Comforting and Respecting the Elderly
by J’net B. Zulueta
A humble good evening to the Franciscan community, my fellow Parishioners and to St. Anthony. By sharing this recent journal entry I attempt to cover the three topics of– respect for elders, the Ministry of Catholic Women’s League and a personal encounter with Christ. Let me then tell you this story. It is the last hour of Saturday June 7th 2014, the end of a hot summer day. In the parish grounds, as early as 5AM, so many elderly, to the very young, from near and far, mostly arriving by foot, waited patiently for the start of the 8:30AM medical mission.
Over 850 patients were attended to by 120 volunteer doctors. We in the circle of CWL sisters were so busy assisting in the surgery, medical, dental, optha, x ray, ultrasound, pharmacy and food area. In celebrating fiesta week we saw the completion of the group baptism, confirmation and wedding. For four Saturdays prior to the conferment of these sacraments, we taught the candidates basic catechism, instilling in them your loving presence in their lives, Lord.
In the yearlong scholarship and medical clinic programs of our league we recognize your presence in each person we reach out to. You are our Creator, You are our strength, our eternal healer. I remember how you were my healer too, Lord, in October a few years back. With no notice I suffered a seizure due to a brain tumor. There I was lying unconscious floating with your wind and moving towards your peaceful voice. Then I caught a glimpse of my family who were hopelessly crying. I begged to return. With no hesitation you sent me back even with the possibility of being handicapped. The journey back home was very dark. But you provided me the confidence because I knew for sure you were by my side I would like to share how it felt during that time of temporary after life.
There is not even a split second shift between our existence now and the eternal life. Our lives are at the same time, physical and divin. As your beloved children, dear God, you have endowed us with this extraordinary gift. I believe that in the stillness of our lives, in our soul dwells the kingdom of the Lord. How could we even think that you are sometimes remote when you truly live in the temples of our soul?
A story goes that St. Anthony when he preached could gather a crowd of thousands. It was St Francis who recognized this gift of eloquence. One day St Anthony’s talk was on the topic of caring for the elderly. A man in the crowd, Leonard, was so upset with his mother, whom he actually kicked. Arriving home Leonard cut off his foot because St Anthony preached earlier that everything from jealousy, bad temper and rebellion against one’s parents should be discarded. But then our gentle saint heard the story and rushed to Leonard. Upon seeing the amputee St Anthony miraculously joined back the foot.
In the spirit of respect for elders, we are so familiar with two bible stories. The first is about the elderly saints Ann and Joachim whom God chose as parents of Mama Mary. Therefore, Jesus had a lolo and lola who were not too young. The second is about Mama Mary, when already carrying Jesus in her womb, visited and cared for her elderly cousin Elizabeth. In our parish on Palm Sundays we remember seeing the CWL ladies selling palms to raise funds for the Franciscan seminarians. This activity is really a humble way of expressing help and appreciation to the Franciscan community.
In ending, and most importantly as we respect the elders in our homes and in our community, we wish to extend our respect especially for the priests in this parish. Though younger in age than some of us, we profoundly and respectfully regard our priests as our elders in faith.
This evening we greet you dear pastors with sincere gratitude as we say “Maraming Salamat Po!” for all your generosity. Dear Lord as I end this journal entry my prayer is that we your living stones continue the Church of Christ in the way of St. Anthony’s humility and with gratitude to You forever. We offer our gratitude for all that we are, with Your many blessings. We are grateful for You have opened our eyes to the precious gifts of serving and humbly giving back, to You, O Lord. A happy Fiesta to all.
This concludes our series of faith sharings – essays for the feast of St. Anthony of Padua. Next week, we will resume our regular Sunday Gospel Reflections.