5 Years in Consecrated Life

I almost forgot an important event in my life. It was May 15, 2012 when I, along with 10 companions, had our habit-taking and consecration to Mary. I don’t have a copy of my prayer when I consecrated myself to Mary. All I ask our Good Mother is to journey with me by “holding my hand”. I have to search my archived photos just to see what happened that day. I was offline for more than a year that year except the final Sunday of the month where we were given a chance to use the computer and internet for an hour. If you look at my blog post archives, I think I wrote about that too. Anyway, when I had the chance to log in to my Facebook, I changed my profile picture with me wearing my new soutane only to be received with shocked or/and amused friends with me wearing eyeglasses and smiling broadly. Yeah, that was the year when I started wearing spectacles.

2012 was such a memorable year to me and I think I need to write more about that time when I spent two years in the novitiate.

I am thinking of buying a basic phone to spend less time with my smartphone with battery problems. Besides, my Notebook PC is a basic laptop. This is for me to write more, read more, and spend more time in silence.

I am just happy I made it this far in my religious life. I almost quit that year. I’ve been thinking lately about that decision when I hesitated to start religious life.

Maybe people had prayed for me and my vocation. I am thankful for them.

And maybe Mama Mary is still holding my hand. And I still pray for her to hold my hand and let her lead me to her Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Vacation to vocation: An effect of a month-long break

Being a teacher has its perks. One of them is the long vacation in between the school year. Since I’m still on a vacation mood, I will continue musing here and this time it will be about schooling, education, career, vocation, heartbreaks, intimate celibacy, and dreams.

A career or calling?
To be honest, I never dreamed of becoming a high school teacher when I was still a child or even a teen. The closest would be my dream of becoming a professor in college. Now one of my college pals just finished his master’s in Clinical Psychology. I could not remember if I mentioned that being a Marist Brother was one of my dreams as a teenager but anyway I’m telling it now. And since I am already a Marist Brother, I still dream of becoming a professor. But if I would do that, would it make my religious vocation not as a vocation (i.e. “a calling”) but as a career? Well, I would not really pursue it and just make it happen when I am told to teach in college. That’s out of the equation at the moment since I don’t have yet a master’s degree. I had some post-graduate units taken last year but that’s all I have. So that’s just one of my many desires and I am just being honest by writing it out.

Schooling and education
Seven years ago, I don’t even have the financial means to enroll in a post-graduate school before I entered the Marist Brothers. That time, I thought of going back to school again right after graduating in college. I still wanted to study. I was still unprepared in the transition of working right after college graduation. Just like my long break now, right after my college graduation, I was so restless in having a break in studies, thinking on my bed, and playing computer games. I had lots of exercise though. I was tired in studies but I want to keep on going. Mark Twain said he would not let schooling interfere with his education. I too had to keep that in mind. I was too selective in accepting job offers. I had my options: study again and/or work. Out of the blue, I entertained the thought of joining the Marist Brothers. They invited me when I was in second year college; I am Marist-educated; I am single; I know the life of St. Marcellin Champagnat; I lived with the Brothers in Mindanao for a week when I was still in high school; and I dreamed of becoming one. So, why not become a Marist Brother?

And these thoughts occurred to me so I contacted the Marist Brothers and told them that I am interested to become one of them. And they gave me one year to decide if I am serious with my decision or not. That’s why I worked as a property consultant and as a technical support representative even though I was underemployed as long as I can save money for my future trip to Mindanao.

Heartbroken?
I don’t even know if my close friends know about this. Maybe they just thought I was heart-broken. And if their reason is true, I should have been out a long time already. Or maybe that’s part of my unconscious motivation of joining religious life.

I remember in a dream six year ago in the Aspirancy House that I was being chased by some hooligans and I was shot dead. I woke up in the middle of that night and even posted in my Facebook status that I was thankful to be alive. The only explanation I can come up with that dream was that I was eluding something that I can’t accept or I don’t like and that my death was a reminder of my spiritual death since I was not a practicing Catholic when I was in college. So maybe the heart-broken part is true based on that dream but I would deny that consciously of course. Or am I running away from something other than that?

Intimate celibacy
The problem now is that I learned in religious life how to love many without being exclusively in a relationship with a woman; that I can be intimate while being celibate. (I will tackle this in the future.)

A recurring dream
But my death in my dream? I cannot really make sense of it. That dream recurred a few days ago. Again, I was riding a vehicle and I was being chased by some hooligans. But on this second time, I am alive. What does that mean?

And that’s it for an episode of my free-writing. Thanks for reading.

Please pray for me and my companions for our tomorrow’s trip to General Santos City. I would be there for a two-week training.

And that means a hiatus.

Again, let us pray for one another.

Solitude?

Hello. How are you? Me? A bit sad this day. Is this what they call separation anxiety? Maybe. Our young novice Br. Jay Jay went back to the novitiate as he now finished his apostolic exposure here in Cotabato community after three months of staying here. Br. Ador is in Bangkok until next week. Now, we’re only two brothers here in the convent as of the moment. Br. Oca also said that it feels sad now that we’re just two in the house. Absence of presence here now. The house is big but the occupants are few. That’s like a paraphrase of the harvest is abundant but the laborers are few. At least we have the Real Presence in the chapel. Let’s pay a visit to Him later.

