otherwise I would have snapped out long ago or ran away just like some of the best of us have.

It’s cheesy, yes, but somehow love makes you stick around no matter how things may hurt just by witnessing them.

Like staying inside the treatment room while doctors torture my brother in their efforts to cure him. I thought I will be OK after that but in the chapel a while ago, I almost lost it. I was swallowing my tears while watching my Dad and Nichi present themselves right before the Fatima.

Dad has been with Nichi since the day we found out about his leukemia. Dad knows all the doctor’s findings: their promise of Nichi’s recovery early on and their skepticism with regard to Nichi getting better again.

Nichi has suffered even before the day he found out he has leukemia. He feels everything. He doesn’t have to hear what the doctors think to know that something big is wrong with him.

Being there and trying to pray with them just ripped me into pieces. I don’t know exactly what Dad knows, I don’t feel exactly what Nichi feels but somehow I know and feel their pain. The worst part is that I really cannot save them. I cannot even save me.

You can exhaust all efforts to improve things and yet everything ends up in vain.

But the thing about life is when all else fails, you have your faith to run to. Faith keeps us standing up and optimistic even if strong forces are against us. Faith sheds light to our darkness. Faith gives us direction. And if it is strong enough, just as those devotees who shared their stories said, faith can heal.

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