an answered prayer

“And He took them up in His arms, put His hand upon them and blessed them.” Mark 10:16

yesterday, my son’s geometry teacher called me on my mobile and asked me to take a cab to school and take him to the hospital.  i tried my best to calm down, as i thought about how to possibly heed the call.  bhoy was still miles away from a meeting in jubail, and there was nobody in our office to drive me to the school.

even if there was, a woman is forbidden here to ride in a car with a man other than her husband.  and to take a cab is very risky and equally dangerous, and would probably create more trouble.  so i really had no option but to wait anxiously for bhoy to finally get hold of miguel, and do whatever was necessary.  it was hard enough to learn that my son was in an emergency situation.  but it was harder to be just pinned down on my seat and not be able to do anything for him.

as i waited in agony, i opened the page on which i saved the prayer card of St. Josemaria Escriva (thanks zita!) and just prayed for his intercession.  i remembered that when situations get out of hand, i just let go and let God.  yes i got really worried as i heard the concerned voice of my son’s teacher, but as i began to pray, a deep sense of calm took over.  then i knew that miguel was going to be alright.  less than an hour later, bhoy called and said they were already in the parking lot waiting for me.  not to go the hospital, but home.  miguel was already well and good.

they say God never says “no” to our prayers.  He just responds in varying, but always positive ways.  i believe so too.  He either answers  “YES” right away, or sometimes He will say “MAYBE SOME OTHER TIME“.  on other circumstances, He will tell us “I HAVE A BETTER IDEA”.

when daddy was recently diagnosed with the big PC, we began to pray so hard for him.  even begged God to make him well again.  although we know that a miracle would be necessary, we still continue to pray.  and it is amazing how, when we pray deeply enough, we lose ourselves to the divine presence of the Lord.  so powerful yet so tender that nothing else would ever come close to us.  only His loving assurance that everything will be taken care of.  and that everything will be alright.

it is also noteworthy how “unanswered prayer” and “an answered prayer” sound almost exactly the same. the difference lies on the strength of our faith in the absolute and divine power of God, and our constant communion with Him in every aspect of our daily lives.

we usually pray in the morning as we start our day.  before and after meals.  at night, before we go to sleep.  during sunday mass or novena days.  but to be in prayer doesn’t really need a schedule.  nor does it require an appointment with God.  anytime is prayer time. if we only learn to place our lives in God’s ever holy presence, then there’s always time and space for prayer. 

our prayers for daddy will go on.  and on. and on. no matter what. for we know deep in our hearts, the Lord already gave His answer… long before we even prayed for it.

(you may get the prayer card of  St. Josemaria Escriva at www.opusdei.org)

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“Becoming Prayer” by Deacon K. Fournier

Reflection: Becoming Prayer

By Deacon Keith Fournier
8/22/2009

Catholic Online

Through prayer, daily life takes on new meaning. It becomes a classroom of communion.

CHESAPEAKE, VA (Catholic Online) – “Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit.” (1 Thess. 5:16-19)

St. Paul wrote these words to the early Christians in Greece. They did not live lives of ease, in any sense of the word. They had families, occupations, and real struggles, beyond what many of us could imagine. They also suffered greatly for their faith in a hostile culture.

He instructed them to “Pray without ceasing”. Did he really mean it? I believe that he did. The older I get, the simpler life gets. That does not mean it is “easy”. I speak of spiritual simplicity, the kind of attitude which gets right to the root of what really matters. I believe that Paul meant what he said to the Christians at Thessalonica and that his words are important to those who bear the name Christian today.We need to pray.

Prayer is an ongoing dialogue of intimate communion with God. God fashioned men and women as the crown of His creation, creating us in “His Image”, for this loving, relational conversation of life with Him. At the heart of understanding what it means to be “in His Image” is to understand the immense gift of human freedom and what has happened to our capacity to choose. Love is never coerced.

Our relationship with God was broken, separated and wounded through the first sin, the sin of origins or “original sin”. That sin, like all sin since, is at root a misuse of freedom infected by pride and self sufficiency. Our ability to exercise our freedom rightly, to live His Image by directing our capacity for free choice always toward the good, was impeded through the fall. Freedom was fractured.

