‘My rosary reminds me of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. I really love it,’ says the author.
Practicing catholic again
FROM MY HEART - Barbara Gonzalez-Ventura (The Philippine Star) - May 24, 2020 - 12:00am

This week has been a totally boring week. By my sloppy estimate, this is the start of the 10th week of quarantine, of being at home all the time, of not knowing what it is we have to do next to brighten our lives. I have been making jewelry from leftover fringes. I’m saving those to give away sometime. I discovered a bottle of heart beads and turned them into two rosaries, one for the altar that I created early in the quarantine and another for me. I really like the rosary I made for myself because I used pale, chalk-like hearts of an indeterminate color mixed with beige hearts and moonstone hearts that were slightly bigger for the Glory Be’s. They looked faded but since I started using the rosary these small faded hearts have turned almost red from the natural oil on my fingers. Now my rosary reminds me of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. I really love it.

When my godmother, who was a Carmelite cloistered nun, passed away two years ago, I made her a promise that I would pray the rosary daily. Since I prayed it alone at night before sleep, I never asked my husband to join me. I figured if he wanted to pray the rosary, he could. Then one night, early in the quarantine, he asked to pray the rosary with me. Now that has become our treasured routine. Every night at 9 p.m. we pray the rosary together. It has become a highly fulfilling habit and it has made us both evolve into deeper Catholics than we were when we got married.

I don’t know what started first. Did we see the rosary programs on YouTube, watch one, then followed a deluge of rosary programs? Did YouTube send us programs about people who had converted to Catholicism, we watched a few, and now we have a deluge of them, too? I know that when my husband had his mild stroke it was after we watched a film on Medjugorje. This quarantine has turned us into much better Catholics.

Even on Sunday we “attend” 10 a.m. Mass on TV. You know, we are more devoutly at Mass now than we were when we went to church, even if I am still in my nightgown with my hair well-combed and no makeup. Even if we do not receive communion. How can you receive communion over TV?

And every morning I sit in front of the altar I created and say prayers asking Mama Mary and Jesus to please heal my husband from his stroke, from the little things that bother him. If you had told me 40 years ago that I was going to age this way, I would not have believed you. But look at me now.

My family was sort of divided on Catholicism. My grandmother, two of my aunts were active Catholics. My godmother, who was a sister of my mother, was a star in her Carmelite convent, in fact, in the entire Carmelite order. My uncle, my mother’s brother, was a Jesuit, was president of the Ateneo for 16 years. But my mother and I after a while were no longer practicing Catholics. That happened when I left my husband. The entire family was shocked, stopped talking to me, turned me into a minimally practicing Catholic from that time on. I stopped going to Mass on Sundays though there was a time when I went to Mass daily.

Now my mother’s generation is gone. Her brothers and sisters are all gone. Now it is my generation that sits in the pre-departure lounge. Now I am a good practicing Catholic. It was started by my husband though we weren’t married then. We were just friends. He would invite a friend and me to go shopping, then hear Mass with him, then have dinner before going home. This made me realize that I actually enjoyed going to Mass. So I turned into a regular churchgoer but did not receive communion yet. Then we decided to get married. That’s when we went to confession and received communion. That was the start of becoming a practicing Catholic again. It makes me feel whole again.

Sometimes when I think about my life I figure that maybe I did not always follow the rules of Catholicism because how do you do that when your godmother is an outstanding member of the Carmelite order and your uncle is an outstanding Jesuit? Maybe you just have to find your own way. In the end, however, you find your way back to the Catholic Church and you are happy.

And there is nothing like this quarantine to deepen your faith and bring you close to insanity from boredom. Since I experimented with rosaries, I have made six. By the time quarantine lifts, I will not have to spend anything on gifts at all for a long, long time.

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