Pope Paul VI to the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Michael Ramsey

"(B)y entering into our house, you are entering your own house, we are happy to open our door and heart to you." - Pope Paul VI to Dr Michael Ramsey, Archbishop of Canterbury.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

On "viruses" and my experience with a nasty one, memorable Septembers

The monsoon  or rainy season in the Philippines is a public health concern for the Department of Health, aside from the usual colds and flu that people catch, they especially the young , may catch nastier viral diseases such as dengue. The hospitals and clinics have recorded 54,000 cases of dengue as of this writing and 454 deaths have been recorded.

Dengue is  the major public health concern now. The worst hit regions are Western Visayas and the Cordilleras. The mountainous Cordilleras were once considered unlikely dengue hotspots since the mosquito vector is intolerant of cool climates. But with a warming and wetter climate, even the Cordilleras are no longer immune. The problem is that we have no vaccine against dengue or even a cure. Doctors can offer only what they call "supportive therapy". I know this from first hand experience since 9 years ago on this day, I was rushed to St Luke's Hospital in Cathedral Heights, Quezon City with a bad case of dengue that went from bad to worse. It was so bad that my prognosis was poor. I thought that I was about to "kick the bucket" that I asked for a priest. The Episcopal chaplain ministered to me. I did not get his name. The next day, I was much weaker, and the Roman Catholic chaplain came and gave viaticum. In the afternoon an ex student of mine who was a Jesuit seminarian came and said the prayers. He asked the intercession of the Virgin of Piat and he asked me to ask the intercession of the saint that first crossed my mind. And that saint was John Henry Newman! The seminarian left me with an apple and he went back to the Ateneo in the rain.

And the next day, I was up and about, walking! The doctors were amazed. The scientist that I am hesitated  to proclaim it was a miracle.

When life seems to ebb, we then acutely realize that we are at the mercy of God. [Of course when we are hale and strong and can do it, all we are at God's mercy but we don't realize it] What is the meaning of all that we have and done? I'd say not much without that meaning in God. I stayed in the hospital for more than a week and on September 11,2001 the world changed. I was in hospital still about three days before final discharge when I couldn't believe what just happened live on CNN. Even the doctors with me can't believe it too.

Septembers are memorable for me. One for that nasty viral episode, second for typhoon Ondoy by which all my expensive hi tech gadgets went swimming to techno-heaven and of course the Nativity of the Virgin. These things are somewhat related. We have to have God a go with our lives like what the Virgin did.

And writing about viruses, I can't help but recall Rev Staunton's "pan-Protestant virus" infecting Anglicanism. Rev Staunton was discouraged by events so he writes this. But an Episcopal priest told me that there is also an "Anglican virus" infecting Roman Catholics, Methodists, Baptists, Orthodox, even Atheists etc. What does this all mean?

Maybe God thinks that a viral infection while bad for the body, is good for the soul!

And BTW, this September will be memorable too for the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Britain to beatify John Henry Cardinal Newman. Remember he was the saint that first crossed my mind as I prepared to meet my Maker?

I did send an email to the Oratory in London telling the Fathers there of my tale at St Lukes. I got an automated reply. But that matters not.  Of course my tale is not as that miraculous as the permanent deacon who upon asking Newman's intercession got healed of a disease for which he had no chance of survival. (people regularly pull out of dengue!) But Newman to me brought my prayers to God.  That is all that matters really!

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