Saturday, May 21, 2016

Continuing the Labyrinthine Journey

The Knidos Labyrinth. Mirador, Baguio City. Taken after our house discernment retreat, December 2015.

(Originally published as a post on my Facebook account)


I have not been able to update this website for the past two years, but I marvel at how the Lord has made His love so tangible in my life. 
After ruminating for years about a possible religious vocation, I finally had the opportunity to discern my vocation full-time in a religious setting last year. It required me to leave my job, give my belongings away, and live in a quasi-religious house run by an active religious congregation, together with other like-minded men, for ten months. 
This journey allowed me to get a foretaste of priestly formation, having been asked to study philosophy, theology, spirituality and literature. It also allowed me to be immersed in various apostolates, among them helping out in a small chapel in a suburb in the outskirts of downtown Quezon City, teaching Christian morality in a Catholic high school, and giving recollections and discernment talks to college students. 
It was an experience that allowed me to see how God was indeed calling me to utilize my gifts and talents. More importantly, it was an experience that allowed me to espouse a lifestyle of prayer, mindfulness, and selfless service. This eventually led me to discern that an active religious life may not be for me, and that God may be calling me to some other expression of a deep desire for union with Him.
The ten-month journey may not have led me to enter the religious order I had once desired. But I now slowly realize the wisdom of it all: that perhaps it was not all about gunning towards a particular path I desire, but it was all about giving up my all for God, and seeing where that act of total self-offering takes me.
That act, I soon learned, got me started on a labyrinthine journey, that continues to teach me to relish the beauty of the journey itself, and to keep in mind the ultimate destination: union with God.
Now, just like the winding path of a labyrinth, my journey has taken me back to the medical academe. I look forward to where this bend will take me next.
I humbly commend myself to your prayers.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

God's Faithfulness


Jesus said to his disciples:
“The Kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field,
which a person finds and hides again,
and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
Again, the Kingdom of heaven is like a merchant
searching for fine pearls.
When he finds a pearl of great price,
he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.”

(Matthew 13: 44-46)

This entry marks a rebirth for this blog, which, for four years I had been resisting to update. In hindsight I had been running away from continuing my discernment, as I had been fixating myself on other pursuits in life. I feel God was riding on that drift for quite a while, understanding that I was having the time of life. In fact, I really was.

One year after my last entry in this blog, I sat for the medical licensure examinations and passed. But this achievement was not without tears and desolation, as well as consolation and joys along the way. I met new friends, strengthened relationships with my fellow medical graduates, and waited in anticipation for the next step in my life as a newly minted doctor. God did not disappoint. He led me to the Doctors to the Barrios program, a deployment program for doctors, to be sent to faraway municipalities where there is no doctor to serve their sick.

I was a rural doctor for two years in the mountains of the Cordillera, in northern Luzon island here in the Philippines. During this stint I got to know more of my self and was given the grace to achieve some small triumphs as a community doctor. I was so inebriated with this experience that I wanted to move on to the next level.

I joined a health policy research institute after my stint in the barrios, motivated with the notion that I needed to apply what I learnt in the barrios as a health policy analyst and researcher. In the beginning it was heaven. I loved it. I was interacting with the best brains of the country as regards health and research. Soon enough I was setting my sights towards climbing up the academic ladder.

In the process, I created another blog, which until now documents all the things I have been doing for the past four years. 

God has been following me all along. 

Suddenly, it hit me: He was still not over with me yet.

On the eve of Pentecost of this year, 2014, I felt Him speaking to me during the elevation of the Sacred Host at Mass. It was a Voice that I know changed my life completely. It reaffirmed the authenticity of that call about which I had been writing here in this blog for the past six years. This Voice then made me reconsider all of my career plans, everything that I had held dear: a future in the academe and in health policy, a financially stable future. I was restless until I took concrete steps in discerning my call, and soon enough, I found myself in touch with my vocation directors, who had been following my life all along since I first got to know them in 2005.

God has been faithful. Until now, I feel unworthy of His faithfulness.

In the process of having the time of my life, I had been dabbling with a lot of things. I had relished in personal recognition and the desire to appear as a powerful person in the field of public health. In the first few months of my research job, I had been bent on getting published right away, and getting involved with as many projects as possible. But after that Voice made Itself felt within my heart, everything changed.

Following this Voice has become what Jesus describes in today's Gospel: selling everything one has to buy the Pearl of Great Price. Soon enough, I felt I had to concretize my feelings and move myself to action.

