A Filipino Salesian missionary, Fr. Roel Soto is the Delegate of the Salesians in Cambodia since 2014.
Everyone goes through low moments in life. This is a reality because of our weakness and other difficult situations we go through. Yet despite this reality we have to go through how was I able to preserve and keep the fire of my priesthood? Let me share you some points that will be helpful to any priest like me, just as they have helped me a lot.
1. A constant and intense prayer life. This does not refer only to the regular scheduled community prayer that sometimes forces one to pray. I refer here most especially to one’s personal “date” with the Lord at a particular time in a day that one has chosen as the most appropriate time. This is a personal time of encountering the Lord personally and intimately as a fruit of one’s choice and decision. The intensity of this encounter is not on the length and frequency, but on the intimacy of this daily personal encounter. In truth, this could also be heightened by one’s consciousness or awareness of the Lord’s presence and promptings during the day.
2. A spiritual director. It is a blessing to have someone always to talk to and open one’s heart in moments of difficulties and trials or even crisis. Let us face the reality – we can’t all handle our problems alone. Having someone to listen and guide us and follow our spiritual director is already a big relief and assurance of support.
3. A community-centered life. With all the influences of technology that could possibly lead us to individualism and isolation, giving special priority to community life is the key to a happy life. The community oriented priest finds solace and comfort in the loving and supportive presence of his community, be it his original family, his fellow priests or his religious community. Community living gives a lot of experiences of solidarity, love, concern, understanding, warmth in relationship, forgiveness, trust etc. which are very important in moments of crisis and difficulties.
4. A proper care of oneself. Many times we tend to focus on the spiritual aspect of our life, forgetting that our physical aspect needs also attention and proper care. “A sound mind in a sound body.” I would also say a healthy spirit in a healthy body. Proper care of the body must be observed by having enough time for rest and physical exercise, and the right and moderate food intake to prevent abuses, imbalance and excesses. Proper care of the body will contribute moderation, balance, and discipline to spiritual life. With this in right perspective we will be able to keep #1 – intense prayer life.
With all these four points followed, the fire of our priesthood will be kept and the passion for the mission entrusted by the Lord to us priests will be done with dedication and zeal.