It’s been a while since I last wrote here so let me freewrite. Well, every post here are fruits of freewriting.
Last January 9, I started attending Conversational Japanese II in YMCA Kobe. We lost two of our previous classmates but they were replaced by three more students: a Korean, Swedish-Japanese, and a Chinese. Now, there are nine of us in class.
All of our new classmates speak English as their second or third language so in between classes, we take a break in speaking Japanese and talk about anything under the sun or ask our Swedish-Japanese classmate to explain to us some of the grammar and usage.
In one of our classes, there was an exercise wherein we predict what will our life be ten years from now. One of my classmates tried to predict my life by that span in Japanese. For the sake of convenience, I’ll write it in English.
“Ten years from now, Allen will be married to a beautiful woman.”
Then two of my classmates, also religious brothers, said that I cannot marry. In that exercise, it just so happened that the first topic that was talked about my vocation as a consecrated brother is not being able to marry.
As much as I try to avoid these topics last year due to my lack of Japanese vocabulary, it was brought up in an exercise where I didn’t expected it to be. It was so personal and awkward to be honest. But that is true, I cannot marry because I am consecrated.
But there is more to consecrated life than not being able to marry.
I joined the Marist Brothers last May 2011 as an Aspirant. It’s not like I didn’t have a choice to find an exclusive relationship. Though I had a Psychology degree already, I went back college to take Education units. I even had a crush, considered having a girlfriend and leave. But I didn’t. I reconsidered and continued my vocation journey and entered religious life on May 2012.
In the novitiate, I consecrated myself to Our Good Mother Mary as I received my habit. In my consecration prayer, I told her to hold my hand as I journey on my life as a Marist Brother. As I am writing this, I remember Jesus on the cross telling his beloved disciple, “Behold, your Mother.” And that disciples name? He is John the Evangelist.
Chaste celibacy is one of the “crosses” I received upon entering consecrated religious life. This “cross” is actually a sweet yoke and a light burden. It is not like we celibate/consecrated religious hate marriage. But let me speak for myself.
Matrimony is one of the sacraments our Lord has given his Church. When a man and a woman deeply in love with each other decides to sustain that love and even “consecrate” their love, it is through matrimony and that keeps them together for the rest of their lives and even share their overflowing love through and with their children.
The Liturgy of Matrimony is one of the most beautiful and “lit” rites in the Church (sorry for the pun). I actually love attending marriages.
In my almost thirty years of existence, I must admit that I have only attended three Catholic weddings (so far). My younger brother married last year and a college friend married last year too so that’s two weddings attended in 2018 alone. I am usually away from my hometown and I do not have money to travel back so sometimes, with deep regret, I am not able to attend. Of course, I want to attend as much as possible.
As I promote vocation for priesthood and religious life, I promote marriage too though there is actually no need for me to promote marriage because it is already mainstream. Matrimony is the default call for the people of God.
So, Allen, why be a brother? A short answer would be for the sake of the kingdom. Cliché, I know. I gave up the good of the marriage for the sake of the kingdom not made of human hands. I find my life from the source of life itself. That is my answer to the question, “Sa paghahanap buhay mo, mahahanap mo ba ang buhay mo?” (Can you find your life in your livelihood?)
I hope in time I can tell stories out of my own experiences but for now I still feel inadequate to talk about Marist ministry, prayer life, and community living, since I am still a young brother. For the past three years I have been to a school ministry so maybe I will write about it in my future posts. Or maybe write too about my life now as a missionary in Japan and not being involved in school ministry.
If ever there is one thing I really treasure about my life as a Marist Brother, it would be my relationship with all my former students. I love them all no matter how tough it was for me in the past two years. It is really one of the most precious gifts I ever had as a brother. But if you ask me if I ever expected this before I entered the Marist Brothers, to be honest I did not. It is like finding a treasure on a field. Yes there are ups and downs and sometimes I feel like giving up on them but I didn’t because I love them so much I treat them like my little brothers and sisters. It was really unexpected but I am truly grateful for it. Glory to God!
I am always praying for all of you though I am far away now, my dear former students.
Right now, I am still one or two years away from taking my final and perpetual vows and I am already looking forward to it.
If ever in these years of preparation, through prayer and discernment that I feel I am not “worthy” to be a Marist Brother, then I will go out. God’s call to holiness is still there. Consecrated life is not for all but everyone is called to holiness. Then again, that is a small “what if”. I must be honest, it is very tempting to leave.
This year is a big preparation year for me. I will go back to the Philippines for a 30-day retreat this April then go to our novitiate in Lomeri, Fiji for a three-month preparation course on May to July 2019.
So please pray for me and for more vocations to consecrated religious life. 🙏
Thanks for reading and have a blessed and wonderful day.