Month: December 2014

#Forever

Looking back to the year 2014 that was, there is one event which is worth recalling and making present once again: our perpetual profession, the day when our forever has begun.

With limited resources, Br Jerome Quinto, a Salesian himself and a close friend, took the video footage of this event and wove them into such a beautiful fabric we will not tire wearing over and over again. The subtitle was made possible by Itchan Decena. The background music aptly titled ‘Panunumpa’ (the act of vowing) is composed by Fr Jboy Gonzales, SJ.

Sharing this with you on the first day of the New Year, exactly eight months when our ‘entry to forever’ begun.

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Mistakes and Lessons on Discernment

chalk

The year 2014 is about to wrap up.

Minutes before I finally call it history, let me just go down the memory lane, but not just some months past–but a decade ago.

The year was 2004.

I was supposed to be  a novice-to-be on the very eve of our supposed flight to Cebu for our novitiate formation.

But events suddenly took an awkward turn. I left the seminary.

The turnout of events caught me breathless. Things were so fast that the next time I knew it, I had to start looking for a job because it had been almost three months since I left. I felt that I had to move on. And I thought, the best way to do it is to have a work so that I could be busy with something.

After a year, something was taking shape within; despite the fat pay check I was receiving, the prestige of working as a teacher in a respectable academic institution in the country, the fulfillment of doing what I liked doing the most, I felt that I was not satisfied. That moment, I got in touch with my spiritual director;

I told him of my situation.

And then, we talked about the process of my re-admission.

Irony of ironies, it was on a Good Friday that I got settled with my decision.

The universal Church was recalling the agony of Jesus that day, but within me, I found calm and serenity.

And so, here are the lessons.

First, the time factor was foremost; an important decision ought not to be rushed. My seminary formators made me realize the value of withholding an important decision if I am in the state of desolation, or on the extreme state of consolation.

Decisions are best handled when things are still.

Second, I discovered that a spiritual director who helps me understand what God wills for me is vitally important. He (or even she) does not tell me what to do, but he sees things in a bigger, and perhaps, better perspective. Hence, he may be able to see things which I did not even consider. He could even point out internal trends which I may not be conscious of.

Before I leap, it is safer to hear from him.

Third is the importance of listening to one’s heart. I see this aspect as very important from the hindsight. I only considered what my mind told me. I did not have the time to listen to what my heart was whispering to me. I grieved when I left the seminary; I thought that it’s just natural. But the entire two years, I was grieving, it must have been different. I would not have discovered this profound sadness had I listened only to what my mind was telling me.

My heart was telling me something different.

Finally, listening to my desires, is fundamental. While it is true that not all desires are authentic, and therefore ought to be attended to, it is salient just the same, to be attuned to it.

That one desired which I mentioned above did not only set me free from my grief.

Because it touched my greatest depths, it gave me the chance to see the possibility of a life of wholeness and not of a mere patchwork.

Just like Mary

Reflection on Mary, Mother of God – Year B
01 January 2015

MOM: Three-letter word that is the sweetest! Graphics by Br. Paul Dungca, SDB

MOM: Three-letter word that is the sweetest! Graphics by Br. Paul Dungca, SDB

“Mary kept all these things in her heart.” Lk 2:19

We start this New Year entrusting our lives to the very person who has nurtured and reared our Lord Jesus, the Virgin Mary, Mother of God.

St. Augustine would say that even before Mary conceived Jesus in her womb, she first conceived Him in her heart.

Jesus grew up quite well. This should be one big unmistakable proof to entrust ourselves to her.

However, at times, we wonder if Mary always understood God’s will. The records left by the evangelists are scarce. Perhaps, we’d not be able to establish any proof for this.

But one thing is sure: She listened to God, and she kept His Word in her heart.

Being the mother of Jesus was a no easy feat. The privileged position didn’t sweep the riches of the world under her feet. She did not have any minions at her beck and call. In fact, Mary underwent sacrifices. Even before our Lord carried His cross, Mary had to carry hers first.

She must have been afraid to bear a child without the assurance that she would not suffer death because of her situation, let alone the certainty that any thinking man would accept her circumstance,

She must have wept when she knew that hundreds of babies had to die because of her Son Jesus.

She must have grown tired of running to Egypt in order to escape the brunt of an emperor who was after her child.

Mary’s only question recorded in the Bible is “how.” And yet, still being unsure with the other details of how God will enter the world, Mary believed. And that’s what all matters.

Let us take her powerful witness, the depth of her belief in God, as we continue to battle it out journeying in this ‘valley of tears.’

At times, we also don’t understand. And perhaps, we’ll never know what God has in stored for us. Let us look to Mary for strength, just as we look at our very own mothers who are always beside us to comfort us and to guide us.

