Monday, May 16, 2011

Heaven in a bag of Skittles candy.

As soon as Marcus passed - the first question in my mind was, "Was he going to heaven?"  Being raised Catholic there are certain beliefs that I have that I know I did not lead my son to fulfilling. 

Marcus was baptized Catholic when he was eight years old.  The same day as his lil' bro' Alex.  This was one of the proudest days of my life.  This day was a confirmation of Patricia's trust in me to lead her sons spiritually.  (Which I failed tremendously) My wife was born Baptist.  My wife is a Baptist.  My wife will die as a Baptist.  This fact and many reasons more are why I love and respect her so much.  But even with her being a proud Southern Baptist, she willingly without second thought agreed to have the boys baptized as Catholics.

Due to my poor spiritual leadership and an awful parting of way with a Catholic School, Marcus' Catholic faith never developed fully.  In fact there was a point, in Marcus' latter teen years, that he questioned the existence of God.  I addressed his questions to the best of my abilities.  I remember telling him, "God exists in us.  The reason your Mydia loves you, the reason why your Mother loves you unconditionally and the mere reason why a man like me born thousand of miles and oceans away came to your life to love you."  He seemed perplexed by my answer.  But I think he tried to comprehend.  Plus with my mother-in-law's insistence of him going to Bible school every Saturday, perhaps we has able to find answers.

Years later, even in the midst of Tabor College, Marcus again had bouts of doubt.  This was when he was mired in a bad break-up.  Then he came out of it fitter and stronger than ever.  He felt like he was a self-made man and owed nobody for his existence.  That phase too, he grew out of. 

As if on queue before Marcus passed, he finally outwardly accepted God into his life.  A speaker who came to Tabor used Skittles as a metaphor.  This is almost so simple, Marcus favorite candy growing up was Skittles.  I am sure his A.D.D. brain just perked up when he heard/saw the bag of Skittles.  For whatever reason the message stuck with him. 

I thank God everyday that it did.

A year and some months after Marcus' passing, I still felt that I had things left to do.  Below is my email exchange with Father Vincent Serpa.

Dear Roland,

I’m sorry for your loss. I suggest that you have a Mass offered for the repose of his soul. It would be good if a priest blessed his grave. He may very well be in heaven, but it would still be good to pray for the repose of his soul on a regular basis as we do for all our deceased. I will remember him in my prayers as well.

Fr. VS
To: Fr. Vincent Serpa

Subject: Question about my son

Fr. Serpa,

I would like to know if my son died in the God's Graces. My son passed in a car accident in February of last year. He was just 23 years old. He was baptized into the Church when he was eight (he is my step-son) He went to Catholic School until his sixth grade so he received Holy Communion and Reconciliation. I was not a very good Catholic (still struggling) so after we had a falling out with the school, we did not go to church regularly. (holidays and Special days we did) Since I was not a very good leader as my son got older my mother-in-law started taking him to her church. She is southern baptist. When it was time for him to go to college, we chose a Mennonite school in KS for him. While there he was mandated to attend service weekly. A year or less before he passed he re-acknowledged his belief in Jesus Christ. My son lived a very good life. He was caring and very respectful.

When he passed last year he did not receive a Catholic funeral or burial. His grave has not been blessed by a priest. The year or so before he passed I was starting to get back into the Church, I joined my Parish's Men Fellowship and TMIY group. I am just learning about the faith I was Baptized in and I want to know what should I do for my son. Should I have a Catholic memorial for him? Should I have his grave blessed by a priest? I am originally from the Philippines, so we did have 40-Day Novena/Memorial for him at our Church.

Please advise.

Thank you Father.

Roland Miranda

Now my task is to guide Alex towards the same path of self discovery.  I fail tremendously in doing so.  I fail in my own path.  But any day can lead us to the right path.  Everyday is a second chance.  The question is will we choose the correct path?