Thursday, September 20, 2018

Wabe: Why go to church on Sundays?

Timeout Corner

IF YOU’RE an atheist or agnostic, I won’t mind if you skip this. Whatever people say won’t make you change your mind. And that’s fine! I’ve always believed that faith is a very personal thing between a person and his God.

We live in a big, vast world with a lot of room for diversity. We may all believe in different things, which is what makes this an awesome place, but in the end we all have the same heart. Let’s respect each other’s beliefs and cast no judgment. Always support rather than criticize because whatever belief system you have, at the core of it is to show love to your fellow human.

I was raised a Catholic, though I admit to being a flawed one go to. At times, I do not make my way to Sunday mass. Prayer, however, is always on my daily agenda. I truly believe God knows what’s in my heart, and above all else, He will see how I always aim to treat people well.

My son once asked me why we have to believe in something we cannot see. And my reply was: it’s like the wind; you don’t see it, but you feel it. Believing brings me great comfort and to me it is better than the alternative. My faith is what compels me to live every single day with a heart that knows how to count blessings, to see the good in people, to choose kindness, to hope for the best, and to believe that love always wins.

Last Sunday, as I was scanning my FB feed, this post of my family’s dear friend, Father Joel Paras, SDB caught my attention and tugged at my heartstrings and conscience. Fr. Joey is my husband’s mentor and close friend in his college days, who served as the officiant for our church wedding. I will forever be grateful to Father because he shared his special day with us—his birthday is our wedding anniversary.

Anyway, Fr. Joey shared: “Why go to Sunday Mass? A Church goer wrote a letter to the editor of a newspaper and complained that it made no sense to go to church every Sunday. The man wrote: I've gone for 30 years now, and in that time I have heard something like 3,000 sermons, but for the life of me, I can't remember a single one of them. So, I think I'm wasting my time, the preachers and priests are wasting theirs by giving sermons at all.

This started a real controversy in the “Letters to the Editor” column. Much to the delight of the editor, it went on for weeks until someone wrote this that clinched it—I've been married for almost 30 years now. In that time my wife has cooked some 32,000 meals. But, for the life of me, I cannot recall the entire menu for a single one of those meals. But I do know this: They all nourished me and gave me the strength I needed to do my work. If my wife had not given me these meals, I would be

physically dead today. Likewise, if I had not gone to church for nourishment, I would be spiritually dead today! MAGSIMBA PO TAYO!”

What a timely reminder for me, who sometimes comes up with excuses why I cannot make it to mass. So on that particular Sunday, when I chanced upon his FB post, we drove up to Malaybalay (about 4hrs from home) for a birthday party. I told the rest of my family we absolutely cannot go home unless we pass by the Transfiguration Monastery.

This is an iconic church in this small, provincial town, which shall always be memorable for me because I visited it with my late-mother in my very first trip to Mindanao circa 1998. Little did I know, I would end up marrying someone from here and living here.

It’s amazing because when we got there it was raining hard. We had no umbrellas in the car. Since we cannot have our 3 kids running in the rain, my husband said we have to wait for the rain to stop. I replied we have to go home because we have a hundred kilometers to drive. God will understand. Surprisingly, the heavy rain just stopped and we were able to go in and pray.

I am not one to wear my spirituality on my sleeve. But ever since I became pregnant with my youngest and was put on bed rest in 2011, I’ve started a grateful journal wherein I write down one thing I am thankful for in my day. Sometimes, that one thing snowballs and I end up writing a lot. In all honesty, this project helped me fight depression at one of the lowest points in my life. I consider it a gift that keeps on giving because I can always look back on the entries and feel how truly blessed I am on the days I feel down. Ever since I started doing this, my faith has resonated more profoundly and beautifully into my everday life.

How can I not believe in a higher power when I see good things around me? There are just so many amazing things here in our ephemeral world that I am certain can only come from someone so much greater than us mere men. A beautiful rainbow after the rain. A spectacular sunset by the bay. A caterpillar morphing into a colorful butterfly. A life in a mother's womb. And so much more. We humans can't possibly do it all!

In the end, each of us has his own journey in our walk with the Lord. He will not force you. He will wait for the right time you are ready to receive Him in your life. Don't force yourself. We are all works in progress.