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Prologue


By Pietro S. Albano


Simon has been an active member of his parish for many years. In his youth, he was an altar server. Later on, he began serving as a lector/commentator, coordinator for the parish’s outreach program, and a handyman. For some reason, he decided to lie low. Fr. John, the parish priest, took notice of this. One cold evening, the priest paid Simon a visit. Simon was sat by the fireplace watching the news on TV. After some pleasantries, both watched the news silently. A few minutes later, Fr. John got up, threw a piece of coal in the fireplace, and left. Wondering, Simon stared at the coal and how it got consumed in the fire. The next day, Simon was back in church.

All of us belong to a parish. A number of us don’t just belong to a parish, but actually serve in the parish like Simon. And like Simon, we experience moments of active ministry and moments of throwing in the towel.Like that small piece of coal in the story, let us throw ourselves in Jesus’ Sacred Heart, from which came forth His seven last words. Let us be consumed by His burning love so we could bring that love back to our parish no matter what, to be a sign of unity in our faith community against all odds. God bless us all!


Uploaded by Edrian Santollano

First Word


By Israel Leyrit Mendoza


While I am writing on this reflection, an ongoing gap between the Parish of Mary, Mediatrix of All Grace in Lipa City (where I am a resident) and I always comes into my mind. It began even before I intended to resign as the parish secretary due to numerous complaints against me by some parishioners including members of the previous Parish Pastoral Council (PPC). The complaints were particularly on my work and personal attitude towards other parishioners.

Fr. Wilfredo Rosales, the first parish priest of this young parish has warned me of removing some of my clerical jobs and that I would just focus on bookkeeping. Even some of my co-employees became very indifferent. Until March 3, 2013, the day I never forget, I received a letter from Fr. Rosales threatening me of being removed from the parish office. I suffered a great deal mentally and emotionally so I walked out without his permission and went to the nearby Carmel Church. I prayed in front of the altar, seeking light on my decision to resign from my position in the parish. After few months, I finally tendered my resignation without having any final settlements with Fr. Rosales.

Within several months of rest and reflection, I considered to initiate peace with Fr. Rosales and the parishioners. During the Simbang Gabi in 2014, I posted on Facebook (FB)stating my intention to forgive them as a jumpstart for the healing I desire. I asked the parish priest for forgiveness after having an intimate and personal conversation with him. I never thought that it was his final year as a parish priest due to the scheduled reshuffling of the priests set by the Archbishop. I hugged and cried at him like a prodigal son to his father.

Now, there’s the new parish priest, Fr. Conrado Castillo. He was said to be a disciplinarian and hard to talk with. I was supposed to talk with him but the officials in the parish office to whom I still have some disagreements with never called me regarding my request. Thus, I felt a sense of total rejection. From then, I posted a series of FB posts of deep ire against the parish. A representative from the parish warned me of telling the Archbishop about what I’ve posted. He told me that what I had done is a disgrace to the parish and to the clergy and they will not tolerate that. I just want to tell the parish priest to hear my side on the issues surrounding me previously. Eventually, all of the parishioners didn’t believe my sentiments and became very indifferent towards me. It made me not to talk with them or, worse,burn the bridge with them.

Currently, I am with the Parish of San Vicente Ferrer in another barangay in Lipa City where I am serving there as a lector for more than 10 years (even before the Parish of Mary, Mediatrix of All Grace has been erected). Though I am not a bonafide resident of one of the barangays under the former, I feel a sense of community with them. Thus, I have made up my mind to be part of them.

One time, Fr. Mandy Panganiban, the parish priest of San Vicente Ferrer told me, “A parish is instituted in order for the communities belonging (to it) to grow in love and understanding.” That is what I lacked during those times that I’ve not been to Mediatrix Parish for a long time. I should have learned before that as a community, in spite of having diverse opinions and emotions, we need to learn to understand and respect others and thus, love and forgiveness grow. Until at this moment, I am still seeking for a total reconciliation with the people in Mediatrix Parish and I know that it will take a long time before this happens but I believe in the mercy and kindness of our Lord and the motherly care of their patroness, Mary, Mediatrix of All Grace.

