Friday, September 28, 2007
Seminary life can also be equated with the nature or the aquarium. They are both microcosm a representation of a bigger reality. Seminary as a microcosm because it has its own world. A mall world different from the ordinary setting but not contrary to the real world, instead, it is a world that gives light and life to the actual world. The people in the actual world were living in a busy and noisy place but the seminary preserves the value of silence. During noon time, most probably people from all walks of life were rushing, people where so active during this time. Offices, institutions, streets were very much crowed with busy people searching for living. In the seminary, its different, it is a time to stop. Stopping does not mean wasting time but rather using the most active time for prayer and meditation; a time of thanksgiving and re-collecting the past experiences for the past hours of the day. If people were craving for high technology gadgets, in the seminary, technology has its limitation for good. If television sets were installed in most household as a means of entertainment and information, the seminary provides daily newspaper to somehow connect our lives in the outside world of this microcosm called seminary.
Practically, when a person reaches its maturity and able to handle bigger responsibility it follows that he will look for a partner for him to settle down. Married life is the next step to maturity. But seminarians go beyond of what is conventional. I suppose everybody wanted to get married, to raise children and to live with a happy family. Even seminarians, priests and nuns are not exempted for this longing. I enter the seminary not because I hate woman and I don’t like children. I do like to have my own family but I still enter the seminary because I have this strong desire to become a priest more than entering into married life. I still choose to enter the seminary even to the extent of letting go of the things I like because of the strong passion to follow the way of Jesus – the call to Priesthood. If people were rushing to look for food, seminarians are like fishes inside the aquarium waiting for food. Seminarians do not need to work just to fill their empty stomach as long as the bell continues to ring, food is not a problem.
We came from different places, family backgrounds and even culture but we were living in one community and tried to live life in harmony with one another just like the fishes inside the aquarium. We have different personalities but we are united. We became united because we are different because if we are the same then we are one. Being united is different from being one. I personally experienced this unity during the recent alumni homecoming. I felt the oozing desire to continue this journey because I actually witnessed the happiness and the unity among priests. The joy that they felt as I observed them is more than the struggles they are facing in their respective ministries.
All these things that I experienced in my seminary life are the defining moments of my faith in God. My experiences inside the seminary were my central experience of faith that made me strong to continue and an opportunity to affirm and to convince myself that I have the vocation just like the Resurrection of Jesus, the central experience of faith, that made the early Christians more zealous in proclaiming God’s kingdom even amidst threads of persecution and death Through the course of my journey I was once conquered and defeated but here I am still standing hoping to gain victory not so much of my own effort but by the grace of God working in me. I have been through of different experiences which I considered part of the puzzle of life. These experiences create and gradually made me whole just the same with the writings in the Bible, it contains different books with different genre but it sustains the wholeness and completion of the entire Bible.
Seminary – unique, different, and exceptional but I found the central experience of faith in this microcosm†
Death is a phenomenon of ending, the final point of earthly life. Talking about this reality people seemed to be not comfortable and somehow tent to escape and forget this truth. We treat death somewhat like a notorious enemy who can inflict pain which we cannot bare to handle. We see death as disastrous storm that would shatter our most treasured properties. An event of losing the most precious thing that we possess. We want to hold on and be with the people whom we love until the end and this desire is being catered by some people in the field of medicine. Every sickness was being studied by some medical and pharmaceutical experts to save and prolong human life. Research and experimentation are being conducted in search for solutions in addressing various health problems to stretch human life span and perhaps to avoid the reality of death. I did not find any negative about it because it is just a means of preserving the most precious gift that God has given to man. Scientific research in the field of medicine is indeed a proper way of using man’s intelligence to save and prolong human life. Yes, it would be possible but just for a certain length of time and we have to accept that eventually man should face his final worldly transition – DEATH.
I personally experienced and witnessed how painful it was to loss a relative or even just a friend. When my best friend died I really shed tears. I loved him and treat him as my father. We were so close even though we were not in the same age level. His death was one of the saddest moments I had ever experienced. I lost a friend in an unexpected moment in which I did not have the opportunity to thank him for all the things he had done to me. I have many things to say to him about his personality, his goodness not only to me but to other people and most especially on how he treated and accepted me as his best friend. He was just a simple man, an ordinary jeepney driver but possessed a very kind, compassionate and loving heart. I was not able to repay his goodness and even say a little words of appreciation to him because I was not vocal in expressing my innermost feelings because I thought he would always be with me but unfortunately I was wrong. He died peacefully and had no chance of knowing how I value his presence in my life. He left me without knowing that his presence was God’s blessing to me.
