Monday, December 26, 2011

Archbishop’s Pause for Thought message

nativity scene:KT Bruce
(The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has spoken on BBC Radio 2’s Pause for Thought programme to reassure listeners that however imperfect or ‘messy’ their Christmasses may be, God will still be there for them.)

You know how every year you say, 'This year I'm going to get Christmas sorted out. I'll have the cards written by December the first and I'll work our properly what we can afford and do the presents in time, and I'll know exactly how many people are coming for meals and when, and...'all the rest of it. Lurking somewhere in our minds is the idea of the Perfect Christmas (probably with snow, only not the kind that closes down airports and messes up our travel plans).

And every year, mysteriously, all our plans seem to evaporate and it's the usual mess, with all the last minute panic. There'll be a good few people concerned just now about what they can afford for a start.

Yet it's odd in a way, this business of Perfect Christmasses. The story of the first Christmas is the story of a series of completely unplanned, messy events – a surprise pregnancy, an unexpected journey that's got to be made, a complete muddle over the hotel accommodation when you get there...Not exactly a perfect holiday.

But it tells us something really vital. We try to plan all this stuff and stay in charge, and too often (especially with advertisers singing in our ears the whole time) we think that unless we can cook the perfect dinner, plan the perfect wedding, organise the perfect Christmas, we somehow don't really count or we can't hold our heads up.

But in the complete mess of the first Christmas, God says, 'Don't worry – I'm not going to wait until you've got everything sorted out perfectly before I get involved with you. I'm already there for you in the middle of it all, and if you just let yourself lean on me a bit instead of trying to make yourself and everything around you perfect by your own efforts, everyone will feel a little more of my love flowing'.

I'm never sure whether to wish anyone a peaceful Christmas, because it hardly ever is. But I can wish you joy in the midst of the mess, and every blessing from the God of ordinary, untidy, surprising things.


Sunday, December 25, 2011


There are four clear states of knowledge and understanding in which you can find yourself.

1. You know something and know that you know it. 
2. You know something, but you don't know you know it. 
3. You don't know something, but you don't know that you don't know it. 
4. You don't know something, but you know that you don't know it. 

All of us live part of our personal and professional lives in each of there areas at one time or another. They each have their advantages and disadvantages. If you know something and know that you know it you can act with confidence and profit from the experience; however. it is important to not rest in this knowledge as the state of the art will always change, and the rate of change is accelerating daily. People who know a computer program and knows that they know it will be forced to upgrade their skills as new generations of software are developed, or they will be left behind.

All of us from time to time, know something but don't know that we know it. This is caused by a lack of perspective. There is probably a piece of property near where you live that you have driven by countless times. Then, all of a sudden, it becomes extremely valuable and is developed in such a way that the owner or speculator profit greatly. If you will look back at the situation, you may realize that, had you thought about it from a different perspective, you knew - or at least should have known-that that property would increase in value. You simply didn't compile the knowledge in such a way that you could recognize the value and act upon it. 

The most dangerous people in the world are those who don't know something but they don't realize that they don't know it. These are the people who go through life and fall into every pitfall and obstacle along the way. They think they know it all, but in reality, they only learn from the mistakes that their ignorance causes them to make. They are over-confident, and you simply can't tell them anything. The best you can do for them is to stand back and help pick them up after the inevitable crash and burn. 

The greatest potential is held by those people who don't know something but understand that they don't know it. This is a powerful concept that they can understand that there is something they don't know and recognize that they need to know it. These individuals rarely make mistakes, and they are always growing and developing. The world doesn't belong to them yet, but it probably will someday. 

As you go through you day today, act on the things you know and build on the things you don't know. 

source: Excerpt from the book "Today's the Day, Jim Stovall, 2007 

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Ten Happiest Jobs

1.  Clergy:  The least worldly are reported to be the happiest of all

2. Firefighters: Eighty percent of firefighters are “very satisfied” with their jobs, which involve helping people.

3. Physical therapists: Social interaction and helping people apparently make this job one of the happiest.

4. Authors: For most authors, the pay is ridiculously low or non-existent, but the autonomy of writing down the contents of your own mind apparently leads to happiness.

