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The five-day Papal visit was a great spiritual renewal for millions of Filipinos. Pope Francis clearly showed his love for the people, most especially the poor and the needy. His visit was a resounding success with the massive turnout for all his masses and activities, including the meeting with the families.
My own personal experience with the Pope was at the Mall of Asia Arena. My family was among the many families from all over the country who had a chance to see and meet him. Along with the 16,000 crowd, we all waited for his arrival in the venue. Luckily, I was seated in the aisle to have a closer encounter. Upon his arrival, people gathered near the pathways and reached for his hand which he gladly offered. I could see joy in his eyes seeing the people and greeting them. I also saw how he blessed people, most especially the children, the sick and the elderly while walking. He made sure to stop and put his hands over them.
In his message, he focused on the gift of family. He said in his opening, “I would like to rest in the Lord with all of you and to reflect with you on the gift of family.” As we all listened to him, we pondered over the value of family.
He mentioned that it is in the family that one learns how to pray. Yes, from the time we all learned how to speak and understand, our parents’ first lesson for us would be on how to pray. As children, we understand that there is one God to whom we can voice out our praises, gratitude and wishes. Our Lord blessed us with the most powerful form of communication: prayer, which we all must use and maximize.
As Christians, we are all taught how to love, to forgive and to be generous, to always have sincere concern for others. These are the values we learn as we grow old. And these are what we all need to practice in our daily lives.
He also mentioned how rest is important, not just for our physical and mental health but also for our spiritual state. For entrepreneurs like me, we are faced with everyday challenges and demands concerning our work, but we are reminded that we should also take time to have a spiritual break. I must advice that we must have time for our family, relaxing and enjoying quality moments with our children, parents and relatives and also our friends.
My wife, Marissa, concluded: He had such a great message for family. He said that this gift of family is one of the Filipinos’ treasures. We must preserve it. And he also said in Spanish: “May I tell you a personal message. Be for all husbands and wives to continue to be like boyfriends and girlfriends. Dream of each other because it is in dreams that we love. And also be wary of things or colonization that will corrupt family and marriage. Stay away and know when to say no. Be brave. Preserve, protect and guard your family, husbands and wives.” He is asking us to be vigilant. He is so real. So into the times and so simple in his words.
I, as a husband and a father, must be wary of the threats and dangers that may come to my family. I have the responsibility, like all parents, to watch over and protect them from harm. Pope Francis left wonderful words for us during that time. Marissa and I will surely remember this moment in our life that we have been touched and blessed by the Pope.
As a conclusion to the Papal visit, Pope Francis also held a mass at the Quirino Grandstand. We all witnessed how Filipinos, through faith, braved the day-long rain and walked the streets leading to the venue to attend the special mass. Despite the non-stop rain and the chilly weather, there were more than six million people who listened to his homily. His homily reminded us that we are all God’s children. Also, the Philippines being the foremost Catholic country in Asia is a special blessing to Filipinos, but also a vocation. We are called to be missionaries in Asia.
I am in awe of the Pope’s charm to people. He really made sure to bless each and every one of us. His words were simple but it sure made an impact on us. He is an example of simplicity, humility and empathy. He has touched lives and strengthened faith.
I do hope that Filipinos would all remain faithful and be survivors of all trials in their lives. Let us all live up to our values and be a blessing to others as well. As Pope Francis ends his homily in Luneta, he said “May he (Jesus) enable all the beloved people of this country to work together, protecting one another, beginning with your families and communities, in building a world of justice, integrity and peace.”