Reliving A Personal Miracle – God TRULY Answers Prayers

Let me tell you about a miracle I’ve had a few weeks ago.  I’ve posted this story before on my Facebook page, and I am telling this again, a longer version of the story, for other interested readers who believe in everyday miracles and how it can transform your life.  To friends who might have read that story and enjoyed, well this is the full length account of that story.

Months before my brother went to the hospital, I had already scheduled myself to attend a three-day retreat.  I had taken pains to save up for this event and file the necessary vacation leave at the office.  However, because of the workload at the office in that week leading to my brother’s checkup, I had to back out the last minute.

LAST MINUTE!  A day before my scheduled retreat!  Because of all the effort I made to get in the retreat, I felt pretty bad I wasn’t going after all because of a workload that I had to prioritize.  I had to call up the coordinator to cancel my schedule and sign up for another date.  That was in the morning.  I was sad about it but I offered this disappointment to God believing that there was a reason for that. By afternoon, I got my reason.  My mother accompanied my brother to the hospital to consult his eyesight which had grown blurred the past few days.  He never got out of the hospital and was ordered to take a complete physical exam.

Rushed to the hospital

During the course of the check ups, my brother eye was diagnosed to have a ruptured or damaged retina as a result of diabetes which he never knew he had.  Further exams also showed he had hypertension and a stroke.  It was a deadly combination of all of these diseases that had my mother and brother were detained at the hospital.  The cardiologist ordered an angiogram be done the soonest to check the condition of his heart.

Now my mother doesn’t have a lot of finances, ditto my brother who didn’t have a job.  They relied on me to help pay for the angiogram.  With the money I had from my paycheck, I paid for the angiogram.  The cardiologist gave us three possible scenarios: one was that the blockage wasn’t so bad that it could be remedied by medication; two, an angioplasty; three (the worst case), a bypass.  We were given a ball park figure how much it would cost.  I was praying for the first case scenario. I had given my mother a prayer card of Bishop Alvaro del Portillo, St. Josemaria Escriva’s successor in Opus Dei who was about to be beatified soon.  I asked my mother to help me pray to him for help on the finances.  She said she would.

The results of the angiogram gave dismal news: a major vein was blocked which was why my brother had difficulty breathing normally (he thought the difficulty was because of his cough!).  But because he was young, an angioplasty was the way to go.  I said ok and the procedure was done after an hour.

And now came the hard part….

After the three day observation period, my brother would be free to go.  But then came the hard blow: the enormous bill!  I was completely stupified to see how much we had to pay, and because my mother and brother did not have any, my husband and I were expected to foot the bill.  How will we get that big amount money?

Now, my father-in-law had a friend who was very ill and whom we had extended some help in the past.  Despite her illness (she has cancer and a heart condition too), she helped me find a way to get financial support from the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.  She, despite her illness, never left my side until I got the check.  It wasn’t that much, but if you get stuck with a bill that will keep you buried up to your neck, you’d be thankful with any amount.  Look at how a random act of kindness will go!

Still, we were considerably short.  Negotiations with the hospital had keep the amount controllable, but the fact is we couldn’t get my brother out without satisfying the bill.  Where else do we get the money?  I was getting depressed about it.

A Bible verse that seemed to “talk” to me

Now I’ve always had the habit of praying and choosing at random a Bible verse, leafing through the pages with my eyes closed and reading the verse where my finger points to. That particular day, April 10, was a verse in which Jesus asked a blind man: “What do you want me to do for you?”  The message was so clear!  Jesus was talking to ME and asking me what I wanted HIM to do for ME!

Down but not depressed, I wrote in my diary: “Lord, help me get my brother discharged already.”  This happened in the morning.  The picture you see below is the exact entry I wrote down in my diary.

The entry I had in my diary

The entry I had in my diary

I had forgotten it altogether when I received good news from hubby: “Your brother will be disharged today.”   The news came close to three o’clock, the hour of mercy!  God answered my prayer!

