Refuge in Fa­tima

Cebu Daily News - - OPINION - JA­SON BAGUIA

They will gather at the Shrine of Our Lady, Queen of Peace on Epi­fanio de los San­tos Av­enue in Manila, the faith­ful who have been pray­ing for divine in­ter­ven­tion to bring heal­ing to our land. They will gather on the fifth of Novem­ber, hear­ken­ing to the call of the bish­ops. The heart soars at the thought. Will any­thing dras­tic oc­cur af­ter the pro­ces­sion from the shrine to the Peo­ple Power Mon­u­ment?

What do they hope to achieve? Fa­ther asked me. I had no def­i­nite re­ply. One must sim­ply hold on to faith and hope and love in these un­cer­tain times. More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of, Ten­nyson once wrote. Some eight hun­dred kilo­me­ters to the south, the faith­ful will have walked a shorter dis­tance to the basil­ica of the Holy Child. The date: the thir­teenth of Oc­to­ber, the time of my writ­ing, the cen­te­nary of the mir­a­cle of the sun in Fa­tima, Por­tu­gal, dur­ing the fi­nal ap­pear­ance of Our Lady there in 1917.

Tonight, over a dozen stat­ues of Our Lady will be car­ried through the streets amid an ocean of can­dle­light pierc­ing the dark­ness. Our Lady of Lour­des will bring to mind heal­ing and the power of the Healer. Our Lady of China, one hopes, will wash away the rift be­tween the gi­ant of the Far East and her neigh­bors and usher in an era of peace and con­cord. Our Lady of Fa­tima’s mes­sage will re­sound anew: “In the end, my Im­mac­u­late Heart will tri­umph.”

Man draws hope from this mes­sage. She is like him yet she kept her heart im­mac­u­late, kept Je­sus the Christ in her heart in re­sponse to the heav­enly gift of her Im­mac­u­late Con­cep­tion. We can keep one an­other’s feet cleansed in re­sponse to the gift of bap­tism, in for­giv­ing one an­other’s tres­passes, in the Sacra­ment of Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion, in help­ing one an­other carry our crosses.

There is no dearth of cross-bear­ers to help. Walk by Es­cario Street in up­town Cebu City. The home­less sleep on side­walks close to the busi­ness district. Drive by the south district ac­cess road to the South Road Prop­er­ties. There the street chil­dren sing on the other side of your car win­dow. Pay at­ten­tion to the posts of con­tacts on so­cial net­works. They may in­di­cate some an­guish that can be wiped away with your word or sup­pli­ca­tion to heaven. Be­hold the land in times of flood­ing. Land­scape and seascape cry out for mercy, for life­styles that nur­ture rather than mur­der the eco-sphere.

The cross-bear­ers are in the news. They are per­sons whose peace of mind is com­pro­mised by lies. They are helpers whose con­cern for our marginal­ized is ma­ligned as un­wel­come in­ter­fer­ence in a na­tion’s af­fairs. They are young peo­ple whose hu­man­ity is spat upon by shrill cries con­sist­ing of la­bels: addict, pusher, run­ner, crim­i­nal, an­i­mal. They are hon­est law en­forcers who die keep­ing the peace while their vil­lain­ous col­leagues and su­pe­ri­ors go scot-free and have the time of their lives. They are men and women of faith whose pa­tri­o­tism is de­rided as cler­i­cal med­dling in the af­fairs of the State, as if their vo­ca­tions erase their cit­i­zen­ship.

They are vic­tims of in­equal­ity whose cries for jus­tice are muted in the haugh­ti­ness of the af­flu­ent and in the noise of the drive to pros­per. They are sim­ple men and women aghast that pub­lic ser­vants have come down to this — this point of in­sti­tu­tion­al­iz­ing the act of curs­ing though we raise our chil­dren to touch our hands to their heads in search of bless­ing. They are peo­ples dread­ing the prospect of nu­clear war be­cause those who claim the man­tle of au­thor­ity in lands abroad have lost any sense of stew­ard­ship and just see our only planet as their pri­vate play­ground. They are young peo­ple won­der­ing if they can ever build homes or fam­i­lies in a world much abused and ran­sacked by their el­ders.

When Our Lady of Fa­tima’s statue was car­ried in pro­ces­sion for days in Fe­bru­ary 1986, our prayers were heard. A tyrant and his fam­ily fled. Tonight, as can­dle­lights stream down Cebu City’s Os­meña Boule­vard, one hopes that prayers on earth and com­pas­sion in heaven will bring a new sun­rise to this land and to a world pin­ing for peace, to peo­ples hop­ing for an Easter to their pas­sion and their thou­sands of deaths.


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