My name is Grant Howell C. Etruiste. I am 23 years old and I took up BS Mechanical Engineering in Mapua University. I graduated last 2018, passed the board exam last year and I am now working as a Field Engineer in a contracting company in Batangas. More than that, I am thrilled to tell you that I have said yes to God’s call to be a Mission Volunteer in MFC Youth since November 2017. I am currently serving in Mindoro. One of the many things was added in my life since that “Yes” is my devotion to saints and Mary.
I once read a book entitled “Retreat with St. Therese of Lisieux” which I found during our annual general cleaning in our place in Las Pinas. In this book, I learned the life of St. Therese of Lisieux – how simple she was, how ordinary her life was, and in her littleness, how she still became a saint. Nothing in her life was ever grand. It was full of ordinary things done with extraordinary love. I learned also about her parents who both became saints! They have decided to have a chaste marriage until they felt a different leading from the Lord. In fact, all of their daughters became nuns. To cut the long story short, I was so inspired by her life that even in my ordinary life, I can still pursue holiness. I started to pray for the intercession of St. Therese of Lisieux from that day on, so that I may get inspiration from her. This then started my interest in reading books about saints.
One of the things I do in this time of quarantine is reading books. Back then, my mom used to force me and my siblings to read books, and I had this tendency to bring these characters to life using my imagination to the point that I sometimes act as if they are beside me. The child in me used to imitate their cool moves and copy their personality as well. Growing up, I learned that our minds are designed to be like this when we read or watch someone’s life. We tend to imitate things like the spells from Harry Potter, the awesome moves from our Marvel comic book heroes, and the list goes on. It’s in everyone’s design – to imitate the people we imagine and idolize. Considering this, it started to make sense of why my interest in the saints has been growing in my heart. As I read and knew about their lives, I had this desire to imitate them. In my heart, I started to desire to become Holy like them.
Now, I have a lot of favourite saints in my heart like St John Paul the Great, St. Padre Pio, St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Teresa of Calcutta and many others with each one having different stories and had been into different situations. As I looked beyond these differences, they had 3 similar traits in common: Love of God, Love of Neighbor, and Love of Mary. Yes, it was that Mary who bore the Son of God in her womb for 9 months known as Jesus, who accompanied Jesus in His whole 33 years of existence, and that Mary who witnessed the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus. At the center of every saint was a heart for Mary. It was because of their love for Mary that they were ultimately able to love Jesus even more!
As I now read a book by Venerable Fulton Sheen titled “The World’s First Love”, I am reminded that Mary is our mother. She is my mother and yours as well. Pray the rosary and ask for her intercession because she loves you and she so desires to bring you closer to Jesus. I can’t emphasize enough how important Mary is. To honour Mary is to Love and honour Jesus as well.
My friends, there is really great Joy in knowing saints and Loving Mary. What better ways to journey towards Christ than to read, watch, listen, and learn about people who struggled and suffered like us but endured everything. They were real people we can relate to, real people with the same circumstances as us, and real people who fought the good fight, finished the race, and kept the faith. Developing devotion to the Saints and Mary ultimately leads us to one thing, Holiness that will lead us to Jesus.
May the Peace and love of Christ be always with you. I will pray for your love of saints and Mary!
Grant Etruiste is a Mission Volunteer for MFC Youth serving in the Luzon Mission Team