5.  Special education teachers: If you don’t care about money, a job as special education teacher might be a happy profession. The annual salary averages just under $50,000.

6. Teachers: Teachers in general report being happy with their jobs, despite the current issues with education funding and classroom conditions. The profession continues to attract young idealists, although fifty percent of new teachers are gone within five years.

7. Artists: Sculptors and painters report high job satisfaction, despite the great difficulty in making a living from it.
8. Psychologists: Psychologists may or may not be able to solve other people’s problems, but it seems that they have managed to solve their own.
9. Financial services sales agents: Sixty-five percent of financial services sales agents are reported to be happy with their jobs. That could be because some of them are clearing more than $90,000 dollars a year on average for a 40-hour work week in a comfortable office environment.
10. Operating engineers: Playing with giant toys like bulldozers, front-end loaders, backhoes, scrapers, motor graders, shovels, derricks, large pumps, and air compressors can be fun.  With more jobs for operating engineers than qualified applicants, operating engineers report being happy.
Steve Denning, Contributor;

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


It will not, it should not, it must not - but the real thing is, it happen. It’s given.
I noticed myself quite emotional watching the last friday episode (Sept 30,2011) of 100 days to heaven aired by ABS-CBN. The dialogue between Sophia ( Jodi Sta. Maria) and Anna ( Coney Reyes) was so realistic and so real that it truly captured my emotion. I was surprised with my own uncontrollable reaction knowing for a fact that I don’t have any similar experience like that of Sophia.   “Sino ba ako?” Sino ba mga magulang ko? Bakit nila ako ipinamigay na parang tuta? – Such lines evoked in me the desire to write this simple enlightenment which emanates from a disturbed emotion.  
What truly disturbed me was the thought that many young, innocent individuals who have been desperately searching for their own identity because of some conflicting realities – be it a marital conflict, unwanted pregnancies which resulted to adoption, economic inability for child rearing or from any other unthinkable circumstances.  In Anna’s case, it was a desperate move to hide her incapacity to handle a painful love affair, which in effect, resulted to a lifelong separation.
How many of our brethren who are facing such scenario, how many of us who are now suffering because of some mistakes, lapses caused by unreflective decisions in life? Whatever stories we have, whatever background we came from – the truth is, this is part of who we are, this is part of the many ‘givens’ in life. All of us are born to live with the given realities in our lives no matter how painful or shameful it may be.
Together with such realization, is an invitation to be courageous in accepting that we don’t have the capacity to change what was given. To be born with the kind of parents we have, to be born as a Filipino and not as a Czech or Slovak, to be male rather than female, to be born on this century and not on the future -these are all natural realities which are part of the givens of life. If we dare to look closely to the realities of life, we would probably discover many wounding experiences endured by many because they are caught into situations that they themselves has no capacity to rectify and it gradually affect their lives even at present.
Are there still hope? YES!... – To live and accept  the many  “givens” in life but mindful that we can still do great things beyond our horizon. We may have bitter childhood upbringings, hurtful family background, but it would not deter us from moving forward - to dream for more, to search for more, and to live for more.  Accepting the ‘givens’ of life is a sign of great humility to acknowledge the fragility of human existence yet hopeful to gaze at the future. 

