Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC.
Photo by YVONNE ROMUALDEZ
What time is it?
FAMILY JEWELS - Michelle Dayrit-Soliven (The Philippine Star) - August 5, 2018 - 12:00am

A recent visitor to the country was bestselling author and acclaimed speaker Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC, who flew in to give a series of recollections for Filipino bishops, clergy and the lay.

“What time is it?” he asked with a wide-eyed gaze at the St. James the Great Parish in Alabang full of listeners one rainy morning.

“It’s 9:20 a.m., Father,” we replied. Again, he turned his head to the other half of the church, smiled and asked, “What time is it?”

“Well, I have good news for everyone. It is the time of mercy! Why? Because the Philippines is going through some trying times and Romans 5:20 says, ‘Where sin abounds, grace abounds even more.’ At a time of unprecedented evil, God wants to give unprecedented grace. So, today when people tend to forget everything so easily, I am here to remind you to keep alive this message of mercy, which was shared by no less than Saint Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict and Pope Francis.  A message that should bring Filipinos enormous hope.”

Drawing upon his own life stories, Fr. Michael then proceeded to share his own testimony of how God’s divine mercy changed his life.

Michael was born into a Southern California family. They were baptized Catholics yet the family did not go to Mass.

Suddenly, his mom started to go to Mass and caught the fire of God’s love in her heart. A miracle happened when her 17-year-old son Michael went with her. The priest asked him, “Have you been confirmed yet?” And gave him books to read. The books made sense, not only were they true but beautiful to Michael, especially the lives of the saints. There was a fire that grew in him. “Have you thought of being a priest?” Michael answered, “No. I am going to UCLA to play beach volleyball.” The priest advised him to go to the Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio, instead.

The young Michael prayed to St. Therese. Because she affirmed, he went to Steubenville instead but was unhappy. He had a bad attitude. Another problem was Michael’s melancholic nature, which caused him to fall into depression so many times. This made the course of his journey to priesthood much more difficult.

After reading a book by St. Louis de Monfort that said Mary, who is pure mercy, is the quickest, easiest, surest way to Jesus, Michael consecrated himself to Mary and everything changed.

“I had a friend who came from the US Marines. We became roommates and decided to call ourselves Mary’s Marines. We helped each other to become priests by encouraging each other.”

Everything was going fine but then came a fabulous girl from Paris named Blanche, who everyone on campus was raving about. “I am out of her league,” he thought. But one morning, Blanche showed up in his workplace with breakfast. This continued until the day she said, “Michael, I can’t concentrate because I’m in love with you.”  “Let’s take it slow,” he replied. So, they went around campus together, prayed the rosary and held hands.

Blanche invited Michael to Florida for a beach party. He was really enticed by her offer but he had previously committed to a retreat in Boston. He and his roomie prayed the flying novena. They were directed to Boston where God told him to be a priest.

Upon his return, Michael called Blanche to tell her that he has decided to become a priest. They parted ways and she wrote him a letter saying, “If God wants you to be a priest, you are making the right decision but it won’t be easy so I will pray for you.”

Back in school, he felt lonely and miserable. He complained to the Lord. Then he heard the Lord’s words: “My grace is enough for you.” Michael said he needed “super grace” and then decided to put the Divine Mercy to the test.

“My Dad had been diagnosed with cancer and he wasn’t praying. I prayed to the Divine Mercy. When I called my mom, she told me my dad went to confession and heard Mass. Something strange happened. ‘You see the picture on the wall?’ my dad pointed at the Divine Mercy. ‘Those rays are doing something to me’.”

It turns out his dad would wake up every morning to pray to the Divine Mercy. He could feel the rays warming his cancer and felt he would be healed. Sure enough he was.

“I needed this story because it was a confirmation of the Divine Mercy,” Michael said. “Yes! The Divine Mercy saved me, my dad and my family. Our lives changed for the better. I said that’s it! I am really going to be a priest.”

And because our Lord is divine mercy, there’s more.

One day, Blanche called to say she was entering the convent and she would be praying for him. Fr. Michael said, “I was studying so hard. Cut off from friends and family, I was feeling so lonely. Then a priest told me I have never seen a nun pray so hard as Sister Bernadette is praying for you. That nun was Blanche who continues to uplift me with her constant prayers and I am now a happy, grateful priest.” 

“Since your beloved country the Philippines is going through some trying times, I urge you to recognize this time of mercy. The Filipinos now are known to be the most amazing jewels of faith. Yours is the most Catholic country in the world. Just cry out to Jesus. His divine mercy is so infinite. And if you do this with your whole heart, He will transform your entire country,” Fr. Michael concludes.

So, what time is it?

* * *

 (Would love to hear from you at miladayjewels@yahoo.com.)

FR. MICHAEL GAITLEY
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