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Filipino Catholics from the Eyes of a Foreigner

Here’s something very positive written by a foreigner named Steve Ray, about
Filipinos. Steve Ray authored many best-selling books, among which are, Crossing
The Tiber  (his conversion story), Upon This Rock (on the papacy), and just
recently John’s Gospel (a comprehensive  bible study guide and commentary).

STEVE RAY’S OPEN LETTER TO THE FILIPINO CATHOLICS:

We stepped into the church and it was old and a bit dark. Mass had just  begun
and we sat toward the front..  We didn’t know what to expect here in Istanbul,
Turkey. I guess we expected it to be a somber Mass but quiet and somber it was
not I thought I heard angels joyously singing behind me.  The voices were rich,
melodic and beautiful.  What I discovered as I spun around to look did
not surprise me because I had seen and heard the same thing in other
churches around the world. It was not a choir of angels with feathered wings and
halos but a group of delightful Filipino Catholics with smiles of delight and
joy on their faces as they worshiped God and sang His praises. I had seen this
many times before in Rome, in Israel, in the United Statesand other countries.

Filipinos have special traits and they are beautifully expressed as I gazed at
the happy throng giving thanks to God. What are the special traits which
characterize these happy people? I will share a few that I have noticed-
personal observations- as I have traveled around the world, including visits to
the Philippines

FIRST, there is a sense of community, of family. These Filipino Christians did
not sit apart from each other in different isles. They sat together, closely.
They didn’t just sing quietly, mumbling, or simply mouthing the words. No, they
raised their voices in harmony together as though they enjoyed the sense of
unity and communion among them. They are family even if they are not related.

SECOND, they have an inner peace and joy which is rare in the world today. When
most of the world’s citizens are worried and fretful, I have found Filipinos to
have joy and peace – a deep sense of God’s love that overshadows them. They have
problems too, and many  in the Philippineshav e less material goods than others
in the world, yet there is still a sense of happy trust in God and love of
neighbor..

THIRD, there is a love for God and for his Son Jesus that is almost synonymous
with the word Filipino. There is also something  that Filipinos are famous for
around the world – their  love for the Blessed Mother. Among the many Filipinos
I have met, the affectionate title for Mary I always hear from their lips is
“Mama Mary.” For these gentle folks Mary is not just a theological idea, a
historical person, or a statue in a church – Mary is the mother of their Lord
and their mother as well, their “mama.”

The Philippinesis a Catholic nation-the only such nation in Asia-and this
wonderful country exports missionaries around the world. They are not hired to
be missionaries, not official workers of the church.  No, they are workers and
educators, doctors, nurses and housekeepers that go to other lands and travel to
the far reaches of the earth, and everywhere they go they take the joyous
gospel of Jesus with them.  They make a somber Mass joyful when they burst into
song. They convict the pagan of sin as they always keep the love of Jesus and
the Eucharist central in their lives.

My hope and prayer, while I am here in the Philippines sharing my conversion
story from Baptist Protestant to Roman Catholic, is that the Filipino people
will continue to keep these precious qualities. I pray that they will continue
loving their families, loving the Catholic Church, reading the Bible, loving
Jesus, His Mother and the Eucharist. As many other religions and sects try
to persuade them to leave the Church, may God give the wisdom to defend the
Catholic faith. As the world tempts them to sin and seek only money and fame and
power, may God grant them the serenity to always remember that obedience to
Christ and love for God is far more important than all the riches the world can
offer.  May the wonderful Filipino people continue to be a light of the
Gospel to the whole world!

2 comments on “Filipino Catholics from the Eyes of a Foreigner

  1. Dear Mr. Steve Ray
    In behalf of the Filipino People I thank you for all your beautiful words. I share your prayers for my beloved country and people and may God bless you and be with you always in spreading Jesus good news through the Catholic faith and the love of Mama Mary.

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