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Goose bumps

I had a memorable experience working as a volunteer in a certain government hospital in Cagayan de Oro City. People in the hospital were thinking that I was as parts of the personnel in the dietary department helping the regular staff delivers food for the patients. But my real purpose of being expose there was just to be there- in the midst of ailing and suffering people giving them the opportunity to talk and to unload their burdens. While most of us are evading hurts, suffering, pain here I am, allowing myself to be in touch with the miseries of the world. It’s quite weird, but this is where I found fulfillment, this is where I found my happiness.
with a nurse at the OPD
If I were to describe my hospital exposure, it was a month of goose bumps. I was assigned in a government hospital which was quite distant from the seminary. Fear takes over the first time I trudge the unfamiliar road going to that hospital, fearful, having a thought that I do not want to look people who were in the state of suffering and at the same time, conscious that I was incapacitated with the ability to really enter into the pains of others. Yet there is also an element of excitement with the hopeful expectation that it would be helpful for me as a person in formation.
            Spending the rest of the day talking and listening to patients and watchers unique stories and on how they struggled for survival, I was gradually learning to go into their real life story. They furnished me with degree of knowledge on how they have been living as ordinary individuals whining in pain because of poverty. They have been deprived of many things yet they could still find meaning to live and to laugh. Such an experience made me realized that those people confined in the hospital were real people, they really show genuine emotions. They laugh with a very simple punch lines yet assertive in demanding for privacy and silence and, at times, cried with a painful acceptance of their state of helplessness. There were no pretentions. No masks to cover their real identity. They engage into conversation openly and never afraid to be judged by others. I got goose bumps knowing their feelings of depression, fear, sadness, loneliness and on how they become immune with the unthinkable pains and struggles in life. These were the dominant feelings of patients as they march the battlefield of life and death inside the hospital yet continues to hunger for God’s mercy. I got goose bumps of how I have been moved by their faith stories of how God as been present amidst human frailty. Being in the face of such crisis, it made me realized that indeed there is strength in vulnerability, that is, we become more real before others and before God in times of helplessness and that the glory of God continues to shine even in human weakness. 
            Goose bump has become my means to have an emotional memory of what transpired me during the day that gradually imprinted in my heart.
Here are some of those…
I got goose bumps hearing a patient’s request for pray-over, with the hope that he may experience relief from his present state of weakness. The feeling of unworthiness sometimes flourish that hinders me to act appropriately, having in mind that I am not capable of doing such, and at the same time, doubtful of its effect . Yet I was reminded with the phrase “we are not called to be fruitful but to be faithful”, carried with that consolation was a challenge to deepen more my relationship to the God who heals. It’s quite awkward to pray-over a person when you do not spend quality time for prayer.
  I got goose bumps looking a pale and a weak body of a nine-month-old baby surrounded by her parents, with the audible sound of moaning from a depressed mother while administering an emergency baptism. I was holding the head of the child as I gently pour the water to her head. I felt how painful it was for the parents but on the other side, I regard it as a moment of grace being able to administer a sacrament, though not complete, and take part in the salvation of an innocent child.
I got goose bumps meeting an elderly doctor showing trust to disclose his identity to me. He spontaneously shared how he had been serving the institution for years and on how he has been faithful to his work and obligation as a father yet after long years of struggle to provide the needs of the family, two of his siblings declared independence to him. Though he did not manifest his emotion of loneliness, I could sense the pain of separation and perhaps, rejection for that matter.
I got goose bumps on one of the ordinary days in the hospital while doing our routine in distributing foods for the patients; I immediately noticed commotion inside the ward. I paused for a while and started to be aware of what had happened. There was adrenaline rush from the medical team. I saw two doctors attending a dying patient. Some nurses surrounding the patient’s bed, one pressing continuously the ambo bag while the other one was trying to administer cardio pulmonary resuscitation (CPR), the rest of them were just standing holding some medical paraphernalia. I was just there standing while looking intently towards the patient, few minutes had passed, I noticed the doctors started to remove their plastic gloves and one of them gently approached the lonely family standing at the corner of the ward. They were conversing but I was not able to grasp it. The atmosphere of the ward shifted just for a second, tears started to fall as they stared towards the lifeless body of their loved one. Being one of the eyewitnesses I also felt the sadness and the pain of losing someone so dear. I left the room silently as if someone has left me. I was depressed. 
These are one of the many incidents that people are facing everyday and it give me the opportunity to have a glimpse of the various faces and stories of people whom I would be serving in the future. People who have been suffering from various physical pains, some of which seems to be healthy and good yet carries a ‘pathology’ deep within  caused by psychological issues. The former is really obvious than the latter yet it would not suggest that one must be given more emphasis than the other. Both calls for mature attention for healing and therefore both must be taken seriously.
One thing that transpired me in the hospital exposure was the remarkable dedication of some doctors and nurses and even medical staff in giving themselves to perform their responsibilities as caregivers. They somehow wanted to create fleshly reality of what Hippocratic Oath is all about and I think this is where I was called for, that is, to allow myself to be in a situation where care as abstract becomes a reality. Priesthood, therefore, is a vocation to care. And it goes beyond physical care for it calls for the care of souls.
Before I started the hospital exposure, I wrote three important things that I need to learn, namely, the ability to wait, attentive listening skills and empathy. To some extent, I think I was doing extra effort to attain this goal. The ability to wait and just standing before the patient doing nothing, waiting for right moment to speak and intervene with the conversation of others.  To patiently lend my ears on things that do not matter to me at all yet I chose to hear their cries of suffering, their stories of failures to give them assurance that I am with them to what state they are in. I want them to feel that somebody cared for them not because of blood relationship but because God cares for them. I may not be too expressive with what I feel but I sense that sometimes, I would be overwhelmed with the emotions showed by the patients and even watchers. Gradually, I learn to feel how it was like to be in a situation where I cannot do anything. It truly hurts. But that painful situation leads to the realization of a God who also suffers yet brings a hopeful assurance through His resurrection.
Goose bumps are just nothing but a physiological reaction to a given stimulus but this time it is more than just a reaction but a sign inviting me to realize that priesthood is not just administering sacraments but it is more on wading to the very experience of people under the care of a priest and accompanying them with empathy in moment that they are most vulnerable so that they could still feel and see God’s presence even at the lowest point of their lives. These ordinary goose bumps that I felt in the midst of various situations in life were concrete reminder that when a priest starts to face squarely the mélange of life’s complexity, of which, the subject of his service, then priesthood may be view uniquely and essentially. Priesthood will neither become an opportunity to be grabbed; nor a privilege to be enjoyed but a responsibility to be lived for a lifetime.  