Recently, they came to the wake of my father not as part of their apostolate but as a part of the parish. I think of their gesture not only as showing their sincere sorrow for my father being a marshal then for the parish but for my family and I as well.I hugged and cried at the former and the current PPC officers asking them for forgiveness and hoping for total healing. I told them that if I am spiritually and emotionally ready to return to the parish and when the time comes I am willing to serve and accept whatever they’ve said about me as part of my growth.

A parish like any other institutions either in the Church or in the government and private sectors has innate weaknesses not only among the parish priest or his assistants but among its members, from the Parish Pastoral Council, down to the parish workers.It is from their weaknesses that every member must learn to accept and forgive as Christ did when he said on the cross, “Forgive them, Father! They don’t know what they are doing.” Christ is forgiving. Christ is merciful. Christ is love and that should be present in the parishes as part of one community of communities, as one family of families, as part of Christ’s one body.



Prayer 

Lord Jesus Christ, You built the Church as a communion of communities united through You. You show to us, Your followers, how Your Church should be, to share the love of God You have shared to us when You cried “Forgive them, Father! They don’t know what they are doing.” May the Holy Spirit be present in the heart of all bishops, parish priests, lay leaders, and parishioners all over the Philippines and the whole world. May Your love enable us to look beyond our own failings and forgive others so that we may continue to evangelize and share Your story to those who are in need of You. Amen.

Second Word


By Eden Paredes


In spite of our sinfulness, Jesus uttered this word.Between the two thieves with Him, whom do we see ourselves? He is knocking at our doors to repent and follow Him. How do we respond? Lord, am I worthy to be with You in Paradise in spite of my imperfections? My flaws? My shortcomings? My stubbornness?

There were two thieves with Him on the cross. One who taunted Him, “Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!” How many times did we taunt Him? If you really are the Lord, you should answer my prayers right away! Why would I pray if He does not answer my prayers? I am happy with the way I wanted in my life; I do not need Him!

That was I when I was still in Manila. Who am I before when I have not yet accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior? I was this unrepentant thief. If things go wrong, I think it was karma. I judge people right away without knowing the person first. If I have an unanswered prayer, I would think that maybe He does not give any importance to me. My view about life is very different not until I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior and when we migrated here in the US.

In 2002, our journey to the US gives more meaning into my life. Life in the US is not that easy as what others might think. We do not have help here, no nannies, no cooks, no helpers to clean the house, no drivers to drive the kids, on top of that if the appliances go wrong we will be forced to fix it (thanks to YouTube) otherwise, we will pay a tremendous fee to a professional help to fix it. Besides the fact that we have a close knit family back in Manila which I miss a lot. Nevertheless, that did not stop us to look at the bright side for my married life and my spiritual growth. It became the gateway for my husband and I to work together to be able to get through with it in raising our two wonderful children. Living here in the US made our marriage bond grow stronger. God’s promise in Jeremiah 29:11 “ For I know the plans I have for you, “declares the Lord, “plan to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” That is the promise that I always keep in my heart if things go wrong. It does not mean that when things did not happen the way we want it to happen God does not care for us. That is the beauty of life with Him, I learned to put my trust and faith on why things happened; I started to learn from it and have grown in it. Life is beautiful, it is only how we see things. Good or bad, it is still beautiful; my spiritual aspect blossom especially when we joined Couples for Christ in 2004. It was the start to deepen my relationship with the Lord. Now I learned, it does not matter whether you studied in a Catholic School or not. It is how you walk with the Lord. How would you know, if what you are doing is for the Lord? I remember what our parish priest mentioned, “We should not believe in any spirits right away, but how would you know if what you are believing is the true spirit? If you find peace and love in your heart, then you would know it is the Spirit of God working in you.”

My journey with God continues when I accepted the service as CFC-Handmaids of the Lord Coordinator last 2015. In addition, I am a volunteer in our Parish Religious Education Program as a catechist. God is so faithful that if challenges come in my way and I asked for His guidance, He is generous to give me all the graces that I need to perform each task that He wanted me to do. Whatever my husband and I have learned and learning, we are sharing and teaching our faith to our children.