The “Good News” is that through Jesus Christ, the way has been opened for an even fuller communion with God, one that is restored through His Incarnation, Saving life, Death and Resurrection. In Jesus Christ we are being re-created, re-fashioned and redeemed. He comes to live in all who make a place for Him within the center of their lives. This “making a place” is the essence of Christian prayer. It is not about doing, but about being.

The Lord wants us to freely choose to respond to His continual invitations to love. We will only find our fulfillment as human persons by entering into that kind of relationship. This is the meaning and purpose of life itself. As we grow in faith through our participation in the life of grace, lived out in the Church, our capacity to respond to His loving invitation grows as well, through prayer.

Prayer is about falling in love with God. Isaac of Ninevah was an early eighth century monk, Bishop and theologian. For centuries he was mostly revered in the Eastern Christian Church for his writings on prayer. In the last century the beauty of his insights on prayer are being embraced once again by both lungs, East and West, of the Church. He wrote these words in one of his many treatises on Prayer:

“When the Spirit dwells in a person, from the moment in which that person has become prayer, he never leaves him. For the Spirit himself never ceases to pray in him. Whether the person is asleep or awake, prayer never from then on departs from his soul. Whether he is eating or drinking or sleeping or whatever else he is doing, even in deepest sleep, the fragrance of prayer rises without effort in hid heart. Prayer never again deserts him. At every moment of his life, even when it appears to stop, it is secretly at work in him continuously, one of the Fathers, the bearers of Christ, says that prayer is the silence of the pure. For their thoughts are divine motions. The movements of the heart and the intellect that have been purified are the voices full of sweetness with which such people never cease to sing in secret to the hidden God.”

The Christian revelation answers the existential questions that plague every human heart and trouble every generation. Through His Incarnation, Saving Life, Death, and Resurrection, Jesus opens full communion with God for all men and women. He leads us out of the emptiness and despair that is the rotted fruit of narcissism, nihilism and materialism. When we enter into the dialogue of prayer, we can experience a progressive, dynamic and intimate relationship with God and He transforms us from within. We, as Isaac said, can “become prayer” as we empty ourselves in order to be filled with Him.

Through prayer, daily life takes on new meaning. It becomes a classroom of communion. In that classroom we learn the truth about who we are – and who we are becoming – in Jesus. Through prayer we receive new glasses through which we see the true landscape of life. Through prayer darkness is dispelled and the path of progress is illuminated. Through prayer we begin to understand why this communion seems so elusive at times; as we struggle with our own disordered appetites, and live in a manner at odds with the beauty and order of the creation within which we dwell only to find a new beginning whenever we confess our sin and return to our first love. Prayer opens us up to Revelation, expands our capacity to comprehend truth and equips us to change.

Through prayer we are drawn by Love into a deepening relationship with Jesus whose loving embrace on the hill of Golgotha bridged heaven with earth; His relationship with His Father is opened now to us; the same Spirit that raised Him from the dead begins to give us new life as we are converted, transfigured and made new. Through prayer, heavenly wisdom is planted in the field of our hearts and we experience a deepening communion with the Trinitarian God. We become, in the words of the Apostle Peter “partakers of the divine nature.” (2 Peter 1:4) That participation will only be fully complete when we are with Him in the fullness of His embrace, in Resurrected Bodies in a New Heaven and a New earth, but it begins now, in the grace of this present moment.

The beloved disciple John became prayer. He writes in the letter he penned in his later years: “See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him. Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope based on him makes himself pure, as he is pure. Everyone who commits sin commits lawlessness, for sin is lawlessness” (1John 3:1-4)

As we “become prayer” our daily life becomes the field of choice and we are capacitated to choose the “more excellent way” of love of which the great Apostle Paul wrote. (1 Cor. 13) Pondering the implications of the exercise of our human freedom becomes a regular part of our life, as we learn to “examine our conscience”, repent of our sin and become joyful penitents. Prayer provides the environment for such recollection as it exposes the darkness and helps us surrender it to the light of Love, the Living God dwelling within us.