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Being Real Before God

Relationship with God – or, indeed, with anyone – grow only when we can be “real” before Him. Being as “real” as one can before God is an essential requirement for prayer. It doesn’t matter what one’s response to God is, as long as it is real. Even the fears, the anger, the disappointments that people always find embarrassing to admit, are real; responding to God honestly keeps the relationship alive, and opens one to God’s further revelation.
On the other hand, we notice time and time again how prayer – and relationship – collapse when people try to behave differently from how they really feel. For example. A religious sister told of how boring and painful she found prayer, until she finally admitted to God that she was angry with him for the death of her closest friend years before. The young man who desired his “freedom” more that anything else, “couldn’t pray at all, until he was able to say to God (and to himself) that he was unfaithful to his wife, and had been justifying his sin for months. It is as though all our energy goes into hiding what we don’t want God to see.
Yet God love real people, as they are, warts, carbuncles and all. Relationships thrive on reality and openness. Some of the best advice about prayer I’ve ever had heard is to “PRAY AS YOU ARE, NOT AS YOU’RE NOT”, and to “PRAY AS YOU CAN, NOT AS YOU CAN’T”.
What happens as people become more and more real before God? In the first place, God himself becomes more real to them; more tangible, though also more awesome, more loving, and certainly, more challenging. They discover a God whose desire for them as far outweighs all of their dark places, all their unworthiness. The living Lord Jesus looks on them with the same love that He showed the sinful woman sitting at His feet, and the rich young man, and Peter after his betrayal. When we have experienced this great love that God has for us, our prayer and relationship with God goes ahead in leaps and bounds.  I have heard people asked “why pray?”. The answer isn’t exactly “why not?” but if I really want God, then, “how could I not?” There are many ways of praying:what all the different ways have in common is that they are all ways of responding to God. Sometimes, too, people say “why do I need to tell what I am thinking of feeling? – God knows, surely”. Yes, God knows – but maybe our telling God is not for God’s sake! Why do lovers keep telling each other of their love? In any relationship we Are serious about, time needs to be taken to be together, to share life’s experiences, to wait, to listen, to ask, to say thank you… “How could we not?”…. We need to.

