Monday, September 16, 2013

The Beggar

            Around UST, you can encounter a lot of beggars. From España Blvd. to P. Noval St. to Dapitan St. and Lacson St., you can see children, adults, old ones and even a whole family asking the passer by some money or food. They can be demanding sometimes to the extent of not letting you go away without giving something to them. Have you encountered one? How did you deal with them?
            One evening, I and my two classmates had our dinner at Shakeys España. We were seated on a couch near a window. Suddenly, while I was savouring the pizza, a beggar stood near the window asking for some food. He is about 35-40 years old whom I believe physically fit to work in order to have some money to buy a food. So, I just ignored him and continued eating. However, I can sensed even without looking that he was still standing near the window and continued to beg for food. He was too persistent in asking for some food. But still, my stony heart remained and tried my best to ignore him. I was not already able to enjoy my food.  
            During that time, I remembered a statement from one of my professors back in college which goes “there can be no beggars if no one will give them something.” Before, I used to give coins or some food every time I see a pitiful beggar but his statement changed my perspective towards the beggars. Indeed, giving something to them will reinforce their being too dependent to others. As a matter of fact, there are many beggars who can be physically capable to work and not just to beg around. This negative outlook towards them was heightened further when I heard some news that syndicates used children and the disabled to take advantage. Since then, I feel irritated and annoyed every time I see beggars especially those whom I judged to be capable. I did not dare to drop a single centavo anymore especially when I recall how the peoples in our province, even the elderly who can hardly bend their bodies, work hard in the fields in order to survive.
            However, things suddenly changed when my classmates, Kuya Channex and Kuya Japheth, discussed on how we could help the beggar, whether to give our left over or to give some money or just to order additional food for him. Back in my mind, I would like to disagree with their idea of helping but I gave in to their plan. This led me to reflect whether I am right with my negative outlook towards the beggar or they are right in showing compassion and generosity to the beggar.
            An idea immediately dawned in my mind: “it is better to err on the side of precaution than to regret because of a false assumption.” It is a fact that I can hardly prove whether a beggar is really in need or he is just taking advantage. Their physical appearance and condition may help me to distinguish their true situation but these will never assure me. There may also come a point when my pride and intellect command me not to be fooled by the beggars. But, what if they are truly in need of our help? What if, because of my stony heart, they die of hunger? There may be some unfortunate instances and grave reasons why they turned into a beggar even though they seemed to be capable of getting employed. I will never know and understand their reasons unless I, myself, experienced what they have gone through. Hence, I have no right to judge them.
            I then realized that my negative outlook is wrong. The compassion and generosity shown by my classmates is the true act of a Christian.  In dealing with the beggars, it is the act of giving that matters more than the fear of being fooled. If ever I may be deceived, I should not worry because God is never worried of being fooled. Just like what Christ has shown when He was here on earth, He never denied those who asked for help even the sinners. The parable of the prodigal son shows us how. The father showed compassion to his son even after squandering the money he gave him as inheritance. Moreover, our Compassionate Father in heaven is never outdone in generosity. He will even bestow more graces to His children who share their blessings.
            I also realized that my parents are actually showing an example of being compassionate. They are not earning very high salaries, but just enough to give us, their children, our needs. There comes a time when our less fortunate relatives and neighbours would come to borrow money or ask other forms of help. As long as there is something that my parents can give, they will give or lend it to them.  Most of the times, some would return the borrowed money later than the promised date while others would even forget to return them. My parents just let them go and they will just say to themselves that it will be just their help to them. Even my elder sister would sometimes tend to abuse my parents. Even they know that she is just making up some reasons and even after telling her that it will be her last chance, they still show compassion and help my sister. They say “no matter what she does, she is still our daughter and maybe she is really in need.” Every time I hear this, I can’t hold on my tears from falling. I am really amazed by their compassion. This gradually inspires me to extend my help to the needy. I feel so sorry for the times I ignored the beggars.
            As to the beggar who was asking for food, we were not able to give our left over because nothing was left. We decided not to give money because he might just use it to buy for his vice like rugby or liquor. But, we ordered a food for him. That beggar surely had a banquetous meal.

