I have always been His servant, but my faith has never been this strong.
As a kid who grew up in a religious family and studied in a Catholic school her whole life, seeing people crying and fainting because of their faith doesn’t surprise me anymore, but experiencing it? Now that’s another story.
For two years now, I have been serving Him by being a part of the production team of a religious group that convenes at the Philippine International Convention Center to pray and worship every week.
One of the programs to deepen our faith is what they called a Jesus Encounter.
As a person who loathes mornings, this encounter starts the same way every morning meeting always does—with me being late, grumpy and so, so sleepy.
The first part was full of talks on how to be closer to Him and, admittedly, and although I am not proud of it, I slept through half of it.
The second part, however, is where a mass was celebrated and where all the fun began.
Halfway through the celebration of the mass, an anointing of the soul was announced to be happening.
It started off with a facilitator, who previously had a one-on-one conversation with us, offer a personal prayer for each of us.
Two minutes in and I was already bawling.
Unknowingly, as I was busy crying my eyes out, everyone else was instructed to fall in line to receive the holy oil.
And as I slowly opened my eyes, the first thing I saw was a woman falling down back first as one of the elderlies continued blessing her.
I have always found fainting or falling after a healing or a blessing an exaggeration.
Except at that moment.
More than anything, I was curious.
As I fell in line and halfway through it, a woman started screaming for her life.
She was wailing, loud and heart-wrenching, as if she was physically trying to remove every single bad entity in her through her cries.
What amazed me, more than the surprise of personally seeing someone go through that was what the people, us, did as it was happening.
Through the anointing, there was a musical team who provided us with beautiful renditions of worship songs and when the screaming started, they poured their hearts out to the music more than they did just mere minutes ago.
Guitars were plucked harder, pianos pushed to the limit and people helping them as we sang as loudly as we can, trying with all our might to help exonerate the woman from whatever it is that is causing her pain.
Every time her shouts became louder, our singing increased in volume too, raising every hair in my body and rattling the place filled to the brim by more than 70 people with voices and faith enough to eventually expel whatever it is from her.
And as her wailing subsided, smiles of relief and renewed trust surrounded the room.
I saw her walking back down her seat, frail and exhausted, but so, so relieved.
As I eventually reached the end of the line, patiently waiting for my turn, I vowed with everything that I have, with everything that I am, that I am entrusting my soul to Him.
The woman who will be giving my anointing started with putting a sign of the cross on my forehead, my left and my right hand, and through it all, she was murmuring things too soft to understand.
Nevertheless, my incapability to understand her didn’t in any way lessen its effect on me.
As the first cross was put on my forehead, my trembling began.
And as the process progressed, it became worse—
with me trying my best to grasp the little control I have in my body to remain standing.
What felt like eternity later, I heard the very first word I understood—surrender.
And there I was, losing the last ounce of control in my body and free falling without any worry that I might hit the ground—totally trusting whoever was behind me to catch me as I fall.
It was an out-of-the-world experience, a sensation of total surrender enveloping me, surrounding me, as I let my everything be put in His hands.
And as I lay there on the ground, losing any tenseness and control that remained in my body, my mind was blank, but for one single sentence that echoed repeatedly from my head to my lips—I am yours.
Eventually, when my physical body regained its strength, I had to gradually stand up and make my way back to my seat—feeling raw and open.
However, since this is me we are talking about, nothing ever comes easy.
Admittedly, I have always been a bit more sensitive and vulnerable to other entities, and since I am conscious and in the know of my decision to open myself to God, I know I also opened myself to other possible entities that may be lurking the place.
All it took was two minutes before the not-so-good thoughts began, especially baffling me when I found myself unconsciously smirking at the cross as if taunting it.
As unbidden visions of burning the place down and other evil thoughts cross my mind, my conscious tried its hardest to help me sing the praises louder, to battle out whatever it was that’s trying to invade my mind.
Fortunately, it was a battle won and as the event came to an end, I felt a lot stronger, and somehow, a lot lighter.
Years of being a Catholic and, really, nothing prepared me for this kind of mind-boggling and life-changing experience. And as the season of His death and resurrection approaches, this earth-shattering experience will be one of my anchors to remain in my faith always.