My Little Life Projects
By Fr. Jude Genovia, SSC
Fr. Jude Genovia lived and worked in Korea for the past 11 years. He is back in the Philippines and assigned to Malate Parish.
On the night of Palm Sunday, after all my pastoral activities in the Migrant Center were done, I decided to do one more thing instead of calling it a day. I call it my little life project.
Sometime in March, the staff of Moyse Catholic Migrant Center went to one of the Martyr’s Shrines as our bonding activity. The name of the Shrine was “Galmaemot Martyrs’ Sacred Place.” Since 1925, this place had been treated as a sacred place for Korean Catholics, as witnesses confirmed it as the place where a French Bishop, two French priests and two Korean lay leaders were decapitated on a Good Friday, March 30, 1866. 1866 was known as the devastating year of Byeong-in Persecutions wherein three French missionaries surrendered themselves to minimize the further arrests and torture of the Korean Catholics. Their two Korean lay leaders surrendered as well and joined the deliberate act of marching from Seoul to the small village called Galmayeon, to warn every village they passed through the consequences of joining the Catholic movement. It was said that the soldiers who were ordered to carry out the execution were taking their time to parade the five prisoners. The French missionaries insisted on doubling their pace so their execution could take place on Good Friday. The execution was indeed done on Good Friday. Since then, the sacred place has been constantly visited by Korean Catholics. The three French missionaries and two Korean martyrs were canonized in 1984.
The day that we visited the sacred place, we joined the Mass just before noon and had lunch and coffee afterwards. The afternoon was spent for exploring. Across from the shrine was the sea facing China. The shrine was located in a fishing village. Some of the staff strolled while the others competed on throwing stones to the sea. The sight of empty seashells in different shapes and sizes littered on the beach reflects the insatiable appetite of human beings for seafood.
I decided to collect the ones with less damaged conditions. I really did not know what to do with them yet. All I knew was their seemingly aesthetic value. I came home that day with some seashells.
Days and weeks passed, I completely forgot about my collection. The pastoral demands at Moyse Migrant Center took most of my attention and time.
Then came Palm Sunday. I led a group of Filipino Catholics to the Station of the Cross at the old Church, which was 40 minutes’ drive from our Migrant Center. I had to drive for another hour and a half to another city for the Tagalog Mass in the afternoon. After the Mass, I visited a family stricken by Covid19 to deliver some provisions. By the time I got home it was already past 9 p.m. As I was taking my dinner, I noticed that my succulent plants were still planted in a plastic pot. I had the urge to buy pots at the flower shop but it was already late in the evening. I looked around my room for an alternative and my attention was brought to the empty seashells. And so, the little life project began. I began to take the bigger shells and decided to make them the shelter pots for my succulent plants. I admit I kind of stretched the boundary in making land-based plants live and grow in seashells. All I can do was hope that the succulent plants would find the seashells as comfortable as pots are for them.
As a steward, I have learned to always look at the potential aspect of life. As a steward, I have learnt to nurture life. As a steward, I have learnt to learn from others. As a steward, I strive to co-operate and co-exist with other living creatures.
The narrative of Jesus Christ on Good Friday indeed reveals the life project of God. His suffering and death reveal how fragile life is here on Earth. His suffering and death seem to suggest that life has its limit and end. His suffering and death points to His resurrection. In his resurrection, life is stronger than death. Jesus indeed lives. No Good Friday without Easter. No Easter without Good Friday. My little life project this Holy Week reminds me that the thrown away seashells can still serve life other than sea creatures. May God shower you with blessings, love, and peace this Easter.