            I am truly grateful to the beggar, to Kuya Channex and Kuya Japheth for being an instrument of reminding and inspiring me to have a compassionate heart. Thank You Lord.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Pastoral Zeal

God has called shepherds---the priests to take care His flock here on earth. The zeal for pastoral work is very important in the ministry of a priest in order to guide God’s flock. Especially in the call for New Evangelization, the priests are challenged “to go out to the ends of the earth and proclaim the message of God”. The zeal for pastoral work cannot come instantly. It has to be developed. It must turn into a habit…a virtue. Apostolate is a form of instilling the zeal for pastoral work to the seminarians---‘the priests-in-the-making’. If a seminarian cannot dedicate or commit himself to pastoral formation, then how much more can he dedicate or commit himself to pastoral works when he becomes a priest? As they say, “so a seminarian, so a priest!”
            Archbishop Socarates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan said in his pastoral letter, “Sadly brother priests, we have become pastors of the status quo. We have slid down to just “maintaining” the church, keeping the schedule, continuing the “order” of the day. This cannot continue. We cannot be swivel chair pastors. We must get out to the barangays and public schools, visit the charity wards of hospitals, teach catechism again, visit homes again-make a “mess” in society. The problem is not priest shortage but zeal shortage.” Indeed, his observation is right. With the present situation of the faithful, the church needs a pastor who has the zeal to save souls. The current issues such as loss of faith, degrading morality, environmental problems and the like cannot just be solved in the pulpit. A pastor has to go out and deal with those problems together with the faithful. The new pastoral program of the Central Seminary can be a great help to breed priests who have the zeal to respond to the challenges of the present time. This is a call that every seminarian is invited to respond.
            It is quite unfortunate that the demands of the new pastoral program in the UST Central Seminary seem to be unfavourable for some seminarians. Negative feedbacks, complaints and signs of resistance circulate around. Conflict of schedules and additional burden are the main concerns and reasons being brought up. It cannot be denied that some seminarians are indeed struggling to adapt the upgraded pastoral program of the seminary.
            In my case, I don’t find any problem with this new pastoral program. In fact, I am very happy for this development of our pastoral formation. Since I heard about it, I was already eager to start my apostolate and look forward for the next schedule. My apostolate is to be emerged in the BEC program of the Santissimo Rosario Parish. I am tasked to share my reflections regarding the gospel for the Sunday and to join the people in their prayers. Hence, as the weekend approaches, I already find myself researching and preparing the input of my sharing. Even if some would laugh or criticize my enthusiasm for apostolate, I don’t feel irritated or dismayed but rather I am more challenged to inspire them to develop their passion for apostolate.
            I had my first apostolate before I enter the college seminary. With that experience, from then on, doing apostolate has a special place in my heart. In the remote areas where I stayed together with my fellow seminarians, I observed the feeling of the people whom we visited. No matter how we looked like, they surely felt the presence of God through our presence. They were very grateful to us and this can be proven by the degree of their hospitality. We are treated like kings. They served us foods which they themselves cannot afford to eat. It is a great honor and privilege for them to have us as their visitors, to get acquainted and form friendship with us. This is the first reason why I began to love this kind of apostolate. By our mere presence, they felt that God is in their midst and they feel very blessed. This experience may create a great impact in their life as they will realize that after all and no matter how troublesome their situation is, God still loves and cares for them. Their faith in God may be reawaken and their hope be rekindled. This will further remind and inspire them to live out their faith.
            My love for apostolate gradually heightened as I experienced more apostolates.  Back when I was in the First Year Theology during our apostolate at Malasa, the sharing of my classmate Jomar Solano reinforced my perspective of doing apostolate. He said (not in exact words), our apostolate is not merely bringing the presence of God to the people but also for us seminarians to encounter the presence of God in their midst.  Indeed, God is not only present among us seminarians but He is present in every one even with the poorest among the poor. This is actually a big challenge for us because we hardly recognized Christ among the marginalized, the suffering and the oppressed. Do we want to hear Jesus say this to us: “I was hungry, but you gave me no food; I was thirsty but you gave me no water; I was naked but you gave me no clothes; I was imprisoned but you did not visit me”?
            Furthermore, aside from the privileges and opportunities to develop myself to serve the church and His people through this apostolate, what is exceptional in doing apostolate is my experience of God through the people. This is quite different from the God that I encounter inside the walls of the seminary and the classroom. It is a sort of a more realistic experience of God. The mercy and compassion of God is revealed to me through their stories and experiences. Their faith experience too is remarkable especially those who experience storms of trials yet remained steadfast in their faith and continued to hope and trust for Divine providence. For some of them, their faith may be just simple, but deep in their hearts that faith is authentic. It may be true that they feel grateful and blessed because of my presence, but I say I am more truly grateful and blessed because of that faith experience. As a matter of fact, I feel revitalized and reenergized after I came from apostolate. I become more inspired to deepen my faith and more encouraged to be faithful to my calling.
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Monday, September 9, 2013

