“Kung pari ka, hindi ka nag-ma-mass, parang hindi ka pari.” (When you’re a priest and you don’t celebrate mass, it’s like you’re not a priest, at all.)
I-Witness once again impressed me with another TV feature, Domus Dei (“Bahay ng Diyos” or “House of God“), hosted by Peabody Award winner Jay Taruc. There have actually been many interesting topics but I simply can’t resist talking about the elderly. For if it isn’t the innocence and sincerity of children, it’s the wisdom from a life of stories masked by loneliness in an elderly person’s eyes that have a soft spot in my heart. I penned a poem about that, too.
What Could It Be Like?
My mom once told me she’d like one of my brothers to become a priest when they grow old. The nearest they got to that was one of them being part of the laity and the church choir. And growing up in a school run by strict Catholic nuns has, at some points, made me ponder on why they chose that path. The sisters and priests called it a “calling“. When I would aspire of becoming a doctor, an architect, or a dentist; I decided this “calling” was more than just a passion, more than just the love to serve. I clearly saw that it was no joke to dedicate your whole life to serve not just God, but everybody else and let go of everything you own — family, riches, ambitions.
Thus, even if I hear church scandals, I’ve had a good enough number of priests and nuns to look up to and respect.
But to grow old and stop “serving” by staying in the Domus Dei for the rest of your life? That wasn’t something I’ve thought about:
- No more celebrating of masses, especially for those in severe medical conditions
- A high possibility of having less visits from relatives
- A lack of fulfillment from being held captive (in a home), so to speak
While watching the segment, thoughts swirled through my head: “But you’ve always been alone, Father. What’s the difference?“, “Oh, you should be the experts in communing with God when you’re alone“, “These people teach us how to prepare for life after death, it should be easier for them“.
Like All the Rest
I forget they’re human. They have emotions. They have fears. They want to feel needed. They want to feel useful. They’re still just like us.
Though they can live in solidarity, they still look forward to visitors — even if these were the nuns from the Daughters of the Immaculate Conception. Though they have surrendered their lives to God, who’s to say they won’t miss their relatives? Though they know how to prepare their souls for death, how do you know they don’t have a bucket list, too?
More importantly, though they have shared hundreds or thousands of stories during Homily and in other celebrations and gatherings; why should they not want to share stories with a caregiver?
Kapwa pari at ang Diyos ang kanilang masasandalan. (Both priests and God are who they can lean on)
Priests (or nuns) or not, old age brings a new chapter of realizations, new lessons, and even new dreams. I see this in my grandmother, Lola Luz, whose eyes sparkle when she talks of her life growing up, and then her children’s, and then her grandchildren’s, and great grandchildren’s. Her eyes well up in, not just tears, but sad stories, what-could-have-beens, unfortunate turn of events, bad decisions, memorable reunions, unforgettable moments, an adventure she would still love to have, and how her life ever so swiftly passed by her.
I learned, though, that at the end of the day, you go on not because of the goals not attained; but of the strength pushing you forward — either to the other side of life or to continue living — with peace in your heart.