I WAITED at the pier for at least an hour before the motorboat came. I was that eager to set foot in Maslog, the only municipality in the province that I’ve never been to. Then I saw her dock gracefully at the berth. As soon as the seats at the back were vacated, I went in, through the window. I perched myself in middle of the backless wooden bench and the longest river cruise of my life began.
I spent the next four and a half hours feasting on the lush greeneries that outlined the blue-green water and chatting with fellow passengers. After a series of twists and turns, evading rocks and fallen trees, I finally spotted the red rooftop of the Maslog gymnasium. But the trip isn’t over yet. The fully loaded vessel I’m in, got sidelined in the shallow part of the river. It was a “so near yet so far” moment. It felt like we were moving an inch per 10 minutes. Luckily, the boatmen were skilled enough to get us through the mud and into the riverbank, safe and dry.
That part of being stranded was the most difficult part of the journey. My shirt was damped with sweat, my limbs felt heavy and my stomach was complaining a bit loudly. But that moment reminded me of one of the toughest chapters of my spiritual life. The time when my belief in God became like a boat that ran aground in a mud.
I was born into a prayerful family that observed Catholic traditions. It was a smooth journey at the beginning until the bibliophile and curious me got exposed to different teachings. From occultism to communism, plus the influence of protestant friends, I was swamped with doubts regarding my Catholic faith.
During those times, I would argue with the priest in my head as he delivers the homily at the Sunday mass. My mind was always on the lookout for loopholes and would always find the sermon incredibly puritanical and yes, even hypocritical. Most of the time, atheism will be playing in my head but my heart constantly fought for my faith. The confusion led me to start digging the internet and bookstores for anything that could teach me about Catholicism. I wasn’t trying to choose between staying Catholic or becoming a protestant. It was about being a believer or a non-believer.
My quest for knowledge had somehow loosen the grip of the mud of doubts that blinded me from seeing the true beauty of Catholicism. Slowly I began taking small strides towards the Church. My heart won that day, not through my own efforts, but because of the seeds of faith that have been planted in me when I was younger.
In his homily during the 2018 Pentecost Vigil, Bishop Crispin Varquez appealed to the people to tell the story of God, especially of His love, to their children; to teach the children by their words and actions on how to be a good Christian; and to teach the children to love the Church, and the Catholic faith.
I am grateful that my imperfect family actually did these things to me. It was even made better because I had the privilege of attending Catholic schools and I had the opportunity to serve the Church. Everything that was imbued in me when I was a kid by my family, school, and the Church, became that tiny voice in my heart that urged me get to know the Catholic faith more, before letting go. It was the act of love that guided me back to the shores of my faith.