(Setting: Inside the St. Anthony’s Chapel of Rogationist College-St. Anthony’s Boys Village)
Alex: (Praying to the Lord); you know Lord that 2004 has already passed and until now I am still courting Racquel Batino. So, okay Lord here’s the deal – if Racquel would say her “yes” on my proposal, I will not enter the seminary. But, if Racquel refused and rejected my proposal for good, I will enter the seminary not because she refused and rejected my proposal, but because of a strong mysterious feeling that is inviting me to enter the seminary.
Then, Racquel came into the scene.
Alex: Okay, you know Racquel that I am already courting you since the school year 2004-2005 has started. 2004 has passed already but still I don’t know if you will accept me as your boyfriend or not. Now, I ask you sincerely; would you be my girlfriend?
Racquel: You know Alex I appreciate all the creative stuffs and efforts that you showed to me out of love since the beginning of our school year as seniors. I cherished it all Alex and I thank you for that. But, upon your proposal to be your girlfriend…I am sorry. I am not suited for you to be your girlfriend. I am not ready to commit myself with and for you. Sorry Alex, I refuse your proposal, and sorry also for hurting your feelings. MAYBE, GOD HAS A BETTER PLAN FOR YOU.
And that’s how Alex’s life begins…
He entered the seminary in this way; his co-intern, who was so enthusiastic to enter in the seminary, invited him to join the December Vocation Orientation in Father Hannibal Formation Center (Rogationist Seminary)-Manila. He accepted his co-intern’s invitation not because he was also enthusiastic to enter in the seminary, but because he would like to know and to experience what seminary life is all about. Unfortunately, his co-intern who invited him and willing to enter in the seminary did not came for the December Vocation Orientation. Instead, Alex, Jarvin, together with their co-intern William, attended the December Vocation Orientation in the Rogationist Seminary. They both passed the December Vocation Orientation. Alex and Jarvin entered the Rogationist Seminary without any second thought while William refused the seminary’s invitaton.
Before Alex entered the seminary, he made a deal with the Lord, if his crush would say “yes” on asking her if she could be his love (girlfriend), he will not enter in the seminary. But, if she refuses, he will enter the seminary not because her refusal, but because of a strong mysterious feeling in his heart inviting him to consider the call of God. Before he made a deal with the Lord, he already felt the strong mysterious feeling in his heart which made him think to consider religious life. His crush refused on his proposal for good, so he entered the seminary following the strong mysterious feeling in his heart. He entered the Father Hannibal Formation Center-Rogationist Seminary on May 17, 2005 with mixed feelings (happy, anxious and doubtful). His mother and father didn’t hinder his decision to enter the seminary, except his brother who was against in his decision.
When Alex was an intern, he really doesn’t have any plan for priestly and religious life. His ambition was to become a Chemical Engineer and to study in UP together with his brother. It was really a mystery why he decided to enter the seminary without any second thought in his mind.
His experiences during his seminary years were both desirable and undesirable. One of his experiences that he hate most during his seminary years was Regionalism. Regionalism was so strong in the seminary which for him deters fraternal love and community life. He was so disappointed knowing the reality of the seminary, i.e. there were divisions among seminarians according to their interests, customs, and characteristics. They speak on their own dialects which he cannot understand, and worst, it was an imposition coming from them that you must learn to speak their own dialects in order to understand them. He was really embarrassed and disappointed about what he discovered because he have in my mind that seminary life promotes fraternity, communion, unity, mutual respect, trust and love.
During his seminary years, he experienced a lot of hardships and difficulties of studying Philosophy. He found it so difficult to study Philosophy because he was not used to read books which were as thick as an encyclopedia and the content were highly and purely philosophical. But, though he found Philosophy a challenging course, it taught him to consider studying and learning as one of the significant instruments in following the Lord. It taught him to be passionate, to be responsible, and to manage his time wisely. The challenges in studying Philosophy taught him to pray fervently.
Human as he was, he also experienced a lot of test during his seminary years. Pornography, Masturbation and Lustful Thoughts were one of his weaknesses in his seminary years. These were his struggle which haunted him whenever he was alone. Whenever he felt the guilt of committing those sins, he cannot but remember his shameful and painful childhood experiences which made him more guilty, inferior, afraid and hopeless for conversion. He thought he may be able to control those things because he was in the seminary, but it became worse than before. But, the grace of God does not falter to hope for conversion. By Spiritual Direction and Confession, he became sincere in telling and accepting his disturbing issues. Through the advices of his Spiritual Director and Confessor he was able to overcome those issues little by little. Their advices helped him to be more fervent and transparent on his personal relationship with the Lord whenever he was tempted of doing those disturbing issues.
