Called to be Extraordinary

Last August, our family received an unexpected, extraordinary blessing–my husband, Peter, was invested as a Lay Eucharistic Minister (Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion) at Christ the King Parish.

lay minister

My husband, the youngest in the group (also the one with the least amount of hair, go figure).

The invitation came subtlely enough–after noticing Peter in line for Confession before Sunday Mass, one of the existing ministers approached him to ask if he would like to serve as a Lay Minister. A thought he never really entertained before, Peter politely thanked him for the invitation and said he would have to check his schedule, or “try” to make it to the monthly formation sessions, or some other vague answer to mask his decline. Luckily, Brother/Kuya Robert was gently persistent, regularly texting and emailing my husband, inviting, encouraging, reminding.

As the weeks, months, wore on, Peter found himself having a change of mind (and heart) on the matter. A clincher was when Kuya Robert happened to mention in one email that one of the things that prompted him to approach Peter in the first place was the impression that he was a good father (as he would see how Peter was with the kids during Sunday Mass). This comment came just a few days after we had learned that I was again expecting, meaning that we (I more than he) were in the middle of all the emotional struggle that went along with the news of yet another pregnancy.

It was a confirmation in more ways than one.

And Peter, to his surprise, found himself blessed beyond expectations. The monthly formation sessions were more than enlightening (touching on such topics as confession, Mary, and angels, among others), and the brotherhood he found with these (mostly more senior) Catholic men is heartwarming. Just the other day, I was introduced to Kuya Jerry, and was touched when this complete stranger told me that he has been offering his daily rosary for the healthy and safe delivery of my baby.

A Holy Fraternity.

A Holy Fraternity.

As a single woman who had discerned if marriage was the vocation for me, I remember having prayed for a man after God’s own heart, one who would love Him and serve Him, one who would really lead our family closer to Christ and His Church. After 8 years of marriage, I see how God continues to stay true to His promise. And what I said to Peter all those years before still holds true today–that falling in love with him (everyday) just makes me fall in love with God even more.

I honor you, Peter, for always being grateful for the gifts God has given you; for honoring Him with your time, talent and treasure; for keeping Him at the center not just of our family but also of your career; for allowing His Spirit to move in your life, molding you into the Christian servant you are; for answering His call to give more, do more, be more; for inspiring our kids, and myself, to do the same.

What a wonderfully fitting way to celebrate the Year of the Laity!

The Year of the Laity, as declared by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, for the Liturgical Year 2013-2014

I’m sure the kids all agree with me–you are our hero 🙂


Blood and Tears

High School, Junior year. They were renovating the school chapel for the nth time, and all class masses (held per section once a month) were to be held at the mini-theatre which was across the hall from the chapel. Being the only inducted acolyte in my class, I automatically became the assigned server for all our class masses.

Mass at the mini-theatre, in the long and short of it, wasn’t really that much different from mass at the chapel. Except, perhaps, for the fact that the altar was placed atop a stage where we’ve held plays and fashion shows. But as far as I was concerned, the only new thing I had to worry about was making sure I didn’t fall off the narrow stage.

It was after communion, and I had gone through my altar server duties with nary a hitch when, during ablution (the part where the priest cleans and assembles the chalice back together), the priest motions for me to come closer. He gives me the following instructions: “Since I have to walk all the way down the corridor to return the consecrated host to the Tabernacle (which, naturally, could not be transferred to the mini-theatre), I need you to finish cleaning the chalice for me–drink what’s left, wipe it clean, and…you know how to put it back together, right?” If I had nodded, it must have been the weakest and slowest nod ever.

It was all I could do to keep my hands from shaking. But, trying my best to remember what we’d been taught in altar server training, I proceeded to do what I had been told. I poured a small amount of water into the cup, carefully swirling to catch any consecrated particles on the sides of the chalice and, to my whole class’ surprise, I drank. Bottom’s up.

(Note: Now, more than 10 years later, I realize how that priest should not have left me to perform the ablution for him–this task should be carried out only by an ordained priest, or at the very least, a deacon. But the missteps of our clergy is not the focus of this post; we will reserve that for another discussion.)

Instantly, I felt a warmth all over my body. Arguably, I was a 16-year-old who just gulped a mouthful of wine, at high noon no less, but I don’t think it was the alcohol. Nor was it the faces of 40 girls, mouths agape at what they had just witnessed. It wasn’t even the hot, humid weather.

It was His Blood, taken into my body.

Corpus Christi

As soon as I marched to the back of the room at recessional, I went straight to the tiny prayer room beside the chapel. There, I knelt, bowed low, and wept. So much of Him, I had just received so much of Him! How could I have been found worthy…no, He chose to give Himself to me, worthy or not.

As we celebrate the feast of Corpus Christi this Sunday, let us remember how blessed we are to receive Him into our bodies. This is not just a wafer, and definitely not just a symbolic gesture–this is Christ Incarnate, making Himself available to us, for us, to be with us. As we receive Him, may our hearts be a suitable dwelling place for a King. May our bodies be empty enough (do not forsake the Eucharistic fast!) so as to make us hungry enough to long to receive Him desperately, reverently, lovingly.

The Eucharist is GIFT–the most beautiful, powerful gift Christ has given us. Do all you can, physically, mentally, spiritually, to be consciously ready to receive Him.