A burst of passion uncontrolled… then a pregnancy regretted…. until finally, a determined appointment with the “hilot”…
The story would have ended there if the “hilot” did not have the boldness to believe that each human life is valuable and worth sacrificing for. Despite his own poverty, he firmly refused to abort the child but gently offered to make the child his own if only the woman would bear the pregnancy to full term and deliver the baby alive.
Hence, the baby boy saw the sunshine and by his innocent smiles brought sunshine to the poor household. When the “hilot” got very ill and could no longer support his family’s needs, village folks, in attempts to express sympathy, advised that he give up the baby, which should not have been his burden in the beginning. But with unwavering faith, he called on the mercy of God to lead him to the means to keep his family, especially the baby, alive.
One day, as he lay in a hospital bed, drifting in and out of the dizzying cloud of hunger, unable to go home due to his inability to pay his hospital bill and unable to eat because his food ration had been cut 3 days previously since he was given the “May go home” order, he whispered to his neighbor – a fellow poor patient in the next hospital bed: “How are you there? Are you ok?” The neighbor said, “yes, comrade, as ok as sunshine as I memorize away my hunger”. And he answered, “Good for you, friend, it is good to hear your voice. I see only a white cloud everywhere and my head is very light… I think I’m going to drift away slowly.” The listening ears of a watcher sitting on another hospital bed caught the exchange and she vowed that she will not let her own patient die without having done her best, no matter how poor they were. She decided right there and then to go around and beg for the first time in her life.
So she begged at the social welfare office, the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes office, her neighbors, and at every office and market stall she passed until she met a stranger who gave her an address. Tagging a friend along, she came knocking at the Rosa Mystica Health Mission office at about 10 o’clock in the morning. The first question she was asked was, “Your lips have lost all color and you seem ready to collapse, have you eaten your breakfast?” To which she answered, “I am all right. I come to ask help for my patient.” The next question was, “How far did you travel to come here, and how did you come to know the mission?” She answered, “I don’t know exactly how far I have come. We’d been walking around since 6 o’clock in the morning, not knowing exactly where we should go, until a man who identified himself as a Chairman of an unfamiliar purok advised us to come here.” Then she was told, “we do not know if we can help your patient, but you must sit down and eat breakfast, otherwise you will break down and you will no longer be able to help your patient.” So she sat before a hastily prepared breakfast and as she breathed deeply, her tears rolled down. Between sobs, she said, “thank you for this meal. My last meal was lunch yesterday, and I had been drinking water to keep me going while I searched for help. I do not mind the hunger. We have a neighbor in the hospital ward who is more hungry but keeps cracking jokes about our hunger.” Then another question was asked, “what happened to your hospital neighbor?” To which she answered, “ahh, he had not eaten for a few days, and yesterday he said he couldn’t see anything anymore, but that he was ok. Personally, I pity him. I had shared some food with him in the past”. “Does he have a watcher?” “Yes.” “Can you send the watcher here?” When the interview was finished, she went back to the hospital with the hope that her godchild could finally have a CT scan and have a chance for treatment at a higher level hospital. Then, as instructed, she sent her neighbor’s watcher to the mission.
Very timid and shy, the watcher hesitated so many times before she would knock. She was the wife of the “hilot”. The “hilot” was a diabetic, and fasting was dangerous for him. He was the breadwinner and since his confinement in the hospital, she had felt overwhelmed and immobilized by extreme anxiety at the grim future looming ahead. Moved by mercy, the mission paid his hospital bill so he could go home and resume earning money to sustain his family. A pair of crutches was given to him to enable him to have maximum independence.
A few months afterwards, by a mysterious hand of Providence, having heard of the mission, a French lady decided to visit and help in the mission work. She was assigned to visit the already bedridden hilot to dress his wounds and to console him in his suffering. It was then that she saw the little baby who was the sunshine of the “hilot” in his dark days. As she watched this boy happily hug his adoptive father and run around him cheerfully, she was deeply struck by his wobbly gait. He had a clubfoot. She vowed to find the money to support his surgery.
Soon, the “hilot’s” health deteriorated and then he died. His wife was crushed with grief and she would have gone to the grave with him, but the little boy with the wobbly steps would keep running towards her, not giving her the chance to wallow in her grief. She realized that for this innocent baby she needed to be strong. One step at a time, she immersed herself in the role of breadwinner. She discovered the simple joys of breadwinning. And she discovered how nights could be brightened by the happy songs of her little boy.