In his seminary years, seeking for recognition is one of his disturbing issues which lately he realized and noticed. Everything that he exerted during his seminary years was not a fruit of love for God and for his community but a fruit of his longing for recognition. Whenever he fulfilled his internal longing for recognition, he became arrogant. He thought he could bear his own difficulties, problems and issues without the help of his formators and companions. He thought he would be able to graduate in Philosophy with a medal on his chest. He thought he would able to receive Summa Cum Laude, Magna Cum Laude or Cum Laude in his thesis because he did an extensive and systematic research. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to get those recognitions that he aimed for. As he aim for the best, he did not realize that he was creating his own beast which made him not appealing to the people around him including his love ones. Late did he realized that he must be humble. Late did he realized that he must have the capacity to accept and to listen to his companions and formators’ indications, suggestions, advices, contradictions and fraternal corrections.
When he was a seminarian, one of his unfulfilled desires in life was to experience to have a relationship with the girl. He admits that during his seminary years he experienced courting girls again in a personal or impersonal, so that his unfulfilled desire may be fulfilled. Unfortunately, he was not always successful in courting because something always hinders him that it is improper for him as a seminarian to court a girl. His unfulfilled desire to have a “special” relationship with a girl became a strong hindrance for him to focus his attention in his study life and prayer life. Thanks be to God! His Spiritual Director was always to the rescue in his dilemmas. Through the advices of his Spiritual Director, he was able to deal his unfulfilled desire in a normal way. One of the beautiful advices that his SD has ever told him regarding his unfulfilled desire was the way God fulfills the unfulfilled desire of a person. He said, “Alex, you must not be bothered about your unfulfilled desire, instead put it into prayer and for sure God will make a way in order to fulfill it. It’s normal to be in love with somebody, but do you know that friendship is one of the greatest languages of love which is higher than the language of a lover’s love? Think of it Alex. Remember, always the famous maxim; you cannot sail your boat in between or in both two rivers.”
In general, Alex’s seminary life helped him to change. These were his achievements and successes in his seminary years; he became more diligent and fervent in his prayer life. He became sincere and transparent to his Spiritual Director, formators, confessor, and even to God. He became more sensitive and responsible to his duties and commitments in the seminary. Seminary life taught him to value the significance of the Sacrament of Confession and Spiritual Direction.
Seminary life helped him to reveal and enhance his hidden talents and skills with patience and humility. He became more determined and courageous in facing the difficulties, struggles, and problems in life. Seminary life opened the possibility for him to change simply and humbly. He became more appreciative about his background (that he came from a poor family), and weaknesses in life. Through the healthy atmosphere of the seminary formation, he became more welcoming about fraternal corrections, and silence became an appealing ambiance for him as he continue nurturing his personal relationship with God.
After Alex graduated in the Rogationist Seminary on April 2009, he was also accepted for Postulancy on the same month. He entered the Postulancy on June 2009 in the same seminary. During his postulancy years he experienced a lot of enriching experiences. Postulancy helped him to know his self deeply and to be more aware of his weaknesses and limitations. It has helped him also to be aware with the apostolate of the Congregation. It has deepened his relationship with his companions. It has helped him to discern and to be open with some options for his life and for his vocation. It has helped him to face his weaknesses and limitations with determination and humility. The program taught him to listen emphatically. It has also helped him to accept wholeheartedly his negative and painful experiences. It has also helped him to be sensitive with the feelings of his companions more deeply. But, the best part of Alex’s postulancy years were his successes of deepening his prayer life, being thankful to God, and entrusting his unfulfilled desire to have a girlfriend with God.
Given a chance to have a proper discernment during his Postulancy years, he came to enter novitiate. At first, he found the Novitiate too difficult to discern during his Postulancy years because they were asked by their Postulant Master to consider also some options in life and they must also determine the advantages and disadvantages of some options in order to see and observe if God is calling us in other options. At that time, he doesn’t know how to begin because foreseeing some advantages and disadvantages of the other options for his life was not so easy because it needed a lot of prayer and reflection. As he did his discernment in foreseeing some advantages and disadvantages, a strong mysterious feeling inside his heart urged him to enter the Novitiate. It was not so easy for him to decide to enter Novitiate because he also considered the other options for his life. He still had doubts in entering the Novitiate. But, in the end, he decided to enter the novitiate. What motivated him to enter the Rogationist Novitiate was the strong mysterious feeling inside his heart. May 31, 2011, he entered the Rogationist Novitiate with doubts inside his mind and heart. (To be continued)