POSTSCRIPT / November 1, 2001 / Thursday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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By retorting, GMA only dignifies tales about Mike

PRAYERFUL DAY: Today being All Saints Day, the accustomed day the living hold a slam-bang reunion with their departed loved ones, we share these choice prayers gathered by PPI’s Johnny Mercado. They may come in handy when we pause from our earthly preoccupations to offer prayer for our dead. You might want to clip them for reference.

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“FATHER, we remember all those once known to us on earth, who have passed into the light of Your presence. Continue Your mercy and loving kindness towards them, we ask, for evermore. Amen.”(William Angus Knight)

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“WE thank you Lord and Father for the dear and faithful dead, for those who have made the distant heavens a home for us, and whose truth and beauty are, even now, in our hearts.

“One by one, You gather the scattered families out of earthly light into heavenly glory, from the distractions and strife and weariness of times to the peace of eternity.

“We thank You for the labors and the joys of these mortal years. We thank You for our deep sense of the mysteries that lie beyond our dust, and for the eyes of faith You have opened for all in Your Son, to outlook that mark.

“May we live altogether in Your faith and love, and in that hope which is full of immortality. Amen. (Rufus Ellis)

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“WE give back ( our loved ones ) to You, dear God, who gave them first to us. Yet, as You did not lose them in giving, so we have not lost them by their return.

“Not as the world gives, do You give, O Lover of Souls. For what is Yours is ours always, if we remain in You.

“Life is eternal, and love is immortal. Death is only a horizon, and a horizon is but the limit of our sight. Lift us up, strong Son of God, that we may see further.

“Draw us closer to Yourself that we may come nearer to our loved ones who are with You. And prepare a place for us that happy place, that where they are, and You are, we too may be. Amen.”

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THE EMPTY CHAIR: Still on prayer, here’s a timely story titled “The Empty Chair” shared with our readers by Aguila <>.

A MAN’S daughter had asked the local minister to come and pray with her father. When the minister arrived, he found the man lying in bed with his head propped up on two pillows.

An empty chair sat beside his bed. The minister assumed that the old fellow had been informed of his visit. “I guess you were expecting me,” he said.

“No, who are you?” said the father.

The minister told him his name and then remarked, “I see the empty chair; I figured you knew I was going to show up.”

“Oh yeah, the chair,” said the bed-ridden man. “Would you mind closing the door?”

Puzzled, the minister shut the door.

“I have never told anyone this, not even my daughter,” said the man. “But all of my life I have never known how to pray. At church I used to hear the pastor talk about prayer, but it went right over my head.”

“I abandoned any attempt at prayer,” the old man continued, “until one day about four years ago my best friend said to me:

‘Johnny, prayer is just a simple matter of having a conversation with Jesus. Here is what I suggest. Sit down in a chair, place an empty chair in front of you, and in faith see Jesus on the chair. It’s not spooky because He promised ‘I’ll be with you always.’ Then just speak to Him in the same way you’re doing with me right now.’

“So, I tried it and I’ve liked it so much that I do it a couple of hours every day. I’m careful though. If my daughter saw me talking to an empty chair, she’d either have a nervous breakdown or send me off to the funny farm.”

The minister was deeply moved by the story and encouraged the old man to continue on the journey. Then he prayed with him, anointed him with oil, and returned to the church.

Two nights later the daughter called to tell the minister that her daddy had died that afternoon.

“Did he die in peace?” he asked.

“Yes, and when I left the house about two o’clock, he called me over to his bedside and told me he loved me and kissed me on the cheek. When I got back from the store an hour later, I found him dead. But there was something strange about his death. Apparently, just before Daddy died, he leaned over and rested his head on the chair beside the bed. What do you make of that?”

The minister wiped a tear from his eye and said, “I wish we could all go like that.”

Prayer is one of the best free gifts we receive. There is no cost but a lot of rewards.

Just remember, the chair is never really “empty.” No matter where we are, what we do, how we act, what we say, who we are with — He is always with us.

“And I will be with you always, to the end of the age.” (Mt.28:20)

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PRO DRIVERS DEFENDED: Reader texted us: “Not all professional drivers are like what you like to portray. There are professional drivers who are safe, careful, law-abiding…”

He was referring to our suggestion that in enforcing the controversial law requiring drugs tests for all applicants for a driver’s license, the testing be accompanied by an information campaign and carried out not in one all-encompassing sweep but in stages — starting with professional drivers.

We suggested in the previous Postscript that the testing be conducted in stages: (1) first, the professional drivers (especially those regularly ferrying passengers), followed after a reasonable period by (2) non-professional drivers who had been the offending party in accidents, and finally by (3) the rest, also after another interval. All first-time applicants will be tested for drugs as they come.

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TESTING GROUPS IN STAGES: When we suggested priority testing for professional drivers or those driving passenger vehicles (such as taxicabs, jeepneys and buses), we did not mean to stereotype them as drug-addicted or accident-prone. If we gave that wrong impression, we apologize.

But because it seems to us that the Land Transportation Office is not prepared to simultaneously drugs-test all applicants and drivers renewing their licenses and also because the motoring public has been caught by surprise, we see the need for a well-thought-out information campaign and the breaking down of the nationwide testing into phases or stages.

Related to this, reader said that while he favored drugs-testing in stages, he would want to see the same tests done on all politicians before they are allowed to run for public office. It makes sense, di po ba?

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DIGNIFYING NAUGHTY RUMORS: We caught on TV last night a report saying that President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo again defended her husband against charges that the First Gentleman has been receiving jueteng payola.

With due respect, we think the President should stop dignifying (by retorting to them) these naughty rumors about her husband. Since they cannot link GMA to any scandal, her political foes are just trying to smear her through her omnipresent husband whom they have found to be vulnerable.

It is Mr. Arroyo’s misfortune that most people seem to be disposed to believe any plausible story spread about his supposed shenanigans, especially those involving money. It’s not fair to him, but his hogging the limelight and his smudgy image make him a logical target.

He has to work on this serious credibility problem, if only to salvage the Arroyo presidency. As we’ve said: Huwag po kayong gumitna kung ayaw ninyong masagasaan. (Roughly translates to: Don’t stand in the middle of the road if you don’t want to get run over.)

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of November 1, 2001)

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