THE feast day of Padre Pio is September 23 and on this day we went to the shrine of Padre Pio in Malagamot. Last year on this same day we also went and when we came back a huge traffic jam welcomed us at Mamay Road. And so it was with a bit of apprehension that we went today. Padre Pio has a way of testing. And so it began at Panacan.
Normally there is traffic there specially if the truck ban is not in effect. Today no truck ban so there was heavy traffic. Why? A container van and a pickup decided to smack each other in the middle of the Panacan road. Wonderful. And if that was not enough another truck conked out in the middle of the mess created by the accident. But somehow we managed. And off it was to the Malagamot Shrine. What I saw next was something I did not expect. The road to the shrine was a total disaster. Mud, potholes, more mud, big potholes, dust, mud, road repair, road destruction, mud, potholes with muddy water.
There were more rough roads when we turned to the dirt road heading towards the shrine. And since it was the fiesta of the place, there were a lot of people watching a motorcycle race. The road turned muddy again and there were times we slid. When we finally entered the one way road that was the only access to the shrine I was a little worried because if another vehicle would meet us on this one lane road someone had to back up. The road was narrow and muddy and there was no space to maneuver. Luckily we made it.
We were early for the mass but there were people already waiting in the chapel. The mass started at 3 p.m. and thanks to the 25-minute homily and the anointing of oil, the mass was over at about 4:30 p.m. Chona had her Padre Pio statue blessed and I went straight into the car because I was sweating. I waited for Chona and soon enough she comes along with a big grin on her face holding the statue. And we left passing the same roads. We were fortunate that the Panacan mess was cleared up. We made it home safely just in time to watch UP beat La Salle.
The mass at the shrine reminded me of something that I may have forgotten. The simplicity of faith. Often we are bombarded with doctrines of faith, principles of faith and yet all these would be useless without the practice of faith. That was what I saw in that mass. The simplicity of the faith of people.
Part of the homily was a question asked by the priest. He asked, all those who wish to be saints please stand. A few stood and I must admit I wanted to stand but I did not. I did not because at the outset I felt like it was some gimmick of sorts and I did not want to be part of it. But the priest was serious and so were the people who stood up. I did not stand and that bothered me. Of course I wanted to be a saint. Who would not want to be?
And yet here I was with a very simple thing asked of me and I could not even do it. And that bothered me. And yet the simplicity and the childlike trust of others made them stand with ease, with pride and with trust. I wonder if I could ever do that. That was the thought in my head all throughout the mass.
Faith does not ask for pontifications or fiery speeches. Faith is the simple way of standing when we are asked to do what is right. I failed in that. But rather than mope about it, let me say outright, I wish to be a saint.
And yes pray, hope and do not worry.
Published in the SunStar Davao newspaper on September 25, 2017.
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