Francis Fever On My Birthday

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

This is a post-birthday blogpost, 2 days to be exact. Yes, another year for me, another chance to be better, and I am still having a huge Papal hang-over. I am still hung-over with the Pope’s Apostolic and State Visit. And I cannot put down exactly into words how I am feeling right now although I may try to put my emotions into words.

I am a proud Catholic. I studied in a Catholic Chinese School run by priests and nuns from Kindergarten to High School. I also did some college time in a university run by SVD priests. I memorized every prayer taught to us in Catholic School, both in English and in Chinese, not to forget in Filipino (Tagalog) and in my native dialect  Waray.

A week before the Papal Visit, somebody asked me about my take on the Pope and if I liked him. In all honesty, I wasn’t  able to answer it without sweating over the question. I likened the question to those asked in a beauty pageant. Well, because it really is so difficult answering something like that. I like him from what I read, what I see on social media, but I have not really had a chance to know the Pope from my own observations. And I always try to give a balanced and logical answer. Maybe the person who asked me would think that I really have a hard time expressing feelings, which I guess is true sometimes. I wanted to give a safe answer. Safe, but sometimes stupid answers.

I was supposed to be in Tacloban for the Papal Mass on January 17. I have fixed my mind on that since last year but I never really did some action. I changed my mind the last minute when I saw how the airfare rose. And learning that Jan 17 would be a no-fly zone to Tacloban, I realized that I might be forced to stay there for longer than 2 days and I can’t do that because of my kids. So I decided to follow the Pope’s activities on TV.

The Mass in Tacloban was the most touching moment for me because I felt for the people of Tacloban. I was there when Yolanda hit. I was just luckier than the others. Seeing some of my friends on TV drenched and soaked under the rain made it more real for me.  My two sisters were with the Pilgrims. I was supposed to be with them too.

Photo by: Jom Ilao

Pope Francis’ homily pierced through my whole being. Just the thought that Tacloban was one of the reasons why he came to the Philippines made me feel so very blessed.  When he ditched his original homily and spoke from his heart in his native language Spanish, even though it was the translator who we heard last, the moment he said that when he saw in Rome the catastrophe in Leyte, he had to be here (in Tacloban), it send me crying and the tears just won’t stop flowing. And everybody cried, the people in the Tacloban mass as you can see them on tv, and the people glued to their tv sets.

“Some of you have lost part of your families. All I can do is keep silence and walk with you all with my silent heart.”-Pope Francis

His message gave me the answers that have been hanging in my mind. To be honest, I have not been inside a church nor heard mass after Yolanda. Maybe once, just after we arrived Manila.  In the aftermath of Yolanda, as I was walking home one dark night, knowing  there were corpses on the street buried in the debris , I kept talking to God and asking Him why it happened. I was asking if He could see what His children are experiencing that time. And that was still the questions I had after many failed tries of getting in one of those C130’s that I thought was our salvation.

Arriving Manila through a different way, I was disappointed when one person that I looked up to, wasn’t able to give me the comfort that I was expecting his presence would give me. And I carried the hurt without telling anyone about it.

This is my favorite photo of the Pope taken in Tacloban. This shows how real his happiness was in seeing the people. So candid!
Photo source: Yahoo Philippines. 

The Pope’s homily and messages gave me the answers to my questions. As much as I would like to fathom how and why I say that my questions were answered, I can’t. It’s more of a feeling. I just felt a sense of peace of mind and spirit and I know that I don’t need to ask those questions again.

“We have a Lord who is capable of crying with us, capable of walking with us in the most difficult moments of life.”- Pope Francis

I am not alone. I have someone who walks with me during tough times.

I want to answer to the Pope’s call to the Filipinos to be outstanding missionaries of faith. It’s not easy, it is sure to be very challenging, but it is doable.

So to give a much better answer to the question if I like him- like is an understatement. I love him! I love his humility most of all. His smile is pure and real. He took away my fear of old men (this is due to a bad experience I had in my childhood). 

Let's keep the faith stronger,



More photos of the Pope's Visit in Tacloban here.

To view file in Dropbox, click here

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