“Becoming prayer” is possible for all Christians, no matter their state in life or vocation, because God holds nothing back from those whom He loves. This relationship of communion is initiated by Him. Our part is to respond. That response should flow from a heart that beats in surrendered love, in the process of being freed from the entanglements that weigh us down. The God who is Love hungers for the communion of sons and daughters – and we hunger for communion with Him – because He made us this way. Nothing else will satisfy. The early Church Father Origen once wrote: “Every spiritual being is, by nature, a temple of God, created to receive into itself the glory of God.”

We were made in the “image” of God and are now being recreated into His likeness in Jesus Christ. As we “become prayer’, that likeness begins to emerge. We give ourselves fully to the One who gave Himself to us and cry out with Jesus Christ “Abba Father.” No longer alienated, we participate in the inner life of God who now dwells within us. We also dwell in Him through His Spirit. This dwelling is prayer. It is not about doing or getting but about being, becoming, receiving, giving, and loving.

We will live the way we love and we will love the way we pray.
A wonderful spiritual writer of our own time, Henri Nouwen, understood the intimacy of prayer and the call to live in God. He wrote these words in his work entitled Lifesigns:

“Jesus, in whom the fullness of God dwells, has become our home by making his home in us he allows us to make our home in him. By entering into the intimacy of our innermost self he offers us the opportunity to enter into his own intimacy with God. By choosing us as his preferred dwelling place, he invites us to choose him as our preferred dwelling place. This is the mystery of the incarnation. Here we come to see what discipline in the spiritual life means. It means a gradual process of coming home to where we belong and listening there to the voice which desires our attention. Home is the place where that first love dwells and speaks gently to us. Prayer is the most concrete way to make our home in God.”

Let us learn to “become prayer”.

– – –

Deacon Keith Fournier asks that you join with us and help in this vital mission by sending this article to your family, friends, and neighbors and adding our link (www.catholic.org) to your own website, blog or social network. Let us broadcast, we are PROUD TO BE CATHOLIC!

manny pacquiao vs. zoladex

“now the God of hope fill you with all the joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope through the power of the Holy Ghost.”  Romans 15:13  

 there’s no turning back now. daddy is finally in the forefront of the battlefield called cancer.  he is in the first line of painful attacks which began to radiate to his back now; all the way to those who care for him.  because when we realize that he is in pain, we can almost feel his suffering too.   perhaps not in physical terms.  nonetheless, it is way too consuming.  it slowly eats away whatever courage we have gathered. 

 they say cancer is a painful disease.  i know that it is. but how painful can it possibly be? i guess even those who are afflicted cannot exactly equate with words.  daddy is already old and weak.  the doctors said it is no longer advisable for him to undergo surgery.  so we’re left with lesser options, yet relatively effective as well. 

 in this corner, is Manny Pacquiao. 

 so how did he got into the middle of this fierce battle that is my dad’s?  first of, there’s no longer any need to explain who manny pacquiao is, what with his 7  boxing titles and millions of dollars not to mention his new diamond studded belt.  likewise, we’ve already heard how every time manny pacquiao had major fights abroad, the Philippines experience zero crime rate.  and how ironic that during his fights, the nation unites as one solid pinoy country. YOU KNOW 🙂 (that’s manny’s famous line)

 

Pacquiao-with-WBC-Diamond-Belt-300x226
Manny Pacquiao

yesterday was no exception. every filipino in every corner of the archipelago and the world as well, was glued to the tv, internet or radio, if not that fortunate enough to sit on the ringside, to witness every punch thrown and received by pacman.  daddy was that filipino.  he never missed any pacman bout on tv, and i can say he is really a fan.  but yesterday was special.  aside from the usual peace that a pacquiao fight brings, manny brought into our family something more precious than money can buy.  as daddy watched manny’s fight, daddy forgot he has a fight of his own.  mommy said, it was as if his pain was gone.  i recall the times past when he would watch with such eagerness and excitement.  i can just imagine how manny brought my daddy back to his old self;  when he was young and well, even if for just 12 rounds.  and for that, i salute you manny.

in the other corner is Zoladex.   

