LOVE. So much has been written about this four-letter word and yet, we cannot seem to get enough of it. I myself, at least from my very limited experience and ‘ordinary’ human standpoint, have not yet totally fathomed its mysteries.
Writers have explored all possibilities of what love is―between vampires, ethereal beings, aliens, humans (heterosexual and homosexual), and creatures imaginable. I tried to read some (and even watched some movies), merely out of curiosity. I was once asked by a conservative Protestant friend why I read such books or watch such movies. (He thinks I should choose only the ‘good’ books and films so as to keep my mind pure.) I answered that I felt I needed to do so, just in case I come across a friend or stranger who’d come to me to ask about the complexities of love. I have to know where they were coming from and what they were talking about. And at the same time, I have to “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks me to give the reason for the hope that I have; doing it with gentleness and respect.”
True enough, every now and then, I’d get into small talk with someone and get asked about what I think of love. And as years get added into my life, I have come to the knowledge of what true love is: GOD. Ah, here comes the boundless, unfathomable mystery that is God. I remember a common answer to the question ‘What is Love?’ in ‘slum books’ back in my elementary and high school years: ‘God is Love.’ I cannot exactly remember if I wrote that same answer, but back then, if I did, I definitely did not fully understand what I was writing. Let alone comprehend what that really meant, especially in my own life.
“We love because He first loved us.” Loving comes naturally for us as breathing, because we were all created in Love and by Love Himself. Most of us have heard that man was created in the image and likeness of God. The first time I heard that verse as a little girl, I imagined how God looked―physically!
But growing up in a deeper knowledge of the Faith, I have come to understand that it meant “having the dignity of a person; that I am not something but someone; that unlike the animals or the trees and the other creatures God made, I was created to have the capability to know my Creator and love Him; that I am called to share, by knowledge and love, in God’s own life. And that I am called by grace to a covenant with Him…” I am made God’s daughter by being baptized in the Name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Becoming God’s daughter is one of His wonderful gifts to me!
The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us: “What made you establish man in so great a dignity? Certainly the incalculable love by which you have looked on your creature in Yourself! You are taken with love for her; for by love indeed you created her, by love you have given her a being capable of tasting your eternal Good.” (§221)
Incalculable, infinite, perpetual, unconditional Love.
The recent flooding and loss of lives have once again brought me to reflect on how ephemeral life is. And how, no matter what our status is in society, we have absolutely no power over our own lives. We can, in the blink of an eye, perish, if God would will it so.
Recent posts on social networks attribute the inclement weather to the wrath of God, as a ‘punishment’ to the decision of the Philippine government to stop the debate about the RH Bill and go ahead with its amendment. If I would look at the story of the Israelites in the Old Testament, truly God had brought about punishment to them whenever they disobeyed His commands. I definitely cannot and will not even dare belittle God’s power and might.
Truly He can do whatever He willed if He wanted to. And yes, that is saying He can punish us anytime if He deemed it necessary, or extend His mercy just a little bit more to give us all a chance to repent and have a change of heart. But who am I to know the thoughts and ways of God Almighty? As a Catholic-CHRISTian, I personally believe that God always looks upon this (our) generation with unconditional love and infinite mercy, all because of the merits of Jesus Christ.
Two weeks ago, while the rain pounded heavily on the UV-Express I was in, and with a view from the car window of the streets that started to get flooded, I asked God in my prayers if we (as a nation) were indeed being punished.
I thought about those people living in shanties near rivers and creeks all over the city; of those families living in the streets with no roof over their heads and who would shiver through the night because of the cold; of those men, women and children who would be greatly affected by that impending catastrophe…
And there I was, in spite of the temporary inconvenience of the daily commute in such a bad weather, I know I have a house I’d go home to where I and my family would be safe, have hot meals, and enjoy the warmth of a cozy bed, pillows and blanket. And I’d even have the bonus of still having electricity to use my laptop, have good internet connection, have a hot soothing shower, enjoy extra hours of television, and curl up in bed to catch up on reading! These thoughts flooded my mind; add to that the fact that I too may risk having to walk in a flooded street on the way home! I knew I was blessed, and I was counting my blessings. But I knew too, that many of my fellow Filipinos would have to brace themselves that night because of the raging power of Nature. That moment, I could only pray for everyone.
In the middle of the downpour and the sight of streets starting to get inundated, I remember a story I was told of in high school. It was about a woman in her early twenties who was accompanied by her boyfriend to go to an abortion clinic. Although, later on they eventually got married and established a family of four children, their first child almost did not get born.
The woman related that while waiting for her turn to be ‘treated’ at a clandestine clinic, so many thoughts ran through her mind. ‘What if she did not survive the procedure? What if the baby in her womb held on and not get aborted? What complications would there be?’
