If I had to name someone in my life that I’m the rudest to, it would be my mum. That’s because she gets on my nerves a lot (which is no justification for dishonoring a parent; so may this paean redeem me a little bit~). There is one thing, however, that my mum is unparalleled at, which never fails to amaze me – loving my dad.
If my dad ever converts, there will be many reasons. Perhaps it will be because my sister gets baptized first. Perhaps it will be because my brother said something insightful. Perhaps it will be because I got around to sharing my faith. Or maybe we’ll manage to persuade him to go for CER (the unlikelihood of this amuses me~), and Fr William will work his magic.
But all these would not be substantial causes. Not even the Africa accident. The significant cause, the causa causans, the credit, will go to my mum.
My mum’s faith is simple. She doesn’t know enough theology to defend her faith, nor is she experienced enough to share it with others. She just believes. It’s that simple. It’s that powerful.
My mum’s devotion to my dad is also simple. She isn’t witty enough to defend him from our criticisms (what loving children we are, are we not~); nor is she articulate enough to make us see from her/his perspective. She just loves him and will always speak up for him. It’s that simple. It’s that powerful.
Put those two together, and what you get is daily (I’m serious; I do mean everyday) prayer for my dad’s conversion. You also get the constant reminder/nagging/pushing him to go for mass and get baptized. You get the occasional but persistent “Y’all must pray for dad ok?”
But that’s not the amazing part. The amazing part is the effect her devotions have had on his faith life, or should I say, the lack thereof. His progress, for the last 28 years of their marriage, has been from not going mass at all, to going mass on Sundays (and that’s only if it doesn’t clash with his golf). And this happened only after the Africa accident. When we ask him “when are you going to get baptized”, he replies with a curt “I’m not ready yet”, which spells the end of the discussion.
And still, my mum continues – to pray, to nag, to push. So if my dad ever converts, it’ll be because my mum had the faith in him, the hope of him, and the love for him. It’ll be because she was constantly there. It’ll be because she prayed everyday for him. It’ll be because she never despaired for him.
Einstein said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. But maybe it’s not that simple. Maybe faith is doing the same thing over and over again and trusting that the results cannot be seen. Maybe hope is doing the same thing over and over again and knowing that one day there will be different results. Maybe love is doing the same thing over and over again even though there are no different results.
Which is why Mother Teresa said that it is not about doing great things; but rather about doing little things with great love. God is not just in the shared testimony, the charismatic prayer and the spirited worship. He is also in the resented nagging, the unvoiced prayer and the silent reflection. God is in the sustained actions and the foolish repetitions. God is in the faith, the hope, and the love that we have for another person – that my mum has for my dad.
In a very real and breathtaking way, my mum is a sacrament – she makes visible what are God’s invisible graces.