Growing up in a conservative Catholic family, I was exposed to seeing my parents pray Novenas and rosaries regularly. Sundays were family days and our Sunday Mass was always a priority before any other activity for the day. My parents were prayerful and devout Catholics because they were raised that way. That really helped me and my siblings grow up knowing God and having a personal relationship with Him even if at first, as kids, we did not understand much and were doing it to obey our parents. We were a typical Filipino family who had an altar full of statues and images of our Lord like the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Divine Mercy, Our Lady of Lourdes, Guadalupe, St. Joseph, the Holy family and other favorite Saints and angels. We were also taught how to pray the rosary and recited it daily as a family.
When I became a teenager, my Mama told me to start a devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus every Friday and to our Mother of Perpetual Help every Wednesday. She told me that having these devotions will keep me closer to the Lord and Mama Mary and that I will always be protected by them. At first, I didn’t think much of it maybe because I was young, carefree and had other interests but then my Aunt also told me to start the devotion. It also helped when my Mama and Papa would share their own spiritual journeys and how prayers helped them specially whenever they go through trials. I think I was 15 years old when I heeded their prodding and decided to go to church every Wednesday and Friday to attend the Novena Masses. That started my Friday Devotion to the most Sacred Heart of Jesus and Wednesday devotion to our Mother of Perpetual Help. And I was glad I did! I was drawn to the Sacred Heart of Jesus Novena Mass because I like the prayer and the promises attached to it. “Ask and it will be given to you, Seek and you will find, Knock and it will be opened to you…”. It was so consoling and very reassuring. I also liked the Sacred Heart songs and would find myself singing it in my mind every now and then. It was also my way of talking to God whatever I was going through. It somehow helped me start a prayer life. But I have to admit I was not always faithful in my prayer life. I guess it was also because I was young and had other interests and distractions. But the good thing was I would always find myself somehow going back and praying again. This went on until I was in College. It was like an on and off relationship with the Lord. I obviously was not that committed yet at that time. “Lord, be patient with me, a sinner… O Blood and Water which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a fount of mercy for us, I trust in You!”
When I started working in Makati, there was a Catholic Charismatic community called
Mustard Seed that was holding daily Masses at the Sacred Heart Chapel along Legaspi Village. I found myself drawn and would attend Masses regularly during lunchbreaks.
What a pleasant surprise too that the Chapel was in honor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I was so happy and felt at home. I knew the Lord was calling me back to Him. This helped deepen my Friday devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I also started joining the Mustard Seed community where I met my now very good friend and prayer partner.
I must say that having this special devotion helped me go through so many trials and temptations in my life. I felt that the Lord protected me and guided me all this time. When I was in and out of relationships and thought that I would end up being single, I sought the help of a spiritual director who helped guide me in choosing a state of life. This too helped paved the way in deepening my prayer life and knowing the Lord in a more personal way. It helped me seek and discern God’s will. Holding on to God’s promise in Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”, I was eventually led to the man of God the Lord has prepared for me. Answered prayer!
Now that I am married and have 2 daughters, it’s my turn to share with them my prayer life and devotions. Whenever we can, we would hear Mass on Fridays in honor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. My husband and I exposed our daughters to serving at Sunday Mass and becoming active members of our community where we live. We were also led to join and become active members of the Lay Apostles of Jesus Christ the Returning King and formed a prayer group we called The Rock along with my 2 closest friends and prayer partners. During this pandemic, what strengthened me and my family the most was our strong faith and devotion to God. Our daily family rosary and Masses helped us cope with the uncertainty of this pandemic. It made us closer to God and to each other. Even in all our trials, it is always the Lord and our prayer life that help us get through the tough times. I cannot imagine my life without the Lord in it. I seek Him every moment and talk to Him throughout the day just like He is there… because He is! He is ever present. He is real!
I remember having 3 dreams with the Lord in it. My first dream was sometime in 2019 when I saw the Lord enter the room where I was in. He was writing on a blackboard and though He filled it with so many words what caught me were only two words – anger and love. The Lord was looking at me very lovingly. It was like a piercing gaze yet so gentle, full of love and compassion and never judgmental. In my dream I was trying to read everything and wanted to copy it but when I was about to someone else started to erase it. I felt bad at first but realized it was all in my heart and that gave me so much peace and joy. I then understood that the Lord was teaching me to love and be patient. Everything is about love. Our Lord is very gentle even when He wants to correct us and He wants me to do the same. That’s how I felt at that time. “O Sacred Heart, O Love Divine, do keep us near to Thee. And make our hearts so like to Thine, that we may holy be…” I remember Mother Teresa saying, “If you judge people you have no time to love them.” Lesson learned!
My second dream was in November 2021 before I was about to get my 2nd dose Moderna vaccine. I was scared of the effects of the vaccine and prayed for protection.
Then the night before my scheduled vaccination I had a dream about meeting the Lord Jesus on the road. I was walking towards Him and He was standing under a shade in front of a roadside store. He was looking at me lovingly and mentioned something about my attire. I was wearing walking shorts. I had the feeling that He was saying it was not safe for me. I said, “But I know You will protect me.” I hugged Him and whispered to Him, “Lord, please protect me.” I don’t really know the connection of this dream to my vaccine but I really felt so protected by the Lord. Whenever I dream of the Lord, He was always looking at me lovingly and made me feel so special.
My third dream was in December. It was about the Holy Spirit and the Lord Jesus. In my dream I was standing on the stairs. It was big and wide, in a big white building with wide wall openings like those of a carpark building. I was looking at the clear blue sky when I saw a big white dove and excitedly exclaimed “Holy Spirit” like a little girl. I then gestured as if I was hugging the Holy Spirit tight but was actually hugging myself then the Holy Spirit became Jesus and extended His arms toward me. All of a sudden, I was up in the air with the Lord, hugging Him and said, “I love you so much, Lord.” He answered back saying, “I love you so much too.” I saw both the Lord Jesus’ face which changes to the white dove or the Holy Spirit up close. After that vision I was back in the stairs and was telling my husband about my beautiful vision (even if I was still in the dream). I was so happy when I woke up… I never felt so loved! But I also somehow felt that maybe something is coming and the Lord was preparing me for it that’s why He had to assure me that He loved me and to never fear. It somehow reminded me of the Transfiguration scene.
True enough trials came our way. Health challenges in my family were happening one after another. It felt like the story of Job when he was being tested! Maybe, if I didn’t experience those beautiful dreams, I would have given up hope. But the Lord knows me so well that He had to assure me first. We went through each one of them full of hope and trust in the Lord that all will be well. And it was! The Lord even provided for our every need. Praise God for His faithfulness! The Lord is true to His promises to us! “The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; Do not be discouraged.” – Deuteronomy 31:8
I believe that my Sacred Heart of Jesus devotion led me to a deeper spiritual life. I know I am still a work in progress and the Lord is transforming me a day at a time. He is patient with me in my journey. “My grace is sufficient for you for My power is made perfect in weakness.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9
Whatever I go through in life, I always hope in the Lord. Hope is powerful and it creates miracles! My prayer: “Lord Jesus, cover us with your most precious blood and keep us safe in your Sacred Heart!” Amen.
Written By: Bettina Ablaza