|We were side by side with thousands of people of
our faith who, like us, came from distant places to see the famous and
widely-acclaimed Mother Teresa of Calcutta beatified by our equally famous
and much-loved Pope, John Paul II. We learned anew of our saints, St.
Benedict (and twin sister St. Scholastica), St. Philomena, St. Padre Pio,
St. Michael the Archangel, St. Antony of Padua, St. Mark the Apostle when
we visited the churces consecrated to them. We saw the grandeur of Rome,
the heart of Christianity, and all the magnificent and breath-taking churches
built for the glory of God: St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City, St.
Paul's, Sta. Maria Maggiore, La Scala Santa of Holy Steps, which are the
exact steps that Christ took to Calvary, brought all the way from Judah
in the ancient times.
We met brothers and sisters of faith in Monte Cassino, Avellino, San Giovanni
Rotondo, Monte San Angelo, Lanciano, Padua, Venezia, all in Itally, then
Innsbruck, Austria, and Prague, Czech Republic.
We met brothers and sisters in North, St. Petersburg and Moscow, Russia,
who just for the past 14 years opted for democracy and have thus opened
their country to outsiders like us. We learned of their language, their
32-letter alphabet, their daily lives, their monarchy and their revolutionaries,
their literature, and the awesome monuments they made, testimonies to
their royal past, but more importantly, testimonies to their faith in
From 30 degrees Celsius in Manila, we went as low as minus 7 degrees in
Moscow. We saw how people adapted to their environment, to the weather,
to upheavals brought by war and pestilence. Yet through these differences,
people all over the world craved the same things: good food, good companions,
security and love from their fellow humans. And, for most, faith in a
higher and supreme Being. I have appreciated more my being a Catholic,
seeing how the Church had evolved over the centuries, growing alongside
different faiths with which it is now mending those differences in the
spirit of Ecumenism. And it has also made me conscious how too often we
have taken our Church for granted, in contrast to peoples of other creeds.
And thus, now this conscious and continuous effort to learn of this faith
I grew up in, was baptized in, was estranged from, and finally have molded
More than religion though, it has made me realize even more how God has
always been at our side; that although we build all these monuments and
glorious churches and magnificent palaces just to be closer to Him, it
just takes an earnest word, a heartfelt prayer from us, for Him to take
us through every step in our lives.