2004/03/08

The Rosary Prayer (The first and last that IHMS gave me)

It was a Thursday in mid-July 2004 in one of the banks in Quezon City. I was one of the early clients. There were only five people in the queue. As soon as the third person was serviced with, the teller announced that transactions would be delayed as the computers went off-line. We were advised to come back in an hour or wait. I decided to just wait inside the bank.

To while the time away, I prayed the rosary. When praying in public places, I try to be less ostentatious as much as possible. And yet the lady sitting beside me noticed my fingers tracing the rosary beads.

When I finished praying, she slightly leaned towards me asking: “Are you a priest?” Her smile was very friendly and almost proud that she was right about me. I replied, “Yes, I was a priest. But not anymore.” My voice was a little above whisper as I added, “Lumabas na ho ako sa ministry.”

My answer must have been a 10,000 kilovolt lightning because the lady’s enthusiasm immediately fizzled out. She stiffened herself and sat back, oblivious to other things around.

Praying the rosary is one thing that IHMS have permanently carved in my life. When I was still active in the ministry, the urge to pray the rosary was within the border of obligation and necessity. But now that I am an ordinary layman, saying the rosary is just a part of my natural impulse.

During our high school days in Taloto, I and Isaac used to go to the chapel to pray the rosary after lunch. There was a kneeler at the sacristy which was our favorite. We liked it for two reasons: It was placed nearest to the statue of the Blessed Mother. And, it was diagonally positioned, allowing me and Isaac a good view of the pews.

From our vantage position, we could observe the different facial expressions of seminarians in their most pious and private moments--when they are praying in the chapel.

Inday had the most audible and guttural voice. Pioux was always his prayer partner. Soc had the penchant for draging his slippers and slightly tiptoeing on his left foot as he enters the chapel. Junior kept his eyes closed the whole time, as if in a trance. Then there was Indac and Serge his usual sidekick (or it could be the other way around). There was also Nox who just looked straight towards the altar-- ijang buhok morag si Jose Rizal. Of course, Jeffrey! How can I forget him! Jeffrey, when already deep in prayer would usually start to inhale air by grinning and exposing his teeth. As the air is expelled from his mouth, it would produce a hissing-slurping sound much like the sound produced by sipping a dripping lollipop.

There were many other--more funny-looking and memorable--seminarians at pray.

Well, those days, none of the seminary fathers bothered to show up in the chapel for private prayers. There was none the seminarians could emulate.

I am confident though that this special prayer is still the prayer of those people.

The continuous chain in the rosary has been the symbol of my connectedness to my past, my Taloto days. It has bridged the different crossings in the life--when I left Bohol to join the MSP, when I left the country for the mission in the foreign land and recently when I left the ministry for married life.

I awaken from this reverie when the bank teller announced that the system was back on line. The lady’s name was called and I was expecting that she would give me a glance even for that "little friendship" that she herself started. But there was none. And then my name was called and I was able to encash my pay check. I left the bank and went back to my office and did what ordinary people do. (chris)