However, praying is not the only tool to deepen my relationship with God. From the video I have watched according to Father Leo Patalinghug, there are three tools to deepen our Journey to Faith: first, prayers; second, study and last, community. I am still a work in progress; in our CFC-Household group, we are doing the “Unlocking the Mystery of the Bible by Jeff Cavins”. The more I study and the more I listen to religious songs, inspirational teachings– the more my outlook in life changed from being pessimistic to becoming optimistic because I know I am walking with God.

In conclusion, life is perfectly beautiful if we only know how to live with it. If we only accept Jesus and walk with Him through our journey in life, we all have the same destination after this life on earth…. to face God in heaven. Jesus, my Lord and my God, I am a sinner. Please forgive me. When I reach my last breath here on earth, please open the gates of your Kingdom in heaven.



Prayer 

Dear Lord,Thank You for the gift of life. Thank You for the challenges and trials that come into my way. It made me a tougher and courageous woman of faith. Thank You for the difficult people that I encounter, it helps me to see the blessings that I have and polish my character. Thank You for my immediate family, for my family back in Manila, for my children, for my relatives, for my friends all over the world, and thank You for giving me the Couples for Christ community that made our relationship as husband, wife and children stronger. Thank You for all the provisions that You have given us. Moreover, I continue to pray that one day Lord, when my journey here on earth is finished, You will open the door in Paradise and I will join You there and You will tell me, “My daughter, you made me proud!” Moreover, I pray for the people reading this reflection to also touch their lives the way You touched mine. Amen.

Third Word


By Theresa Ballo


A colleague shared this quote from Twitter which I liked, “I never believed in love at first sight, but that all changed the moment I became a mother.” Indeed, a mother’s love is incomparable. It is selfless, unconditional and keeps no records of wrong. Like any mother, Mary demonstrated all that from her son’s conception and beyond.

Think of all these scenarios in Mary’s life. As an already engaged woman, she found herself in front of an angel who proclaimed that she will bear a son in her womb, God’s only Son at that! Imagine her fright as a stranger named Simeon approached her and Joseph to give praise to baby Jesus and revealed to her that a sword will pierce her very soul. Recall her agitation searching for Jesus when He got lost at the temple. Or how about when she interceded to Jesus in behalf of the newly-wedded couple in Cana which prompted the Lord to perform His first miracle right there and then? Mary was such an extraordinary woman. She exemplified great faith and obedience to God to be able to cope and manage the events that happened in her life. I just couldn’t imagine how painful it was for a mother like her, seeing her only son crucified and losing His life. The gaze between Mary and Jesus in Calvary is the scene I imagined as I reflect on the Third Word.

The third word Jesus uttered on the cross was for His mother and for His disciples. Jesus showed His being one with us. He lived in a normal family. He knows how it is to care for the members of the family much more for His mother. Even as He was dying on the cross as the Saviour of humanity, Jesus remembered His role as a son. He chose an ordinary man to look after His mom. A new bond is built and a new family is set up. From that moment on, Mary takes care of each one of us. We become her children in her Son Jesus.

There was a time in my life where I got fed up with life. I hit double-standard life rock-bottom. I was already a parish youth leader then. I created an image in everyone’s eyes that I was doing okay. But each night, inside my room I knew something is wrong. I was confused and don’t know what to do and where to go. I got tired of struggling to be good enough. So, with a plan, I decided to run away from home. Nevertheless, no matter how smooth my plan was, and so I thought, my mother’s instinct is stronger. Without a plan, she just felt staying at home that day. I cannot bear lying in front of her, bid my goodbye to attend a parish activity yet I don’t have any plans of coming home. So, with a heavy heart, I told her the truth. After speaking my heart out, I told her that I already made arrangements to where I would be staying, so I could not just back out. She bargained, pleaded me not to go. I promised her that I will come home and that I just need space to figure things out for myself. Our win-win solution was she has to meet my contact person there and see the place where I will be staying. At 4:00 pm, we headed our way to Poblacion, Angat, Bulacan. It is a small town where I do not know anyone and nobody knows me as well.

