(Read Part 1 of Our Love Story here.)
Facing college, I remember having a minor crisis over which path to take. It wasn’t that I didn’t know what I wanted, but more of me wanting so many things. I was choosing among 3 M’s: Medicine (I was accepted at the Biology program I applied for), Music (the same university arguably had the best music program in the country), and Madre (what you’d call a nun in Filipino). As a music minister in my community, I knew I wasn’t totally turning my back on music. As for the option of exploring the religious life, it was something I was definitely open to, but not irrefutably called to…at least, not yet. Besides, I still had 5 years left of my offering; I had to wait and trust that God would call me to my true vocation at the appointed time.
So Medicine it was.
I was in the first year of Med school when I turned 23. While some of those who had shown interest previously vowed that they would wait till my offering ended, no one was knocking at my door on my 23rd birthday (not that I was waiting, or wanting, any one of them to). So life went on, and med school went on (and on, and on). I still declined most invitations to go out on dates, mostly because I just wasn’t interested in those who asked (but I was beginning to wonder if it was because I had so gotten used to saying “No”). I tried to be more open, even agreeing to go out on a blind date a friend had set-up (no, this one did not go well). There was this guy, and that guy, but none of them ever made me feel “This is it, I’ve found what I’m looking for.“
But what was I looking for?
At age 25, I was blessed to have been offered by a friend’s mom who was a leader in another Catholic Community to guide me through my vocation discernment. Being a leader in that community’s family ministries, she has had a lot of experience in guiding young women in their State of Life (or SOL) discernment. She would give me a set of verses to reflect on each day, then we would meet once a week to discuss the things the Lord had been revealing to me in prayer.
I think it was during the 3rd or 4th week that she gave me the set of readings pertaining to staying single for the Lord’s service. This was when I was glad I had gone through my offering as it had given me a foretaste of what single blessedness probably would have been like. Reading St. Paul’s exhortation to choose a life similar to his made so much sense in the light of being a disciple of Christ:
I should like you to have your minds free from all worry. The unmarried man gives his mind to the Lord’s affairs and to how he can please the Lord; but the man who is married gives his mind to the affairs of this world and to how he can please his wife, and he is divided in mind. So, too, the unmarried woman, and the virgin, gives her mind to the Lord’s affairs and to being holy in body and spirit; but the married woman gives her mind to the affairs of this world and to how she can please her husband. — 1 Corinthians 7:32-34
I was ready and eager to choose this life, wanting nothing more than to follow Christ, spread the message of His Gospel and win souls for Him. I could almost see myself being a physician-missionary, sent to the remotest parts of the world, being an instrument of healing, both physical and spiritual. But I knew how to wait upon the Lord, and the following week she was to give me the set of readings on the vocation of marriage.
Incidentally (and I know it was not by accident), our ethics course in med school required me to research on the Church’s teachings on certain issues related to family life, such as abortion, contraception, etc. (I went to a Catholic University). So along with the readings I was assigned to reflect upon in prayer, I was also reading Church teachings on Marriage (from the Catechism), encyclicals (such as Pope Pius XI’s Casti Connubii), and other articles that opened my eyes to the beauty and mission God intended for this Sacrament. What had the greatest impact on me was the statement that the primary end of marriage is the procreation and the education of children.
The fruitfulness of conjugal love extends to the fruits of the moral, spiritual, and supernatural life that parents hand on to their children by education. Parents are the principal and first educators of their children. In this sense the fundamental task of marriage and family is to be at the service of life. –CCC#1653
I wanted nothing more than to win souls for Christ, and here I was reading about being responsible for a soul’s journey to Christ from his very first moment here on earth! To take on the role as God’s herald for one’s family, to teach a child (children!) about God’s love, His mercy, His greatness; to show the child, by example, what it is like to live a life of loving service and total surrender, hoping that he might want that for himself as he grows up. To proclaim God’s Word not in the remotest parts of the world as a missionary-doctor, but in the home, in the everyday.
God’s plan for marriage and family so moved me, that I found myself saying, “How beautiful this is, Lord! I want to follow You in this manner, through this way of life!”
And much like the way He spoke to me during that mass at the Edsa Shrine, I felt Him whisper in my heart, “Yes, this is what I want for you, too.”
Almost exactly a year later, I entered into my first ever committed relationship (at the good ol’ marrying age of 26) with a guy from a blind date that did go well. A year after I said yes to be his girlfriend, I said yes to be his wife. And the year that followed that, I was.
And our love story continues as I, with my family, try even harder, everyday, to love Him with all our heart, all our soul, all our strength.