Sou­venirs of grace

Cebu Daily News - - OPINION -

Why dont you get a bas­ket, Wil­son?” He was a tow­er­ing Christ­mas tree in April! He had Rosaries, scapu­lars and other re­li­gious ar­ti­cles hang­ing on both arms. His left hand tried to grasp on two minia­ture-sized Colosseum, two of St. Peter’s Square, and an­other of Trevi Foun­tain.

“You know what, I could eas­ily get a mil­lion likes by tag­ging you as the Oc­tozilla from Venice in­vad­ing Rome!” We both shared a hearty laugh. “Fa­ther, what other sou­venirs can you sug­gest I buy for those at home?”

I couldn’t be­lieve he was still look­ing for more sou­venirs when he had lit­er­ally al­ready for­aged through ev­ery pos­si­ble item in the store. “What about a Ro­man shield, dude?” I said. “Where can I pos­si­bly buy that, Fa­ther?” Be­ing the sim­ple per­son that he was, Wil­son took my sug­ges­tions quite lit­er­ally.

“I can’t re­ally say, but you don’t have to buy some­thing for ev­ery­one, Wil­son.” “I don’t un­der­stand, Fa­ther.” “I mean that there are lim­its to what we can buy. Sou­venirs are re­ally sim­ple tokens that ex­press our grat­i­tude and ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the per­sons we value in our life.”

“But I want them to share what I have en­joyed in this pil­grim­age in Rome, Fa­ther!” he con­tested.

“I know, Wil­son. But no mat­ter what gift you give them, they can never ex­pe­ri­ence Rome with a minia­ture of the Colosseum or St. Peter’s.” “So what would the best sou­venir be, Fa­ther?” “I—” “Like, what did you buy, Fa­ther?” he in­ter­rupted me. “Like you, I bought some re­li­gious ob­jects. But don’t you think the best sou­venir would be our­selves?” “We, sou­venirs? Like how?” “I’m just tak­ing from Pope Fran­cis who re­minded us, in his mes­sages these days of Holy Week in prepa­ra­tion for Easter, that we can­not be static Christians. We must be vi­tal and liv­ing con­duits of the grace, wit­nesses of our Lord’s Res­ur­rec­tion.” “You’re say­ing, more than giv­ing things, I should give my­self?” “Ex­actly!” “But I still want to give peo­ple some­thing that they could trea­sure or use from my trip, Fa­ther.”

“Pre­cisely! But be­sides these things we have to give our­selves as the best sou­venir that can be con­stantly ap­pre­ci­ated by our loved ones.” “How can I do that, Fa­ther?” “Like any sou­venir, we have to give our­selves. Some­times some of the things we buy aren’t very ex­pen­sive. But like we say, ‘It’s the thought that counts.’”

“I think I like that idea, Fa­ther. In fact, it can come out cheaper,” he smiled at me mis­chie­vously. “Hey, dude, that’s not what I meant.” “Just kid­ding, Fa­ther!” Wil­son chuck­led. “So how does be­ing a sou­venir re­ally work out, Fa­ther?” “Ev­ery sou­venir, no mat­ter how sim­ple, is a re­minder. And we have to be re­minders through good ex­am­ple of our own com­mit­ment to Christ.” “Wow! I never thought I could be worth some­thing, Fa­ther.” “We are all worth some­thing won­der­ful, as long as it’s united to our Lord. This union will al­ways ac­ti­vate an in­fi­nite con­tent and value in ev­ery­thing we do.”

“Then, ev­ery sou­venir rep­re­sents some­thing. As buy­ing a small Colosseum is meant to share some­thing we trea­sured about the place we vis­ited, then our life and ex­am­ples have to be the things we trea­sure in re­la­tion with Christ.” “So what are some ex­am­ples, Fa­ther?” “There is the sou­venirs of our prayer, sac­ri­fice, of virtues like pa­tience, ser­vice and for­give­ness.” “Wow! Then you are ac­tu­ally say­ing we can give them ev­ery day?” “Ex­actly! And these give an in­vis­i­ble but last­ing re­mem­brance of the pres­ence of Christ in oth­ers’ lives through us.” “Awe­some!” “Oh, Fa­ther, do you think I could I bring home some of the soil from the Cat­a­combs we vis­ited the other day?”

“Whaaa? Wil­son!”

Vi­gnettes fr.an­cis@myre­al­box.com

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