source: Gallagher, Brian. Pray As You Are. Quezon City: Claretian Publication, Inc. pp.9 - 11

Monday, July 18, 2011

Falling in Love

              I have my own morning routine. I wake up at 5:00, say a little prayer, do some stretching and eventually sit at my chair outside my room. I spend 10-15 minutes in silence sipping a hot cup of coffee, while watching the usual scenery in front of me. One of those ordinary mornings, I notice two birds hopping and flying to one twig to another as if they were running after each other showing affection and love. It amazed me how unique this little creature expresses their instinctive love to one another. With such experience of wonder, I was moved to write this article. 

                Why do people fall in love? How does it feel to fall in love? What are the dynamics of loving? Silly questions yet quite significant, isn’t it?

                Falling in love is basically an experience of abrupt eruption of feelings. Like birds, human instinct operates dictating the person that something is going–on deep inside. Perhaps, a simple wicked of an eye or a shy-looking–smile is quite enough to commensurate with the oozing flow of emotion.

Falling in love needs an element of knowing. An initial feeling seeks for more and a serious attempt to know the person might be of great help. The more you know the person whom you love, the more that love grows. Knowing here does not only mean knowing his/her personal background but most importantly grasping appropriate knowledge of what pleases the beloved. As the relationship grows both parties concern in knowing their unique attitudinal behavior wherein both of them willfully unmask themselves showing who they really are. Falling in love, at this stage, is not so much of condition but rather of position. No more “if’s”, no more “because” but simply “I love you for who and what you are”.

Falling in love is an investment of time. When someone is so in love with the significant others time really matters. There is abrupt shift of interest and priorities especially in using his/her time. Routines in life become disorder because of the time being snatched by the subject of that love.  Texting and phone calls becomes frequent and most often than not, that person would just wake up one morning realizing that a day would be so incomplete without sending a simple : -D ; J or m****h!

Falling in love is discovering who you really are. Constant bonding with your partner becomes an opportunity of gradually discovery of one’s unique self. When you are together, there were things, places, music, food, etc that pleases your partner but contrary to your taste. Furthermore, if you look back to your precious relationships you would discover some significant similarities/patterns (it may be physical appearance or attitude) that are common to all individuals which you have previous relationship with. Rationally and emotionally, you have your own reasonable stand why you always fall into those qualities and that shows your partial identity as a sexual being.

A true test of genuine love is when a person continues to decide to love even if at some point in their relationship, the union of two hearts becomes dry and insipid. Normally, we express our feelings and show our love to our partner with a motivation to make our loved one happy. But unconsciously, we want to be romantic and sweet not solely because we want him/her to be happy but for us to supplement what is lacking in our hearts, in other words, we want to fulfill the things we expect for our selfish desire to be happy.  It may be painful to accept but in some sense, there might be some degree of truth in it. Therefore, a true expression of love is doing things not for selfish motivation but for the beloved to be happy even if you don’t like it, even if it is meaningless, dry and insipid. You do it because you love.

Falling in love entails vulnerability. The moment you start to disclose yourself to someone is also a moment of allowing yourself to be weak and defenseless before others. In some sense, loving is risking. Though we are fully aware with such pitfall, we still decide to fall in love because we want to commit and allow ourselves to learn how to handle mature relationship. A person, who takes risk, is a person who knows how to decide and a person, who knows how to decide, is a person who is ready to commit and a person, who is committed to his/her decision is a mark of a mature individual.

