Praying for the President and our country
President Duterte has been criticized, among others, for his human rights record, his misogyny, his foul mouth, his being a “tuta” of China, his going back on his word, his penchant for appointing Davaoeños and cronies to various government positions and government corporate boards to which their net contribution is negative, his vindictiveness. And one can list examples for each shortcoming.
One can also list examples of the good he has done, regarding taxes, rice, farmers, education, the poor, the OFWs, etc. His intentions seem to be good—but we know that good intentions pave the road to hell.
In other words, while he is no saint, neither is he the devil he is sometimes made out to be. And if you, Reader, don’t know what to make of him after comparing his pluses and minuses, and still want to give him a chance, why don’t you pray for him?
Because that’s what the Walking Group does, every Monday morning, with this prayer:
“Dear Lord, through the intercession of our dearest Mother Mary Queen of Peace, convert us Filipino people into peaceful God-fearing, honest and responsible citizens.
“We pray that the Holy Spirit may enlighten President Duterte and our national and local leaders each day to make just and wise decisions for our country. Inspire them to be true servants of the people by fulfilling their mandate with selfless dedication, with honesty and integrity, with justice and transparency. Deliver our leaders from the sins of greed, corruption, pride and infidelity.
“Lord, help us to remember that we, too, must do our part to make our country the peaceful and progressive nation that we want it to be, by following the laws of God, and by sharing our blessings of time, talent and material goods with so many of our needy countrymen.
“Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, we entrust President Duterte and our country to you. Dearest Mother Mary, take all of us Filipinos under your mantle of love and protection. Amen.”
Let us now hear your questions. Who is this Walking Group? They are all parishioners of Santuario de San Antonio. All women. All daily Mass-goers. And all still very active—in parish work or in their careers. The interesting thing about them is that their median age is about 86 or 87, with ages ranging from 78 to 95. A truly remarkable group, and I count myself lucky to be a member.
Let me take a moment to acquaint you with the oldest olds in the group: There’s Lourdes de Leon, 95+, who walks faster than I do, and who is as bright as a copper penny. There’s Meding Suntay, 92+, who is a practicing anesthesiologist and drives to and from work. There’s Erlinda Velasco, who just turned 90, and did a tap dance number that brought the house down during her birthday. There’s Peachy Maramba, 90, and Lita Lilles, 90 in October. Among them is a treasury of wisdom and practical thinking.
When did the Walking Group start this prayer? When President Duterte took office. And to those who would remark that the prayer has obviously failed, let me counter with this: If we hadn’t prayed, the country, or the President, may have behaved even worse, or accomplished even less.
Why doesn’t the Walking Group pray it every day, then? Because there are Novenas to St. Anthony and to the Sacred Heart on Tuesdays and Fridays, and then there are prayers on Wednesdays and Thursdays asking God or Mama Mary to guide us when we walk (to prevent falls), or to make us better Christians, or to help us live our lives to the fullest. We pray together after Mass.
I don’t know who wrote the prayer, Reader, it was just passed around, in laminated copies, by Peachy, who is the guardian of our prayers. But if you will notice, it recognizes the role not only of the President and all our leaders in the fate of our country, but recognizes as well the role of the ordinary citizen, and asks God to help us do our share. In other words, if the country goes to the dogs, it’s our fault, too.
I can hear one last question from you, Reader. “Should I say this prayer, too?” The answer is, remember the saying: “Work as if everything depends on you. And pray as if everything depends on God.” Or as my son Ian would say, “You can never can tell.” Better to be safe than sorry.
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