Truly, when you look with eyes of faith, you can never go wrong.  To our Blessed Mother, sweet Jesus, Bishop Alvaro, St. Pio and St. Michael (to whom my brother was a devotee), I praise and thank You all for helping us!

 

 

 

Going Up The Mountain – A Reflection

The prophets of the Old Testament did it, with Abraham sacrificing Isaac on Mount Moriah, Moses receiving the 10 Commandments on Mt. Sinai and later retired on Mount Nebo, and Elijah on Mt. Carmel….  Even Jesus did it when He took His forty-day fast.  And St. Francis received the stigmata while on a mountain retreat in the mountains of Italy.

Mt. Sinai as it is today (Source: Wikimedia)

Mt. Sinai as it is today       (Source: Wikimedia)

The Beauty of the Mountains

Why did the prophets go up the mountain?  The sheer height of the mountains–the feeling of “touching the heavens”–makes one feel close to the divine.  As one climbs up, there is the feeling of isolation as one separates himself from the rest of the world to come in close contact with God.  “The mountains melted like wax at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth” (Psalm 97:5).  Coupled with a long and difficult hike that can be likened to our constant struggles in life, reaching the top is the pinnacle of one’s search to find God.

So I reckoned:  why not do my own journey, LITERALLY?  And what better day to do it than on my birthday?  And do I did, with the purpose of thanking God for the wonderful life and blessings He has given me in my forty years existence on earth.  But rather than search God, I decided that my purpose was to THANK God.  With the full support of my husband and son, sister-in-law and uncle, we headed off to Taal Volcano exactly a week ago.  More on this experience in my  Musings of A Village Rat blog.

Tossed by Rough Waves

We were met with a few challenges before we even began the trek.  We were met with a slight drizzle that early morning before we left Bacoor and was met again by a light rain shower in Tagaytay.  When we boarded the banca, the lake was pretty calm, but halfway in the trip the lake was tossing us.  Full of excitement, the 2 kids (my son and nephew) were squealing in excitement, but the adults weren’t too gung-ho about it.  The bumpy ride was over in about 15-20 minutes.  It seemed longer than 20 minutes though.

calm

Note the waters getting rough

Note the waters getting rough

Praying While Scaling Up

Horse rides were available, but we decided that only the kids would get a ride while we got up the crater on foot.  I had intended to pray at the start of the ascent but was met with difficulty as the volcanic sand (and later rocky terrain) had made it difficult for me to concentrate on my prayer.  I wasn’t an experienced mountain climber after all as my sister-in-law was, so I had to catch my breath a few times.  Everytime I started on a Hail Mary, I would be interrupted by a difficult step, a pause or funny chats with my companions.  No matter however.  As St. Therese of Lisieux had mentioned in her book, Story of A Soul, disturbances or interruptions are part of prayer and should not deter one from prayer incessantly.

The long way up

Nevertheless, by the time we reached the top I had already finished a few prayers in silence.  Nobody knew I was even praying!  The view at the top was breathtakingly beautiful.  Without shouting at the top of my lungs, I could only mutter to myself: “THANK YOU LORD! HOW GREAT ART THOU!”

A  view of the crater

A view of the crater

I had my sister-in-law to take a photo of me in an oblation pose.  It was my big hug to our Lord in the vastness of the sky.

IMG_3786

A Bird That Comforted Me

We stayed at the crater for about an hour to sink in the beauty before we made our descent.  Going down was just as difficult as going up, but I managed to say a few aspirations before we reached the shoreline.  By the time we crossed the waters back to Talisay, the lake had become very rough.  The banca’s bow would do a small nosedive everytime we were met by strong waves.  We had water splashed over us repeatedly.  Everybody was a little panicky and for a short time, I was too.  I made a small prayer to St. Raphael, the patron saint of travellers, and asked for protection.  Up in the sky that caught my attention was a swallow that was riding in the wind.  Then and there I remembered my uncle who was a captain who told me this: “If you see a bird ride up the sky, you are quite safe. If the bird was able to fly, then there is no reason why you cannot be ride the boat safely”.

