By Marbe Sagarino
CFC SFL, District of Pasig
My desire to join the pilgrimage was deeply rooted in my longing to meet Christ. And I knew back then that meeting Christ was not just meeting the Pope, but in all the other pilgrims as well. I had my share of “dark ages” prior to last year and I put aside Christ for practically half my life though I studied in a Catholic school for 13 years. But since my timely reconciliation last 2012, I’ve been constantly moved by Christ and His love. And I know for a fact, that His love is also everybody else’s reason for joining World Youth Day. I saw it with my own eyes.
Now, that love was made concrete to me in 3 pillars:
Weirdly, I thought it was fun to “test” the magnitude of the event. I was hoping that the attendees would surpass WYD Manila ’95 but nonetheless, 3.5Mio Catholics in Copacabana was surreal! God made it really clear to me that the faith I have is also shared by many of the same age as I am. And that took me by surprise because I know how people our age can get all too wordly and materialistic. I also found the utmost appreciation for the Blessed Mother Mary. When, for the longest time, she was just always by the side, she made herself very visible to me especially whenever people would gather and pray the rosary. I literally told myself when we were at Copacabana: “This is it. Mother Mary, you strengthen the force which binds us all. Why didn’t I see you all the long while? Why didn’t I feel your intercession before?” And true enough, she showed herself ever so beautifully before my eyes. I have loved her immensely since World Youth Day.
I have been discerning my vocation months prior to World Youth Day and was very fortunate to have met and really talked to priests and nuns during the pilgrimage. It was a first for me. I never was close to any priest or nun before. And ever since this great longing to know more of God came about, I entertained the possibility of well, becoming a nun myself. By the grace of God, I was answered during the Culminating Mass at Copacabana. During the offertory, I gladly lifted up my entire personhood/being/soul to God and when I looked up at the mega screen, I saw Pope blessing the parents who seemingly offered up their children. And that was it! I was told that I too can offer myself even if I am a parent, even if I am a mother to my own children. I need not be a nun to be of service to God. Like Mary, I can be a good mother as well, ever ready to offer myself in service for my Lord.
The dwindling number of Catholics in the Philippines is brutally apparent. In many visible avenues, I find myself to be the only hardcore Catholic while the rest around me are practically Protestants/Muslims/Buddhists/Agnostics/Non-believer. There was a time when, after a debate with a non-Catholic acquaintance about sola fide and sola scriptura, I literally cried buckets, having felt “defeated” and having realized how little I know of my faith! So since we were all called to “Go and be disciples,” I knew that it would have to take more than just courage to roll out the task at hand. So I made a promise that I will study this God-given faith — Theology or Religious Studies. And in so doing, I will be a better missionary, the geeky type, if permissible.
Finally, that one solid, concrete roof to protect us all — the one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church. I have found comfort in knowing that this faith has been protected and passed on to me with love and utmost care 2000 years after my Lord’s death. And it will be so in the next 2000 and more years, until our Day of Judgment. The hierarchy of the Church from the Pope, down to the cardinals, archbishops, bishops, priests, deacons and laymen is so beautifully drawn out along with our sacraments, church buildings, and history-filled signs and symbols that I always imagine what it would have been like to have walked with Jesus Christ and when He died, what it would have been like to have shared His body and blood with the early Christians. How spirit-filled could have St. Paul and the converts been whenever they humbly knelt down to pray to God in communion? It must have been radical, for the lack of a better word!
So that’s it, basically. But the real challenge for me now is to keep my WYD learning intact and to actualize them. Truth be told, I have taken minimal steps since then. Straight off the plane, I was working non-stop to catch up on backlogs. And, like many 26-ers like us, I too am at a crossroads about my career. And when the year of faith started, I knew that my faith was going to be tested.
Tags: catholic community, catholic community for singles, catholic group, catholic group for singles, cfc sfl, cfcsfl, committed servants weekend, God, jesus, jesus christ, prolife, prolife singles, singles for family and life, world youth day