If there is one thing that the Roman Catholics are often bashed for, it's our belief in images and statues. Just recently when the churches in Bohol and Cebu collapsed due to the destructive earthquake, many non-Catholics suddenly commented that it happened because God was angry that we worship wooden images. While I believe that that comment was way below the belt and totally uncalled for, let me just say it straight that it's not the wooden image which we revere, not worship. We pray through the saints, and NOT to the saints. There's a big difference lying between those two ideas - something which many loose-tongue people don't actually see.
Now what does this have to do with my post?
I have quite a number of friends who own wooden images of different saints. Most of which are shown to the public through processions and expositions on the altar. Called 'camareros', they do exert effort to keep their images well-taken care of.
For so many years, they have been trying to turn me into one, and I always refuse. It's not that I don't want to; but you see, being a camarero can be totally expensive. There are two main reasons: One, I need to spend on the procession coach, flowers, lighting, etc. Basically, money is greatly involved in maintaining the statues; and with the social and financial status I have right now, the idea will surely be very, very difficult.
Second, I couldn't determine who I should get. It's not like I can just choose who I want. I need to have a devotion the saint because that's basically the primary purpose of taking care of one. Initially, I thought I should get a Niña (young Virgin Mary), but then the choice became St. Jude Thaddeus or St. Augustine of Hippo (considering that I graduated from the then-St. Jude Academy, an Augustinian school). However, they all didn't stick to my mind simply because my devotions to them aren't as strong as I should have. I'm working on it though.
In the end, the plans turned to vain. Financial difficulties arose and it left me with nothing in my pocket. I thought I'm no longer interested...
But after the procession of the Holy Rosary in our parish and as we lounged at Kuya Marvin's house, a Eureka moment came to me and it stuck since then.
"Pope John Paul II," I just said.
To be canonized on April 2014, I have always liked the pope. It started when I was in Grade 1 when World Youth Day happened in the Philippines. I know I wasn't really into faith then as I was still so young, but perhaps, we can attribute the interest to the song "Tell the World of His Love" which basically stuck with me until this very moment.
As I grew up, Pope John Paul II holds the position of the Supreme Pontiff; so I basically had him as My Holiness throughout my whole life of being a Catholic. His smile had always been very calming to me, and his love for the young ones has always been inspiring. It's only recently though that I actually delved into who he really was during his earlier years.
Back to the real topic, I couldn't really determine how Pope John Paul II suddenly popped up into my mind. But nevertheless, I felt back then in an instant that here's gonna be the real thing.
Obviously delighted that they finally got me converted, my friends immediately told me it was a good decision and offered me all the help they could provide. Kuya Marvin said he'll take care of the vestments while Luwi will help in the flower arrangements. I can tell they were excited. Well, I am too.
When I got back home that night, I saw the pope's picture hanging in my wall; and as usual, he was smiling at me and i couldn't help but smile back. That's his prime effect on me after all. I told myself that I'll try to push through with the plans. No backing out.
As I prayed the rosary, I asked Mother Mary to give me signs that I promised the right thing. Since then, the idea of having Pope John Paul II's image in my home never left my mind. It's like every place I go to reminds me of him.
The strongest sign I think would be during Sunday when I was waiting for friends to come over the house, I turned the TV on. Suddenly, I felt the urge to turn to Channel 50 (EWTN) and watch the Papal Audience. As soon as Pope Francis' face popped up in my screen, he said Pope John Paul II's name.
Instantly, I tried to plan where I'll get the money. I have already figured out how much I'm willing to shed, and through the blessed pope's intercession, I know I'll be able to get the amount before my 25th birthday next year.
It's gonna be exciting! :)