February 13, 2014 – Two days ago, I attended the noon time celebration of the Eucharist for the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes at the Shrine of Our Lady in Retiro, Quezon City, officiated by His Excellency, Bishop Teodoro Bacani, DD. I was in the choir loft and was taking part of the celebration from a high vantage point. It gave me a chance to observe everything without being conspicuous and at the same time, my almost imperceptible presence allowed me to gather insights in order to reflect more on our way of life and the importance of our Mother Mary to the Capuchins.
Mary is important in a Capuchin’s life and my experience with our missionary friars from Spain greatly reflects her presence in their daily lives. I am reminded of a friar who daily goes up the highest floor of Sta. Teresita Friary and would walk energetically back and forth the corridors holding onto a rosary and reciting it with zeal. Even when he was confined in a small room of a hospital, he continued this practice while pacing back and forth in the small space at the foot of his bed. I likewise, remember visiting Alsasua and hearing a friar sharing to me with great joy how they used to shout before going out to the field to play soccer the phrase: “ ¡ viva la Virgen María! ¡ causa de nuestra alegría!” (Hail the Virgin Mary! Cause of our Joy!). And touching moments came to my mind like when the friars at Navarra heard the news that we were going to visit the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes in France and those we met almost always would tell us: “Send my love to our Mother!” Some even with teary eyes.
Mary and the Capuchin? Tradition and the example of our brothers teach us that they are not separable. They are intimately related and one.
In the quiet recesses of the loft I was in, while the mass continues to unfold, I quietly gaze on a friar seated on a wheelchair looking tenderly and silently at our Lady. Whatever is transpiring in the deep recesses of his heart, I may never know… but the warmth of the love between mother and son will forever be etched in my memory…