This is what it takes to be a priest.  A person who knows (others really experience) how is it to fall in love, initially may have the capacity to answer the call of the priesthood.  For some (me, especially) the desire to embrace priesthood starts with a simple feeling of curiosity  and that inquisitive sense produces some degree of knowing what priesthood is all about. It won’t just stop there; reaching priestly ordination needs an ample time of preparation. It takes a decade and beyond to produce just one priest and with that long period of seminary formation, the candidate would not only learn and inherit ecclesiastical dogmas and doctrines of the church but more so with his personhood, that is, to be in touch with his own psychological dynamics.

At times, loneliness in the formation dominates where usual things become meaningless and prayer life become so dry but life must still go on. What is important is the capacity to acknowledge and accept such feelings and find ways to conquer it. Mind you, in all state of life, loneliness would eventually come at some point in time. What is essential is that, we are able to know the art of dancing with such feelings with beauty and grace.

In closing, a seminarian can be considered as a public icon. With the nature of our formation, we always found ourselves into a situation that is new to us. Plunge into the realm of the unknown yet challenge to stand out amidst difficulty. With much desire to give more that what is expected from us for the good of the community where we are serving still we could hear unjust criticism, biases and humiliation. We become vulnerable and weak hearing those negative comments but we still continue to serve. People may have generics to label us but that is not all, we are not define with what people think who we are. We have our individual potentialities that are yet to be exhausted and most importantly God’s grace is always working miraculously for us to be faithful to Him.

We take risk, we decide, we commit because we fall in love with Him.


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

As I was walking and finding some materials that can be recycled in an abandoned room in the seminary, I accidentally saw a certain piece of paper, of which, I think, intentionally torn by someone from a book. I got a little attention to it because it imprints my favorite bible passage (Ps.139) especially during my younger years in formation. I love to read this passage and became so real to me when I read it in visayan version. This passage sustains and motivates me in times of difficulties, frustrations, doubts and desolations.  
To my surprise, it was artistically revised by a certain author which, of course, I don’t know or even heard his name. But, honestly, it still stirred my innermost being and I think it’s worth posting, it might be a good material for reflection and prayer. 
(Just be aware of your feelings and emotions while reading this short yet touching work of art.)

Charles K. Robinson

I know you. I created you. I am creating you.
I have love you from your mother’s womb
You have fled – as you now know – from my love.
But I love you nevertheless, and not-the-less
And, however far you flee, it is I who sustain
Your very power of fleeing, and I will never
Finally let you go. . I accept you as you are.
You are forgiven. I know all your sufferings.
I have always known them.
For beyond your understanding,
When you suffer, I suffer. I also know
All the little the little tricks by which you try to hide
The ugliness you have made of your life
From yourself and others.
But you are beautiful.
You are beautiful more deeply within that you can see
You are beautiful because you yourself,
In the unique one that only you are,
Reflect already something of the beauty of holiness in a way
Which shall never end.
You are beautiful also because, I, and I alone,
See the beauty you shall become.
Through the transforming power of my love
You shall become perfectly beautiful
In a uniquely irreplaceable way,
Which neither you nor I will work out alone.
For we shall work it out together.

Source: EMMAUS Center for Psycho-Spiritual Formation

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Homily for CKC Thanksgiving Mass

As the school year comes to an end, I could not afford to leave this institution without expressing my heartfelt gratitude to all of you. Before I would share some insights and memorable experiences, allow me to render you a song:
This is my quest
To follow that star
No matter how hopeless
No matter how far
To fight for the right
Without question or pause
To be willing to march,
march into hell
For that heavenly cause

And I know, If I'll only be true
To this glorious quest; That my heart
Will lie peaceful and calm
When I'm laid to my rest
And the world will be
better for this
That one man, scorned
and covered with scars,
Still strong with his last
ounce of courage
To reach the unreachable….STAR!!!!!

