A Wife and A Mother
"IN OUR OWN DAYS too, the Church is
constantly enriched by the witness
many women who fulfill their vocation
holiness. Holy women are an incarnation
the feminine ideal; they are also a
for all Christians..."(Pope John
in his stunning encyclical "On
Marie Louise has no claim to fame.
a simple Filipino woman, born in Kalibo,
Aklan in 1957. They were thirteen in
family. A very normal life. A Christian
The Catechism of the Catholic Church
when it affirms that the home is the
school of Christian life and "a
for human enrichment". "Here
learns endurance and the joy of work,
love, generous -- even repeated --
and above all divine worship in prayer
the offering of one's life."
When she was twenty she joined the
way in her parish of Mary the Queen
(San Juan, Metro Manila). Through this
she started a journey of deepening
She got married to Ricky and they had
children - all born by cesarean section.
Two of them has problems - one has
palate and the fifth was born deaf
Many advised her to be sensible and
birth control pills. Her answer was
a downright no. "I will never
birth control pill, now or ever."
"I thank God for showing me that
does not come from me. It is God who
a child or none at all. I realized
enter into this grace means to be open
the will of God in how many children
have or would not have."
Marie Louise was also asked to catechize
and she helped in the announcement
Good News in a nearby parish in Cavite.
pastor also invited her to help with
parish pre-baptismal classes and also
unwed couples. "No one is without
family in this world: the Church is
and family for everyone, especially
who 'labor and are heavy laden'."
of the Catholic Church)
When she was thirty-eight, she was
with acute leukemia. She was pregnant
her seventh child at the time. This
1995 - just during the Tenth World
Day and the second pastoral visit of
John Paul II to Manila.
She had an option. Either take a full
of chemotherapy immediately which would
harmed the baby, or save the baby but
seriously her life. She opted for the
option. She and Ricky saw clearly that
was God's will for them.
On June 30, 1995, she gave birth to
boy, Peter Paul, again by cesarean
There were many complications because
RBC and blood platelets were very low;
urinary bladder got torn up during
The whole operation took 3 hours. The
weighed 6.2 lb. at birth.
Writing to her elder son from hospital,
said : "Mama should have died
made it possible for Mama to live.
me to be with you to be a mother and
However her leukemia was relentless.
delivering the baby, she underwent
six times which debilitated her physically
and emotionally. "My body feels
and full of pain." She had to
a semi-quarantine state so as not to
any infections. "How I long to
Peter Paul, to feed, burp him! How
to be with my children, to hear their
Yet, her attitude during all this trial
Writing to her Neocatechumenal community,
she uses words which sound so alien
mundane ears. "My dear brothers
first Community.... I give thanks to
for giving me this Leukemia. Not because
I want to have it, but because of it,
opened my eyes, revealing to me so
Now I understand what it is to be enlightened,
or to be blind, or to be in darkness."
"Because of this leukemia I have
undergo chemotherapy every month and
pain and suffering I go through, teaches
me humility in front of this history
God has willed for me. Even though
I want to fight and rebel against this
I cannot. There seems to be no escape
these pains and sufferings. Because
sickness, I pray more often to have
to accept this history. And sometimes
my weakness, I find myself so tired,
I do not want the chemo anymore. Often
ask God when this suffering will end
whether I will ever be cured of Leukemia
or not. This has taught me to really
and appreciate each day."
In the same vein, she writes to her
"God has given me this sickness
me how good God is. It is only at this
that mama really experienced the great
of God and immense mercy of God that
wants all of us to go to heaven."
She wants earnestly to go back to her
and live with her husband and enjoy
"I am so afraid to die. On the
discovered I have Leukemia, I prayed
to God not to allow me to die, for
of my children who are still young.
to see them grow up."
Yet the fear of death slowly looses
on her. "Mama experienced death
I was in the operating table and its
a miracle that I live," she writes
her elder son John. "Mama wants
you not to be afraid of death because
is not painful and is something beautiful.
Mama experienced that. When you die,
is so good that you go straight to
Growing in faith also put her values
right order. "My Ever-dearest
Papa and mama have always told you
well. To study well is good but we
to tell you that the most important
is to have faith in God - to believe
His plan for you is good and do God's
I think it was the Master who once
that we should look first for the Kingdom
of God and then everything will be
"Mama is enduring all this",
continues telling her son, "not
I am brave or strong but because of
prayers and the grace of God sustaining
And to her community, she writes a
in her last letter which reveals the
of all this strength. "I thank
for the community through the celebrations
of the Word and Eucharist and the scrutinies
in preparing me to accept my Leukemia."
Less than one month after writing these
on September 1, 1995, after praying
prayers, Marie Louise gently crossed
threshold from this life into Eternal
She was 38 years old.
She was never able to play and to hug
son Peter Paul here on earth. She will
all eternity to do that .. and more,
(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission
hereby granted for any non-commercial
provided that the content is unaltered
its original state, if this copyright