Take Up Your Cross

“Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.”
-Lk. 14:27
Being a disciple of Christ entails a great sacrifice. Jesus demands that one must deny himself, take up his cross and come after Him in order to become His disciple. Taking up one’s cross is usually seen as burdensome. It is a sacrifice, a suffering and a shameful act. Just like in the early times, the Romans punished the criminals by crucifying them on a cross. Jesus underwent this punishment. As shown in the movies where the passion of Christ was enacted, one can clearly see the burden of Christ from the moment when he was crowned with thorns until His last breath while hanging on the cross.
            In this present time, the demands of Jesus are contradictory to the aspirations of many people. Many people are so busy working hard. They are exhorting any means to accumulate wealth and power that they may live comfortably. Yes, people desires comfort the most; not suffering; not burden. Now, who would want to take up a cross? Who would want to suffer? Who would want to be a disciple of Jesus?
            The problem with taking up one’s cross does not really lie in the act itself but with the negative perspective of carrying a cross. The burden, the difficulty, the sacrifice and the shameful act of carrying the cross is more highlighted and emphasized rather than the true essence of carrying the cross. These negative perceptions discourage people to carry the cross. So, why do we need to carry a cross? Why did Jesus, being God, let Himself be crucified on a cross? Why did the Father let His only Son to suffer on the cross?
            Jesus bore all the sufferings because it is clear to Him what he was doing (although it was depicted that He has some questions but this arise because of the tendency of His human nature). He knew how heavy the cross was and how painful to be nailed on the cross but at the same time He was aware that He was doing something greater else; greater and more important than those sufferings. He did not let Himself be consumed with the negative aspect of carrying the cross but rather He was inspired with the positive aspect of it. He was doing the greatest act of LOVE. From the Gospel of John 15:13, it says there that “there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for a friend.” This was not for Himself but for the forgiveness of sins of mankind that they may have eternal life. Carrying the cross, as Jesus demanded in order to become His disciple, does not necessarily mean to suffer and to sacrifice but more importantly to love in the best way as possible.  There is nothing difficult for the one who love (This may sound better in Filipino and more common to Filipinos: Walang mahirap sa taong nagmamahal). Besides, just as “gold is tested by fire, so is a strong man by adversity.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
            Furthermore, the sign of the cross is the sign of the Catholic faith. As in every prayer, it always begins by making the sign of the cross: “In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.” The cross is the sign of faith. Taking up one’s cross may also mean living out one’s faith not just in words but more importantly in deeds. The summary of the Catholic faith can be seen in the Trinity: God the father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. But, how do we understand the Trinity? Well, no man here on earth can have a clear grasp of the concept of the Trinity. Even Fr. Antonio Aureada, O.P., who is a professor of the Doctrine of the Trinity in the UST Faculty of Sacred Theology, admitted at the end of the course that no matter how he tried his best to research about the Trinity, it always remains to be a mystery. There was once a professor who was asked, what is your understanding of the Trinity? He answered: “Honestly, I cannot understand; but I’m certain of one thing, that their relation to one another is LOVE.” Truly, the Catholic faith is all about LOVE. Moreover, every Catholic is called to obey the commandments of God which can be summarized by the two greatest commandments: to LOVE God with all your heart, mind, soul and spirit and to LOVE your neighbor as yourself. The bottom line of the commandment is to LOVE. Indeed, taking up one’s cross,as Jesus demanded in order to become His disciple, may imply vagueness, ambiguity, and dilemma. But what is clear is that, taking up one’s cross is simply to live one’s faith through words and actions; that is to LOVE God and your neighbor as yourself.
            Finally, to further encourage everyone to take up his own cross, one must look closely at the crucifix. The crucifix reminds every one of the gospel passage from John 3:16, “For GOD so LOVE the world that He gave His only Son, that they may not perish but have an ETERNAL LIFE.”Now, observe! What are the two letters which can be derived from the shape of the crucifix? One is ‘t’ for the cross and the other is ‘y’ for the body of Christ. TY or YT. This stands for Thank You, You’re There.  Man should be grateful for the love of God. This then invites everyone to reciprocate that love by taking up one’s own cross, by following Christ and become His disciple…in short to LOVE as well!

