"Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves." (Matthew 11:29)
"And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you" (Luke 11:9)
Carry my cross
As a person, it is natural for me to pray for my needs. Everytime I prayed I would not hesitate to mention all my needs. I thought that because I was always busy, working for the Lord, giving talks and seminars in Churches and even company offices that I was doing more than enough for him.
One afternoon, I was moved to enter St. Anthony's church in Sampaloc. There was no Mass so I just knelt down and looked up. I took a deep breath and rather than praying for my own needs, closed my eyes and asked, " Lord, what is it that you would want me to do for you?" In the Spirit God was telling me to be selfless, to carry His cross, for His is light and He would carry mine for it is heavy. I meditated on this message for a while, not really understanding what He meant - I didn't have a heavy cross. My family although not rich had more than enough for our needs. My husband is an executive and I have a business supplying boxes and crafting materials to car companies, which was doing quite well. My three kids were all enrolled in good schools. Everything was fine. I wondered, what is my cross, Lord, and what is yours? I was more curious about His and asked Him "what do you mean by your cross, Lord?" He answered, "My cross are your neighbours, My cross are those who need help, love and care. They are My cross, touch them" I said "yes" and asked Him to carry mine, although I had no idea what it might be.
When I stood up, I slid my hand in my side pocket and found 100 pesos, which I decided to give to the church. I went to the church office and handed it to the secretary. Glancing up, I was amazed to see a poster of St. Francis of Assisi (who is my favorite Saint and patron of my hometown) with the caption "what is it you want me to do for you Lord?" The Lord was giving me a confirmation of His message so I said to Him, "Here I am Lord, pave the way for me"
Ask and you will receive
That night I made my first "out-reach". Up to that point I had always responded to invitations to share a testimony or to give a talk but only by arrangement.
I went to my neighbor's house. The family, which included give young children, had no source of income as the husband had been unable to find work for several years ( and there are no unemployment benefits in the Philippines). We lit two candles, placed these on their altar and prayed the rosary. I laid my hand on the husband and prayed for a job for him. After the prayer the wife embraced me tightly and cried. They only ate through handouts.
A week later, when I arrived home after giving a talk, the husband and wife were waiting for me. Immediately the wife rushed towards me and embraced me, her face glowing with joy and thanksgiving. Her husband had been offered a job abroad and the salary was more than enough for their family needs, praise the Lord! They now own their own home and two of the children have graduated from college.
A Change of heart
The following night I was moved to visit another family, although they had no financial difficulties. As I entered the sala (reception room) the family members were all staring at me, wondering what I was doing there. Ordinarily I am a very private person and would never "barge in" to anybody's home unexpectedly, not even a friend's. They asked me to sit down and asked why I'd come. Straight to the point I told them that I wanted to pray with them. It's difficult to resist prayers offered and although they were at first a little reluctant they agreed, perhaps just to humour me and get it over with. We prayed the rosary together, although I did not know what help they needed. To my surprise, as I was laying my hand on the head of the wife, she burst into tears because I was praying for family reconciliation. I learned later that the husband was having an affair with someone else. A few days later the wife approached me, thanking God, because her husband became reconciled with her and promised not to hurt her again.
Satisfying the need of the moment
The following day I was invited to a prayer meeting. At the end, one of the participants came to me to ask for prayer. She wanted to ask God to give her the gift of wisdom, ash she perceived He had done for me. I told her that if it was God's will, He would do so and we prayed. I laid my hands on her intending to pray for wisdom but everytime I was about to say wisdom, I was moved instead to ask her to receive healing. I tried three times but each time prayed for healing. I stopped and apologised to her and speculated that perhaps next time she may receive wisdom. Unknown to me she was scheduled for a spinal column operation that afternoon. As she was preparing to go to the hospital she accidentally dropped her ball pen ans she bent down to pick it up, much to everyone's surprise; she herself did not notice at first what she had picked it up without hesitation and without pain. She immediately went to the hospital for a thorough check-up. Praise the Lord - she was healed!