I will be meeting my friend at Sta. Monica Church which is just right beside the town hall then she will bring me into their House of Solitude. My friend is a member of the Notre Dame De Vie (Our Lady of Life) Institute. After a week of stay, I went home. Then after two weeks I chose to work at the Colegio de Sta. Monica de Angat, a school managed by the NDVs. I stayed there for three consecutive years and see my parents in Manila on weekends and holidays.

And so how I viewed life changed after those years. My own mother, as well as the Virgin Mary and St. Monica (my spiritual mothers) stayed with me in my struggles of finding the reason why certain bad things have to happen to good people. Once in a person’s life comes a point of running away from “Life”. Each escape forms a series of points which later forms a line. Lines that connect past to the present, pain to happiness and freedom to responsibility. These lines straighten my curved beliefs and strengthen my faith in God. Ten years have passed by, now that I am turning 30, I am giving back all the graces to another Mother, the Church. Serving the Parish is not pure bliss. More often than not, it tests my conviction of the purpose of serving. I get to meet a lot of people that hold different values and perceptions than mine. More so, there are just personalities that aren’t my match and there are those who I just could not understand. In spite of these, these questions remain: When the going gets tough are we just going to neglect and abandon the Church? Would we be like Mary constantly saying her “Yes” to the often mysterious designs of God’s plan?


Uploaded by FraPascual


Prayer 

Lord Jesus, the presence of Your own mother at the cross reminds us of Your oneness with us. Like us, You endured pain, received unjust criticism, and suffered in front of Your loved ones. Thank You for saving us, for exchanging Your life with ours. Sorry for the times that we fall short and turn our lives away from Your mercy. May we learn from Your example to think of others before ourselves. United with Mary, may we show compassion to the lost, the last, and the least of our brothers and sisters and bring them back into our Mother Church. Amen.

Fourth Word


By Deacon Jim Hallman


It was called Golgotha, the Place of the Skull, it was just a hill on the outskirts of Jerusalem. Jesus made it to the top of the hill that we call Calvary. His tortured body was almost limp, as they threw Him down and stretched His arms on His cross. Then they crucified Jesus and His beaten body hung on that Cross, mounted between those two thieves, alone and abandoned.

There was a crowd, some were friends, some just curious, some still cursing and ridiculing Jesus, how well they knew the humiliation of the Cross, being crucified on the wood of a tree, how well they knew this shameful way to die. And today, they watch the cruel death of an abandoned man.

On the Cross, Jesus slowly, with supreme effort, using the nails in His feet as a fulcrum, He lifts Himself up. “My God, My God, Why have you abandoned me”?

It was just a few hours ago, this man, sent down from heaven, just changed ordinary bread and wine into His body, His blood, His soul, and His divinity. He was just with His best friends, so close to them, He even washed their feet. Yes, He called them friends, not servants. They were hours of sweet intimacy, spent in their midst, but they were also hours of great anguish. No wonder Peter resisted, here the Son of God washing the feet of a motley group of men.

And, now they watch, as this man, who calls them His friend, shows us love beyond the ability of our minds to comprehend, walk alone. What is going through Jesus’ mind as He reflects on His own words, “The Son of Man must be lifted up”?

Then alone, in the garden, the agony, then the treacherous kiss, the arrest, the beatings, and the silence of the man abandoned. The Paschal Lamb is led to the sacrificial altar, the suffering servant, the innocent who takes our guilt so we may live, climbs Calvary. Abandoned by all.

But, God did hear the cry of the one crying on the Cross, and glorified Him as was promised.

How often we too, feel abandoned, even by God. Our worries, our life, what we’ve done, and yes, what we have failed to do. The stress of life, the problems, the wrong decisions and when it seems there is no light at the end of the tunnel, we turn to God, but where is He?

I have seen this so many times in the eyes of the prisoners I visit. The crying from the heart, the depression, the fear that God has abandoned them for good.

And as we relate to the Psalm, “Why are you so far from my call for help, from my cries of anguish. My God I call by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I have no relief”.

