I was born in an average Catholic family in the Philippines. My mother was a teacher and my father worked in a government agency. With seven children, they managed their resources well.
Being the youngest, I witnessed my parents and older siblings working hard to establish our family: this was a life lesson that continued into my adult life.
No time to sit at the Lord’s feet
As I moved on into University and adulthood, my work became the centre of my life. I performed overtime duties and even worked on weekends. My company rewarded me with promotions and sent me overseas frequently.
The more responsibilities I was given, the busier I became, so much so that I had no time for my personal and spiritual life. I stopped attending mass and drifted away from God.
Starting a family and moving to Singapore
I met my Singaporean husband and established a business in my country of birth. However, we decided to head back to Singapore for our children’s education.
Having my own family did not help in changing my priority either. Over the years, I piled up my life with work, and a long list of things to accomplish.
Years went by and my teenage children started having their own social life. I often found myself alone in the house.
In 2018, my mother, who was in her 80s, passed away. I was shocked and rushed back to the Philippines. I found myself in the same church where I had attended mass with her on many occasions – Christmas, birthdays – and there I was, celebrating the last mass for her.
As I closed my eyes, I grieved for the loss of my mother. I felt remorseful for not visiting or calling her as often as I should. When I flew back to Singapore, I was down and out. I felt a sense of guilt of not spending more time with the people I loved.
I wanted to reconnect with God, but I did not even know where to begin. I even doubted my sincerity. I have been away from my Catholic faith for the last 25 years. One night, in deep sorrow, I knelt at my bedside and prayed,
“Lord God, I cannot fix myself. Please forgive me and have mercy on me.”
The Turning Point and Search for Landings
On the 40th day of my mother’s passing, I attended mass and embraced the quietness in God’s presence. I went back the following Sunday, and the next. Soon, I started attending mass regularly again.
I would often sit at the last pew, nearest to the door. I followed the sequence of the mass diligently, and quietly listened to every Gospel reading, homily, reflection and felt humbled by His Word. This went on for months, and I was like a child all over again, eager to learn and receive Christ.
One Sunday after the mass, while praying, I saw a priest walking down the aisle towards the small Confessional room. I knew right away it was time for me to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
I managed to speak to him, and confess all my sins and iniquities. Thereafter, there was a sense at peace within me, and I was lightened from the heavy load that I had carried inside me.
However, going on my faith journey alone was not easy. There were many distractions preventing me from staying in my faith.
In my struggling moments, I searched the internet on ‘returning Catholics’. This led me to the Landings website. I read inspiring stories of other Catholics who had drifted away from our faith for various reasons, and yet found their path back to God.
I realised I was not alone. I sent an email and thankfully, the Landings team invited me to their sessions. At present, I am blessed to be surrounded with fellow Catholics as we pray and help each other grow together in faith.
Moving Forth in the Spirit of Catholic200SG
Progressing on, I would like to continue to share my faith with my children. I am glad that they have agreed to attend Catechism classes so that they can embark on their own experiences with God as He leads them towards Baptism.
These days, whenever I find myself overwhelmed with work and life duties, I seek comfort in the story of Martha and Mary in Luke 10:38-42, which to me, is a living Gospel. Like Mary, I pause and place myself in the presence of the Lord. As I settled at the Lord’s feet and listen to His voice, I know that His peace and love will cover me.
Prayer for the 200th anniversary of the Catholic Church
For Catholics who have drifted away from our faith , may they find their way back to God. Concurrently, may our Landings community continue to provide a safe harbour and support to returning Catholics. Amen.