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keeping the faith

photo credits: http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2013/03/12/article-2291993-189870E0000005DC-697_964x634.jpg

A few weeks before Lent, the Catholic community was shocked by the news of Pope Benedict XVI retiring on February 28, 2013.  The 85-year-old pontiff is reportedly the first to retire in Roman Catholic church history, spanning a period of 600 years.

I pride myself for being raised as a product of a Catholic school from pre-school to high school, and if Lola Mama were still alive today she would have insisted I enroll the girls at a school similar to mine.  I remember attending masses every Sunday (or anticipated masses on Saturdays), doing the Eucharistic fast at least an hour before mass, not missing Palm Sundays, attending lengthy services during Maundy Thursdays (washing of the feet) and salubongs (“welcoming”?) on Black Saturday nights for Easter Sundays.  In Grade VI at my childhood province of Bongabon, Nueva Ecija I once wore a white dress and a blue veil and played the role of a live Mama Mary at the church Belen (nativity scene) in one of the midnight masses. But I have not been a perfectly devout Catholic, and until recently (as part of my New Year’s Resolutions which I have so far been keeping…) attending Sunday masses was optional, and actually done only insofar as may be convenient for us.

Sometime last year though, the first time our family attended a Sunday dawn mass during Christmas season, I felt this certain peace and serenity in my heart I could not explain.  For a minute I felt transported back to my hometown of Cabanatuan, attending masses with my Mama.  And it felt both light and heavy at the same time: lightness for feeling her presence very near me, and heaviness in the heart realizing it has been more than four years since I physically felt her warm embrace.  Nonetheless the way I felt that time convinced me that it was her way of telling me to be a good example to our family, and to raise my kids in faith and good devotion the way she did with me.

It did not really shock me that the Pope would retire; after all, he is just human like the rest of us and has the biggest responsibility of guiding the Catholic community.  I actually admire his strength and courage to admit he can no longer take on the task.  This morning I was in church for Ash Wednesday and felt pride with the multitude of people also there to mark the beginning of Lent.  It proved that despite the shocking news (well, for some) affecting our church leadership, we are firmly guided by faith and devotion above all.  God bless the Pope, and God bless us all, as He always does. 


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