Last December 28, 2013 I went to the funeral of the wife of my first cousin in Davao City, Philippines. Her name is Norma B. Gohetia.
One thing unusual about this funeral was that the children of Norma were happy over the departure of their mother. A funeral is usually associated with sadness. But this one was colored by gladness.
This reminds me of a line in a song sung by Guy Penrod, a former member of the Gaither Vocal Band. The title of that song is THE CROSS MADE THE DIFFERENCE. The pertinent line goes, “But at the side of a saint there's rejoicing for life can't be sealed in a tomb.” The children realized their mother was a saint who had gone to receive her reward. And they were happy for her receiving this reward.
Norma was a plain homemaker or housewife. What made her a saint, different from the millions of housewives all over the world, was her simple but deep spirituality. She was in constant communication with the Spirit of God who guided unerringly her life. This fellowship with the Spirit was done mostly in the confines of her home but it gave her the wisdom and strength to raise up her children in the fear and love of the Lord, and help her community to have self-reliant members who used the resources they had to improve their lives.
Norma was given the Bayaning Filipino (Filipino Hero) Award by the ABS-CBN Television Network for her work of transforming her community to have self-reliant members against all the odds that poverty brought into their lives. In the language of the Catholic Catechism she lived sanctity to a heroic degree. This she did without much fanfare. She simply listened to the Spirit and followed his leading.
Her life shows us that anyone can live a life of deep spirituality by just listening to and obeying the Spirit of God. And we are witnesses to the fruit of this life: children and grandchildren brought up in the love of God and love of neighbors, and neighbors whose lives have been immensely improved even financially because of her initiative.
The epithet in Proverbs 31:28 applies to her most appropriately, “Her children arise up and call her blessed.” It is her children who beatified her as a Blessed and canonized her as a Saint.