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Saturday, September 7, 2013

Battle & War

As an inter-diocesan seminary of the Philippines, the UST Central Seminary is compose of seminarians coming from different regions all over the country and even from the neighboring countries. During the month of August, a regional festival is annually held. The Regional Festival is one of the most awaited and most attended events in the UST Central Seminary. This serves as an avenue to showcase the different cultures of the different regions here in the Philippines plus the culture of the foreign seminarians. They are the Ilocano, Tagalog, Bicolano, Hiligaynon, Cebuano-Waray and Mindanaoan culture plus the culture of the foreign centralites.  A regional mass sponsored by each region is firstly held. In this year, a regional basketball competition is also introduced. The event is highlighted on a Saturday night as each region takes pride in presenting their respective culture through the food, booth and dance competition.
            Rigid preparations take place before the said event. Nobody is taking this event for granted since the pride of one’s culture is at high stake. Right at the beginning of the month of August, plans are already laid down. Even financial accounts would matter to make this event successful as seminarians would contribute a sum amount of money or seek help from generous acquaintances like the alumni priests of the seminary. When the competition draws near, the time for study period would even be sacrificed for practices. Everyone would really contribute to give their best to showcase their respective cultures.
            I am from the Ilocano region and I am really proud to belong to the Ilocano tribe. It has been 4 years already that I witness and experience the regional festival. For these years, I can say that I really exerted a great effort to contribute so that the best of the Ilocano culture may be shown to the community. I am truly grateful and I take pride that the Ilocano culture has gain recognition from the judges and the visitors (hoping from the community as well) through this regional festival. For this year, we won the dance and booth competition. What matters more to me is that through this regional festival, I can say that our brotherhood, camaraderie and unity as Ilocanos have improved and strengthened. Thanks to the leadership of our Datu, Sem. Rindy Miguel-my kailian, and the cooperation of my fellow Ilocanos. Clearly, I can say that we, the Ilocano tribe, have won the battle over the other regions basing from the competitions of the Regional festival 2013. But generally, we are all winners. I know we all deserved to be called winners because we all gave our best to showcase our culture.
            Battle? Yes, it is! Every regional festival is a battle among the different regions. I believe that every region wants that their culture will be the first place in the different competitions. Unfortunately, there must only be one champion in a competition. But the battle does not only exist in the competitions, it even extends in the internal forum; that is among the members of the region. Surely, during the preparations, there has been a clash of ideas concerning what are the things to be done, who would do this and do that and the like. It cannot be avoided that there are members who would have attitudinal problems like those who are tardy, hard-headed and not cooperative. As a matter of fact after our dance presentation, there was a tension in our group because of some technical errors during our presentation. There were some shouting and confrontation. Fortunately, when we knew that we won the dance competition, the tension finally ceased. Thanks be to God!
            For me, the regional festival does not entail a simple battle during the competition between the different regions or even among the members during the preparation but more so a series of battles. It is in fact a war; a war throughout the formation year. I do not mean here a battle between the different regions but a battle between me and my ego, between you and your attitude, between us and our false sense of regionalism. For four years, I am not really sure if the regional festival attained its true purpose, which is to share and to appreciate the richness of one’s culture, or did it just create chaos between the different regions. In our attempts to showcase our own culture, did we simply give our best shot or did we even go beyond our limits like degrading other cultures, destroying their images, talking negative things behind their back, taking advantages over them and the like? It is time to reflect on the true sense of regionalism. There may be a thin border line between patronizing/being proud of your own culture and imposing/boasting your own culture to others but we have to correct this misconception. We need to battle our own issues like our being superior complex or inferior complex that greatly lead us to this false sense of regionalism. We, the Ilocanos, may have won the battle in the competition, but not yet the war. We need to face our own issues regarding our culture and the culture of others. Every region is called to fight. This is the battle…a series of battles… a war that all of us must win.
            Every culture has its own uniqueness and beauty that is ought to be valued, respected and appreciated. Here in the UST Central Seminary, the different regions with their respective cultures are like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. They have to be connected properly, orderly and peacefully to solve the puzzle in order to come up with our own culture: the Centralite Culture. This is the battle; a series of battles; a war that we must fight together. We must win and we must own---not my culture, not your culture, but the Centralite Culture!