Let us make Mary our model who has attentively listened to God, even if it pains, even in times of defeat, and of great desolation.

Mary stood with Jesus up to the very moment of His death on the cross, she is our mother, too. Her affection, her maternal love reaches out to us as well.

We who are not given the privilege of carrying Jesus in our arms, and especially in our wombs, are challenged by the Church to carry Him in our hearts.

Just like Mary, our mother, did.

A crucible to wholeness

My spiritual director’s words refrain in my being on this calm Tuesday morning.

It is a quote from Carl Jung. I render it this way:

When we were born, we’re like shattered glasses. And our mission, as we journey on, is to piece back our little fragments and shards together. So that as we join our Creator, we are good as one.

Shattered pieces. Photo courtesy of Quinn Dombrowski https://www.flickr.com/photos/quinnanya/

Shattered pieces. Photo courtesy of Quinn Dombrowski https://www.flickr.com/photos/quinnanya/

These fragments, these pieces which I need to put back together, are various facets of my personhood which I tend to set aside—or at a certain point, even hide—because they do not only tend to distract me away from what I think (and I hope) who myself is, but they also make me afraid of what they could do to me and in which places they could drag me to.

Hence, the most convenient thing is for me to bury them to a place faraway so that they will not give me trouble, or so I thought. Living in a context of a religious community makes me see not only the face of God, but also reminds of the ‘faces of my many devils’ I attempt to run away from.

The shadow—a Jungian category—can be so powerful that it can even show itself through the people I am with.

Just like I mentioned above, I tend to get rid of my shadows. Hence, I tend to disregard people who manifest my own shadows which I escape from. Writing the previous sentence, I noticed that these shadows are not only theirs; ultimately, they are also mine. And I cannot make myself whole by leaving them out.

In my struggle to make myself integrated, I need to acknowledge them. To embrace them as a part of who I am means I am ready to face that I am wounded, fragile, and imperfect.

Indeed, a daunting challenge.

It is another way of saying that I learn to love myself first—with its warts and all—before I seek out and declare that I am ready to die for another. The ‘another’ here may be the Creator or just another creature, or both. But the idea should be solid that my love for another is just a mere flatus vocis, a flat voice, if it is not rooted in one’s acceptance and love of oneself.

It makes a whole lot of sense, really, that song which has got one of its line “Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all.

For to learn how to love oneself truly, genuinely, authentically, is a journey which lasts for a lifetime.

SYM Journal Entry #4

Am I happy at all?

Some days ago, I had a casual exchange with a confrere. Somewhere along the conversation, he asked me this question, “When was the last time you got excited?” I had to think carefully in order to sincerely respond to his query. And then, after a while, I told him, “I received gift from someone the other day. I think that’s the last time I really felt excited.

I was not sure why he asked me that question but it was worth reflecting on as I answer the questions given to us in our Youth Ministry class.

Here in this post, I equate the sense of happiness with that of ‘excitement.’

I had to collapse the two different categories into just one in order to be more concrete with how I measure the level of happiness or at the very least, specify a concrete instance where I felt positive (which I can relate with being happy).

With the answer I gave to that confrere, it must have been about the material gift which stimulated my being happy. But then again, after examining things further, it’s not just about the material gift, but about the thought that someone has thoughtfully remembered me.

I think one source of happiness for a youth minister is that his effort is repaid by a simple token of thanks. That’s how I felt at that time. And to answer the first question, yes, I think I am happy at all.

How can I be a joyful, life-giving instrument of the goodness just as Don Bosco was? 

The way I see Don Bosco lived his life, it was not just the generosity, but a great sense of selflessness for his young people became an important principle of his life. His selflessness of course, is derived from his satisfaction to win souls for God.

I figured, if I desire to follow Don Bosco, in terms of his joyful and life-giving instrument of goodness, I would have to follow along the direction he treaded.

SYM journal entry #3-B

Below is my prayer on the Lectio Divina on Mark 6.

With the youth of Sto. Domingo Chapel in St. John Bosco parish in Sta Rosa last summer.

With the youth of Sto. Domingo Chapel in St. John Bosco parish in Sta Rosa last summer.

Dear Jesus,

Your compassion for the great crowd drove you
in not just nourishing them with the bread
that will ease out their hunger
You shared to them as well Your Word that sustains life. 

May we who have responded to Your call
to help You in carrying out the ministry
of spreading the Gospel to the multitude of young people
may continue to look at Your ways
as our only reference point.

Make us ever passionate to proclaim You
and Your Word alone,
and help us resist the temptation 
to look for convenience, fame and reward
realizing that You Yourself underwent pain and difficulties deprived of all glory

 Grant us the rest and the bread
and the satisfaction of facing the Master
Who gently tells us
come, my faithful and trustworthy servant, share in my joy
when we meet You after our earthly sojourn.

Amen.