I didn't have a chance to update the blog these past few weeks due to a family emergency situation. These past weeks have been quite a trial for us. Our dad was diagnosed with an advanced stage of cirhosis in the liver a few weeks ago. Then just this week, the doctors also discovered a big mass of tumor near his lungs. It has begun spreading out, and the lung cancer is now considered to be on stage 3. Chemotherapy is definitely out of the question due to his cirhosis. While he was offered the option of radiation therapy, this would only be helpful as far as relieving some pain but it's not an over-all cure. Similar to the cirhosis diagnosis, the doctors think that he would only last up to six months. So it's really a matter of time before the cirhosis or the lung cancer gets him first.
Inspite of this bad news, please permit me to share a couple of good news. First, the doctors think that with therapy for a few days our dad can gain some strength to enable him to fly back to the Philippines where he wants to spend his remaining days. He was discharged yesterday and moved to a skilled nursing facility. If all goes well, and if the airline gives their approval, my mom and I will accompany him to the Philippines (though I'll only stay for a week
to make sure he gets settled in before I return to the US).
The more important good news is that, after years of praying for his conversion to the Catholic faith, (he was raised up as a Protestant ) he finally did it last August 19! A day before my patron saint's feastday (St. Bernard of Clairvaux). I was told that my dad almost converted to Catholicism before he married my mom, but the priest told him that it wasn't necessary. I must mention that aside from the rosary, one particular devotion which I completed last year was St. Bridget's 15 Prayers (This can be found on old prayerbooks, though the promises attached to this devotion might be in question, the prayers themselves are good meditative ones) which I often prayed in preparation before each daily mass. I've read anecdotal stories about the power of this devotion, so it seemed to be instrumental also for my dad's conversion.
As my dad's health began to fail, I felt the urgency for him to receive the Sacraments before it was too late. I knew that it was probably better for him to receive them now while still fully conscious and lucid. This time, he offered no resistance when we invited him to consider becoming a Catholic. We are grateful for Canon Jean Marie Moreau (Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest) for his time in hearing my dad's first confession and giving him a conditional baptism. Afterwards, he was confirmed and received Holy Communion for the first time as well! An added bonus was the Investiture of the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. The sacraments and scapular investiture were all done in the traditional latin rite (Extraordinary Form).
Please keep my dad (Wilfredo Balza Sr). and our family in your prayers and masses. Once again, we are thankful and appreciative for all the support given to us at this difficult time.
Canon Moreau preparing for the Rite of Baptism
Assisting Canon Moreau with the Baptism Rite
Dad's First Holy Communion
Investiture of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel's Brown Scapular
The Balza Family with Canon Moreau (seemed my dad looked a bit younger after the sacraments were given to him!)