Finally, after being away from home for what felt like an eternity, I was able to visit my home in Koronadal City, South Cotabato last weekend. This weekend was a very special one.
My parents and I have made the habit of attending the eight o’clock morning Mass every Sunday because there is greater probability of seeing my Ate’s family in the church. True enough, last Sunday, during the Holy Mass, before the offertory, two cute smiling little girls came into view, and giddily settled in our pew to smother their much-missed aunt (that’s me) with hugs and kisses. Soon after, I saw my sister and my brother-in-law take their seats in the row behind ours.
Since my small lap can only accommodate one toddler, my mother took Karol (Kay), the second child, while I held the eldest, Dominique (Dom). I just have to chronicle and share this particular moment with my inquiring and curious niece, Dom. My mother and I were kneeling, waiting for the Consecration of the Bread and Wine. Meanwhile, Dom and Kay were sitting on the armrest, with Dom in front of me, and Kay in front of my mom. When the priest finally said, “Do this in memory of me” and raised the Host, I opened both of my palms.
Dom suddenly asked me, “Bakit ka naga-ganyan?” (Why are you doing that?) referring to the opening of my palms.
I simply answered, “Andiyan kasi si Jesus.” (Because Jesus is there.) I remember feeling surprised by my reply. Surprised not because I was in doubt, but because I felt a deep tugging in my heart, affirming me that what I just said is completely true, and that it did not come from me. Surprised because a river of gratitude for the Lord flowed into my consciousness in view of that seemingly uneventful moment to teach the truth to a small and innocent child. Truly indeed, the Lord Jesus Christ is physically present in the Holy Eucharist.
“Saan?” (Where?) Dom asked again, meaning I have to point to or tell her where Jesus is.
“Yan O,” I said gently, “yung gina-raise ni Father.” I scrambled for the Hiligaynon/Tagalog word for “raise.” “Yung gina-taas ni Father na puti.” (That white one being raised by Father.)
She was sitting on the armrest, and turned her head towards the altar. Her head moved from side to side, as she was obviously trying to find where Jesus is. She turned her eyes to a statue of Jesus standing near the altar, and said “Yan O, yung statue?” (That statue?)
But I firmly said “No, the white, round one.”
Dom scowled, confused of what I said. I noticed she became restless, discontent of not being able to understand what her aunt has told her. Her curiosity, her quickness to things has always fascinated me, qualities which are common in my Ate’s kids (ahem, it’s the genes from our side of the family. hehe), and which I so admire. So, to appease her, I whispered, “Quiet muna tayo, mag-listen tayo kay Father.” (Let’s be quiet for a while and listen to Father.)
I let what happened linger – in my heart, in my soul. I felt immense joy for the given opportunity to teach a child, and I fervently prayed to God, that the conversation we just had will be etched in Dom’s memory, and that she may someday grasp what I said. “Andiyan si Jesus,” this time, I heard a comforting whisper from my innermost being. Thank you Lord, for the years of Catechesis – studying in a Catholic school, watching EWTN, reading theology books, Catholic websites and magazines – for finding a community and for a fruitful and consistent prayer time. The Lord knows how much I want to partake the Christian joy that is both in me and outside of me, especially with the kids in our small family. While writing this, few days later, I realize I happen to be one of Dom’s godmothers.
Lord, give us the grace to teach and pass on what is right, true and honorable to the young generation.