Closer to God
FROM MY HEART - Barbara Gonzalez-Ventura (The Philippine Star) - March 29, 2020 - 12:00am

My husband had a small wound on his shin. “Where did you get that?” I asked.

“I must have hit it against the bed,” he said, as he walked towards a cabinet nearby and got a package of adhesive bandages. Then he chose a big bandage and sat down. “Can you do this for me?” he asked. I did.

“Just think how lucky I am to have married you,” he said. “Who would put tapes on my wounds if you were not around?”

This quarantine brings many thoughts forward. How lucky we feel to have found each other. Now instead of being alone in our flats, just glued to our TV sets, with no one to talk to or laugh with, we are together. We are so grateful to God for leading us to each other. Now we do many things together. We eat and sleep together. We also do whatever we want to in different rooms, but we always end up together.

He watches YouTube in the living room while I watch Netflix in our bedroom. But he has what I call weather spells — alternative spells of cold followed by hot flashes that bring a torrent of sweat so he has to change frequently. Finally he told me that he doesn’t get these weather spells frequently in the bedroom. So I suggested we change places. I now watch from the living room and he watches from the bedroom.

I think one of the greatest things about this quarantine is that now, we pray together. Now we pray the rosary together at night before we go to sleep. I lead because I know all the mysteries. He answers. 

These sessions have brought back childhood memories of my family — grandmother, mother and aunt — all women, two fresh widows after the war and me — praying the rosary every night in our little house in Pasay. I was maybe two years old and they sat me on my potty behind them with instructions that I should try to poo while I listened to them pray. One night I saw the pink shipping pages of the newspaper within reach and I began to eat — and like — them.

Then we moved to Sta. Mesa and there was a time when my mother and I would walk up and down the driveway praying the rosary in the evening. Mommy would lead. I would answer while I swatted away at mosquitoes. That memory brought back my first confession where I told the priest I had killed mosquitoes and ants and got the penance of one Our Father, one Hail Mary and one Glory Be. That made me suspect that priests probably don’t listen too much to the confessions of little children.

This reminded me of a time when I wore an habito. That’s the way you write the word but you pronounce it “abito.” In Spanish you never pronounce the “h.” It’s sort of a uniform for Mass. I wore a white dress with a blue tie-on belt with little blue pompoms at the end. That was for the Immaculate Conception because my real name then was Concepcion. I wore that to Mass on Sundays for a while.

I remembered too that then we would bow our heads every time we said “Jesus,” so at the end of every Hail Mary and up until now I do it, a habit acquired in school. Another thing I learned was to make the sign of the cross whenever we passed a Catholic Church. I wonder now when I stopped doing it. Did my daughters learn how to do it? 

There was another thing we used to do. No, I know I still do it until now. That’s to capitalize every pronoun that referred to God, Jesus (you didn’t see me but I bowed my head when I typed His name), Mother Mary, the Archangels, and the Saints in prayer books or in our themes in school. Now I notice they don’t do it anymore. Not in church in those PowerPoint projections and not in the televised Masses on TV.

This I consider a major grammatical error. I suppose it’s because of the nuns disappearing from schools. The Maryknoll I went to, knew and loved slipped off the face of the earth when the nuns said they realized they were missionaries and decided to do the missionary thing again. They turned the school over to lay teachers and lay administrators and we lost the nuns who taught us to speak and write good English, to diagram sentences that taught us sentence construction and to always capitalize all the pronouns that referred to God.

I think this is the main benefit of being quarantined. We pray more. We remember little things from our childhood. We wonder: Should we not be doing the same things again? Would they not bring us closer to our God? Are they not signs of loving Him more?

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