I realized that studying could only be enjoyable to a certain extent. This is especially true in studying philosophy. I tell you, it is not a walk in the park. Immersing myself into esoteric subjects such as rational psychology and rational theology over the past semester has greatly exhausted my powers.
And as the cliché goes, I felt the need to reinvigorate my tired body and worn out spirit.
Hence, even before our final examinations, I carefully mulled over the possible means to relax: read books, update my blog, make my presence felt in theFacebooking world, watch movies, make rosaries. My list for possible recreation was legion!
But even before I cast my eye into any of these, one of the aspirants asked me to contribute an article to a publication they are preparing on Salesian lay brothers. No specific topic on the lay brother was given.
And so, it made me reflect on the advantages of being a lay brother.
1. It is cool to be a religious sans a habit. There is nothing extraordinary with a priest who is kind, generous and leads an upright life. After all, he is a priest. The community expects nothing less from him. It is different, however, with a Salesian lay brother who may not be distinguished as a religious at all since we don't have a way to recognize him. A lay brother becomes a shining Christian witness by presenting himself to the world as a 'lay person' like any ordinary Joe who struggles to lead a holy life.
2. A Salesian lay brother has relatively more time to spend with the young. This is because priests are generally tied up celebrating the sacraments and carrying out other priestly ministries. I've experienced this reality a number of times. Priests suddenly vanish due to various circumstances. And most likely, lay brothers get to remain behind to look after and care for the young people.
3. Lay brothers are outnumbered. The 2008-2009 SDB directory reveals that there are only 17 perpetually lay brothers as opposed to 150 priests. To push more my argument, see again my second reason.
4. A Salesian lay brother vocation is not for the faint-hearted. It is even not attractive to individuals with strong narcissistic tendencies since it asks for more profound selfless sacrifices. For starters, a cleric who distinguishes himself to be "a priest in the future" has better chances of earning pogi points from a crowd than a low profile lay brother who would never ever become a priest.
5. A Salesian lay brother does not have to wash (and iron) any cassock. Not to mention the fact that the Philippines, having a tropical climate, is a lot friendlier to Salesian lay brothers. Yes, I know, this may not be a noble reason, but for the pragmatists out there, practicality prevails.
6. There are more out-of-town seminars for lay brothers than for the clerics. Luzon Association of Religious Brothers, an organization composed of lay brothers from various religious congregations in the northern region of the country, religiously holds seminars and conferences in various parts of the country. Do you want to see the whole of the Philippines? Then, be a lay brother.
7. The young people need a big-brother figure who will lead them closer to Bro. Enough said.
8. A lay brother is given more opportunities to put his brain where his heart is. This is already given. A priest may have limited options if he desires to specialize on another other than the realm of theology. For lay brothers, it's anything under the sun.
9. Interesting ministries await the lay brother wannabe's. The ministry in saving the souls of the young is becoming more interesting in the field of the lay brothers. I know of one who happens to be a tour guide to the catacombs in Italy, one is a computer geek, and another one a published researcher.
10. A lay brother is a Salesian of Don Bosco. And as a Salesian Don Bosco offers his life for the welfare of the young people. Now, isn't that reason alone cool enough?