My Open Letter to Filipinos

by Steve Ray on October 13, 2017

[If you know someone from the Philippines ?? please share this letter with them.]

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 States and 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 Philippines have 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 Philippines is 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!

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

sandi October 13, 2017 at 1:28 PM

Amen, I second your thoughts, Steve. Mila and Zandy who traveled with you on the last Holy Land trip are my friends and their whole community is a delight. They DO have that inner joy and peace that shines from them and a great and wonderful devotion to Our Lady.

Caesar Antonio O. Ligo January 3, 2018 at 4:13 AM

Thank you Steve, and please continue to pray for us Filipinos. May God bless you more.

Maria Katreena Eslava June 6, 2018 at 3:22 AM

For years, I have been in search of the truth. I grew up as a catholic but in the past 8 years of my life, I have been surrounded with a lot of protestants. 2 weeks ago, a protestant friend talked to me, told me not to be closed minded and for 2 weeks that has been my prayer – “My heart is open, Lord. What do you want me to believe in? I am ready to leave the catholic church if that’s what you want me to do.” Today’s gospel (Mark 12:24-27) stirred my heart again during my quiet time with the Lord because that same protestant friend who talked to me 2 weeks ago told me that the only difference between her and me is that she does not pray to Mary and the saints because they are DEAD, that only the living can intercede for the living. So this gospel really moved me to ask the Lord, “Reveal to me what this means Lord. Does this mean that Mary just like an angel in heaven and does not have the position of Jesus’ mother anymore because you said the same in Mark 12:25 about marriage? Send me materials or persons who can tell me what You want to tell me. I don’t want to ask my spiritual director (who is catholic) because that would be biased.” Just right after my quiet time, as part of my routine on social media (in which I have a line up/schedule of what comments on my post I have to reply to and then give back a comment on the most recent post of the person who commented on my post), this was her most recent post – this exact blog of yours that she copy pasted on her timeline. I, then, started to search you online and here I feel the presence of the Lord speaking to me in a very very very obvious way, telling me not to leave the church because as messy as it may seem, it is the CHURCH that HE built. Thank you Lord!

Vernon June 29, 2018 at 12:25 AM

Thank you Steve! You are a great inspiration to us and, as transplants from Philippines, your words bring us great joy! Please pray for our country, the hostility level against Catholics have ramped up recently. But then again, it was during times of persecution when the Church shines the brightest!

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