Thursday, October 27, 2011

The 2 o'clock duwende

(A Halloween story)

My wife and I were sleeping quite soundly one night and as usual our 2 year-old child Raphael lies sleeping between us on the bed as he used to. All of a sudden my child sits upright from bed, he was screaming in apparent fright. My wife and I were startled and realized Raphael was having a bad dream. He had this terrified look in his eyes. We hug him tight and reassured him everything was ok, mama and papa are here beside you. He whimpered more for a few minutes until he fell asleep again. I look at the clock - it is 2 in the morning.

The next night the same disturbing thing happened. My son Raphael seemed to be terrified of a certain presence inside the room. We turned on the lights and looked around but there was nothing. There was also no sound at all except the soft whirring of the electric fan and the occasional chirping of night crickets. Again we hugged and comforted our son back to sleep. I turned off the lights and before Iying down I glanced at the clock. It was 2AM.

The third night it was the same thing all over again. This time my son jumped up the bed and ran around the room as if trying to scamper away from something. He jumped at the middle of the bed and pointed at the dark corner of the room with a terrified look in his eyes. We turn on the lights and gingerly looked at the corner of the room where he was pointing at. There was nothing there, even as my son hugged me and shut his eyes. My wife and I looked at each other and this time both of us were terrified too. We prayed the Our Father together and went back to sleep fitfully. Yes it occured at around 2AM too.

This happened two more nights even as we dreaded the approach of 2 o'clock in the morning. Now my wife and I are not the least bit superstitious, but this uncanny and dreadful event seemed the work of some dark and unknown evil preying on our kid. There was nothing unusual about Raphael. He was just a normal boy in every respect except that at that age he was not yet very articulate with words, so it was futile asking him what was transpiring and what was that
he was terrified of in the dead of the night. Five straight days of the same occurrence was too much.

That weekend I happened to relate our experience to my sister. She told me that she knew of a male mystic who is gifted to drive away evil spirits. I asked her what does he do? Apparently he goes around the house lighting candles while praying the Our Father and Hail Mary. Well, I suppose there is nothing wrong with a gifted mystic who goes around praying Catholic prayers. The service is free, I just had to pay a small sum for the colored candles he is bringing.
Ok, let us give it a go then.

The following morning the mystic arrived accompanied by my sister. He greets me and my father-in-law who was there at the time. He conveyed some trivial personal details about us and it was uncanny that he knew such small private details without us being acquainted beforehand. Hmm...

So there he goes about planting candles in some areas of the house, lighting them and saying some prayers as he goes along. He said it was the presence of a dark duwende that must be driven away. In due time the whole exercise was over, and the mystic paid his leave while we thanked him.

That night my son Raphael slept soundly all through the night. 2AM passed by without any incident. The terrifying incident was never repeated again.

This happened around 15 years ago.

There goes my Halloween special but it is not meant to be an endorsement of belief in the occult in any way. I am just trying my hand at fiction.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Porta Fidei


1. The “door of faith” (Acts 14:27) is always open for us, ushering us into the life of communion with God and offering entry into his Church. It is possible to cross that threshold when the word of God is proclaimed and the heart allows itself to be shaped by transforming grace. To enter through that door is to set out on a journey that lasts a lifetime. It begins with baptism (cf. Rom 6:4), through which we can address God as Father, and it ends with the passage through death to eternal life, fruit of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, whose will it was, by the gift of the Holy Spirit, to draw those who believe in him into his own glory (cf. Jn 17:22). To profess faith in the Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – is to believe in one God who is Love (cf. 1 Jn 4:8): the Father, who in the fullness of time sent his Son for our salvation; Jesus Christ, who in the mystery of his death and resurrection redeemed the world; the Holy Spirit, who leads the Church across the centuries as we await the Lord’s glorious return.
Confessing with the lips indicates in turn that faith implies public testimony and commitment. A Christian may never think of belief as a private act. Faith is choosing to stand with the Lord so as to live with him. This “standing with him” points towards an understanding of the reasons for believing. Faith, precisely because it is a free act, also demands social responsibility for what one believes. The Church on the day of Pentecost demonstrates with utter clarity this public dimension of believing and proclaiming one’s faith fearlessly to every person. It is the gift of the Holy Spirit that makes us fit for mission and strengthens our witness, making it frank and courageous.
“That the word of the Lord may speed on and triumph” (2 Th 3:1): may this Year of Faith make our relationship with Christ the Lord increasingly firm, since only in him is there the certitude for looking to the future and the guarantee of an authentic and lasting love. The words of Saint Peter shed one final ray of light on faith: “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while you may have to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold which though perishable is tested by fire, may redound to praise and glory and honour at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Without having seen him you love him; though you do not now see him you believe in him and rejoice with unutterable and exalted joy. As the outcome of your faith you obtain the salvation of your souls” (1 Pet 1:6-9). The life of Christians knows the experience of joy as well as the experience of suffering. How many of the saints have lived in solitude! How many believers, even in our own day, are tested by God’s silence when they would rather hear his consoling voice! The trials of life, while helping us to understand the mystery of the Cross and to participate in the sufferings of Christ (cf. Col 1:24), are a prelude to the joy and hope to which faith leads: “when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor 12:10). We believe with firm certitude that the Lord Jesus has conquered evil and death. With this sure confidence we entrust ourselves to him: he, present in our midst, overcomes the power of the evil one (cf. Lk 11:20); and the Church, the visible community of his mercy, abides in him as a sign of definitive reconciliation with the Father.

Let us entrust this time of grace to the Mother of God, proclaimed “blessed because she believed” (Lk 1:45).

Given in Rome, at Saint Peter’s, on 11 October in the year 2011, the seventh of my Pontificate.