She voiced out her thoughts to her boyfriend, who at that time had decided to have the abortion because apparently he was not yet ready to support them then; what with his entire family still dependent on him. (It’s still quite common for a single member of a Filipino family to be the bread winner, usually supporting parents, younger siblings, and even siblings who are already married and with children of their own.)
If fear had any good in it, then thank God for fear! Fear for dear life! Because the woman was able to convince the man that she’s afraid she might die because of the procedure. That would cause another problem for the man; for what explanation would he give to his girlfriend’s family if she died?
The woman had also expressed to her obstetrician the ‘idea of abortion’. Praise God for medical professionals who stand up for their Faith, for the doctor convinced the woman that keeping the baby is the right thing to do. She advised that abortion won’t solve their other pressing concerns. Besides, if it’s only money to support a family that they were worried about, the doctor said money could be earned. And life is too precious to simply ‘throw-away’.
And so the woman kept the baby, and with that same obstetrician, (God bless her!) she was assisted in delivering a healthy baby girl one stormy-heavily-flooded-day in May. The couple did of course get married, and welcomed the lives of three more children in their union. After all, “By its very nature the institution of marriage and married love is ordered to the procreation and education of the offspring and it is in them that it finds its crowning glory.” (CCC§162)
“Children are the supreme gift of marriage and contribute greatly to the good of the parents themselves. God himself said: ‘It is not good that man should be alone,’ and “from the beginning [He] made them male and female”; wishing to associate them in a special way in His own creative work, God blessed man and woman with the words: ‘Be fruitful and multiply.’ Hence, true married love and the whole structure of family life which results from it, without diminishment of the other ends of marriage, are directed to disposing the spouses to cooperate valiantly with the love of the Creator and Savior, who through them will increase and enrich his family from day to day.” (CCC §163)
The extensive effect of the deluge caused by the southwest monsoon (or what we call the habagat), for reasons I did not comprehend at first, made me think of marriage and procreation, life and death, obedience to God and committing sin; and distinctively reminded me that somewhere in the country a baby is being born at that precise moment. So I whispered a prayer for all those babies saying hello to the world that rainy Monday night! And said even more prayers for those whose lives are being terminated! I am certain that they are way too many compared to those who are being given the gift of life!
I hesitated at first to write this article, because I know I am putting myself at a very vulnerable situation. And I know very well how the enemy works―Satan would strike my weaknesses! But for several days now, the Holy Spirit has been nudging me, assuring me to simply trust, because “all things always work for the good of those who love God!”
Saying YES to God has taught me, with His grace of course, to learn to trust Him, even when He bids me to go where my Faith too might be tested; and to remain firm in my convictions because with Jesus Christ, I am a conqueror, a victor, and God’s heiress…And because I am God’s daughter, the devil won’t ever have a way with me!
Had there been a Reproductive Health Law implemented back then, the man and woman would have had easy access to contraceptives and condoms, and the baby girl may not have been ‘formed’ from the start. But because contraceptives are not 100% successful, the woman would still likely have conceived; and because she and the man were unprepared, abortion would have been easily accessible too. If there were an RH Law back then, the obstetrician could have just easily offered to do the abortion procedure herself because medical facilities would allow it even if it were against her own religious beliefs; unless she was willing to be penalized for not offering it or even lose her job and her license.
So what has this got to do with me? Why think about marriage, childbirth, abortion, surrender and obedience to God in the midst of a natural calamity? And why attempt to talk about being anti-RH Bill while also empathizing with those people (who come mostly from below the poverty line) affected by the flooding?
That baby girl that almost got aborted was me.
I was born on a stormy day when, like that night, most of the metro were heavily flooded. My parents are not wealthy like those people pushing to have the RH Bill become a law. They, like majority of hardworking Filipinos, in spite of their weaknesses and shortcomings, chose (and still choose every single day,) to make amends for their sins and follow God’s laws the best they could. And that night of all nights, I got to thinking that had my mom decided to go through with the abortion, I would not be here today.
If I were aborted, I would not be thanking God for my countless blessings and I would not be able to pray for strength for my fellow Filipinos whose Faith are being tested now! I would not have t he wonderful honor in doing my share to serve the least of my brethren in whatever little way I can contribute. I would not know trials and sufferings and the priceless lessons that come with them. I would not know that my Strength and my Hope is in the Lord.
If I were aborted, I would not know the warmth of my parents’ embrace, or know the fun and joy of having siblings. I would not be cherishing every single moment spent with my nephews and nieces. I would not know the blessing of having wonderful and true friends. I would not know how magnificent God’s creation is, or how beautiful Life is. I would not know that Life and Love are worth dying for.
Had I been aborted, I simply would not know Love. (Madonna Escolano)
(Phrases in quotation marks were taken from Holy Scriptures and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, tweaked a little to express the author’s personal convictions.)
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