HE HAS DONE GREAT THINGS! (A TESTIMONY)

It was daunting! A tall order.

For the Indico-Pacific Province of the Hijas de Jesus Congregation to prepare a video presentation to be aired globally.

To commemorate the 11th anniversary of the canonization of its Foundress, St. Candida Maria de Jesus.

In the 150th year of the founding of the Congregation.

In the second year of the COVID 19 pandemic, I found myself CALLED to be one of the members of the Working Team of this project. I was the only layperson in this group of six Hijas de Jesus sisters:

2 based in Manila

2 based in Iloilo

1 based in Davao

1 based in Tokyo, Japan.

I myself was based in Iloilo City, an alumna of Colegio de las Hijas de Jesus.

Our first meeting (via Zoom, as all meetings were) was in mid-February, 2021. [The video would be premiered in October 2021.] There we were, excitedly greeting each other virtually, this little group of like-minded souls within the family of Mother Candida.

We were of different ages, but our hearts were one. We were all formed in the mold of Candidan-Ignatian spirituality, related, and beloved by one Father, ‘siblings’ to one another, daughters of Jesus.

From the beginning, I never felt different. I was a member of the same family. We were all united and motivated by one love: love for God and his will. And our common desire was to bring him glory, in and by our lives.

We brainstormed. We tossed ideas about, keenly aware that this video would be for a global audience. What did God want to proclaim to the world at this time of the 150th year of the Congregation and the 11th year since Mother Foundress was declared a saint? What did He want to highlight at this troubled time, 109 years after her death?

It seemed overwhelming at first. But slowly, little by little, God’s vision for the project unfolded. By the second virtual meeting a month after, we had come up with a working outline. In an hour’s presentation the video would include:

1.      A brief review of Mother Candida’s life.

2.      A remembering of that fateful Canonization Day in October, 2010.

3.      An interactive responding to the question: What does it mean to be a saint?

4.      A short but concise catechesis on sainthood.

5.      What are the fruits of Mother Candida’s holiness?

6.      A message from the General Superior of the Hijas de Jesus Congregation.

7.      Two questions to reflect on in response to God’s message in the video.

Two weeks before the start of Holy Week, 2021 each one of us was assigned to be responsible for certain parts of the video. We each had roles to play. I embraced three big responsibilities

.      To come up with the Canonization Anniversary Song.

.   To come up with the videotaped interactive responses to the question:

What does it mean to be a saint?

3. To assist the main Sister-in-charge of the portion: What are the fruits of Mother Candida’s holiness?

As always, when embarking on a project, I fell into prayer. Conversing with God about my thoughts, feelings, ideas. Asking for his help and the guidance of his Holy Spirit. Leaning on his grace. I poured my doubts and qualms. But I also shared my excitement and hopes for the project’s success. I asked him for the grace of Magis: to come up with the more, the greater, the best in my ‘doing’.

How did I see the hand of God at work?

How did I experience God’s Spirit and feel his direction?

How did I sense the same Spirit hovering over the project, filling my tank, and letting the creative juices flow?

This was operational here: You know how what you suggest gets assigned to you?

So … I found myself suggesting that an anniversary song be commissioned and got assigned the responsibility of coming up with one.

I already had the composer and singer in mind, but would they say Yes to it? And who would do the lyrics? Coming up with a fitting celebration song might not be that easy after all.

And then … one day, while doing my daily exercise walk, I just found myself jotting down the lyrics in one go on my iPhone. The words just flowed! The Holy Spirit was working through me. It was amazing!

All I wanted to do was to make Mother Candida’s simple, holy life come alive for the young generation. And I wanted to sing for joy and gratitude at this wonderful gift of God. To the Church and to the world.

As for the composer and singer, obstacles (of job-related busyness and other projects) stood in the way. But Blessed be God! They were hurdled!

The result? A joyful song of celebration. Simple, like Mother Candida. But giving glory to God, who does such great things!

Indeed, He inspires and makes a way, sending the persons whom He equips to fulfill his purposes!

Second instance:

So … I suggested that an interactive portion be included in the video. To involve people of various ages, touched by Mother Candida’s life of goodness and responding to the query: What does it mean to be a saint? Only to find myself assigned to animate this portion.

Oh, dear! Now I had to look for respondents and have them videotaped while answering the question. Where do I find them? How do I identify them?

Again … the way was paved, cleared, facilitated. It happens that I’ve made a lot of personal connections with many people, especially in the family of Mother Candida. I was pointed to them, in prayer, as the key persons who could specifically tap the people I wanted to be the respondents, representing various ages, sectors, and nations, showing how wide is Mother Candida’s reach and ripple effect.

The result? Grade school pupils from Argentina, speaking in their native Spanish.

A senior high school student in Cebu speaking in Mandarin. A teacher in Davao. A missionary in Bangladesh. An alumna in Japan. All touched by Mother Candida’s legacy of goodness, their lives of faith fruits of her holiness.

I experienced being pointed to the right person AGAIN, God’s anointed, to lend her firm but gentle voice as the voice of Mother Candida. Her faith-promoting sayings are incorporated in the video. This person is a sister in Christ. We belong to the same prayer community. We are members of the same choir. But she has no ties at all with the family of Mother Candida. She agreed to do the voice-over without hesitation. The result? Mother Candida’s sayings never sounded so beautiful and so inspiring.

Indeed, God sends the right persons, his instruments. Just as He did in Old Testament days. Just as He sent his Son. Just as He sends persons to help address our needs in our current lives. Most of all He sends persons to fulfill his good purpose.

How wonderful is that thought and realization? How present and real is our God! How perfectly knowing He is of our circumstances and our lives!

I first made Sr. Flor’s acquaintance during Hijas de Jesus’ 3rd International Encounter of the Lay in Manila. She is a missionary in Japan who has embraced the Hijas de Jesus pastoral ministry apostolate to mostly Filipino migrants in Tokyo.

One of her assignments in this video was to animate The Fruits of Mother Candida’s Holiness. No small task. I was assigned to assist her. With her working out of Tokyo and me helping her from Iloilo we shared hours of Zoom meetings and back and forth emails between us.

Little did I know how blessed I would be as Sister Flor and I walked the tedious process of gathering materials that would best deliver the message of Mother Candida’s fruitful life of 67 years lived for God.

Working through this I was able to:

·  RELIVE my own tender years in Colegio de las Hijas de Jesus,

·  APPRECIATE the formation I was privileged to be gifted with,

·  DISCOVER ANEW the treasure that was Mother Foundress’ saintly life,

·  DEEPEN my heart knowledge of Mother Foundress’ charism and spirituality,

·  RENEW my commitment to imitate her and live her sayings,

·  FEEL AGAIN a surge of love for God and his will in my life,

·  VIEW my own life story from the perspective of faith, God’s love, and God’s perfect hand in it.

My earnest involvement in preparing this portion of the video became a meditation on my own faith life and journey. With the gift of hindsight I was able to see, with new eyes, a CLARITY OF MEANING, PURPOSE, AND MISSION to the energies and events in my life.

It is EXHILARATING!

It is LIBERATING!

It is a WONDERFUL BLESSING!

Which is why I can sing with Mary:

My soul magnifies the Lord

And my spirit rejoices in God, my Savior

For He has done great things for me

And holy is his name.

Blessed be God!

Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam!