Last Semester, when I received my grades, I was surprised and disappointed to see my grade in Fundamental Theology and Canon Law I.  I received a grade of 2.25 on both subjects.  It was a terrible and disappointing experience.  I did my very best on best on both subjects.  I tried my best to wake up at around three o clock in the morning just to study these difficult subjects.  Unfortunately, my efforts were not enough to reach the grade that I am aiming for.  Fundamental Theology and Canon Law I were two of the subjects that I consider difficult during my first Semester of my first year in AB Theology, the course that I am taking up now as my post-graduate studies in Don Bosco Center of Studies.  It seemed that all the sacrifices, efforts and sleepless nights that I gave were all worthless after receiving such grade.  It seemed that my enthusiasm to study not just for grades and passing the test alone, but for life and aiming for mastery has been shattered after getting that grade.  After that incident, I became so lax in my studies.  Discouragements and distractions were so strong and irresistible.  I became impatient amidst difficulties, tests and trials in life. I felt hopeless in recovering the enthusiasm and the passion to study

After reflecting on what happened, I realized that I was fooling myself.  My intention to aim for mastery for the sake of service was not my real intention.  Sad to say, I study for the sake of grades.  This what my ulterior motive dictates. This was the reason I am fooling myself with my “lofty pronouncement” that in my studies I am aiming for mastery and service and not for passing test only.  Going deeply in my reflection, I realized that I am becoming untrue with my real intention to strive hard in my studies for the sake of service.  This is the reason why I became too demanding of myself.  I set up my own standards in aiming for mastery rather than considering the standards of God in my studies.  I became an onslaught to myself.  I deceived myself with my petty expectations and dreams that once I strive and sacrifice more for my studies, it is pretty sure that I will be able to get a grade of 1 on my subjects in Theology.  I fooled myself dreaming of a “pedestal” that will make people recognize and appreciate me once I will be able to get a 1in Fundamental Theology and Canon Law.

Sad to say, yet enriching, I received a grade of 2.25 in both subjects.  Average people who strive sweat and blood in order to aim for mastery would already be happy with this grade, but in my case who is standard-oriented and perfectionist, I am not happy and satisfied with what I received.  At first, I considered this experience as a collapse, but it was too late to realize that it was God’s way to wake me up in my fancy hopes and dreams.  I realized, God’s ways are not my ways and God’s thoughts are not my thoughts.  I am so thankful to Him that through this experience He helped me to understand that grades does not tell or define who I am.  What matters in life are not the grades that I received in school, but the learnings that I gained which could serve as a tool for me to serve God and my neighbor. With this, I was humbled. I slowly accepted the fact that grades are just secondary in life. What is more important are the learning and the way I strive with my studies which later will help me to be in communion with God and with the people around me. It will also help me to see other’s life patterned and converged with Christ’s sight

To end this simple sharing, I would like to share what Fr. Chito Dimaranan, my teacher in Fundamental Moral Theology, said to me when I opened up to him the discouragement that I felt in my studies:

Hi Alex,
If you study for grades and honors, you will always be disappointed. There will always be people above you, as there will always be people below you. In either case, you will be grossly misguided if you envy those above, and look down on those below. One ought to study for life, not for grades. One should study for others, primarily, and not for oneself. This is to have a pastoral reason for studying. Also, your disappointment really is very much a function of something else, like low self-esteem, for one. In other words, it is not the disease, but possibly only a symptom. At any rate, what is good for you to do is to make use of these disappointments as a motivation to get ahead of yourself, and not of others. As is true more often than not, our own worst enemies are ourselves, and in the same vein, our own best friends are ourselves.
Good luck!
Fr Chito

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