Sometime in the year 2002, I accompanied my daughter Denise Antoinette to seek the advice of a very knowledgeable and successful Dean and Vice-President of INTI College Malaysia in Nilai, Negeri Sembilan Dr. Lim Ho Peng, regarding overseas education. We were interested in External Degrees and how to select a reasonable university in US for Denise to complete her degree in the American University Programme. It was very clear from our conversation with him, that not only had he made a mark in the education field, being a UCLA scholar himself, but he was the guiding force in the success of his son who has become a brilliant and successful lawyer. In sharing his experiences on how at a very early age he had impressed upon his son the need to be focussed on being THE BEST there is, Dr. Lim now has the pride and joy of reaping the fruits of his wisdom and labour in the achievements of his son. Wow! I was really impressed.! It was truly inspiring listening to him on how he had trudged with determination to achieve his goals to become what he and his son are today.
In reflecting on the many things that he had shared, it suddenly dawned on me .... what is my ultimate goal as a Catholic parent? Am I really determined like this loving parent to see to it that my children become the BEST there is ... the FUTURE SAINTS of the Church! Am I trudging with my husband and children with determination to achieve this ultimate PRICELESS GOAL? In other words, are we all HEAVEN BOUND?
It brought to mind an incident that happened sometime in 1988 I think. My husband Donald Egbert was then in charge of a group of young people who formed the Youth Music Ministry in the parish of the Church of the Visitation, Seremban, Malaysia . He was at one time trying to organise a sort of retreat formation for these young people. However, the priests he approached to be the spiritual retreat master all turned him down. One of them Fr. Anthony Naden who was sympathetic to his predicament introduced a Sr. Cecilia from Madonna Heights, Kuala Lumpur to help us. He gladly accepted since he had already booked the place for the retreat at the Church of the Immaculate Conception Port Dickson and he didn't want to disappoint the young people and other adults who were accompanying them. Besides, as Sr. Cecilia mentioned later when she introduced herself, her namesake saint, Saint Cecilia is the patron saint of Music.... HOW APPROPRIATE I thought!!! God certainly works in mysterious ways!
Well Sr. Cecilia introduced all of us in the group to the POWER OF PRAYER and the various steps involved in meditation. Her sharing gave us an understanding of how simple it was to speak to the Lord and gave us some practical pointers. Something that I significantly remember in that session was a question that she gave us all to answer in writing .... “If Jesus were to come before you right now and grant you just ONE WISH what would you ask for?”
Of course, in sharing our thoughts with Sr. Cecilia and the other participants, we came up with rather noble answers... like ... “world peace”, “no more poverty”, “no more suffering” etc. etc. Then came the turn of Gerard Pinto, one of our young Tenors. He had no qualms about what he wanted from the Lord and he proudly announced “I will ask Him for a first class ticket to Heaven!” We roared with laughter and teased him ... “Yeh right, First class ticket to Heaven indeed for the likes of you!! Ha! Ha! Just then Sr. Cecilia interrupted us and asked us all to stop for a moment to seriously consider the answer Gerard had given. There was absolute silence and we just couldn't believe it. Yes, come to think of it, isn't HEAVEN the most important goal in our lives?. Well as you might have guessed, Gerard had the last laugh.. How foolish we were! .... Here we were given such an easy opportunity to go to HEAVEN! and WE BLEW IT!!! Well I'll never forget that memorable weekend or the lessons we learnt.
Gerard is now married to Lorraine who was a Soprano in the choir and they have a little one of their own. I congratulate his parents Mr. and Mrs. Maurice Pinto on a job well done... I believe they must have , in their own beautiful way, impressed upon Gerard this ultimate goal in life... HEAVEN!! As children of God we are all destined by our Father ... “to SHINE BRIGHTLY like the stars in HEAVEN” - yet sometimes we behave like pebbles on the beach, easily washed about by our earthly inclinations and aspirations. Let's take the challenge - get our priorities right like our good friend Dr. Lim, because nothing comes easy. For the sake of our children and ourselves - lets unravel the mysteries of our good old road map ... THE WORD OF GOD ... to guide us all HOME, qualifying for that FIRST CLASS ticket to Heaven !
“My word is like the snow and the rain that come down from the sky to water the earth. They make the crops grow and provide seed for planting and food to eat. So also will be the Word that I speak….it will not fail to do what I plan for it; it will do everything I send it to do.” (Isaiah 55 Vs.10-11).
God Bless you on your faith journey!
--- by Madonna Egbert
[Madonna Egbert is a member of the Church of the Immaculate Conception, in Port Dickson, Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia.]