Keeping the faith

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Tita C. Valderama

CARL Nigel is turning five years old today. Unlike in most birthday celebrations, Carl won’t get to blow the candles on his cake and to play with other kids. He is attached to machines at the pediatric intensive care unit of the Philippine Heart Center (PHC), fighting for dear life.

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Two months ago, Carl had two open heart surgeries. At age 5, the once jolly kid has had five angioplasty procedures meant to correct abnormalities in his heart. But several complications had set in and, for two months now, Carl has been hooked to life-saving machines in an isolation room of the hospital.

Carl’s once chubby body has been reduced to almost skin and bone, and his brown skin has turned dark due to infection of the blood.

Carl’s mom had quit her job to devote almost all her time to the baby, and his dad has been working hard in Qatar to pay off huge hospital bills and loans incurred for Carl’s hospitalization. (Carl is the son of my second cousin Bonneil Cruz.)

Given what Carl and his parents have been going through, we may say that they’ve been through a lot enough. Well, they do! The good thing is that they have more than enough faith that keeps them hoping and praying for miracles for Carl’s healing so he can eventually enjoy being a child again, away from the tubes and the hospital bed that has caused him more inconvenience because of bed sores.

In this time of Lent, the sufferings of Carl and his parents give us a point to reflect on our own life, to count our blessings of good health, and to strengthen our faith despite every day challenges that may be far less complicated than theirs.

Lent is a time of repentance, fasting, and preparation for the coming of Easter. It is a time of self-examination and reflection.

Lent becomes more meaningful when we abstain not only from our favorite food, but also from negativism and criticism. Lent does not simply mean skipping from eating red meat on Fridays, but more of choosing to give up something, or to volunteer and give of ourselves for others.

No one becomes holy by demonizing others. Well, it may be too ambitious to aspire to become holy, but to put it simply, one does not look better by making another person look bad.

With what’s happening in the economy and how the government is being run, perhaps we should just keep praying that things will eventually turn out right. Keeping a positive outlook would be better for our health, too, instead of cursing each time we get stuck in heavy traffic, or we come face to face with the reality that we are seeing the opposite of the changes we expected from promises during the election campaign period.

Keeping the Catholic traditions of observing the rituals of Lent —particularly during the Holy Week—would be for naught unless we reflect on what’s happening to us, be ready to sacrifice to get what we want, and offer ourselves to ease the sufferings of other people.

It has been said that blessings await those who suffer. And while we go through the many challenges like getting sick, having problems at work, lacking money for our needs, we should find ways to solve it not by stealing, manipulating other people, or borrowing money without intension of paying back.

Simply put, we don’t get something right by doing another wrong.

The ashes we had placed on our foreheads on Ash Wednesday last March 1 would have meaning if we take stock of our lives, our beliefs and our values.

I don’t intend to preach here, or judge anybody by what they do. I just want to share the thought that sufferings should not let us down. Difficult times will not become easy by hating others who mess up our life.

It is in doing well and keeping good values that we should always have in mind while we hurdle the challenges that come our way.

As we observe the start of the Lenten season, are we ready now to further reflect on the Holy Week? Most families and individuals await the Holy Week for the long break from school and work. I hope that the wait is not only for picnics, beach outings, or trips abroad.

Remember that there are many who may be in an even worse situation than Carl’s and his parents’. Most of us are luckier than them, but our prayers and little sacrifices for them can somehow ease their burdens. Let’s keep the faith for good things to come!

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