I soon informed my director at the research office I am working in of my intention to discern my calling further. I will not expose my specific career plans here, but I was ecstatic when my director expressed his support for my decision to explore my calling further.

I am still discerning, and praying for clarity in my life. But, today's Gospel gives me consolation, since now, I know, I am now on my way towards being able to purchase that Pearl of Great Price, and follow that Voice, my reason for being, my life and joy.

Dear reader, please include me in your prayers.

Our Lady of the Way, pray for us.
Saint Ignatius of Loyola, pray for us.

(Image source: http://www.destinywordoftheday.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Pearl-of-great-Price.jpg)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Community Confusion

It has been a while since I posted here. Let me update you about what has happened to me.

1) I am now an intern in the PGH. Enough said. :)

2) I learned Brazilian Portuguese and tried to practice it with someone half a world away. I even thought that that friendship would deepen, and become something else, after all I have been yearning for a relationship. But that did not prosper. God had other plans.

3) The third I will discuss at length here.

I joined a local charismatic community for single men and women. This was during a phase of my life that I have been very confused about the future, about my life, about what to do. This confusion has led to seeking for the wrong answers. I sinned. The busy schedule only made things worse. I was happy on the outside--cheerful to other classmates, caring to patients. But then I realized God is calling me to serve Him and to strengthen my prayer life. I decided to enter a local singles community by attending a Christian Life Program. Here's the thing: I was in a very busy schedule and I wasn't able to attend all the courses I needed to enter. They did grant me the chance to make the commitment to joining the community despite this, and I did enjoy the company of the brothers and sisters.

But admittedly, I feel I am driven to do something more.

I tried to bring my sister to this community, now she is pulling me to join another--the community of singles associated with our original charismatic youth community, where together we served God for the past eight years.

I am currently discerning whether to stay on with my singles community or to seek out a chapter of this singles community that my sister wants me to join.

I am currently praying hard, for a move like this may do give me a chance to serve God, but it may lead me to prioritize relationships over others...

Don't get me wrong. I really feel God is in work in me, and for once, I felt once again that God is taking control, far from the days I embroiled myself in serious sin. But right now I am at the crossroads. I do sense that God is telling me something -- the verse from Joshua 24:14 keeping ringing in my ears. "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."

I still do not know what this means.

To readers of this blog, please pray for me. I want to really serve the Lord in a way that would make me feel at home, and once and for all, make me feel empowered, without limits, without hindrances, only God Himself.

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Fight the good fight of faith
People of God
Unstained and without reproach
Before the eyes of men
Run the good race, O sons
Of the most high
And inherit the crown of life
from the Lord Jesus Christ!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Silence

The past few days have seen me again at it with my vocation discernment program with the Jesuits, as I found myself attending the open houses and reconnecting with close friends.

Being involved in these activities again somehow raised a few issues about how I view myself to be in the future, as well as what are the things I think I should prepare for as the crossroad gets near month after month. As of this morning, internship is 61 days away, as well as more than 6 exams to be passed.

There is this one thing I would want to meditate upon: silence.

Whenever I feel comfortable during a gathering, I become talkative. Until I begin to realize that my words do not make sense anymore. It is as if I were a tape machine that suddenly got haywire. All of a sudden I realize that egos are being stepped on, insults are inadvertently hurled, and people begin to hurt. And most painful of all, it was over in a matter of seconds. The damage has been done.

Jesus was right in saying that what makes a man clean is not that which enters the mouth, but what comes out of it. The fact that I encounter these problems proves that there still exists within me a spiritual symptom I need to consult to God. Something that I suspect is borne from my past experiences, but more importantly, of how I think of others.

But there is a part of me that tells me that attributing one's defects to one's past is something given, something to be assumed. I do believe in willpower, and how that could help the human soul control its ways of self-expression. The best way is to impose silence on oneself.

Last Saturday, I had breakfast with my friends at the Jesuit Prenovitiate. It appeared that that hour fell within their daily dose of silence. Although at first, something within me was tugging me to make a sound, I soon realized how silence seems to fortify one's ability to recognize God's existence in all things. It showed me how it is to thank God for the food to be eaten, the tastes to be enjoyed.

God makes me remind myself of a lot of things recently. That I have to be careful with my words. And love others as I love God, with the words I use to communicate with them.

