By Ramil Caporas
The author has been a member of the Philippine Army for 18 years now. He is married with four children. The article is based on an interview made in Hiligaynon through Facebook with Assistant Editor Anne Gubuan.
I was recently tasked to help in the 51st International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) held last 20-31 January in Cebu, Philippines. IEC is basically a gathering of Catholics from around the world but doesn’t limit participation to Catholics only. Though I am a Baptist I didn’t feel hampered in any way in the name of religion. I was privileged to be there and to experience the event. It made me understand more that faith doesn’t depend on labels and classifications; it is all about what our hearts contain.
At the IEC, I observed many young people there helping in packing food for the participants, cleaning and preparing the venues. It was quite an experience observing them. They could have been anywhere else having fun, enjoying their time in the malls or on outings. But these young people chose to be there at the IEC, serving the Catholic community, serving the Lord. It made me think of my own 13-year-old daughter. As the father of a teenager, it is my desire that she follow the path of the Lord, to see her involved in meaningful activities that will strengthen her faith and mold her into what God has designed her to be.
In one of my encounters, a nun gave me a rosary which I accepted wholeheartedly. She got my name and assured me that she would include me in her prayers. That gesture really touched me. I was reminded that we are all sons and daughters of the same one true God. I was even more inspired as I went on with my task. I believe in the faith of the nuns. We implemented very strict security measures at the IEC but I did not encounter any nun angered by our security protocols.
In the military, most of my companions are Catholics. We are always united and when it comes to religion we have mutual respect for one another. We pray together, especially during our activities. As members of the military we are expected to be united. But more than that, we know that we depend on the same God for strength and protection.
Faith, in whatever form, shape or appearance it may have, has been my support in life. Every day I cling to my faith. My life as a military man is risky and fleeting. Anytime, anywhere, there is danger. Death is always imminent. But faith has been my weapon in going about my duties every day.
I believe in having Jesus Christ as the center of our life. Being present at the IEC, I was moved by the faith of the people in the Eucharist, by the way they value it. My religion may be different from that of most of the participants at the IEC, but it didn’t separate me from them. I too was there as a child of God seeking his presence. It was very inspiring. Indeed, the Holy Spirit was present.
‘We know that we depend on the same God for strength and protection’
So writes Ramil Caporas, a Baptist, in his article above about praying with his comrades, nearly all Catholics. He tells us how touched he was by being given a rosary by a nun and by her assurance that she would pray for him. In the video above an American survivor of a prisoner of war camp in North Korea during the Korean War (1950-1953) tells how ‘Catholic, Protestants and Jews were all praying the rosary every night inspired by their heroic chaplain, Fr Emil Kapaun, who died in that camp on 23 May 1951. St John Paul declared him a Servant of god, the first stage in the process of canonization. Fr Kapaun once applied to join the Columban high school seminary in the USA.
‘As the father of a teenager’
Ramil Caporas writes ‘as the father of a teenager’ that his daughter will be molded ‘into what God has designed her to be’. These words echo those of St Thérèse of Lisieux in her autobiography: ‘Perfection consists simply in doing his will, and being just what he wants us to be.’