Finding Hope in the Face of Anguish

a person looking at the rain seemingly sad or reflecting

My name is Aristeo Mata. I am 27 years old, currently residing in Mandaue City, Cebu. I was raised by two wonderful God-fearing parents, Arsenio and Amelia, who brought up myself and my older brother Agustin in the faith. We had our fair share of ups and downs in our life, but the deepest struggle we faced as a family was when my mother was diagnosed, and subsequently passed away after a bout with cancer in October 2021. As a momma’s boy through and through, it was a difficult moment in my personal life. My mother was who I shared everything with, my hopes, my dreams, my hurts. She was also someone who encouraged me to pray the Rosary every day and to always find time to spend time with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Suddenly she was gone and it was just us three to pick up the pieces and continue on in life. For a little while, everything was going great. Life seemed so upbeat and we certainly felt that everything was on the upswing. Until February of this year, my father abruptly passed away the day after Ash Wednesday. The man who inspired me to love and serve the Lord with so much passion and fervor was now suddenly gone. These two experiences left me with so much pain and confusion. Some of this pain I still deal with to this day. I sometimes find myself asking God why He would allow this to happen. There was still so much more that my parents were supposed to witness. They never even got to experience the joy of having grandchildren.


But by the grace of God and the beauty of the faith, I felt in my heart of hearts that there was so much more to life than all my questions and regrets. As the old saying goes “When there is life, there is hope.”  In the midst of all of this pain and anguish, I felt the Lord’s embrace through the very things my parents had bestowed upon me. As a way of coping through my father’s passing, I started frequently visiting the Blessed Sacrament and praying the rosary daily. I also decided to be active again in service in a Catholic charismatic community that my parents had brought me up in. Through these steps, my own path of healing had begun. This, along with the help and prayers of many friends and family, I finally felt a sense of calmness and peace. But more importantly, I felt a renewed sense of Hope. This Hope wasn’t simply for better things to come in my own personal life, but it is a Hope that stems from placing my complete trust in Christ’s promise of the Kingdom of heaven and eternal life (CCC 1817).

This Hope wasn’t simply for better things to come in my own personal life, but it is a Hope that stems from placing my complete trust in Christ’s promise of the Kingdom of heaven and eternal life (CCC 1817).

Many of us in this world are facing different forms of pain or anguish. Whether it be the pain of losing a loved one, losing your job, going through a messy break up, or whatever it may be. May we find solace in the fact that Jesus sees us, he has experienced this pain with us, and he is journeying with us every single day. I hope and pray that this would encourage those reading this to draw themselves closer to Jesus through prayer. And not in a way to simply pray away our problems. But by drawing ourselves closer to Him, we will slowly find the happiness that comes with being close to Jesus in our journey towards our heavenly home.


Happily Ever After

It’s wedding season in the Philippines and you can especially feel the love in the air on this eve of Valentine’s Day. Flowers are being sold on the street, chocolates and sweets are on sale, and most couples have something special planned for the occasion. Growing up, I’ve always been the biggest fan of romantic comedies. Sleepless in Seattle, Notting Hill, and my personal favorite, The Wedding Singer, have all had a part in shaping my idea on love and romance. The guy would always go through some kind of hardship, end up with the girl, and live happily ever after. But, these movies never show the happily ever after. They never show what happens after the wedding car of the main characters drive off to the sunset. They never show what everyday life is like for the married couple.

I am very grateful that even if I am yet to see these scenarios played out in a movie, I was given the privilege to witness a glimpse of that in the everyday life of my parents. Looking back at these memories, it’s easy to see why there aren’t a lot of movies about married life. Marriage can get messy. There are occasional fights, misunderstandings, crying, the works. I have been a witness to some of it and at times it can be overwhelming. But I have also seen the beauty of marriage through my parents. I have seen how both my parents sacrificed for one another and for our family. I have seen how my mom would take care of my dad at all times and how dad would do the same especially when my mom fell ill.  I have even seen how my oftentimes aloof dad can bring a smile on my mom’s face when she needs it.

So much can be said about the beauty of marriage. But nothing can be more beautiful than the beautiful linkage of a man and woman made possible by the grace of God. A union that molds two individuals into one. A covenant that is bestowed the gift to bring life to the world.  As more and more stories of love get made into movies and tv shows, may we always know who and what love really is. It is God! Through the pursuing and unconditional love made real to us by Jesus. Even for us single people, this love is ever-present in the way that Christ is married to His Church. So regardless if you have a special someone to celebrate Valentines with, or you are without a partner, may we be reminded of the constant love being poured out to us through Jesus.