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"The God of Silence beckons me to journey to my heart, where He awaits
O Lord I hear You calling tenderly
To seek You as I gaze
At the beauty of Your Face I cannot see."
--God of Silence, Bukas Palad

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

New Blog Skin

The blog has been redesigned, but it still keeps its blue color. There have been things that have been deleted from my past template, including my links. Losing the links roll is such a pain, for I have accumulated such contacts through years of blogging. Oh well. I will need time to collect them again. Please be patient.

Thank you for reading Meditations.

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Saint Ignatius, pray for us.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Struggle to Learn and to Believe

It has been more than a month since I last posted here, the time in between being I was posting in my Spanish blog. I was hoping I could get to improve my Spanish by leaps and bounds, but it appears that learning a language isn't so. One has to really adjust with one's own abilities, and how one learns something new.

I have to come to this realization that there are really things that would enable you to speak your mind better. I have hoped that speaking another language would help me learn a new way of thinking about myself and the world. I realized I was wrong in thinking that I could accelerate the process. Although new knowledge would add up upon itself, there would always be things that would serve as the foundation of this. Writing in English would be one of them. After all, I have grown to write in English, and it is in this language that I express my intellectual self the best.

But then, English is the language of the mind, Spanish the language of the soul. I have been reading poems in Spanish, and truth be told, Spanish for me is still a better medium for expressing deeper thoughts. I am still in the process of learning it, because I believe Spanish would enable me to write about so much more, and go down into the soul so much deeper. I still think English can only do so much. I don't know if it is in the sounds of English, or the musicality of Spanish that each language derives their respective distinctive traits. But my soul yearns for a deeper manner of self-expression.

Right now I will have to settle with getting understood, because, thanks to those Americans who erased our Hispanic culture, most of my readers here in the Philippines won't get to understand the depth that I may achieve with Spanish when I do learn to write with it well. Depth, in this sense, would not have a point.

Let me get on with another important matter of meditation for me.

There are things that I am trying to work through within my mind right now, and one of them seems to cross through my beliefs already. I have kept this blog as a repository of thoughts which I considered to be part of a religious calling, both as hopefully, a source of inspiration for others, and, as a way for me to remind myself of what I was and what I may be become. However, there have been things I am trying to sort through.

Slowly, I feel that such religious fervor has been distancing itself from my subconscious for quite a number of weeks now. There have been times that I even stopped singing to Mass songs while in church, and just whispering the responses. I don't know if this is related to what I would call a struggle to better understand my faith and what it impulses me to do. One of my friends, to which I confided about my religious feelings before, had been asking me about God's love and forgiveness. He was, and I think he still is, feeling something like I am feeling right now. I don't know if this would give me assurance that at last I know how exactly how he feels, because it has brought me both good and bad things in my life.

Good, because I was brought up not doing things for the sake that these may be sin, or these may run counter to what my faith has taught me. Studying medicine, however, and how some topics within the field of bioethics taught me about how an action would be considered immoral by how it affects others and how it affects the self. I don't know, but I figure this may have tempted me to discover things for myself, and not act prudishly and avoid these altogether. This may wreak havoc on me, but I am still praying that God act as a safety belt in this spiritual rappel that I am doing. There exists within men an urge to experience adventure. I guess this may be what's happening.

Good, also, because, well, I don't know whether this sense of religiosity (I would dare say over-religiosity) has distanced me from common sense, or of my self-confidence, or of being listened to by other people. Remember that these aren't necessarily true, but these are things that I continue to consider. I felt too naive, too childlike, too gullible and too avoidant of what the world has to offer.

But bad, because I do miss my religious experiences, getting that unexpressable high after praying in the chapel. Or after serving in church.

Serving in church had become a daunting task because of an event that turned for the worst. I won't share this in the blog; the closest people in my life have known what happened and I am happy they have understood my choice to distance myself. Maybe this has even affected my faith life, and why I am in this in the first place. I don't know. I am praying for maturity, and for this person to understand that I will not be belittled and be angered no more.

I am still praying to God that He preserve me from anything that could hinder me from continuing this journey, or anything that could halt the journey prematurely. Needless to say, I am not ready to die. I still wear my scapular and miraculous medal, with the hope that Mary's love for me would never change. Although I have chosen to continue the journey differently, I still recognize the fact that it is leading me to something that I still don't know. I am still praying, but neither am I denying myself of the things that would make me human.

Someday, I know I could pray to God with the language that I am trying to teach my soul. I am already starting to try.

San Ignacio de Loyola, ruega por mí.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

My First Video Blog Post

video

Saint Ignatius, pray for us.