April Ann De Guzman, 24, single, is a college graduate, with a Bachelor of Science degree, major in Civil Engineering.
MY work is stressful and yet fun. In my job, I get to learn a lot of new things every day, explore various concepts regarding the field and deal with different kinds of people.
There comes a point, however, when you need to be able to sort out your priorities– align your plans and consider a lot of other factors to improve your life, especially your relationship with people who matter to you.
I belong to a family where we have spiritual freedom – we are not forced to be Catholics or join any other religion for that matter. So I believe I am blessed. To be a Catholic has always been my personal choice.
Yet, time was when my family and I had not been what you’d call devout Catholics, whatever the word devout entails. Like, we didn’t pray the Rosary at 6:00 p.m., like I know Catholic families do.
But we kids were raised knowing the value of prayer, knowing God’s Word, attending Holy Mass, Simbang Gabi or Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, celebrating fiestas.
Our sitio usually was assigned to lead the Pasyon, a sung-through version of the Passion of Christ, during Holy Week, specifically on Holy Wednesday, so we participated in the ritual.
Actually, I remember, when I was a kid, I read parts of the Bible during the Holy Week, and I thought the Bible was the only book that we were allowed to read during those days. I was kind of sad because all the television channels shut down during Holy Week, unlike today, when TV stations air shows during the week.
Also, at one time, I was even a member of the choir in our parish church.
To sum it up, we were a typical Catholic family— we went to church, lived our faith, and tried to do something good in the outside world.
But I would be a hypocrite if I say I went to Mass regularly— because I might have missed quite a few Sundays especially when I started working. Sometimes, I just could not find the time for Mass–which made me feel guilty that I didn’t spend an hour or two for Him when He had given me His all.
When friends invited me, I attended services of other religious groups—basically out of curiosity about how they view God.
But I am glad to had been raised open minded about people’s religious beliefs. I believe that when you know your faith, and Who you really stand for, you will not waver in your love for God even as you are introduced to various teachings and practices.
It helped that a sister in Christ at the workplace got me into a One-on-One session on a series of topics concerning the Scriptures– basic knowledge and facts that every believer should know to be able to make disciples. It was a good experience to be able to open up with another soul and a great eye-opener for me, getting me back into the right perspective about my Catholic faith.
Finding The Feast
I was practically okay with how I was raised spiritually and so I did not feel the need to get deeper with my faith.
But I got to appreciate my Catholic faith, particularly the Holy Mass, when I joined The Feast.
In 2011, I took the Civil Engineering Board Examination. I did not pass the exam but my failure led me winning a lot in life.
You see, when I was reviewing for the Board Exam, a friend asked my friends and I to go with him to Feast SM Manila.
I had no idea what The Feast was all about, but I said “Yes.”
It was a Friday– time to chill out after a week of studying for the Board Exam.
That’s how I was introduced to The Feast, how I came to meet the Feast Builder, Bro. Obet Cabrillas, or Daddy O as we call him, who practically became my spiritual daddy.
Since then, I’ve been Feast-hopping– from Manila, to PICC, to Alabang, Malolos, and Baliwag for nearly four years now.
Actually, I knew about Bro. Bo Sanchez and his books prior to attending The Feast. But I’d lived in the province all my life, and there was no one to basically drag me–not that I needed to be dragged or something– to go attend The Feast.
What I like most about The Feast is first, the connection.Everything just made sense when I was introduced to The Feast.
What I like most about The Feast is the energy.
The Feast gives off that vibe that reminds us that we will never be alone because we always have God, through His loving community and children.
It still amuses me how before, when we were all basically “newbies”, my friends and I would send text messages to each other asking everyone if they wanted to go to The Feast and since we were a solid squad, whenever one was not available, the plan would not push through.
But now, we go even if one of us can’t make it. We simply got hooked.
I now belong to a small group, Light Group, it is called, and I am assigned to call up members to attend our weekly meeting.
Back to the Church
In his talks, Bro. Bo Sanchez reminded us that knowing about your faith is not enough. You have to live your faith and share God’s Word to others.
While I am okay with the conventional Catholic church practices, I had always sought this certain connection. Sometimes, you listen to homilies and the priests’ message gets you straight in the heart. But then there are times when you are so distracted that you do not understand a single word the priest is saying.
I used to blame priests when I did not get to remember anything about the Mass I attended. I thought the priest was to blame if I did not get anything substantial from his homily.
But The Feast has made me realize that what’s important is to focus on Jesus—that He, not the priest, is the One talking to me. This way, the Mass has become a joy for me. It is now easy for me to listen to the homily, understand the priest’s message, and remember the teaching.
Also, religion had always been a very touchy subject that I would not dare go on a debate with anyone. I’d been afraid of getting stereotyped and judged for being a Catholic. I had always wanted to defend my faith but I did not know how.
The Feast, however, has taught me that I do not have to be afraid about standing up for my faith because Jesus will always back me up. Like His disciples in the past, we may be judged or persecuted for our beliefs– but it doesn’t matter, as long as we live for the truth, and that is with Him.
I now truly appreciate our Catholic faith. I like how deeply rooted to Christ we really are. Some of our rites may be different from fundamental beliefs about Christ’s Church—but if you dig deeply into our doctrines, you’ll find out everything about our Catholic faith and rituals are really all about God.