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Friday, September 6, 2013

The Birth Of A New Mission

                                                                 the mission cross

 “The Birth Of A New Mission:
Pastoral Formation in the UST Central Seminary”

            The UST Central Seminary has been look down or criticized by some because it seemingly lacks a Pastoral Formation. As a matter of fact, some dioceses stop sending seminarians to study here because of that reason. Yet, the previous formators defended this allegation asserting that the basic apostolate is to live in the community: it goes with the theme ‘brothers shepherding brothers’ and this is what is done in the Central Seminary. In addition, since the seminarians are studying in the Ecclesiastical Faculties of the University of Santo Tomas, which is considered as one of the best in the country in providing ecclesiastical studies in preparation to the priesthood, it is an apostolate to study assiduously in order to prepare well one’s self  for his pastoral duties.  Moreover, as a form of apostolate, the seminarians take part in the university-wide activities especially with regards to spiritual activities. To name a few, recently during the celebration of the Quadricentennial and Neo-centennial anniversary of the university, the seminary has actively participated in the retreats, Liturgical Celebrations, the world record Largest Human Cross and Largest Living Rosary and many more. Truly, in the UST Central Seminary, there is a pastoral formation…there is an apostolate since then.
            Two years ago, there has been a plan to lay down a clear pastoral program in the seminary to facilitate a more efficient and more effective pastoral formation of the seminarians so that  they will be more prepared to perform their pastoral duties. This is also a respond to the demands of the updated program of seminary formation and to the present challenges of the church.
            In this formation year, the Pastoral Program finally takes effect. Personally, I was very happy and grateful upon knowing that a clear pastoral program will push through already. This is a very big opportunity for us to apply in our apostolate areas whatever we learned from the academe and to develop and to furnish our God-given talents so that we may serve Him better and His people. Our apostolate has moved out beyond the seminary premises and the vicinity of the university. This would entail living in a bigger community, interacting with a wider perspective and encountering more experiences. When I learned that the apostolate of our class is to take part in the BEC sharing, I was even more upbeat to start my apostolate. BEC is one of the answers thought by the Conference of Bishops to the present problems of the church and one of the keys for the new evangelization. In our parish, my parish priest is very dedicated and committed to hold BEC despite of the difficulties it would entail. This serves as my inspiration to do the same. In addition, this kind of apostolate is also an opportunity for me to overcome my difficulty in interacting with people and in sharing my thoughts and reflections with others. It is then but proper to acknowledge and to commend the previous formators for setting up the vision and the current formators for actualizing and entrusting us the mission.

