The Mother Ignacia Healing Center of the Religious of the Virgin Mary (RVM) congregation will finally be blessed at 10:00 a.m. on Nov. 27 with a concelebrated mass by Bishop Tobias and two Jesuit priests who were healed from cancer. Everyone is invited.
Strangely, the Novaliches center was built totally by people who were healed. No one asked them to help. There was no campaign for funds. They offered on their own initiative. As one devotee put it, the center rose from the ground by sheer will of the Lord with no one lifting a finger.
It all began with an architect who was healed. He saw the makeshift healing center with canvas as roof, open to wind and rain, where people got wet or perspired in the scorching sun, with the cramp space, and the wheelchair traffic jam. A site for healing deserved a better place, conducive to prayer and meditation, he thought. After all, this was sacred ground where the Lord come to heal His people. And so he envisioned a healing center that could be erected at a nearby open space. He put it in color on a large canvas and mounted it near the future site for everyone to see. People looked at it and asked when it would be built. The answer was always nobody knew. It was just a vision of one who was healed by the Lord.
That was when the technical specifications were done by an engineer-contractor who was healed. He drew the blueprint, and gave a list of what was needed in detail, how many hollow blocks, steel bars, sacks of cement, volume of sand, and so on. He gave the plan and the list to Sister Raquel Reodica, RVM, who was the Lord's instrument to heal cancer patients.
People who were healed asked about the nice painting and they were shown the blueprint and the list. On their own, with no one asking, they offered to give an item or two. One offered to take care of the sand, another the hollow blocks, another the steel bars, another the laborers. The people the Lord healed, strangers to each other, never meeting one another, became a powerful force in the building of the healing church.
In no time, the structure rose from the ground. People were impatient seeing the unfinished work. More offered help, the paint, the roof, the finishing materials, the tiles for the floor, more labor. It was taking shape and acquiring color on its own with no one in charge. Someone donated the huge expensive glass mosaic, a replica of Mother Ignacia. Fine arts students from the University of Sto. Tomas painted the murals. The statues of Mama Mary, St. Joseph and the Christ Child, and the Sacred Heart all came from donors.
It is reported that Our Lady of Medjugorje gave a message saying that the Philippines will one day be a global spiritual center. It is hard to imagine how a poor Third World nation, 70% of whose populace live below the poverty line, would be a spiritual mecca for an ailing world full of wars and chaos. But if you consider that the Lord chose sinners to be His apostles, if you consider how His lineage is from King David, a murderer and adulterer turned prophet, then you can begin to see perhaps how His ways are not our ways, His wisdom not our wisdom.
Is the healing ministry of Sister Raquel and the RVM sisters the first step towards fulfilling the Medjugorje message? Nobody knows. There are other healers at the center, who prefer a low profile, like Sister Gloria and Mother Remy. It is not important to have expectations. But it is good to be aware of things that may come.
Mother Ignacia, who founded the RVM order in the late 19th century, is being considered for beatification. A papal committee came to investigate last year. If she will be beatified, it will be partly due to all the healings of the RVM sisters attributed to her, who is invoked in their healing prayers. She will be the first woman in the Philippines to be beatified, if she indeed will be.
Many people claiming to be visionaries have approached Sister Raquel. A French woman who sought her years ago said Marian groups nationwide will converge and work for her healing ministry, and that this ministry will spread across the globe. Sister Raquel laughs, a skeptic about purported visionaries. She says if it will happen, it will happen, but she has no expectations. She says she is simply an instrument of the Lord, nothing more.
But it is truly spreading. Sister Raquel has made half a dozen healing missions to China, Korea, Japan, Europe, especially Spain, Canada, and the US. Because network coverage of the healing center by ABS-CBN and GMA 7 and RPN 9 reach California and New York by cable, many balikbayans now troop to the Novaliches center. This article, which appears in the BusinessWorld website, is also read worldwide. The author has received inquiries from Bahrain, Kuwait, Switzerland, and other places.
Here is a letter from Saudi Arabia. "Hi, good morning. I have been your subscriber for quite sometime now. I am here in Saudi Arabia with my husband and two kids (ages 5 & 4). I would like to ask your help on how I would teach catechism to my children while we are here. As you see, it is not allowed to practice the faith here. That is the reason why I appreciate your e-mails. (I send free-subscription short prayers and meditation posters, Weekly Food for the Soul, to thousands who inquire about healing.) To tell you the truth I don't even have a Bible here. A friend tried to send me one thru mail, but it did not reach me and maybe it is the reason why my mails then were opened. My only consolation is having my rosary in my bag everyday. I do get asked by my son sometimes 'Mama, bakit si Jesus nasa kuarto lang?' He is referring to a crucifix given to us by a friend who went home for good. We get to pray together as a family every night before we sleep. Would appreciate any suggestion. Many thanks. D."
Once a dying 67-year-old mother from Bulacan came. She was almost falling off her wheelchair and could not even talk. Sister Raquel asked why they had to bring her to the center if she was dying. Sister, scared of people dying at the center, kept pleading to the crowd, "Paki-usap ko, mga kapatid, huwag magdala rito ng mga nasa coma na at baka maging period, e, hindi ko alam ang aking gagawin (Please do not bring people in coma here as they may become 'period' and I do not know what to do)."
The woman pleaded for Sister to bathe her. Sister could not refuse. She went over the bathing area and bathed her and her family while the rest of the crowd waited in the church. Sister poured buckets and buckets of water at her request. Later, as she was squeezing off water from her hair, she told her family, "Sabi sa inyo dito ako gagaling (I told you I will be healed here)."
Sister Raquel says the Lord is the Healer, not her. She knows she has no right to size up the situation. She has to leave that to the Lord. She says she has to surrender everything to the Healer who decides whom to heal. She is a mere instrument. It was the strong faith of the sick which healed them in spite of Sister Raquel's fears. It was the same strong faith for one who had been deaf for four long years. They said they came to Sister because they have no money for hearing aids. They had no hesitation, no doubt that he would be healed. Today, his hearing has been restored. Sister Raquel is amazed at the faith of the people who come to her. She says, "We do not explain. We only experience God, and His power over us and our illnesses."
Thinking of the Medjugorje message, I thought how much we Filipinos can really be the center of spirituality. We are the only Christian country in Asia. The churches in Spain and even Italy are tourist centers, ours are still prayer centers. We may be poor, but our wisdom and wealth are of the heart. If the Lord wants a Christian mecca in a world of wars, He must have found a perfect place. For those who need healing or want free subscription prayers, send your requests at the e-mail address below or text 'JESUSHEALS' to 2355 for Globe phones, and 'mytxt(space)JESUSHEALS' to 211 for Smart phones.
Bernardo V. Lopez
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