Some personnel from the city government came over in Kapayaapaan National High School last Thursday to give a talk on career orientation to the fourth years. It meant calling our catechism classes. But since the we’re already in the school when we learnt about it, we did not have any choice but to stay. The teachers of our students were not around. And only the helpless city personnel were there with their portable sound system to make the obviously-bored students to pay attention.
One boy, a student of Br. Eric, sat beside me, isolating himself from the rest of his classmates.
I reckon meeting him before since he approached me once a couple of months ago asking from me some advice about his desire to try the seminary life. I gathered from him in our last encounter that he was troubled, almost anxious, in pursuing the priesthood (he might enter the diocesan seminary) and setting aside his dream to become a teacher. Since I was on my way to my class (we were walking along the corridor), we did not have much time to talk. But I remember telling him to get in touch with his parish priest.
Last Thursday was a chance for him to expound things and clarify the real score. I could see in his eyes confusion, and even fears. Believe me, I’m not just imagining things. I should know. His anxious expression reminded me of my own worries when I was myself a confused teenager discerning whether to try the seminary life or just pursue the life of a layperson just like the rest of my classmates.
I tried to ease him by telling him that it was natural for him to have fears because life is filled with uncertainty. But I challenged him that it is expected for us to face our fears squarely. When we were talking, I was conscious that a portion of my mind was rushing to seek for Divine help. I was just clueless what to tell him so that he’d be brave enough to be not afraid to take the risk.
Of course, dispensing advice is not a difficult thing to do. But if the counsel touches on one’s spiritual welfare, that is an entirely different matter. Religious vocation is not just about one entering the seminary or the convent, but more than that, it impresses on the core of bridging a connection between a person to his/her God, making the person conscious, cognizant, of God’s presence in his/her life and ultimately, be able to act appropriately in order to follow where God calls him/her to be.
My being a religious, a Salesian of Don Bosco in particular, commands me to not just live for my own sake. But also, and I feel, more importantly, be able to share this life to those who are looking for meaning in their lives.
On this third day of our novena in honor of St. John Bosco, I am particularly emboldened by the example of Don Bosco’s very patron, the delightfully gentle saint the Church fondly remembers today: St. Francis of Sales. He is not only the patron saint of writers and journalists, but received also the title of Everyman’s Spiritual Director because of his capacity in leading ordinary individuals to God’s embrace.