I went to the World Youth Day in Madrid, with absolutely no expectations. The practical side of me kept calculating how much the trip would cost my parents and how undeserving I was because I did not possess the same ardent desire to go as many with me had. In fact, till the very last minute I was questioning God on why He wanted me to be there and for the sake of coming off spiritually prepared, I claimed, If I am going to meet you there Jesus, let me witness miracles upon miracles. When I come to think of it, it was a bold request of a “nobody” to make to my Father, the King of Kings, who I personally call my promise-keeper. And even this time, He couldn’t resist keeping His promise to a thick-skinned daughter.
There are much Jesus encounters that I can point to but there are definitely some that heavily penetrated into my inner being, with no drama intended. Firstly, during the welcoming of the Pope, me and a couple of others made a miscalculation thinking that if we went for confession 200meters away from the venue where the Pope would first arrive (we had come 6 hours early to make sure that we reserved seats in front), that we would make it back in time and still find our seats. Not only did we end confession an hour from the said time of Pope’s arrival, but the crowds had built up so much that it seemed impossible to get through. I could feel myself praying and simply trusting that God would get us through this one, and He did. I got to my place and realized that my glasses were broken and all I could see were blurs, and I thought to myself, “Great job, Tinay! What a way to prepare to see the Pope.” But when the Pope walked across the venue, despite how far he still seemed to be, and even if He was a mere red and white blur with my poor eyesight, that moment was a confirmation of my faith. Everything I believed in as a Catholic, confirmed. If it wasn’t the presence of Jesus there, moving me to tears as I stood on Holy ground, praying for every single person I could think of with untainted faith that they would be touched as much I was at that very moment, I don’t know what else you could call it. But I knew to myself, that at that moment there was something bigger than me. For that moment, I recognized the fact that I was nothing and how shameless of me to ask God to show me spectacular things when I wasn’t willing to play my part. It was like He was telling me, “How do you expect to see great and wonderful things Tinay with your eyes closed?”. The same thing happened during the overnight vigil with the Pope when despite the hot weather earlier, cold winds blew and rain poured and hit my body like heavy bullets. We had brought raincoats to the venue as advised, and because of our act of faith it was as if God did not want to disappoint us. I stood there amazed with arms embracing the rain because I knew that only God could change the weather the way He did that day. Only God; He alone.
The World Youth Day 2011 opened my eyes to a lot of things, but more on the beauty of my faith and how I live my life. It was ironic that I was part of a delegation with 4 sets of siblings, and it was a blessing to see them all work in their spiritual journey together. It reminded me of my brother back home, and how I wished that he also was with me to experience World Youth Day. The trip to Fatima made me tear up as I remembered how my parents had made me and my brothers watch the cartoon version of the story of Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco and their experience of Our Lady of Fatima. If there was someone in my heart and mind that day, it was my brother. So many unspoken words between us before I left and I felt nothing but silence from God’s end. To run to my Mother Mary in Fatima and find all the answers I needed made me at peace was a breather and a blessing. “ When it comes to love, Tinay, there is always more to give. Anything can be conquered with love. Just like how my son, Jesus conquered your life with His greatest sign of love, so too will love conquer your brother and your family. Not the way you want and see fit, but the way God sees fit.”
I come back to Manila, renewed in my faith and with a more expectant heart. Truly, there is much more to give from my end. More time, more energy, more love for the cause of Christ and for the conversion of many who need to see the reason for my hope, but I believe with the little I can offer, there is more to expect from God. Greater and bigger things. And from my end I am sure of this, for God, I will give more; No, I will give my all. I thank the Lord, for knowing the desires of my heart and looking out for me. How messed up and purposeless my life would be without you Lord. Thank you for bringing me to Spain, so that I could thank its people for bringing my Catholic faith to my homeland. Thank you Mama Mary for making such a big impact of my life, and though 23 years of age may be quite late to realize how you’ve moved in my life in so many ways, you can be assured that this child of yours will give more. Lord, I have found peace in your will. Make do with my life as you please because there is no greater joy than to give my life to something as constant, unchanging and indescribably beautiful and majestic as you. Let this princess humbly kneel before her King all the days of her life.