 “zoladex relieves some symptoms of  advanced prostate cancer in men and advanced breast cancer in premenopausal women.  it reduces the levels of testosterone in men and estrogen in women.  the hormones mentioned are said to encourage the growth of certain cancers. ” – from www.healthsquare.com

 

zoladex
zoladex

The following adverse events were reported in greater than 1%, but less than 5% of patients treated with ZOLADEX 10.8 mg implant every 12 weeks. Some of these are commonly reported in elderly patients. 

 WHOLE BODY – Abdominal pain, Back pain, Flu syndrome, Headache, Sepsis, Aggravation reaction

CARDIOVASCULAR – Angina pectoris, Cerebral ischemia, Cerebrovascular accident, Heart failure, Pulmonary embolus, Varicose veinsDIGESTIVE – Diarrhea, HematemesisENDOCRINE – Diabetes mellitus HEMATOLOGIC – AnemiaMETABOLIC – Peripheral edemaNERVOUS SYSTEM – Dizziness, Paresthesia, Urinary retentionRESPIRATORY – Cough increased, Dyspnea, Pneumonia SKIN – Herpes simplex, PruritusUROGENITAL – Bladder neoplasm, Breast pain, Hematuria, Impotence, Urinary frequency, Urinary incontinence, Urinary tract disorder, Urinary tract infection, Urination impaired. ” – from www.rxlist.com

today, daddy will have his first zoladex implant.  based on the side effects noted, we fear that the worse is yet to come.  in fact,  the adverse events mentioned seem far more terrifying than the disease itself.  but if it’s any consolation it is said that “symptoms may actually get worse during the first few weeks of therapy. however, as hormone levels subside, the patient should begin to feel an improvement” – from www.healthsquare.com

whatever the outcome of daddy’s treatment, in three months he is scheduled for another implant.  we’re not sure also, if manny pacquiao will decide to fight anew in three months. but one thing is certain, zoladex and pacman brings hope to daddy.  momentary hope that lasts maybe for 12 rounds or three months.

but then again there is a hope that springs eternal.  and that hope is our Lord Jesus Christ, our Saviour… our Healer.  He is my daddy’s doctor. 

…comes another storm

“the Lord is my shepherd; i shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.  He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.  yea, though i walk through the valley of the shadow of death, i will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.  Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.  surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and i will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”  Psalm 23:1-6

ondoy, pepeng and ramil are out.  the biopsy and bonescan results are in.  and so is another “storm” in our lives.  it’s called metastasis (local name – cancer).

prostate-biopsy
prostate biopsy

the day before that, on the CNN website, i had answered something like a quiz about how well do you know about cancer.  that was the first time i read about metastasis and briefly, what it meant.  so when my sister, ella, texted me that daddy’s prostatic tumor is malignant and that the results indicate metastatic neoplasma, i already knew.

it was no longer a surprise.  i’ve only seen a couple of photos taken of daddy.  that was in September, their 44th wedding anniversary and he had just gone out of the hospital.  it was kinda depressing to see how his health deteriorated so suddenly.  his physique was naturally lean.  so you could just imagine how really thin he’d become and how sad his eyes were, which convey the pain that he felt.  yes, that picture painted a thousand words.

there were already too many stories that were told about how cancer affects the lives of the ones afflicted and those who love them as well.  one can just imagine the suffering, the anguish, the sorrow and the hopelessness.  but when it hit close to home, the stories become real, and it feels like you’re hearing the stories for the very first time.

the first month that daddy had fallen ill and was told he may have tumor in the prostate, we were all in denial.  maybe there was some mistake.    the next phase for us was optimism.  maybe after the biopsy and the bonescan, the doctors will find that the tumor was only benign.  or perhaps, absolutely 100%  gone.  but no. it was malignant and the cancer cells had already spread. 

at this point, we’re trying to wake up from this nightmare.  but in the morning after, there should only be acceptance, because there is nothing that happens that God did not will it.  the good things and the bad.  the happy and the sad.  at the end of the day, we shall find comfort in the truth that all of us are destined, at a time that He appointed to leave this temporary abode where our physical beings dwell.

as we fight this one last battle for daddy,  we choose to see the beauty of life amidst the raging attack of cancer cells.  and while we are ready to accept daddy’s fate as an absolute surrender to the will of God, we still continue to hope and pray.

there can be miracles…if we believe.