THE "ber months" will always remind me of the beauty of being part of a caring community like Couples For Christ. Nelson and I graduated from the 13 CLP Sundays in November 2005 and officially became CFC members. We are truly grateful to the Lord for this great privilege of serving the Lord in and through CFC, just three years after getting married on December 14, 2002.
Prior to becoming CFCs ourselves, I was already Youth For Christ Carcar Batch '96 while Nelson was Singles for Christ serving Panabo, Davao del Norte.
Nelson was an ex Passionist Seminarian. While I also dreamt of becoming a nun all my life but then God had other plans.
Nelson and I met. We fell in love. We promised that for as long as we live, we shall serve the Lord with all our strength. We were both prepared spiritually so we could both be ready to fulfill our specific couple mission in and through the Couples for Christ caring and praying community.
A few years after the Christian Life Program graduation, we were both entrusted with the Pro-Life Ministry with Team Acuna’s headship. Those were blessed years of service from the North to the South to spread God’s healing love to all Filipino families.
Then we were asked to help in the dxGN Radio Ministry of CFC when it was just starting out. Thus, the theme song, Kristohanong Pamilya was born. Beautifully penned by Nelson and also set to music that only a Nelson Bitang can. I am deeply honored and blessed to be sharing the same ministry with my husband.
Why then write about grief, grace and music?
Through the years of serving the Lord through CFC, we were invited to be part of the Couples for Christ Mission Core Group Choir. We sang in the Sunday MC Holy Mass gatherings. Our love for music and the Lord prevailed. Our regular practices allowed us to form a deep bond of fraternal love and care. In the CFC choir, I have met the kindest souls on earth. More than serving in Sunday CFC gatherings, we also serve in the wakes and funerals of our dear brothers and sisters in the community.
Music allows us to comfort the hearts of grieving people. Music helps us reach out to one another in deep charity and solidarity. Music touches our souls much more deeply than mere words can.
This year alone has been a rich harvest of goodbyes. In our CFC community alone, we have lost so many since the pandemic.
Last week alone, we lost Tita Mary Rose "Mayose" Breva. It was a heartbreaking week for all of us. But every time we gather, we always take comfort in the thought that in CFC, we practice honoring the people we love while they are still alive. On birthdays, we always say our words of thanks, affection, and affirmation to one another. We honor the people we love while they are still alive. It is our tradition to pay attention to the good deeds of the living and tell them how much they mean to us in the community.
I was deeply touched by Tita Mayose’s generosity. Her love for me and my fave kids in the world are deeply appreciated. Even in the pandemic, she lost no time to share her love and care for us. I remembered messaging her last December for one of the wish lists of my teens. I will never forget he she always said yes. And this she did so most lovingly even if she was already in deep pain herself. She even told me, "Yes Nanan, I will also remind Rene about your request."
Indeed, in CFC, it is always a couple saying yes.
And so, the whole CFC MC Choir reunited once more to bid her farewell and thanks. We were there in full force to celebrate her life. As we were singing our usual repertoire, in my heart, Ave Maria, Jesus My Friend, Tanging Yaman, I vividly recalled her magical smile. And as I was fighting off tears, I was deeply comforted at the thought that in life, we made each other feel loved, cared for, most of all, deeply prayed for. For after all, the most powerful love language is "I prayed for you," as well as “I sang for you, I am here with you — accompanying you through the gift of music.”
So why write about grief, grace, and music? Is it to glorify music? It is to glorify God above all. It is to surrender to His most divine will. It is to accept death as a fact of life but also to see it as a coming home to Him. It is to be reminded that a life lived in authenticity, solidarity, compassion, utmost care for others, dedicated service to the least/ last/ lost of society is truly a well-lived life. Grief comes to us at all seasons of our lives. The good thing is that God always sends us angels among us to comfort us in our times of despair. Grief is real. But nothing can be more real than God’s grace shining through.
Lastly, Tito Rene Breva shared with us that when Tita Mayose was rushed to the hospital she was already dead on arrival. But she was revived by God’s grace, and in her last 24 hours on earth, Tito Rene played beautiful music in the hospital room. Her favorites actually. It was so moving and powerful. When we die the last to go is our hearing. And then for the next 24 hours, Maranatha Music was played in her room until it was time for her to be covered with white cloth.
So why write again about grief, grace, and music? Because where grief abounds, grace abounds all the more. (FRANCES NINA FERNANDEZ-BITANG)