Life as a brother can be lonely sometimes. No girlfriend, no wife, no family, no children. This is the life I have chosen. Sometimes the road can be lonesome. I hope what I feel is in solidarity with what my mother and sister in Japan feels like being isolated with their loved ones. To all widows, brokenhearted, single, overseas Filipino workers, I feel you. I pray for all of you. I don’t like this feeling but, yeah, I will savor this moment too. There’s a time to be sad and a time to rejoice. I will feel it and pray for it. And now I wrote it. 

Cheers to life!

St. Francis of Assisi, who lead a life of solitude to follow our Lord, pray for us.

Youth having fun at the 8th Vocation Jamboree of the Archdiocese of Cotabato

During the 8th Vocation Jamboree last night.


Because it’s Sunday and I’m free, I’m going to write. Last night was the 8th Vocation Jamboree of our Archdiocese of Cotabato. It means we gathered youth throughout the Diocese by having fun through dancing and singing, and telling stories of seminarians and religious about their formation how to become priests, and religious sisters and brothers. To paraphrase a priest whom I heard three years ago, we need to promote vocations to priesthood and religious life since married life is promoted anyway through media and even the example of our parents. It might be a bit of dragging because it’s a nightlong activity and presentations doesn’t have time limit. But it’s alright because I saw young people enjoying, listening to stories and expressing feelings through music and dance. 
I heard stories of the Diocesan seminarians, the RNDM, and our Marist story. During the presentation of the life of our founder, Marcellin Champagnat, I seated beside a working student whom I think have a vocation to religious life. He said that it was his first time to hear the life of Father Champagnat. After the Marist presentation, I excused myself and my companion because it’s already one o’clock in the morning and just at the middle of the night program. 

I recall that when I was a novice, I have no time to sleep that we were up until the sun rises and we even attended Sunday Mass twice. It is still embarrassing to recall that I was sleeping during the Mass in the cathedral so technically I was able to get some sleep during the Jamboree three years ago. But this year, they had sleeping quarters and didn’t stay up the whole morning just like we did before. The Vocation Jamboree keeps getting better every year.

An April fool’s joke: my vocation story, the 19th century prankster, and the statue in Vatican

I bought a plane ticket to General Santos on April 1, 2011. A week earlier, I resigned from my job in the call centre. The company HR was puzzled when they’ve read in my resignation letter my reason. They were wondering what is religious/consecrated life. In truth, I too was grasping what kind of life I was going to enter. The only way for me to find out is to “come and see”. When an Australian manager said not to stop me since it is “God’s will”, that made explaining easier. Since it is a vocation, a calling, they approved my resignation and let me go.

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Renewal of vows for 2016

Today, during this Easter vigil, I renewed my vows for one year. Though my vows are not yet expired (until May 3, 2016), I reapplied for renewal since there was a renewal here in our Annual Retreat at the Jesuit Retreat House here in Malaybalay City, Mindanao. I left my batchmates in the scholasticate (my companions in my first profession of vows last May 2014) and joined the young Brothers in active ministry, which now makes me a member of the Temporary Professed Brothers in Active Ministry (TPBIAM).

Please pray for me and my 10 companions who renewed their vows too, two of which are about to profess perpetually next year.

How to cure loneliness?

There is one Scripture passage that I really like which quotes Jesus as saying, “foxes have holes and birds have nests, but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head” (Mt. 8:20). Since I was in high school, I really feel unique and different from my classmates and friends due to my temperament, intellect, social status, and choice of hobbies. It bothered me even in college. When I entered novitiate, I just realized that one of my motivations in joining religious life is to belong to a community. Aside from prayer and ministry with young people, community life is one of our pillars as Marist Brothers and as religious. When it comes to these three, though I have been a Marist for five years (from Pre-Novitiate and not counting my school years), I am still inexperienced particularly when it comes to community living.

Last Saturday, I flew from Marikina to Mindanao for the annual retreat of the Marist Brothers in Malaybalay. As of the moment, though I know already my next assignment, I feel like I will just pass by the places I will go into. Like the comment of my former swimming teacher, I am like a soldier whose assignment changes a lot. After the structures of novitiate and scholasticate, I am beginning to feel again what it’s like to be a “nowhere boy”, a pilgrim, or an itinerant.

When I was in high school and in college, I feel often being “out of place”. Before, it has been a cause of stress and depression for me. Now, it doesn’t bother me anymore. Yes, I’m feeling a bit lonely now. But when you have these Brothers at your side (well, they are in their respective rooms now), who also feel lonely at times as a result of being religious, I feel that there’s somebody who is in solidarity with me; there is someone who, like me, struggles. Before, I don’t even acknowledge that I am lonely maybe because I am not aware of it. Now, I am not ashamed of acknowledging it. I must be aware of it or else it will manifest in many ways (e.g. how I relate, attachment to pets, tardiness, etc.).

I don’t really know how to cure loneliness. But I believe that contact with reality is a step towards getting out of it. I can be somewhere but I choose to be here.

Now I know why I was too drawn to anime when I was in college. Anime has been my escape from reality; it is my escape from my loneliness. I don’t discourage myself watching anime but I have to catch myself whether I’m just  escaping.

To be alone can be frightening. But aloneness can also be a source of peace. And if that happens, that means solitude. When I realize that my happiness does not depend on someone or something (or somewhere), then that’s when I choose to be happy.

I felt lonely because I depend on the approval of others. Let me be true to myself. And for me, this is what it means not to lay my head elsewhere.