Remembering this, I knew we were going to be just fine.  This bird did not leave our side until we crossed the other side, and when we unboarded it had already gone.  All I can say was “thank you”.

It was truly a special day for me.

Religious Relics Spared from the Bohol Earthquake

These are compilations of religious images that were spared from the 7.2 earthquake that hit Bohol last October 16, 2013 taken from various sources in the internet.  Despite the widespread devastation of the disaster that claimed more than 100 lives so far, Catholics in this part of Visayas remain unshaken and hopeful.

Let us continue to offer prayers to the individuals who died and for the families affected by the tragedy.

Philippines Earthquake

An image of the Blessed Mother, still encased in glass in a church in Bohol

A cross atop St. Michael Church in Loon, Bohol

A cross atop St. Michael Church in Loon, Bohol

A statue of Jesus at a church tower in Bohol, albeit dangling from its perch

A statue of Jesus at a church tower in Bohol, albeit dangling from its perch

Another old church reduced to rubble, with the statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus unscathed

Another old church reduced to rubble, with the statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus unscathed

Another statue saved from destruction

Another statue saved from destruction, this time in front of the famous Baclayon Church

The famous statue we've seen in the news so far--a statue of Our Lady of Lourdes--perfectly preserved from destruction

The famous statue we’ve seen in the news so far–a statue of Our Lady of Lourdes–perfectly preserved from destruction

 

Embracing the Silence

December passed like a breeze.  After all the noise and festivities, everybody is back in his own busy world.

The days went so fast that I hardly realized that it has been almost a month since my little secret–a secret that nobody else knew except my immediate family.

I am partially losing my hearing.

A ride at an amusement park did it.  It was a ride that had the whole circumference spinning as a big crank pushed the steel where the seats are from side to side.  The wind pressure caused by the spinning and tossing caused my left ear to give out a loud pop.  Since I didn’t feel any pain I didn’t make a big fuss of it.

When I woke up the next day my left ear was completely bereft of any hearing.  Thinking that it was my occassional swimmer’s ear or impacted cerumen, I cleaned my ears a few times, but nothing came out of it.  I could not hear anything, but what was worse was that I had a faint ringing inside my ears that was mildly annoying.

Taking decongestants and antibiotics have made little improvements in my ear.  I was recommended to check with an ENT doctor to see what was wrong with me.  An auditory test reading explained it:  I had otitis media and moderate hearing loss.  On the assumption that I had some blockage in my inner ear, I was instructed to take another set of antibiotics and return to after a week.  I am now in this stage of taking the medications. Am I going to get better? I hope so. Will my hearing loss progress? Too early to say.

How to describe what I am feeling right now? I feel as though my left side is in a cave and the sounds are all but faint murmurs. When I occasionally blow my nose or let out a yawn, I feel a flap opening my left ear a little and so I can hear a little better albeit still muddled. After a while it goes back to its cave-like sensation and I am back to silence. I can hear my own breathing through my left ear.

Far from taking the news as a death sentence, I have embraced the possibility that my hearing would gradually be gone. I have always considered sacrifices as opportunities to reap heavenly merits, and so I didn’t mind at all if I will be carrying it longer.  Don’t get me wrong: losing my hearing has me worried that I will be completely deaf in the long run,but hey, I still have one good ear!!!  God was so good to spare me one good ear, so what I have now I am completely grateful for it.  Rather than wasting this opportunity to reap spiritual merit, I have accepted it and offer it to the souls in Purgatory.  I know that I will be repaid three-fold when my time comes.

Like St. John of the Cross who embraced the darkness, so do I also openly embrace the silence.  In this silence, momentarily or not, I hope to discover the sweet voice of Jesus whispering to me, “I love you, my daughter, for you have shared in my sufferings and have done good.”