Tuesday, October 16, 2007


On 29 September 2006, I sought the counsel of my Catholic priest friend regarding my persistent dilemma. I'm currently in the thick of pressing financial difficulties that need to be resolved in the shortest possible time. The only logical recourse of a solution is for me to be able to sell a real estate property to be able to liquidate all my financial obligations and start on a new slate free from any existing liabilities.

The only major problem is that I have difficulty trying to find the right buyer for the property. Needless to say, in the past three years or so, I've arduously done just about anything possible to make a potential sale. From extensive major classified advertising to hiring expert property brokers, but with no positive results at all.

I even tried fervent and repeated prayers. The funny thing about prayers is that it is my experience, that when I would pray for someone else's petitions, they are immediately granted; whereas my own petitions are most often unanswered.

And this is where I sought the advice of a Catholic priest friend, Father Felipe Santos. For enlightenment, I was asking him to explain to me the spiritual logic behind selective prayers, why my prayers for others get answered immediately while those for my self remain unanswered?

This wasn't about a wavering of faith in God. It was more like I felt that God was being selective in answering prayers. Then in the middle of the conversation, he suddenly said that I should go and visit the Sisters of the Congregation of Mother Theresa. As he wondered why he said this, he hastened to add saying that it was God who was speaking through him and telling me to do so.

Of course, I countered by asking Father Felipe, what is so special about them and why I need to go there when I can pray to God directly here at the Church; which already was the National Shrine of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ.

His curt reply shut me up as he said, "You can ask the Sisters to pray for your urgent needs. Perhaps God listens to them and grants the prayers of the poor." As I was to find out later, these Sisters are carrying out the mission of helping and serving the poorest of the poor, under the name of Missionaries of Charity as started by the Congregation of Mother Theresa herself when she was still alive.

Hesitantly, I made up an excuse by saying I didn't have the financial means to visit such place since this was located at Tayuman Street in Tondo, Metro Manila popularly known as slum or squatter's area. Father Felipe knew I didn't want to go, so he offered to give me transportation money and reiterated his desire for me to do so.

Naturally, he offered me gas money to make me honor my commitment to visit. Next day Saturday afternoon, I asked a friend to go with me as we drove my car to the city to our destination. Though the exact whereabouts was unknown to me, I was quite familiar with the street name given by Tess, his secretary as I trusted on my driving instincts to get there.

All along driving the one-hour trip, I knew that Divine Intervention was somehow leading us to the exact address with hardly any obstacle at all. We safely arrived at the compound named Missionaries of Charity and as I parked my car, Sister John of Korea came outside to meet us.

Immediately, I told her of my main purpose of visiting the place; to ask for their help for my urgent prayer request while I handed out a small paper with my written prayer request to her.

With such a naturally warm friendly reception, she offered to accompany us with a tour of their special care facility for the abandoned and unwanted sectors of society.

In the building where I parked was a lot formerly owned and donated by the Philippine National Railways Authority to the Congregation; which was developed into a daycare facility for abandoned children.

The sight of a mini playground with a revolving carousel full of special needs children innocently having fun; instantly melted my heart when Sister John told me that these were unwanted children usually babies abandoned by their parents at birth. The healthy ones are usually taken cared of and after reaching a certain age are put up for regular adoption with the Social Welfare Agency.

After touring the compact children's facility, Sister John offered to take us to another building across the street where the special care facility of the neglected elderly was situated. She explained that the elderly patients are those unwanted by their relatives or those who had no surviving relatives at all.

On the way, I intently asked who funded both places and her reply astounded me, "Divine Providence, God provides for all our needs to carry out our work." I had taken this to mean that financial support was coming in the form of financial contributions from well-meaning individuals and organizations.

The life-size image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus with open arms greets one upon entering the main gate constantly reminding visitors of the compound that Jesus is spiritually present to watch over and care for all their needs.

Upon entering the elderly facility, the elderly courteous patients eagerly greeted Sister John and cheerfully acknowledged our presence. Inside the wide building was a small chapel for the patients for their prayer and worship services.

The large lying-in room was neatly arranged with two rows of neatly covered beds on each side with most of the elderly patients lying down on their clean respective beds. Impressively neat and arranged, it had an adjoining clean kitchen where the Sisters were carefully preparing the meals for their patients.

It was obvious that these elderly patients abandoned by their own relatives; are in their ages of sixties or seventies and needed constant supervised medical and personal care. Some were senile, incapacitated and were wet in bed due to urination difficulty and this has caused the air to be permeated with the pungent odor of urine.

It was a place that needed special care and it was taken cared of in a special and tender loving way by these special sisters of Mother Theresa. I was so humbled by the very sight of seeing acts of charity and works of mercy being performed by these good and kind Missionaries Sisters who didn't expect anything in return.

The only thing common among them was a smiling face radiating of genuine happiness and inner contentment in being able to help out other people who are incapable of taking care of themselves.

Honestly, it was my first time to personally visit such an extraordinary place, whereupon I was humbled as I understood what Jesus meant when He said, "Whatsoever you do to the least of My brethren, you have done it to Me".

The last part of the tour was the Congregation's main prayer hall where I knelt and joined those who were currently praying in vocalized rhythmic order. As I felt the sincerity of their prayers in their voices, I closed my teary eyes and prayed for my urgent petition and thanked God for having brought me to this special place.

For in this place of the poorest of the poor, the abandoned and the unwanted; I have witnessed how God's great love is being manifested throughout the daily works of love selflessly rendered by these kind compassionate Sisters. To personally witness and experience true acts of Charity and great works of Mercy with no expectation of any reward at all, is truly the greatest act of love that a person can do for another.

That the incomparable reward for such a supreme act of selfless service is an inner peace and divine contentment only God can give to those who willingly offer their love to the least of their brethren.

As I finished praying with tear streaming eyes, I approached Sister John who was waiting for us as her fellow Sisters assured me not to be disheartened as they will pray for my urgent needs as God surely knows of my predicament.

We thanked the Sisters for their hospitality and left with the realization that my going to that special place was not by accident but by Divine Intervention. I left the place with the full appreciation that my temporary financial difficulty is nothing at all compared to what I've witnessed in this special place, where the poorest and the neglected of society are living in a permanent state of abject poverty but was nevertheless taken cared of by God.

More importantly, I understood why their needs are more of a priority than mine. And that it was right for God to be selective in addressing the priorities of every prayer. Father Felipe was indeed right when he said, " God does listen to the prayers of the poor and grants them accordingly." For the poor in spirit are rich in God's sight and are sufficient with His Graces.

Through the fervent prayers of the Sisters of Saint Theresa, the answer to my prayer for a financial solution finally came in May 2007. An unexpected buyer who initially came to see the property immediately liked it from the very first time she visited it and offered to buy it within that month.

Constructively, this humbling experience has taught me great virtues; that faith and trust are most important in prayers, and that effective prayer is a collective effort. The selfless act of praying for other people's needs over and above my own needs is an act of sacrifice as it instills humility and patience from within while promoting charity and love for others.

Now in my prayer petitions, I continue to pray that God unceasingly send His Graces through kind-hearted Good Samaritans with the ability to be able to contribute to the financial needs of this special group, The Missionaries of Charity of the Sisters of Mother Theresa.

Edwin L. Yap
Makati City, Philippines