Yes, I have seen and I have heard these cries from the cells of prisoners. The sorrow in their hearts and the abandonment of God from their soul. Every week for eight months, George, a prisoner sat in the back of the room when I conducted a Communion Service at that prison. When it was time to receive the Blessed Sacrament, he would remain in his seat with his chin on his chest, shaking his head from side to side reflecting on where he went wrong, and feeling the loss of his God. The rest of the inmates knew George was grieving. But, there was a spark of hope. One evening, before my Communion Service, a priest came to hear confessions and George courageously hurried in first to meet the priest. The healing power of Jesus was at work. George, on his return, sat in the front, not in his customary back seat. The grace of God was with him. When it came time to receive the Blessed Sacrament, George came up first and there was peace and joy, in his expression as he received the Blessed Sacrament for the first time in a very long time.

He walked to his regular seat in the back and, like a child knowing he is loved and his sins forgiven allowed the tears to flow. “Jesus”, he said, “stay with me”. He found his God.

As Jesus cried of abandonment we too cry from the many crosses we bear. But when we nail our crosses to His cross on Calvary,we find His help. When we accept all things in Jesus’ name, then His Cross and our cross become one, poured into His Chalice, fused in hope through His love for us and our love for Him.

It is then that the image of one set of footprints in the sand begins to make sense. As we move closer and closer to our Savior surrendering to His love, we realize we are not alone, that we are being carried in His arms. He will never abandon us. His unfathomable love for us will not permit it. “I am with you always even to the end of time”.

How great is that love? As painful and abandoned Jesus felt that day, He looked down and He saw our very image looking up at Him, that same Jesus, who with open arms shed His blood on that Cross, and if we listen very intently, we can hear Him say with heartfelt love, “This I did for you and for you I would do it again”.


Uploaded by Jay Yamomo


Prayer 

Father in heaven, You promised that You would be with us always. When I feel abandoned, give me the courage to reach out to You and know You are truly waiting with open arms. You are my refuge, You are the wings that shelter me. You are a friend like no other, my Lord and my God. Amen.

Fifth Word


Atty. Jo Imbong


He said, as he hung on the Cross, “I thirst.” As we behold Him hanging from the tree that was a cross, it is an expression of His pain.But this is The Word spilling out His pain. And being the Word made flesh, there is much more meaning to the cry. The One abandoned totally by mankind whom He first loved, He unleashes that unquenchable thirst for the love of man. Unquenchable because only He can love without measure, and His thirst for our love has likewise no measure. For beyond the physical thirst there is the sad longing of Christ’s human heart.

The thirst of Christ is the mystery of divine love becoming a beggar at the door of humanity. And yet, as with our encounters with a beggar, we look the other way, we refuse to meet the eye of this Divine Beggar.

How is it that we fear the thirst of God? Why the fear? In our blindness, we prefer the labyrinthine ways of our own egoism: we fully know that to love is to give; and to love totally is to give totally. And so we fear the loss of our own selfhood. We love more the false liberty of arranging our life for ourselves (as though we ever could); we dread the thought that we are never more the masters of our fate . . . and so we miss the fullness of live, we miss the real freedom.

That is why Good Friday is not just a season. It is something that is to be done in us every day: of going down into ourselves to see the deep places where we see ourselves for what we really are, where we plunge into this Beggar-God’s ocean of love—that is the gateway to life.

The thirst of Christ presages His final words, In manus tuas: “Into Thy hands I commend my spirit.” In turn, we could answer to His thirst: O Jesus, I commend this joy, this sorrow, this problem, this decision; to Thy thirst I commend each moment as it comes, each event as you send it to me; to Thy thirst I pour this thing that I have to do and suffer; to Thy thirst this love, this responsibility, this weakness, this failure, this wrong thing that I have done; and so, finally, into Thy thirst I commend my life as a whole, all that I am.

This is our unique fiat — in the end, the only thing that He thirsts for. Giving it all to Him without measure, we shall have learnt fully the true meaning of His love-thirst, and so, with Him in His glory, we shall have come home.



Prayer 

O Jesus, let me beg of Thee to lead me on in Thy perfect and narrow way. What is it to me how my future path lies, if it be the path You lead me? What is it to me where it leads, if in the end it leads to Thee? I pray Thee to give me the heart to seek Thee sincerely. For I have one work only--to bear my cross after Thee. I pray Thee to give me an honest and good heart, and, without waiting, I will begin at once to obey Thee with the best heart I have, for to obey Thee is to seek only Thee. Amen. (From Blessed John Henry Newman, “Kindly Light”)

Sixth Word


By Jessa Janelle Padilla


Jesus sacrifices His life just to save us from all our sins. He accepted all the punishments based on the verdict of Pontius Pilate. He died on the cross and uttered ‘It is finished’ as one of His seven last words. When He uttered this, it means that He successfully accomplished the mission assigned to Him by Our Almighty Father.

For me, I uttered the word ‘It is finished’ when I and my boyfriend for more than three years broke up. I thought he was the man I am to marry, for we were so much in love with each other. We were very compatible and in the planning stage to tie the knot this year. Both our parents were very supportive of our relationship and they were looking forward for us to get married. One night, I received a phone call from his mother asking for his whereabouts but I didn’t have any idea. I’ve tried to reach him but his phone was turned off. I’m so worried that night that I almost went to a police station to report that he was missing and decided to travel to his hometown just to search for him but his parents stopped me and just assured me that they will do their best to find him. I just prayed solemnly to God for his safety and that his parents may find him. The next day, I received a text message from him that he was safe and at his brother’s apartment. Upon reading his message, I felt relieved and thanked God that nothing bad happened to my boyfriend. After what happened and because of curiosity, I’ve become suspicious and tried to open his social media account. I found out that he changed his password so I tried to ask him why, but he was not able to provide me an acceptable reason. So I used my computer skills to access his account. Upon accessing his account and reading his messages and tagged posts, tears spilled over my lids and coursed down my cheeks. He cheated on me! He broke his promise! He’s a certified liar. I confronted him but he denied his doings. I let him choose between me and his other girl but he wants us both. I asked him why he cheated on me, but again he was unable to provide me an acceptable reason. He’s a selfish man. So I ended up our relationship even it’s against my will and his too. He tried to chase me but my decision was final and I can’t accept the fact that he broke my trust on him. I’ve been depressed for months, I can’t eat and sleep for days, and I attempted to end my life.

That was the ultimate moment in my life when I thought that everything for me is finished and I don’t have any reason to keep on living. However, God was watching over me and opened His Church to me via a phone call from one of the staff of Manila Cathedral informing me that I was scheduled for an interview as an applicant for the Ministry of Lectors and Commentators. The interview went well and luckily I was accepted in the ministry. A life changing chapter of my life happened. I am able to serve the Church and proclaim the Word of God, fulfilling my childhood dream. I devoted my Sundays to praise and serve the Lord which makes me happy and complete. I also considered the Cathedral as my home. It is where I’m at ease and met a new family, a spiritual family. They gave me spiritual advice that helps me to recover from my painful experience. They believe in my capabilities and help me strengthen my faith in God. As a community, I realize that we grow in faith together. God never fails to lead my way. In my darkest moment, He gives me light and entrusted me to His Mother’s care. I hope and pray that I will remain faithful in serving this community, sharing in Christ’s saving mission.



Prayer 

Loving Father, I thank You for all the blessings You have been bestowing upon me and my family. I offer everything that I am and that I have to You. May You guide and bless my path so that I may live according to Your will. Use me to proclaim Your word and to help those in need. This I ask in Jesus’ mighty Name. Amen.

Seventh Word


By Ma. Rosalina S. Flores


In God, I surrender!The reality that “change is the only constant in this world” can be compared to man's fervent desire to take control. Politicians, businessmen, artists, or even ordinary people are all busy in managing every situation in their lives. It seems that having a remote control at hand is necessary. People don’t want to lose track of the channel they are currently tuning in. They choose the color they wish to see and even the emotion they are suppose to feel. A single sudden change is unwelcome and is treated as a disturbance to be dealt immediately. And I, myself is no exception in the list particularly about how I feel.