During funeral masses, I observed that after the mass a friend or most likely a relative would gave a little speech about the dead person. Just a few words of gratitude and appreciation to the deceased relative or friend but for me it was useless. Practically the dead could no longer hear those sweet words that they uttered. That is why we weep because we have no more chance to express what we felt deep inside us. Every time I saw a dead body lying in the coffin I could not help myself thinking of my own death. A time where I could reflect and be reminded that I am just a mere temporal creature like a flower in the garden that blooms but in due time it withers and fades. The “Bobby” that people used to know would eventually become a mere thing. What if I would be dead right now? What would be the stories of the people as they gaze at me lying peacefully inside my coffin? What memories they can remember in me especially those people who became part of my life? These are just simple questions but I do not know what would be the answers. How I wish I could still hear all the answers before I lay down into my final resting place. Similarly, like the case of Bemboy, he left the seminary without knowing that he was valuable to the Panis batch, although we gave him a little tribute but I think that short video clips was not enough to express his worth in this community. He gave joy to the community and showed himself as a real brother to others. But I failed to express my appreciation to him. It was later that I realized his worth when he decided to leave the seminary. Perhaps, it is really true that we realize the value of the person when he is gone.
In the same way, when Jesus was still here on earth doing his public ministry people did not value his presence. They did not exert any interest to listen to his words and follow his teachings and deeds His is just “nobody” in the community, an ordinary carpenter because they did not acknowledge who really Jesus is. But after his death and resurrection their perception of Jesus had change. His death brought a new understanding to the people. That incident opened up a new knowledge to the people that Jesus is really the son of God and because of this they were so eager to proclaim who Jesus is. They did not just retold and shared their experiences about Jesus but they really preached the words and deeds of Jesus. The truth about Him was being proclaimed by the early Christians because they were convinced that Jesus is the Son of God made flesh.
Human beings are merely a breath whose life fades like a passing shadow… This is not our home. We are like foreigners having pilgrimage and so we have to cherish every moment when we are with the people whom we love. We have to express what we feel to the people who became a gift in our lives and be thankful to God for the gift of friendship.
Do we have to wait that people will die for us to realize how important they are in our lives?
Saturday, September 22, 2007
Pagbaliktan-aw sa kagahapon
Tracing back the history of my vocation somehow encourages me to still continue this path that I am trudging right now. I would be deceiving myself if I would say that I did not experience any struggle as I tried to fulfill the demands of priestly formation. But this would not deter me from pursuing what I have started. Reminiscing my vocation history gave strength during the time when I was down. When I feel depressed, I would just trace back my history, especially the time when I was eager to follow Gods call, proud person that I was, enthusiastic to enter the seminary and confident enough to reach my destination. Remembering that one of those days in my life I became like a soldier who had a strong determination to win the fight.
Frankly speaking, I don’t have any religious experience, like what happened to Moses in the
Nobody commissioned me to enter the seminary. It was just my own free will and strong desire that caused me to end-up in this kind of life and I think I made the right decision because this is what makes me happy and contented. I find meaning of what I am doing.
The choice that I made gained many criticisms and objection from the people who are close to me. My parents did not object but they asked me if I was sure of my decision. But some people really objected knowing that I am the only son in the family. One question they asked which made me think deeply was “WHY PRIESTHOOD?”. I was moved with this and I really ask myself nganong magpari man kunuhay ko? As a tried to ponder on it I got some answers which I consider signs that I have the vocation. I have strong attraction to the sacred vessels and vestment of the priest. I find meaning living this kind of life and a strong desire to embrace priesthood. My answers may not satisfy them but it sustains my belief that I made the right decision. I am living inside the seminary for a quite long time, but my vocation remains a mystery and would always be a mystery. I will not waste my time searching for the best answers to rationalize my vocation because God knows what is in my heart more than I know myself. The fact that I am here is already a very significant sign that God has a plan for me. It may not be certain but the value of my faith is more than the value of certainty.
When I was in the college seminary sometimes my vocation became blurred especially when boredom and spiritual dryness struck my way. I got the chance to leave the formation for a period of time and at one point I said to myself, I will not continue my vocation and search for another road to trudge. But I was wrong; as time passed by when I was away from the care of the seminary I could not help missing my seminary life; to live the life that I was accustomed to live. Fortunately it was a time of renewal. The desire to continue was still burning in me which made me realize that I really have the vocation. It was a time of reassurance and affirmation that my decision is not just mine, but it is God’s plan for me. It is a gift from God that I should be grateful for. I do not know what lies ahead in this exodus of my vocation, but whatever I may be in the future I would offer it to God as a gift for His goodness to me. †
You shall Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all mind… You shall love your neighbor as yourself (Mt. 22:37-40)
This is the greatest commandment – TO LOVE. It is just a four letter word but connotes an abundant meaning. Perhaps, it is already an abuse word; many people are using it in different purposes with a various inner motivation.