My Mother and Father's Healing
I left that office with joy in my heart but in a great hurry as I had another prayer meeting at San Lazaro hospital. I passed by our house to pick up some materials for the teaching and as I was about to leave my father came to me and told me that Mom had had a stroke and to accompany him to UST hospital. She was suffering from hypertension and heart disease and was now in the intensive care unit in critical condition.
For a while I was frozen. This is it I thought. This is my cross and truly it is too heavy for me. My mother is the most wonderful woman to me in the whole world. There are seven of us in the family and we are quite an ordinary family; my dad is just a regular employee, yet my Mom was able to manage our finances and even send us all to college, I have three brothers who are all engineers and three sisters, a chemical engineer, a doctor and a lawyer. We live in the university belt, and sometimes, even though we didn't have enough food for the family, my cousins who were studying in Manila would come to our place for lunch or dinner, my mom never turned anyone away. That is why everyone loves her.
My Dad also was a very compassionate man, gentle and loving and quite handsome. He was a salesman and because of these qualities, a lot of women ran after him and was accommodating, not realizing how much he was hurting my mother. My father was the “first and last” love of my mom, even her first dance was with him. She adore him so much.
When my dad told me that her condition was very serious, I prayed to God for strength and courage to talk to my dad about mom’s heartache. With fear in my heart I told him his faults and that he was the cause of her sickness. His face and mood changed, he was so mad at me and almost slapped me. In an angry voice he said, “Who are you to tell me that, you’re only my child.” I cried and tried to embrace him and told him that it was time for him to accept the Lord. He could not understand what I was talking about since he was a 4th degree Knight of Columbus, one of the apostles of Jesus during the Lenten season and very close to the church. I tried to explain that it was not membership in church organizations that would save him but the acceptance of Jesus Christ in his heart. Then in a low tone; he asked me”how?” This provided the opportunity for me to invite him to the prayer meeting at San Lazaro, promising that after that we would go to UST hospital to see mom.
As we went down to the staircase my elder sister was waiting for us. My dad told her to go ahead and that we would follow later. When she learned where we were going she could not understand why were unconcerned about mom’s condition, preferring to go to a prayer meeting instead. I told her that we were going to God first so that God could make the difference for mom. My dad convinced my sister to go ahead. So we proceeded to San Lazaro conference hall. Many people were already there waiting and as usual we prayed the rosary first. As we moved on to sing worship songs, the Lord touched my dad, I saw him crying silently. Right after the opening prayer, my dad went directly to the stage and took hold of the microphone. I was wondering what he was going to do, with tears in his eyes he made a public confession! I shrank into my chair. I was the leader of the group and here was my dad publicly confessing his sins. Afterwards he came over to me and said “Thank you, I hope God has forgiven me for all my wrong-doings .” He went on to say that he would know if he was forgiven if two things happened, firstly, that mom would get healed and the second request was “between him and God”. Right after the prayer meeting, my father excused himself hurriedly to visit my mother. I was left behind but followed an hour later. I was still overwhelmed by my father’s confession and afraid that the people at the prayer meeting might react negatively when the director of the hospital, Dr. Ranoa, came to me and embraced me. She whispered in my ear and said how blessed I was for God to bring such healing to my family. In the silence of my heart, I thanked the Lord.
I met my sister at the door of my mother’s room. As she saw me she held me and said, “ truly God is a living God. Go inside the room and look for yourself.” I went in and saw mom and dad sitting on the bed together chatting and both seems so happy. I did not bother them but went out and my sister told me that when dad arrived he knelt down and kissed my mom’s hand and with all sincerity asked her for forgiveness. My mother lifted her hand and gently stroked his hair and mom told him that she always forgave because she loved him so much. Immediately her heartbeat and blood pressure became normal again, she was completely healed.
Three months later, one lovely morning (May 5th) my dad visited me at home and told me the second request he at his confession. He wished to die without hardship or pain as not to be a burden to his family. He was telling this to us over breakfast and I laughed as I told him he was too strong to even think about dying yet. The same afternoon while he and my mom were having their lunch, my dear father just rested his head on the table and died.
I know in my heart that my dad was forgiven and received by the Lord as his two requests came to pass precisely.