            The Pastoral program commenced with a sending-off rite integrated during the closing mass of our monthly recollection for July. It is a sort of traditional and symbolic, just like how Jesus sent His disciples to go out to the ends of the earth. We were even given a mission cross which symbolizes our calling – to take up our cross and follow after Him. This also reminds us that this mission is not for ourselves but for the glory of God and this serves as our strength in doing our mission.  We, the Centralites, are then called to move out from our shells and to extend our community beyond our home, the University and the Central Seminary, as we share, spread and celebrate our faith.

            Living in the community…brothers shepherding brothers…living out faith through humble service…this is the apostolate in the UST Central Seminary…this is UST Central Seminary. We, the Centralites, are called to live a truly Christian existence/experience. As Pope Francis tweeted, “To be children of God, and brothers and sisters to one another: this is the heart of the Christian experience.”

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Giving Up On You

Wednesday! A free afternoon, a basketball afternoon in the UAAP, a day for me to watch television! Sit back, relax and enjoy! This is what I usually do every time there is a basketball game. Unfortunately, our rector passed by and called my attention for watching television again in the afternoon. I got pissed because I can’t watch and it was a very thrilling ball game. I was saddened. I tried to make up my mind and finally I thought of writing an apology letter, which goes this way:

August 7, 2013

Father Rector,

            Greetings of peace in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ!

            I feel compelled to make an apology letter after being confronted for watching television outside the scheduled time for three times already. I sincerely apologize for not following the schedule of TV viewing. At first, I watched beyond 1:00 PM, which is siesta time already. It is really my fault because I have already forgotten the Horarium which is stated in our Handbook. For the second time, I watched on a Wednesday afternoon, which is a free afternoon and I thought it is just okay to watch television. For the third time this afternoon which is a free afternoon, I have misunderstood the House Rule 7.3 in the Handbook which states that “TV viewing may be done during recreation time after lunch till 1:00 pm, after supper till 8:45 pm, during free afternoons and personal time on Saturdays. Bukluran-sponsored video viewing may be done on Fridays after supper. Viewing outside schedule requires the permission of the Rector. Only worthwhile programs or movies should be viewed.”  I am really sorry for not following the schedule of TV viewing.

            Since we had a TV in our house, it already became my hobby to watch especially sports and news programs. I confessed that I really became a sports-minded person especially anything about basketball and I always wanted to be updated with the happenings around the country. That’s why I really have the desire to watch TV. When I learned the proper schedule of TV viewing, honestly, I was saddened.   I really wondered why and many questions bombarded my mind as to why the time allotted for TV viewing is shortened compared to the previous formation years. In the end, I realized the wisdom behind it. TV viewing is one of my pleasures; it is in fact a guilty-pleasure. As a matter of fact, sports is the main thing that distracts me during prayer time and class hours. Instead of praying zealously and to pay attention in class, I begin to think sports stuffs and the like. This is indeed a pleasure that I have to give up. As you have said in one of your talks, we have to give up our pleasures so that we may be able to follow Christ closely. It may be hard, but I should do my best so that I can become a better follower of Christ. Moreover, I also realized that I have to find other hobbies, which are more productive rather than just watching TV, like some things which can be of help in serving God and His people.

            I’m really sorry for not following the proper schedule of TV viewing. I promise to do my best to be faithful in following the house rules. I’m hoping for your consideration regarding this matter. Thank you for your continuous paternal guidance, care and love for us despite our hard-headedness.

Sincerely yours…

            After making this apology letter, I feel relieved. But suddenly, I began to hesitate whether I will really give this to the rector or not. I was not sure of myself if I can really give up my hobby to watch TV. Before deciding, I went down for our vespers. During the meditation period, I prayed over my hobby of watching TV and asked God to strengthen me as I give up this hobby. After the prayers, I finally decided to give the apology letter to the rector and hence, to give up this hobby. It may be hard at first but with the help of God, I know I can overcome it.