Facing the crises experience by the Filipino people of today the Catholic Church made her initiative to uplift the quality of life of the Filipino people. The pastoral exhortation for the Year of Social concerns entitle Building a Civilization of Love provides important steps for attaining a renewed society. Since we Filipino Catholics constitute the great majority of our nation, our primary responsibility is to build a just and loving society. These points that the pastoral exhortation presented really concretize the word of God that is to love ourselves and our neighbors as well. The Golden Rules, give – take principle is change into a more personal and more responsible relationship. The latter says that you do some good things so that others may also do the same but the former clearly emphasis that man should be viewed with great respect which is rooted on love. To love not because you want to be loved but to love even those people who are unlovable. With this mindset we can attain what the church aspire and it must begin with us seminarians who will be the future servant leader. As I tried to ponder on it, I have discovered that many seminary activities that somehow related to the concept presented by the pastoral exhortation and because of this I feel the sense of value of what I am doing.
By building of Character. The essential point in order to create a just and a loving society is to begin with ourselves. There is a crisis because we are the one who creates it. It is a product of our personality and so building of character is necessary. In the seminary, human formation is the foundation of all aspect of formation to heal those wounded and broken personality. Having a good character presupposes a good relationship to others. Here in the seminary, sense of camaraderie is developed through sports, community outing, programs and some communal activities. The seminary does not only aim to build community among seminarians but also with the formators. This is the unique identity of Vianney that can be seen concretely during meal time. Seminarians and formators joined together in one table. With this kind of practice more or less the formators would able to know their semianirians and the seminarians with their formators. Personally, I have a feeling of authority hang-up with formators because of my college experiences but now there is somehow a sense of transformation within me I no longer see myself keeping way with the formators. Eating together with formators is a sign of solidarity and equality. Formators are not just superiors but a companion, a friend, and a brother. Furthermore the seminary trained the seminarians to be responsible not only to the task that is given to them but also the responsibility to reach out to others. This is evident in our pastoral formation. We are sent to different apostolate areas to perform our responsibility to educate the people especially the youth. It is our duty to educate and it is a sin of omission if we failed to do what we suppose to do.
By building Capacity. The church tries find means to empower the people to have a better living. She provides training programs, institutions and organization to develop different abilities because it plays an important role in building a progressive society. In the same way, the seminary also provides a systematic and intensive academic formation to equip the seminarians for his future ministry to give justice to the needs of the faithful people of God. Propaedeutic English is an extra effort by the formators to really cater the needs to the seminarians in the field of English language. Capacity is not innate, it is acquired that must be cultivated with great attention.
By building community. The rise of terrorism and communism is very much prevalent in our times. Rallies here and there to destabilize the government. Some people wants to rule to satisfy there unquenchable thirst of power and money. Filipino people somehow getting into being individualistic “makasarili” seeing only there personal interest and not being “makabayan”. With these problems the church encourages the faithful to be responsible for our country in participating social and political matters. The seminary also invites the seminarians to be participative in all communal activities in creating a solid sense of brotherhood. Coffee break during Thursday night is one of the many activities that promote building a community. †
Man is a thinking being. He did not easily accept what other people say. He uses first his intellect and made a query before accepting or denying a certain claim or proposition and that makes man unique form other creature. Because of being a questionnaire, philosophy comes into its existence.
Man as a lover of wisdom. Because of our being lovable to wisdom, sometimes we are governed by our mind. How we think pictures out who we are and what we think form our personal outlook in life. We are the one who creates our world because our thinking made it so. Personally, taking philosophy has done a great impact in my whole being. I learned many things on this field of study. I made to realize reality in a broader concept. My ability to rationalize and analyze things is being conditioned by studying various philosophical concepts. These concepts are not just a theory but it can be actualize by simple applying it in my own daily experiences. Yes, it is very much true that there is no money in philosophy because we are now in the culture of virtual reality but the concern of philosophy in the first place is not for money, rather a way of right living and the realization of the vast reality.
I am the one who creates my destiny, who I am and what I am now is not pre-determined by something else but it is a product of my own free choice. I analyze and think twice whenever I made decisions in my life; decisions that creates my own destiny. It is my intelligent decision of where I am standing right now. I don’t know where am I going, but I know I’m on my way. Philosophy made it happen!
During those ancient times, there were many mythologies about gods and goddesses. People during those era believed that these being would really exist and would intervene always in their success over failure, triumph over defeat. Even in the Philippine setting, our ancestors have their own gods, they call them anito. They worship gods and goddesses that they believe could be found in nature.