It was in 2012 when I felt an attraction for a guy again after my heartbreak a couple of years ago. Trying to convince myself that my infatuation will not develop into something more serious since I seldom see him, I tolerated my feelings for him and decided to keep it until the end of 2013. Yes, you read it right; I gave myself a year to enjoy the feeling of having a crush, being up in the air for a little while, and hear my fast heartbeat whenever he’s around. Then, 2014 came, the feeling was still there. I missed my deadline. It was not what I planned for and I lost control of my emotion. The next thing I learned was he started courting my office mate. I did not expect that, I was unprepared. That guy and my office mate did nothing wrong to me, but the circumstance moved my composure. I struggled to overcome the situation I was in. I wanted the moving on process to be as fast as it took me over my unfaithful ex-boyfriend. But, I realized that it’s more difficult to forget the love you never had than to let go a relationship that was broken by cheating. Because I tried to direct my feelings, I got trapped. I couldn’t find the easiest way out.

That episode in my life uncovered my limitations.Controlling my emotions is impossible. And it was in November 2014 that I surrendered myself to the Heavenly Father during a Healing Mass at the National Shrine of Saint Padre Pio in Sto. Tomas, Batangas. While everyone else was praying for the healing of the sick body, I brought with me my wounded and broken heart. Like a daughter seeking for a father’s compassion, I offered to God all my heartaches and asked for His forgiveness on my temerity. Acknowledging that I am incapable of doing things alone, I let Him enter and rule my world. Into His hands, I gave up my all; I commended my whole being and spirit. That encounter with the Lord freed me from emotional distress. I cried my heart out before Him and I knew He patiently listened and understood. After the tears flowed, I was relieved. I left all my pain and worries in that church on that day. Then, I started moving forward with Him. God gave me peace.

Submitting ourselves to God does not happen instantly, it needs time, but it’s always worth it. Like Jesus Christ who obeyed the will of His Father up to His last breath, may we also entrust ourselves to the true ruler of the world, our God the Father, who made heaven and earth. In war, raising a white flag means defeat contrary to the triumph that God our Father will bestow on us when we surrender ourselves to His will.

And as we celebrate the Year of the Parish, it is also relevant to know that in our sufferings, we can draw strength from one another. My experience during that Healing Mass assured me of companions as I was surrounded with other believers who were also burdened but found rest in the Lord. We may carry different crosses and travel separate journeys today, but one thing is for sure: we all aspire to be with our Father in the eternal life. Let us together grow in our faith.



Prayer 

Heavenly Father, we thank You for sending Your beloved Son Jesus Christ who saved us from our sins. Help us to live by His example of obedience and faithfulness, so that we may become worthy of the privilege to be called Your children. In Jesus’ name through the intercession of Mama Mary and Saint Pio of Pietrelcina, this we pray. Amen.

Epilogue


By Anabelle Payod - Balla


Serving in the parish many years ago has led me through a roller coaster ride of emotions – joy, sadness, love, compassion, excitement, and sometimes, frustrations. There were times that I can't contain laughter and yes, tears. I always I love it when a parish activity or project is successful, when team spirit is at its best. I got very affected when animosities, intrigues, and resistance get in the way.

Contemplating on Jesus' seven last words is like going through multiple kinds of emotions. There is admiration when He asked the Father to forgive those who are persecuting Him, reminding us not just to ask forgiveness but also to generously forgive others. There is hope when He promised paradise to the repentant thief, telling us that God will look after us even though we are sinners. There is comfort when He gave His mother to us, binding us to Him through the love and intercession of Mama Mary. There is also sorrow when He felt abandoned, showing how much He needs the Father just like we do. And yet, He was not alone. There is compassion when He was thirsty, calling our attention to look into Him, to search Him in our hearts. There is relief when He commended His Spirit to the Father, urging us to do the same - to submit and let God the Father take control, drawing strength from Him. And grief when He died on the cross, demonstrating His love and faithfulness until the end.

As we all know, the story did not end there. We have Easter to celebrate! Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, has risen and now reigns with the Father, uniting all believers in heart and mind. There is hope, faith, praise, and joyful worship in the community of believers! New life is infused in the parish!

Let Jesus be the center of our communities!



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