Kining karaan na kaayo ug siguro unappreciated song entitle Impossible Dream captures my one-year experience as a teacher here at Christ the King College, and I think everybody can resonate with the message of the song. Every little success is a gradual realization of our individual dreams. “To dream the impossible dream, to reach the unreachable star “- Graduation day, is somehow reaching that unreachable star in our life. I did not dream to become a teacher and I hate myself being imprisoned with my own thought that I don’t know how to teach. But with my one-year experience here at Christ the King, I proved myself to be wrong; that I can do many things more that what I know. My one- year teaching experience has come to an end and this successful year adds another ladder in reaching out that unreachable star called PRIESTHOOD.
A casual conversation with Sir Rey, ingon sya, “God works in a very ordinary way”. As I pick up bits of experiences of my one year stay at Christ the King College, I came to realize that indeed I met God in the ordinary events of my life. In my short yet fruitful stay at CKC, there were instances and insights that transpire me to continue what I have started. I learn to love CKC and I learn to love the place though, my first reaction when I heard that I would be assigned here at Christ the King College, honestly I did not feel any excitement maybe because my initial plan is to be at St. Michael’s College- Iliigan or San Isidro College in Malaybalay, Bukidnon. But with much obedience to the seminary formators, I submit myself.
My first week here at Gingoog is a tearful week. Walay kaila, dili ko familiar sa lugar, wala ko kabalo asa ko matulog. Naglibot –libot hangtud nakakita ug usa ka boarding house, pagkatulog nako, walay banig, walay unlan, daghan lamok, daghan abug, in short, Hugaw…hehehe… until I found myself crying in the corner of that dark room holding my cell phone, dialing my bishop’s number seeking for comfort and guidance. I almost quit that night, nganu ba nga mianhe pa ko aning dapita nga malipayon naman ko sa Surigao  with my work in a certain micro-financing institution. One time, I was standing in front of the school, akong gitanaw ang intero palibut sa schooll, miingon ko, karong tuiga anhi maglibot ang akong kinabuhi. I was standing for a few minutes but no one seemed to notice my presence.(How sad!!!.. hehe) But as I recall everything, I regard it as a moment of grace. I was plunge into the unknown street of Gingoog City yet it is on that same street where I found God in a much unknown way. Mao nay giingon ni Joan BaiNo, on her reflection paper “it’s amazing to realize that ordinary things like the normal occurrence of nature can be an avenue for us to praise and thank God”. Tuod man, sa ginagmay ug yano nga kasinatian, akong nahimamat ang presensya sa Ginoo. In every challenge I conquer, in every difficulty I pass, in every failure I stand, in every heartache I heal and in every smile I share.
I have many valuable and happy memories to tell with my 1-year stay at CKC. Of course, I also learn many things not to mention ang pag- updating sa mga syllabi, making and hitting the deadlines for grades and test questions, checking quizzes and exams, learning plans, basa sa mga reflection papers nga ang uban copy paste ra… dreadful class observation with Mam Grace… unsa pa sir jong? Naa pa ba mam Arlene? Hehehe… But I would like to highlight some of my realization in my stay at CKC.  First, a priest or a person who aspire to become a priest needs to be plunge into the unknown so that he may experience God’s miraculous work in his life. This is one aspect of a priest life that I realized, that is, to live a life of radical freedom – radical freedom means, a priest/seminarian willfully accepted a certain unknown area of assignment for a certain purpose yet without concern of the outcome. Kana bang walay kabalaka ug unsay ‘muabot’ ug unsay ‘umaabot’. I work and give my best but it is in God’s own hands that determines the outcome. To fight the unbeatable foe; to bear with unbearable sorrow; to run where the brave dare not go. I dare to fight, I dare to run not because I know I would become victorious, but rather, I dare to accept the challenge because I know God is with me. I am not formed to be a teacher but I bravely accept the challenge to be a teacher because after all it is not my work, it is totally His work and I just let myself participate in this noble mission. Second, a priest/seminarian needs not to be a foreigner to his own people. A kind of priest/seminarian who is emerged with his people yet continues to live with his own identity and not a priest/seminarian in a pedestal which is beyond our reach. Mao bitaw nga ganahan ko makig-story-storya sa mga tawo ug mga studyante. Gapaningkamot ko to reach out and understand my students and the people around me so that I would have an idea of what is in their mind, their interests, and their individual concerns. As such, I could also appropriate what they need.