            Now, you might wonder what is the new hobby that I thought of. Well, this is it! WRITING! That is why I made a blog site so that I can share my works. I know that I am not a good writer yet, but I hope that I will improve as long as I continue to write. I’m also soliciting from the readers (*crossed fingers* hoping somebody will be interested to read my work) for comments, suggestions, corrections and critics of my works. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The First Deacon

           The flight has been booked. We are ready to go. Hello Cebu and Maasin, here we come. We, the highfive (I, Eric Jorge Dueñas, Miel Sedfrey Nebrida, Austin John Ortinero and Emil Valeza), the remaining from the batch of STB 2013 in the UST Central Seminary witnessed and shared a momentous event in the life of our very own classmate Casiano Anthony Cotiamco as he received the sacrament of the Holy Order-Deaconate.
            Our trip from Manila to Maasin via Cebu can be liken to the journey of one’s vacation. Excitement filled our hearts as we were planning on attending this ordination. This is not only because we will be able to witness the ordination of our brother but also because we will be able to visit Maasin and of course to see the beauty of Cebu especially for some of us who are first time to go there. Some of our batchmates are in Cebu and we look forward to meet them and to spend some quality time together as we reminisce the joyful experiences we had together in UST. One of us is also looking forward to ride in an airplane and some of us like me to ride in a ship because it would be our very first time. Indeed, one’s vocation is like this journey that is full of excitement. We always look forward for new experiences and new acquaintances. Yet, this journey is not all about fun. As we were in the plane, we experienced turbulence which hurt our ears. As we were approaching Maasin, there was a sudden thunderstorm. Hard rains, strong winds, and big waves unduly prolonged our trip and it made it troublesome. We cannot do anything but to pray for the abiding presence and guidance of our Almighty God. Thanks to Him, we arrived in our destinations safely. Just like one’s vocation, it is not always a smooth sailing as challenges and troubles would occur along the way. We can’t help ourselves but to bend our knees and trust in the Lord’s mercy and love. Surely, His will be done.During the ordination, we are sure that whatever he felt in that moment, we also felt it. He must be very grateful to the Lord for the grace he just received just as we are also very grateful because the Lord has bless our batch, the very first ordinandi who is to serve His church and His people. We know that there is more ordination to come and hopefully our time will come as well.  Attorney/Kuya Sonny must have been proud because finally all the efforts and the challenges he went through have reach a certain destination. Although this new chapter of his life entails more challenges to come. Perhaps it is even more challenging and troublesome. We are also very proud of his achievement because we feel that this is also our achievement. Since for us, an achievement of one is the achievement of all. We can say this because we know that we have been part in his journey towards this event; we are part of the story of his vocation. We are very proud of him. It can’t be denied that throughout the celebration, there is also an atmosphere of doubt and unworthiness. He is aware of his own weaknesses and shortcomings. He must have asked: “Why Lord? Why am I here? Why did you let this happen? Are you sure of this Lord?” While sensing this feeling of doubt, in a way, it also moved us to reflect on our own unworthiness and to what keeps us holding on our vocation despite our unworthiness. In the end, we realized that this is no longer a question of being worthy or not, since, as many would ask: “Who is worthy anyway?” Rather, it is a question of commitment and dedication: Are we ready to commit and to dedicate ourselves to the calling of God despite our imperfections? Are we ready to trust in the will of God and to His helping hand in this endeavour?
            ‘Things will never be the same’ for Attorney/Kuya Sonny, the first blood in our batch as our classmate Romolito ‘Manong Mulkins’ would say, as he is now a cleric. He gives us hope and inspiration  to be firm in pursuing our vocation. He is one step ahead of us already but we know too well that as a cleric now, he needs to pray harder for us his batchmates that we may be able to keep close to him and someday will stand in the same step. Nevertheless, he is assured of our prayers and fraternal support. As we departed our ways after his ordination, he sent us this message, “Thanks to all of you. I’m happy to know that God send me His soldiers to stand by my side as I received the sacrament of Holy Order for He knows that I am weak and hesitant. Your presence was an assurance that he will never abandon me.”  Truly Attorney/Kuya Sonny, you can count on us.

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