Last Palm Sunday afternoon, I met with Fr. Jerry Orbos, SVD, and he informed me that early this year, he was declared cancer-free.
“In sickness I learned to be even more prayerful,” he said. “There is so much to learn when you pray.”
Aside from strengthening his prayer life, Father Orbos learned patience. “Being sick teaches you patience, that’s why you’re called a patient,” he said.
He likewise learned the need for purification.
“I’ve been purified not only of my physical sickness, but so much more,” he said. “I have no more agenda, hugot, ambition, expectations. Wala na!”
He recounted that at the doorstep of death, one realizes that nothing matters anymore—not money, not power, not looks.
“What a blessing it is to be alive,” he said. “I had cancer, had surgery of the lungs and had cycles of chemo, yet God has been good. It was food for my soul to know that there is still a reason and a mission, for me to go on living.”
He emphasized that we all must live grateful lives. Gratitude is the best attitude, he said.
Like our bodies, our souls need food, too, Father Orbos said. Some people are consumed by anger. Others are full of regrets. But all of these are counterproductive.
For Lent, Father Orbos is suggesting fasting from things that make us unhappy and miserable.
A selfish person must abstain from selfishness because it causes misery.
“Eat the right kind of food for the soul to gain the fruits of the spirit such as joy, peace, generosity and understanding,” he said.
“Know that there is a God and you’re not him! So, stop playing God. You’re not the only person in the world and the world doesn’t revolve around you.”
Our final destination is heaven: “We are not immortal; let us not live as though we are.
“We are not in control. Stop controlling people. Stop controlling things. Let go and let God.
“Observe the 3 Ls: Live well. Love much. Laugh often.
“We have two lives and the second begins when you realize you only have one. (Father Orbos said he was quoting Mário de Andrade.)
“Take good care of your three Fs—faith, family and friends. You don’t need fans or followers. What you need are a few good friends.
“Don’t be absorbed by the opinions of the world and of what people think or say. Be mindful of what God thinks and what God says.
“When you say your prayer before meals, don’t just thank the Lord for the food but also for your appetite. Some may have food but no appetite, while many have the appetite but no food. (Father Orbos said he learned this from his chemo sessions.)
“No one will leave this earth alive, so don’t worry about dying. Just live until you die. Inspire before you expire.
“Learn to slow down.
“When stuck with any problem, deflate your pride.”
Holy Thursday, Good Friday
On Holy Thursday, Father Orbos urged people to “have a candlelit dinner with the Lord. Go back to that night. It was the last meal of a man who was about to die.
“Ponder upon the act of Christ washing the feet of the apostles.”
Savor the Lord’s injunction: “Love one another as I have loved you.”
Holy Thursday is also the Day of the Priesthood. Father Orbos urged prayers for clerics like him.
Good Friday is the way of the cross. Life is not all about comfort, though the Lord doesn’t want us to be burdened either. We all have our own cross to carry, let us carry our cross gladly.
Father Orbos stressed: “It’s the attitude. Nasa pagdadala!”
Easter is an occasion for both celebration and renewal.
“The direction should be, as we grow older, the Lord must become stronger,” he said. “Less of me, more of God. Less of me, more of others.
“This Easter, choose light over darkness, joy rather than sadness, humility over pride, generosity rather than selfishness. Let us choose Christ and move on.
“Reconcile with the Lord, with others and with yourself. Then be at peace.
“Remember, you’re not that good, but you’re not that bad either.”
As Easter treats, this column recommends Park Avenue desserts, bunny-shaped salted caramel and mango macarons (tel. 8526141 and 6211402). Likewise recommended are pretty macarose towers, 12-inch tall cones decorated with bunny-shaped hand-piped macarons filled with white chocolate and milk chocolate ganache centers (tel. 09178005349, 09176715832).