Why priesthood? Nganung  magpari man ka Sir nga pwede naman ka manarbaho ug mamenyo? I was constantly struck with such question posed by some teachers, students and friends.  I faithfully ponder and asked myself, Nganung mag-pari man kunuhay ko? As I tried to trace the history of my vocation, it is just a simple attraction sa mga gamit ug sinina sa pari yet later on I became curious of their life, with this, the vocation to the priesthood started to sprout. I don’t know how to explain it but one thing is certain, I am happy and contented with the kind of life that I chose to live. 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 answer to rationalize my vocation because God knows my heart more than I know myself. The fact that I am contented and happy with my life is indeed a 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.
With my one- year stay at Christ the king College, there were times that my vocation became blurred especially when I feel so exhausted working with all the things that I am not used to do. I have plenty of what if’s – what if dili nako mupadayon sa pagka-pari?, what if mangitan nalang ko lain nga trabaho. Mamenyo ug magpuyo nga ordinaryo yet again I was reminded with the song “still strove with his last ounce of courage, to reach the unreachable star”. Fortunately, those times became a moment of renewal for me. 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. Pwede naman tuod ko magtrabaho , mabuhi naman siguro ko yet , I chose to be who I am now. And that is radical freedom again. You chose not because you don’t have any other option but you chose because you are free.  Freedom 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.
            Sa kanunay nako ug sakay sa rela, mu-ingon na lamang ako nga “Christ” instead of saying Christ the King College. Kun adunay mangutana ug asa ako/kita nag-trabaho, nag skwela, etc  mu-ingon ta sa “Christ” o taga –“christ” kita.”. The word Christ from it etymology “Christos” which means someone who is chosen, anointed, elected to be a leader in a community. In the time of Jesus, the word “Christos” was used, Jesus as Christos, with a capitalized letter C understood as a Messiah the chosen/anointed one. We always claim to all people we meet, “Taga – “christ” ko! It quite surprising that we are all bringing the tag “chistos” – that is, to become a little “christos” or “christ” in our own simple way. This might not be my own challenge as a faculty member of CKC but, perhaps, for all of us. Kitang tanan nga nagdala ug muangkon nga taga “christ” kita magpadayag unta sa mga hiyas subay kang Kristo nga atong gisunod. Sa kadaghan sa mga tawo sa Gingoog City, pipila lamang ang adunay opurtunidad sa pagskewla ug pagtrabaho dinhi. It is on this sense that we could also claim that like Christ, we too, are the chosen few, chosen to be a positive influence to anybody who come in contact with us; that the light of Christ may radiates in every heart of all CKCians. Perhaps, this is what the message of our gospel this morning, it talks about righteousness. Righteousness is not just a word, not just following the letters of the law; not just following rituals and religious practices; not just a desire, nor a license to be with God but rather a COMMITMENT to make others live to the fullest; commitment to relive that christ-like-image in us.  Being the only Catholic and RVM institution in Gingoog City, we may be the catalysts for social transformation and that our presence would somehow cause a little difference. Ang atong pagka-taga christ aduna untay claru ug dako nga kalainan sa uban ug kining maong identity ug kalainan ato usab nga ipa-ambit sa uban.
In closing, a certain pericope from the gospel of Matthew it says, “Ex abundantia enim cordis os loquitur” – From the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. My heart is filled with so much joy and gratitude that I could not let this joyful moment of my life pass without sharing it to people who are very dear to me. In a very special way, would like to thank RVM sisters for accepting me here. For Fr. Jhong Burlat, SSJV for giving me the chance to be the holimist today.  
For all the deans, teachers, staff, workers and students. For all that has been and for all that will be…Thank you so much for journeying with me.
Deo Gratia!

                                                          JAMES WENDELE PLAZA PURACAN
                                                                     March 18, 2011@ CKC