Wenceslao: Prayers

Bong O. Wenceslao

WE USED to attend masses every Sunday. That was before the government imposed the different levels of community quarantines to battle the pandemic caused by the coronavirus.

My promise to attend Sunday masses was made in the late eighties when I was arrested for the second time. Faced with uncertainty, I promised to follow a ritual I began to do religiously before I became an activist. Then I married a woman who is more determined than me to follow the Sunday mass and other Catholic rituals I neglected to do when I was a child and then a teenager.

And so my wife Edizza has been leading us in the daily rosaries said since the community quarantines began. In a way, the education spent by my two sons at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Academy has paid off. They have no complaints when told that it is time for the rosary. They even know the sequence of the prayers and the lines and responses. Edizza includes in the rosary the Oratio Imperata released by the Archdiocese of Cebu.

There are times when in our attempt to be scientific and modern, we forget the power of prayers. We talk about social distancing and other protocols, like staying at home but rarely about spending time in prayer. On this, I will have to mention officials and leaders who, at the height of the pandemic, led those nightly prayer recoridas around the communities in our barangay. Those served to strengthen spirits tested by the economic and other difficulties mainly caused by efforts to prevent the spread of the virus.

It's good that churches are starting to reopen even if masses are still not held. I used to look at our church every time I passed by near it and only noticed a closed front door with the words “Exit Only” printed on a giant tarpaulin adorning it. In times of difficulties I used to visit the church to pray and to wallow in the silence it offers. Then I would light candles and seek solace in God's guidance. That couldn't be done during the enhanced community quarantine.

I don't know what would be the new normal in our churches. Social distancing would surely be the norm, which would mean that churches could no longer be filled to capacity like before. It would be interesting to find out also how fiestas are celebrated. Then again, how masses would be held is a good question.

The pandemic has really affected the way we are doing things. Like, what would our All Saints and All Souls Days be like? And how would we celebrate Christmas? Until things normalize, we will have to make do with doing our prayers mainly at home. In a way, my wife making sure that our house would have a bigger altar was well thought of. Staying at home also means the family praying together at home. That has made our altar, for lack of a better term, more functional.

What I am saying is that in everything we do and especially when our lives are being tested, let us not forget God. I found this to be true during the darkest moment of my life and there is no reason why I would let go of that advice now.