CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 16 February 2019

Print Version    Email to Friend
Manifestations of God’s mercy

Edita T. Burgos
 
The start of the year is always an occasion to reflect on one’s directions and goals. Recollection, reflections and discernment of the past year during the Advent season becomes the springboard for the year’s plans.
 
“Things were in God’s plan which I had not planned at all,” wrote Carmelite St. Edith Stein. “I am coming to the living faith and conviction that—from God’s point of view—there is no chance and that the whole of my life, down to every detail, has been mapped out in God’s divine providence and makes complete and perfect sense in God’s all-seeing eyes.”
 
A few weeks into the new year, it is God’s manifestations of mercy in my life that play like a song over and over in my mind.
 
Afflictions we all have, on almost a daily basis. Among the day-to-day graces (for “all is grace,” said St. Thérèse of Lisieux), the greatest among the afflictions were my husband’s death, my son’s abduction, the damage to house and property by a typhoon and the devastation of our farm from natural causes.
 
When my husband died, two years short of our 40th wedding anniversary, after a 10-month battle with cancer, a deep empty vacuum engulfed me. I did not know what to do with myself.
 
Then the inspiration, that prolonged grief, was a lack of faith in God’s goodness, in his promise that life after death is our final, beautiful destiny. This gave birth to the realisation that I was in fact favoured with blessings.
 
First, I was given 10 months to be beside him to fill every second of the days with service to my love. Second, I witnessed the beautiful “going away” of my husband—his last words, said in a soft whisper: “Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ” while the divine mercy chaplet was being recited and third, the 38 years together are enough reasons to confirm God’s mercy.
 
The enforced disappearance of my middle child, now established by the courts as having been taken by the military of our country, is a continuing affliction with the impact still deeply endured.
 
Ever since his disappearance 11 years ago, no day passes when I do not long to see his face, feel his hug, or hear his voice.
 
And yet, his disappearance has empowered me to become what I never dreamt I could be. I have reached places I never knew I would travel to. I’ve met the most kind-hearted, most generous, selfless and courageous people.
 
While chained to the longing for Jonas, I have been given wings to say what I must and write what I should. And by God’s grace alone, I was brought to prayer all the time.
 
“She who is truly a widow, left all alone, has set her hope on God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day” (1 Timothy 5:5).
 
The damage to the house brought about by floods from a typhoon has never been fully repaired. But a few years later, my children received a new place as their share from their father’s family.
 
Two years later, I got a small loan for the farm, however, a few months after, not even being able to recover our capital, the drought descended. In effect, it wiped out all the plants. The green became brown. The family can only smile and pray at the irony of rice-producing farmers who do not have rice to eat. How real this is to our family.
 
We all have experienced how somehow the Lord puts trials, problems, afflictions, resources, joys and people together like small pieces of a puzzle until the enigma takes on a recognisable shape to us, a picture that the Father draws using us as his brush, usually after -the fact that through God’s grace we realise the picture being drawn is our own journey to salvation.
 
As our new year is greeted with threats from a “death squad,” “demonisation” and “red tagging” from those whose own colour seems to be turning “black,” we reflect how may our newly-realised, God-given gifts be put to good use in the service of God’s people?
 
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).
 
What I am certain of is that God is the “protector of widows” and “cursed be anyone who perverts justice that is due to the fatherless and the widow.” And with confidence I know “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” with the gifts I have received from him which must be used in the service of others.
 
Edita Burgos is a doctor of education and a member of the Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites.
Gunmen—believed to be soldiers—abducted her son, Jonas Burgo,s in Manila in April 2007. He is still missing.