These are my farewell gifts from my Nepali Godbrothers! A keychain with a cross of my favourite colour (turquoise!) and a beautiful personal Rosary.
They may not be the most lavish of gifts but certainly the most heartfelt ones.
On the last night before I left Melaka, after saying our Rosary together, I was shocked when Felix suddenly turned to me and said:
“John, I want to give you this Rosary.”
“ Why?! But you really love this Rosary!”
I’ve often seen him just staring and admiring his Rosary with the most adoring grin.
He would often tell me, “Wah … I really like this Rosary … So beautiful lah.”
“Because I want to give you something but I don’t have anything else to give you.”
Those words really touched the depths of my soul.
“That’s not true.
You have given me much more than you can imagine.
You prayed for me to receive the Holy Spirit and soon after, I experienced my own spiritual awakening and have been so blessed ever since!”
Indeed, last month on the night before I left Melaka for the first time, Felix had offered to say a healing prayer over me.
I was touched as no one has ever personally done this to me before.
We knelt on the wooden floor, of my room, closed our eyes and prayed.
He prayed charismatically. Something I was not used to nor did I have much prior experience in. He started in English, then transitioned, sometimes in Nepali, sometimes back to in English and finally, towards the end, in tongues. I just followed along, not really sure what to do but imitate the words of prayers I knew.
About a week after during mass, I believe his prayer was fulfilled.
Kneeling down to pray after receiving the Body of Christ, I began to weep uncontrollably and unexpectedly!
It began as drops of tears which I hurriedly wiped away on my shirt.
Then a wave of emotion swept over me and I could no longer think or pray.
My mind became blank, like a black, unresponsive phone screen.
It felt like I was ‘praying with my emotions’.
I smacked my hand onto my face to cover my eyes which were now tightly squeezed shut. I could not breathe. That moment felt like an eternity.
When that passed, the initial tears turned into a ‘waterfall’ of tears and snort and uncontrollable shaking with each inbreath.
In an effort to stem the tears, I tried my best to calm myself down. I took deep breaths, I tried holding my breath, etc but none of it worked!
My parents must have been shocked too. They later told me that they thought I was finally releasing all the pain and emotional trauma I’d gone through over the past 3 years of suffering while battling this autoimmune disease.
However, this was not the case.
In fact, I don’t feel like I have any buried trauma or well of emotions that I’ve been keeping hidden inside. What I was feeling at that point in time was different.
It did not come from inside me, more like outside, and into me.
I felt sorrow and pain, but not mine.
I’m quite sure it was Jesus’ suffering that I was feeling. His agony and pain, albeit just a tiny bit of a tiny bit of it all.
Even that tiny bit of his passion was too much for my soul to bear and hence the tears flowed ‘like free’.
My mum put her hand over my shoulders.
I dared not open my eyes for fear of releasing a torrent of tears and so I followed the rest of the mass with my eyes closed, standing when everyone stood and sitting when they did. All the while still sobbing and weeping.
Admittedly, it was quite embarrassing!
Finally, at last, after about 20 or 30 mins, I finally calmed down enough to open my eyes.
By this time, the church was empty! Haha.
That memorable mass on the 9th of December, 2017 was the first time I have ever physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually felt ‘touched’ by the Holy Spirit.
Nothing like this has ever happened to me before.
I can’t remember what happened during my baptism as I was just an infant. Similarly, I don’t remember much from my first Holy Communion nor do I have any deep impression of my Confirmation.
I have never cried or fell down in church as I’ve seen some people do in videos.
So you could say this was my first real spiritual experience.
Later that night, as I was journalling the events of the day, I realized that this day was the 10th day of my new 54-day Rosary devotion that my Godfather, Dr. Sebastian, suggested I try. (At that time I was seeing him for my healing and he was not my Godfather yet)
This 54-day devotion involves saying at least 1 Rosary everyday for a petition (my healing).
For the first 27 days, I would pray for the favor to be granted. The next 27 days would be for thanksgiving, even if the favor was not granted.
Before this, I used to say my Rosaries lying flat on my bed, as a means of falling asleep!
As you can tell, it is not very sincere to say a Rosary like that!
Imagine you were talking to the most important person in the world, like a King of all the Nations or his holiness, Pope Francis.
Would you do that lying down? Of course not! I reckon you’d be standing at the very least.
Similarly, God is more important than all the Kings and Presidents combined and yet here I was ‘worshipping’ him lying flat on my comfortable bed as a means of falling asleep.
I was deeply ashamed when I finally became aware of this.
Thus for this 54-Day devotion, I have been doing it on my knees, in front of an image or statue or icon and saying every prayer out loud whenever possible and reflecting deeply on each mystery with the help of a prayer book to keep me from distracting thoughts or falling asleep.
Truthfully, I have never been more sincere in prayer since.
Back to the incident in mass, on the 10th Day of my devotion to my healing.
Could what happened to me on this day be a mere coincidence?
(This days I hesitate to use this word!)
In the Gospels, on the day Jesus ascended into heaven and took his place on God’s right hand, he promised that the Holy Spirit would come upon them all.
But he did not say when or how.
The followers of our Lord then went back to the upper room and persevered in prayers for 9 days. (A Novena means 9 days of continuous prayer for a petition)
On Pentecost Sunday, the 10th day, the Holy Spirit descended on them all.
First, in the form of a sound, “as of a mighty wind coming.” It filled the whole house where they were sitting.
They then saw “parted tongues, as if it were of fire” and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.
They began to speak different tongues, “as the Holy Spirit gave them to speak” and, filled with apostolic zeal, they went forth from the room to conquer the world.
Coincidence or divine intervention?
Holy Spirit or just me getting emotional?
To believe or to be skeptical?
I guess this is the basis of faith.
I definitely did not plan to cry in church and embarrass myself by making a scene in front of those familiar faces I see every week! (I’m sure everyone around me must have been staring and wondering!)
I did not plan to have the 10th day coincide with the day I go to mass. In fact, we either go for Sunday or Saturday mass so its not fixed.
I had no idea I would cry after receiving Holy Communion. Why not cry during the Rosary on this day?
Anyway I can go on and on and be doubtful like ‘doubting Thomas’, the apostle who doubted Jesus had resurrected because he did not physically see Jesus until Jesus appeared to him and told him to put his hand through his wounds.
However, I firmly believe now that what happened then was a spiritual experience and was sort of the climax of my recent ‘Spiritual Awakening’.
The month leading up to that day, I had already begun to experience numerous events that have slowly brought me closer to God and helped me grow stronger in faith and more fervent in prayer.
And in the two months since this event in church, I have had many more spiritual experiences including and not limited to just weeping in church. There are too many and I’m unsure if I should even be blogging about all this.
Maybe someday I will receive a sign or feeling to write them down, like I have for this post.
May you thirst for the Holy Spirit too
May it descent upon you
Come into you
Fill you with God’s Grace
Stay with you
Bless you and guide you
All the days of your life