02 January 2012

The resilience of the faith of Filipinos

We are still in the Christmas Season until the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, observed on Sunday in countries that celebrate the Epiphany as a holyday of obligation on 6 January. In countries that celebrate the Epiphany on Sunday the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord will be observed on Monday 9 January.

Katolikongpinoy posted the old English song, The Coventry Carol, as a tribute to those who died in Tropical Storm Sendong/Washi a week before Christmas, especially in Iligan City and in Cagayan de Oro City, both in northern Mindanao, .

Last night I received a text from a friend whom I first met in the 1970s when he was a houseboy in a Columban parish, Eddie, now a teacher. He was born on the feast of St Edward the Confessor, 13 October, and was given the English king's name at baptism. The feast is not observed in the Philippines but his parents got the name from the Almanake, an annual booklet listing all the saints for each day. Eddie's father was murdered when Eddie was a child, leaving his mother Marilyn with four young children.

I officiated at the wedding of Eddie and Anita. I remember one unpleasant detail: it was the only time in 40 years in the Philippines that I had  the highly contagious 'sore eyes', known as 'piskat' in the Cebuano language. I had to borrow dark glasses and managed not to share this 'gift' with anyone else!

Last night I received a text message in Cebuano from Eddie about his daughter Ea, who is married and lives in Iligan City. It read: Ea and the children are now in our house because they were caught in the floods. By the mercy of God, they were all saved because they were able to climb onto the roof of their house. We are taking care of them, especially the children so that they will forget the trauma.

I texted back to Eddie in Cebuano: The mercy of God they were saved.

Eddie replied in English exactly as posted here: yes . . . GOD IS GOOD ALL THE TIME . . . ALL THE TIME GOD IS GOOD.

Pope Benedict's General Prayer Intention for January is: Victims of Natural Disasters. That the victims of natural disasters may receive the spiritual and material comfort they need to rebuild their lives.

Countless Filipinos have respond in the way the Holy Father wishes, taking care of the immediate material needs of the victims of the storm. That included prisoners in one jail who do a lot of carpentry work offering to build coffins to be sent to the stricken cities, a very urgent need.

The father in the video is mourning his dead child. Eddie thanks God that his daughter and grandchildren were saved. We cannot understand such things. But Eddie lost his father to a violent and unjust death and knows how precious life is and that it is a gift from God.

One of the greatest gifts God has given the people of the Philippines is a resilient faith, a faith that has a strong sense of gratitude. May it always be so.

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