In this insightful piece about ‘moving to the other side,’ Mark Inton, now a Jesuit candidate, reflects on Don Bosco, and the many things he learned from the Saint of youthful hearts. He may soon become a Jesuit soon, but through and through, he will remain to be a Bosconian.
He said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.”
During my last morning praise reflection, I invited my fellow housemates in Arvisu House to “come up to a higher place.” In today’s Gospel, the invitation from the Lord is to come with him to the other side. Side trip ba? Isn’t this like our invitation from God to leave our old selves and try to go to the other side, which we now call home? The other side of the lake. The other side of the wall.
I practically grew up with the Salesians — studied in Don Bosco during my grade school and high school years. I even tried to run, jump, and make noise inside their seminary walls. In fact, whenever I would tell my vocation story, it would always begin with that curious 5th grader in their school asking himself, “…maybe I could become a priest?” Most of you are already familiar with that story of me entering and leaving the seminary. It was like me leaving the people by the shore. To where? An aimless ride really. I just wanted to go away. I wanted to go away — I’m tired, I can’t catch up anymore, I am alone. But then, someone signalled me to move. To move to the other side.
Right now it all feels like I did cross to the other side — not to the dark side, no, the side of the Jesuits. “How are the Jesuits?” my Salesian friends would ask me. I tell them that they’re somehow like them, only with different names. After all I am just on the other side of the very same lake — of the very same Church. The side where furious squalls always come up swamping the boat I am in. From working in JesCom, to that crazy move of attending a vocation seminar, the retreats, the workshop, the application to Arvisu House, living with nineteen other housemates, trying to answer the perennial question: “What are your desolations and consolations?,” and all the other crazy wind and waves rocking my boat.
“O my God! Deadlines in the office! Deadlines for the Novitiate application requirements! O my bills! My laundry! Etc. Etc.” Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
Now we know the answer to Gary V’s song. Oo, natutulog din ang Diyos! He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves,
“Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
Then by 11:45am we become quiet for our mid-day examen. By 6:00pm, we become still for our prayer period. By 9:15pm evening examen, we begin to understand that the Lord was with us the whole day — IS always with us… always with us.
Don Bosco coined the term “Preventive System” — a pedagogical system of educating the young. Educating through reason, religion, and loving kindness. Being present in the classrooms, being present in their faith, and being present where they run, jump, and make noise!
I remember telling my fellow housemates during our team building in Bataan where I shared my thoughts about my hopes for our Arvisu journey. It was about watching each other’s back. Be present for each other through our work, our prayers, and our presence. It is nice to see that we are there for each other as we learn and know more about ourselves and God’s plan for us. That we are there for each other as we go through our prayers, sacraments, and apostolates; That we are there for each other as we joke around the table, play silly games in the evening for our “organized joys” — Our Holy joys.
Eight months in Arvisu house was not a perfectly smooth ride. There are times where I forget my tasks; I resist; I close myself; I become afraid.
He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
Today is Don Bosco’s feast day –The father and teacher of youthful hearts. He was there when I was growing up. He was there as I walked along his beaten path. He was there as I crossed to the other side of the lake, the side of Arvisu house. I may have not become a Salesian but I sure carried with me the learnings I had from him — I am a Bosconian.
Two months na lang. Am I afraid? We are here for each other. Our house directors, our individual consultation directors, and spiritual directors are here for us. The people in our ministry and apostolate surrounds us. Jesus is with us.
Do not be terrified. The wind and the waves obey him!
Mark Inton is a graphic designer who makes book cover designs for different Jesuit authors. Now he’s writing his autobiography as he goes through the application of answering God’s call.