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On the 13th of October 2019, my wife Cecilia, my son Santino and I each received a small gift from Marisol and Antonio, a visiting missionary couple from Spain. Through a series of happy coincidences, our family was able to fly over to Cebu to witness the First Temporal Bonds of the second batch of missionary couples in the Philippines. I remember, we were seated directly behind Marisol and family at the church. At one point Marisol quietly turned and, with a twinkle in her eye, gave each of us a small wooden cross necklace along with a bookmark with the verse “Por ti me daré a conocer” (Isaiah 49,3).
On that very day, I wore that simple cross and whispered a very small and happy ‘yes’ in my heart. Upon our return home to Manila, I wrote a short prayer on a small piece of paper. I folded it up and inserted it into my small statue of the ‘Sleeping St. Joseph’ with much confidence that my prayer will come to fruition.
Fast forward to 2021 the Year of St. Joseph, and Cecilia and I are now on our 7th month of the Discernment Course. This totally new experience has allowed us to encounter our Lord in a deeper way and as a couple. We find ourselves getting closer to Jesus, our hearts desiring to know him even more. As we come to know Jesus in new ways, we also rediscover each other. Through our weekly conjugal dialogue, we are able to share how God is moving in our hearts and what is moving us in different areas in our life. Also, understanding that God has joined us together and in our union we are designed to be one another's helper, there is greater motivation to be more loving, sensitive and supportive.
We are following God's call when we do all these and are joyful in the other's happiness. Through the different means: the weekly prayer guidelines, monthly revision of life and formation with other couples, our spiritual directors and accompaniment, we become more aware and responsive to God's presence in our married life and in our family. We are also able to learn more about the beauty and gift of marriage and God's plan for us and through us. We see in a different way the mission that we have in this vocation.
From the start, we have felt that our journey is very much like that of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24,13-35). Cecilia and I have always treasured our own individual faith walk, each full of miracles and adventures. But this time, God Himself comes near and walks with us, as a couple. And maybe, we are just beginning to recognize the voice of Jesus in this unfamiliar exercise of conjugal prayer and dialogue, interjecting with a question here and making a subtle suggestion there. Often we don’t seem to be in synch or even on the same path, with many looming doubts and insurmountable fears. But always, the gentle wind on the road reminds us, “For you I will make myself known.”
And so, like the two disciples we beg for the Word to stay with us, to grant us eyes of faith and hearts afire, as we forge onward on this road of discovery and great love.
Resti Bautista is a physician and university professor, while Cecilia is director of Antioch School Manila. They are part of the Verbum Dei apostolate in Quezon City. Their 13 year-old son Santino Noel is an active member of the VD Teens Formation in the Philippines.
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