The people on the islands of the Philippines are predominately Catholic. They are warm and welcoming. Their hospitality is outstanding! They are simple and humble, very willing and eager to help with hearts of true servants. The people of Camiguin Island, in particular, are ingenious and industrious, making good use of the natural resources surrounding them.The homes and even the inside of some of the churches are made primarily of bamboo. The beauty of the Shrine of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, our new parish, surpasses that of the greatest cathedral that I have seen. The beauty is in it's simplicity. It tells of the love and pride of those whose handiwork it displays.The altar and the pulpit are both made of tree trunks. The light fixtures are held in place by large tree roots. More beautiful still are the voices raised in song. In their native tongue of Visayan, the crowd rings out loud and clear its praise to the Most High.
|Tree Root Light Fixtures|
Because of this, Father Joe is calling our mission one of presence. He believes that the presence of a large family from the other side of the world will be an encouragement to our Catholic brothers and sisters here in the Philippines. He is also hoping we can provide an example of a holy family life. The Catechism of the Catholic Church calls children “the supreme gift of marriage.” (2378) It also states, “Sacred Scripture and the Church's traditional practice see in large families a sign of God's blessing and the parents' generosity.”(2373) While the world would scream that it is overpopulated, we can prove the truth of the One Who created it and commanded us to fill it by embracing new life with joy and a living faith in Him Who invites us to cast all our anxieties on Him, for he cares about us. (1Pet 5:7)
Many times God calls us to do things that don't make sense to our human minds in order to test our faith in His ability to do the impossible. From Hebrews 11:6 we see that “without faith it is impossible to please God.” It then goes on to tell of many holy men and women of old who found favor with God by trusting in Him against great odds. One such man was Abraham, of whom the Scriptures say, “By faith he received the power to generate, even though he was past the normal age—and Sarah herself was sterile—for he thought that the one who had made the promise was trustworthy.” (Hebrews 11:11) God is still trustworthy and will not fail to bless us beyond our imaginations if we but put our lives in His hands. Often Catholic couples can think of many rational reasons for not wanting to conceive another child. They would contest that God has given us minds and expects us to use them. He does expect us to use our minds— to surrender control to Him and to not worry, which are often the most difficult things we can do with our minds. When we do, we are sure to be rewarded.
Nothing is too big for God to handle. When I conceived our third child, my husband was laid-off from work. While we had no fears and were excited about a new addition to our family, God knew best and the pregnancy ended in miscarriage. Not too long after, we conceived again. This time my husband was employed, but his job location changed three times before the baby was born, and at the time of the birth we had no health insurance. Even still, I had the most wonderful birthing experience I have ever had. The baby – a boy, our first son - was born at home, delivered right into the loving arms of his dad, who was coached by an experienced midwife who agreed to receive full payment for her services a week later when we just happened to be expecting our tax return.
It is not always the state of living conditions that matters to God when He grants the blessing of a child, but the state of love into which the child will be received. He proved this when He allowed His very own Son to be born in a poor stable to a young girl who had many rational reasons for saying no to life. Baby Jesus was the first missionary of God's love, attracting to His humble crib people from near and far. Children are still the best missionaries! When the idea of living as missionaries first occurred to us, we Googled, “can Catholic families with children be missionaries” because we had never heard of such a thing.Now we can plainly see that Catholic families with children be missionaries. Let us not deny the world the chance to witness the extraordinary Providence of God's Love, a Love that always has room for more!
“Saying there are too many children is like saying there are too many flowers.” --Mother Teresa
|Sea Wall Rosary Group|