Today she is celebrating the little boy’s homecoming from the hospital where he had been operated to repair his clubfoot. As she visited the mission office to show off the newly operated foot, her smile was easy and relaxed, her poise confident. No trace could be seen of the shy woman who did not have the courage to knock at the gate, who shirked at the prospect of breadwinning. Unconsciously, the little boy that she and her husband had adopted has given her courage to face the future with a smile, as she helped him place one foot forward, one step at a time.
The courage to love makes us see the beauty of life.
_____________________________ ("Hilot" is a self-trained massage therapist. Some have learned the technique of 'maneuvering' the uterine muscles to contract, thus inducing abortion.)
.... We [...] wish at this point to pay the highest tribute of praise to the care taken of the sick, the infirm and afflicted of every kind; We mean hospitals, leprosaries, dispensaries and homes for the aged and for maternity cases, and orphanages. These are to Our eyes the fairest flowers of missionary endeavors; they give us as it were a vision of the Divine Redeemer Himself, Who "went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed." (Acts 10:38)
Such outstanding works of charity are undoubtedly of the highest efficacy in preparing the souls of non-Christians and in drawing them to the faith and to the practice of Christianity; besides, Our Lord said to His Apostles: "Into what city soever you enter, and they receive you... heal the sick that are therein and say to them: the Kingdom of God is come nigh upon you." Luke 10:8-9.
However, the brothers and nuns who feel that they are called to undertake such work must, before leaving their own country, acquire the professional training and knowledge which are today required in these matters. We know that there are nuns with full professional qualifications who have earned well-merited recognition by the special study of loathsome diseases, such as leprosy, and by discovering remedies for them. These and all other missionaries who are giving their service so generously in leper hospitals have Our paternal blessing, and their exalted charity compels Our admiration and praise.
With regard to medicine and surgery, however, it will certainly be advisable to enlist the services of laymen, provided not only that they have taken the necessary degrees for this work, and are willing to leave their homeland in order to help the missionaries, but also that in the matter of faith and morals they leave nothing to be desired.
Pope Pius XII, Encyclical Evangelii praecones, June 2, 1951.
The Social Mission of the Country Doctor
“The Christian doctor, any doctor whose honesty is worthy of this trust, can do much to raise the moral level of the people...”
“Your virtues, your goodness, will not be denied the noblest recompense. God will reveal Himself more fully to you if in the loyalty of your heart you correspond faithfully to His invitations.” ________________________________________
Accustomed as he is to a life of exhausting effort, the country dweller who cultivates the soil can usually bear discomfort and illness much longer than the city dweller, so that when he calls the doctor, the sickness is, generally speaking, serious, and the pain well-nigh intolerable. Sometimes, too, the elementary and inept remedy which he has ignorantly tried before summoning you has simply aggravated the evil.
And then to your science and ability, your heart must add the balm of delicate understanding, for the very person who in health seemed coarse and hard, perhaps, often becomes in sickness as sensitive as a child, and like a child, feels the need for moral comfort. After the priest, no one better than the doctor can provide this. And thus he earns the confidence of the sick person and of the family, and by that very fact acquires over them and over the whole population a deep influence, and one which is eagerly accepted.
The Christian doctor, any doctor whose honesty is worthy of this trust, can do much to raise the moral level of the people, in restraining or repressing abuses, vices and habits which conscience reproves. The delicate task of preparing the way for the ministrations of the priest, of dissipating prejudices and unreasonable and disastrous apprehensions, not rarely falls to him.
And yet this task, so beautiful for the good it does to your neighbor, is very hard on you. It offers not only a frequent but a continual occasion for self-denial, for troubles and discomforts, often devoid of due appreciation, without gratitude, without equitable recompense. Not rarely, too, the country doctor while dedicating himself wholeheartedly to the sick, feels a sense of loneliness, especially if he cannot have his family with him, if he cannot ensure, in the little out-of-the-way town to which he is perhaps bound, suitable instruction and formation for his children. We therefore express the wish that your just aspirations in the moral and economic orders may receive due satisfaction, to your greater advantage, and that of all to whom you so assiduously lend your service. And now, beloved sons, look up to heaven, and you will feel the comfort and the light of the divine Doctor of humanity. Your virtues, your goodness, will not be denied the noblest recompense. God will reveal Himself more fully to you if in the loyalty of your heart you correspond faithfully to His invitations.
Allocution to country doctors, September 18, 1950, Pope Pius XII.