WHEN MY superior announced that my application for my first profession of vows was approved by the council, a feeling of arcane happiness filled my whole being as though I was in heaven surrounded by angelic powers serenading the heavenly host. That was my desire since I responded to this holy calling—to profess evangelical vows—because I really wanted to become a religious. Three days after this wonderful announcement, I received a text message from my sister telling me that my father died. He met an accident, was confined in the ICU due to blood clogged in his brain, and later on, gave in to death. The shift of emotion from happiness to death brought about a tremendous experience of complete emptiness as I waited for the most important event in my life as a religious, my first profession of vows. And I expect that more cunning than death awaits me as I continually search for God deep within me.
To search for God is to know and discover my very being as I live in this small world with so many trials and undertakings. Before I received this gift of profession, there were many hardships I endured. My eldest sister separated from her husband last November. My younger brother was nearing death last December. I underwent cystotomy in January. Another sister of mine separated from her husband last February. And now my father is gone. Though affected, I try hard not to mind these because I am assured that neither life nor death can separate me from Him who is the object of my faith. This is the reason why I still stand in the midst of these challenges.
I am already 27 years old in this universe. Actually, my stay here for that longer period of time is for me, even until now, a mystery. I do not know exactly the very purpose why I am here. My catechism classes when I was a little boy would always inform me that man’s purpose here on earth is to praise, glorify and please God. I found this statement unimpressive! But so that my teachers would never get angry at me and report me to my parents, I would ardently follow and memorize by heart what they taught me.
With those 27 years of existence in this vulnerable earth, 10 years have been spent in the seminary. To be exact, I spent 37.03704 percent seemingly doing nothing in the seminary. Why did I say so? Because in the seminary, I do not find myself doing my own thing! It is always doing a thing for the sake of structures!
Fifteen years have been spent with my family. That shows that 55.55556 percent of my life was exclusively for my family and again I was not doing my own thing! I was to please my parents by receiving good grades in school and doing my household chores without complaining so that I could get a reward from them!
I spent the remaining 7.40741 percent of my life as a teacher. I taught in an exclusive school in our province. There I found myself not doing my own thing again! I had to please everybody, most especially my superior. I made myself obligated to do something because I was paid, or else I would be fired!
That is me in this world. My life revolved around those three important events: family, seminary and school. In a way, these have influenced my own understanding of what life is all about.
Without a doubt, as the Venerable John Paul II says, “God comes to us in the things we know best and can verify most easily, the things of our everyday life, apart from which we cannot understand ourselves.”
Being in the seminary is for me a big thing. I do not see exactly the reason why. If I did not choose to be here, I might have been a person today who receives a salary on pay days, or a person now who helps my younger siblings, nephews and nieces as they quest for a good life. But I have given that up for something that I do not understand—a ridiculous mystery. What happened to me for exactly 27 years is not what I want. There is something in it that leads me to do it with my own consent. Is this then what we call faith?
One day, when I was reflecting on all these things that happened to me, I had this crazy soliloquy:
“Are you happy?” the heart asked.
“Why did you ask this?” responded the mind.
The heart pointed out, “Because you seemed to be engrossed with anything and everything.”
“So what? What is the problem?” the mind added, sarcastically.
“You are the problem, my boy! You just do not want to confront it! And now that you are very stressed, very tired, very hassled, very frazzled, very exhausted, are you happy?”
After a little while, I found myself kneeling down and fixing my two eyes on the circular, white substance before me! It was He who spoke. My heart was trembling so fast saying these words in silence:
“Yes, Lord, I am not happy! What I choose is not what you want! Tell me what you want for only that will make me happy.”
This has changed me to see myself as who I really am in the sight of God despite these crazy tribulations I experience as a novice. There I affirm that life indeed is a mystery. Happiness is a choice and a gift.
I may not have a father beside me to bring me to the altar when I profess the vows, but I’m pretty sure Papa will continually guide me to face life’s challenges with a fearless heart.
Rodel dela Cruz Magin, 27, is a novice of the Augustinian Province of Santo Niño de Cebu.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.