In His Time

Published on June 8-9, 2013 in the Parish Bulletin of Saint Andrew Catholic Church, Harrodsburg KY

It was a hymn that I had not heard in almost thirty years.

I was celebrating the Mass at the Campus Ministry of Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) in Richmond on December 2, 2012. Fr. Jim Sichko was away for another mission appeal and he had asked me to fill in for him.

I noticed during Mass that the choir of college students were doing an exceptional job leading the congregation in sung praise. Their director was Saint Andrew’s former Music Minister, Stanley “JR” Zerkoswki. He had told me that he had been teaching them a new song for the meditation after Holy Communion. But, as soon as I heard its verses, I realized that this ‘new’ hymn was an old familiar melody that hearkened back to my childhood.

First Holy Communion on December 21, 1985 at Holy Rosary Parish Church in Angeles City, Philippines. From left to right: Enrico B. Liwanag, (now Fr.) Emmanuel F. Zamora, Gery M. Perez

First Holy Communion on Dec. 21, 1985 at Holy Rosary Parish Church in Angeles City, Philippines. From left to right: Enrico B. Liwanag, (now Fr.) Emmanuel F. Zamora, Gerry M. Perez

That hymn brought me back to December 21, 1985 at Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Parish Church in my native Angeles City. It was the day of my first Holy Communion and Confirmation. Our second grade class at Holy Angel University had walked from our school to pisamban maragul (literally, the ‘big Church’) in our Sunday best: the boys wore white long-sleeved shirts, black pants and bowties, and black leather shoes; the girls wore white dresses and veils. Each of us had brought our baptismal candles and a gift to be brought up for the Offertory.

I cannot seem to remember which priest celebrated the Mass or what his homily was about. I do recall the parish priest, Monsignor Aquilino D. Ordoñez (born 1929), coming out of the sacristy to confirm us. The other details of that day continue to elude my memory. It was not until that fateful Advent Mass in Richmond that I remembered exactly what I felt that December day in 1985: an inexplicable peace and joy.

Before I had heard that song again, I could only recall my annoyance at the photographer at my first Communion who kept on distracting me to get his perfect shot. I did not realize that nothing, neither the photographer’s constant harassment nor my own frustration, had kept that first Communion from being what it was supposed to be: a Holy Communion.

I could not help but smile as I remembered singing these verses with my classmates:

“In His time, in His time.
He makes all things beautiful in His time.
Lord, please show me everyday
as You’re teaching me Your way
that You do just what You say in Your time.
 
“In Your time, in Your time.
You make all things beautiful in Your time.
Lord, my life to You I bring;
may each song I have to sing
be to You a lovely thing in Your time.”

This hymn not only evoked a forgotten joy; it also reminded me that indeed the Lord makes all things beautiful in His time.

As I looked back at my eight year old self, I saw that even then I knew that the mystery being celebrated at the altar was more important than any moment of mine that that photographer was trying to capture. But, I also have come to recognize that it was not so much my irritation at the countless distractions at that first Communion that built my resolve to make sure that all my other Communions be holy; rather, it was the joy that I experienced even at that first encounter with Christ that has attracted me to keep on coming back for more.

I had thought that the chaos of that day was what had stayed with me all this time. I realize now that, had I only kept on singing that hymn, I would have never forgotten that I first found the Lord’s peace and joy even in the midst of all that chaos.

~ by Fr. Noel F. Zamora on Saturday, June 8, 2013.

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