These ideas of supernatural entities were being conceived by those primitive people because of their own weakness and limitation. Human as a limited being tend to think of a certain higher entity that would cater and help him in doing things which man cannot and hardly achieve. There is a concept of Supreme Being for man to hold-up and look –up with in times of dilemma. Limitation in man begets religiosity. Our being weak and limited is the cause of our inclination to think about God. What man cannot make and achieve constitutes the reality of God. Mythologies are product of man’s religiosity and the expression of man’s longing for Supreme Being.
Is religion necessary? Practically yes, human has it own longing for Supreme Being and it is in religion that these longing is being unified. Religion is a system to satisfy ones religiosity. Religion exists to incorporate our desire to the transcendental beings who intercedes in the realms of phenomena.
The only thing that does not change is this world is the reality of change. Everything really changes. We grow, develop, we become what we are because of change. Change is always part of man’s reality. It is a reality that cannot be neglected while we are still living. There is history and perhaps projection of the future because of various transition of this world of phenomena.
Young men living in the seminary experience this reality of change in their lives. They are coming from different places with different family backgrounds and upbringings, different orientations but they are all called to change and focus their gaze to follow they way of the Good Shepherd. Despite of the many differences and uniqueness of each seminarian the seminary tries to provide a good seminary formation to somehow change and form the seminarians to be a better person. Seminary is the heart of the diocese. It is the factory of future ambassador of Christ in His church and so seminarians would really undergo seminary formation to be equipped for his future ministry. Talking about seminary formation would entail a long period of submission to the rule of life inside the seminary. Submission would simply mean denying oneself but the act of denying in itself is the hardest thing to do.
I could still remember the first time I enter the seminary it was one of the nicest thing that happen in my life. I stayed in the seminary full of enthusiasm bringing all the prayers and support of my family and friends. I learn many things inside the seminary which I didn’t learn outside. The seminary really transform my being, it alters my way of living. What I am now I owe it to the seminary. It is indeed a memorable experience living the house of formation. A priceless legacy that nobody can take it from me; it was such a great experience – happiness, bounding and most especially the sense of brotherhood. My longing to have a brother I found it inside. Yes! It’s inevitable that there were times that I feel bored and down, spiritual dryness would always be there but that’s normal. What is important is acknowledging those feelings and find ways to overcome it. Those dark moments of seminary life would be conquered when we all share our jokes and laugh with our own mistakes.
Man by nature would always find the meaning of his existence and for me I found it inside the seminary. I am happy of this kind of lifestyle doing what is expected of me. Many seminarians who left the seminary, perhaps they did not find meaning of what they are doing and prefer to go out to search the meaning of their lives outside the portals of the seminary. That’s the reality of seminary life; it is always a life of hellos and goodbyes. It is indeed “many are called but only few are chosen”.
On the other hand, people in the outside world would say that seminarians are somewhat living in a detention cell. Less opportunity to enjoy life, less in exercising human freedom, perhaps, they conceived this idea because they did not understand the whole picture of what the seminary wants to emphasize. The rule of life in the seminary is a way of disciplining and forming the seminarians to be holy and good priests. Living the seminary structure, I consider myself as a free person because freedom for me is to live where I want to, to do what makes me feel good, to enjoy life at my own pace. Yes, it’s true that sometimes I want a certain things to do but because of the rules I cannot carry out those things but it doesn’t hinder my being to be free. It is a matter of how I submit myself to the policy inside the seminary. Freedom is not the liberty to do anything but to do good and in this alone happiness is to be found. Entering the seminary with my own will is a concrete manifestation that I am a free person. Choosing this kind of life which I think a good decision that I made that gives happiness to me.
Here I am now still embracing the best part of the seminary. I never regret why I decided to enter the seminary. The Maradjao Magbalantay College Seminary molded me to be a better person. Perhaps, this is my opportunity to thank my formators in guiding me on this road less traveled of priestly vocation. The teachers from this institution and the institution itself for they are part of my seminary life specially the academic aspect of seminary formation. The five long years of untold toils and sacrifices is about to end but it is also a new beginning for another harder journey to trudge, a new challenges to face, a new struggle to conquer.
Vocation is mystery in itself. I am sure that not all of us who are aspiring to become priest would reach until ordination. Things do change. I don’t know where I am going but I’m sure I’m on my way and so I am open to any possibilities in life; open to accept the divine plan of God. Whatever life may bring the memory and happiness that the seminary provides is worth to be remembered. What I am now is a gift from God, what I would be is my gift to God. I would be ordained or not one thing I want to make sure is I am happy of whatever kind of vocation I am living in the future.†