The Story of My Life (Episode 3, Part 1: Doubts and Musings of a Humble Heart)

8329_1139802892346_5488660_n(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.

15451_1148744515881_6907259_nDuring 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.

228372_1015954756220_3015_nIn 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.

24953_1245520749503_1795815_nAfter 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.

242388_225133744167967_3188490_oGiven 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)

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The Story of My Life (Episode 2; The HEAVEN and HELL of Alex’s High School years)

ImageAfter Alex finished his studies and graduated in Marcela Marcelo Elementary School, he was so happy and joyful to hear and receive the news that he passed the internship at Rogationist College-Saint Anthony’s Boys Village (RC-SABV).  He took his secondary education at the SABV, Silang, Cavite. It is a school run by Rogationist priests and religious that caters to poor boys coming from the outskirts of Cavite and Metro Manila.  Alex’s high school years in RC-SABV were filled with ups and downs.  As regard with his academic performances during his high school years, he really did the best that he could in his studies in order to boost his personality in front of those who bully him.

Though he is just an average person, he is the type of cute person (hahaha) who has the interest and passion to learn and to strive with diligence and hard work in his studies.  He learned a lot of things in RC-SABV, most especially, discipline, friendship, dedication to work and studies, etc.  However, he also experienced a lot of trials and difficulties during his high school days. 

ImageThe worst experience that he experienced in RC-SABV was the competition in academic performances.  At the start of our cute protagonist’s high school years, he was engaged in the battle called “academic excellence through competition”.  All of a sudden, he became so obsessed with his grades which caused him a lot of problems and troubles with himself.  Being obsessed with grades, it was difficult for him to determine the necessary things that were very helpful for his growth.  Because of being a grade-oriented or a result-oriented person, Alex’s good companionship with his co-interns resulted with petty misunderstandings and competition.  He also became a recognition-seeker.  Too much engrossed in his studies caused him a lot of troubles in having a balance relationship with others especially with the opposite sex.  Because of this, he was not able to experienced having girlfriend during his high school years (Oh my goodness! Do I hear it right?  Why such a cute person like Alex does not able to experienced having girlfriend during his high school years?  Ouch!).  It is one of his unfulfilled desires which he considers a very important thing for his growth and maturity.  He tried his best to court, but he was always being friend zoned (tune: Kaibigan lang pala, kaibigan lang pala….).  In Alex’s four years at RC-SABV he tried his very best to express his love through courtship.  He failed many times in courtship, but he never surrender.  Unfortunately, the more he never surrenders in courtship the more he is being rejected and humiliated. It was really a painful experience for him, which made him think that he was not being appreciated, accepted and loved by the people around him.  He became pessimistic about courtship and he considered it as a cursed and a great pain during his high school years. 

He is not good in sports when he was an intern (Maybe, our cute protagonist knows how to play jack-stones and Chinese garters hehehehe ). His co-interns were fond of making fun of him when he is playing basketball, volleyball or soccer.  They didn’t teach him how to play the sports; instead they kept on bullying, humiliating and making fun of him whenever he plays basketball, volleyball and soccer.  He learned to play the sports in a hard way.           

Then, God comes to the rescue.  When God entered into his life, he became sincere and dependent on Him amidst embarrassment, miserable experiences, pain, trials and difficulties during his internship and high school years at RC-SABV.  He realized that there is always a room for conversion and improvement, so he strived hard to change his attitude with the help of the priests and educators at RC-SABV.  He became more diligent and active in prayer.  Prayer became his tool and inspiration as he grew in age and maturity at RC-SABV.  Because of this, his life has changed.  Prayer also helped him to know God and to trust in Him.  St. Anthony of Padua became his significant Saint during his internship and high school years.  Because of St. Anthony, he learned a lot of good things at RC-SABV and through this Saint he also learned that God is so gracious even to those who are being rejected, humiliated, bullied, and not being appreciated.                

ImageThe level of his human, emotional and affective maturity at the end of his high school was on an average level.  Because of the very strict discipline at RC-SABV, he ended up in fear with the authority and with committing mistakes.  He wasn’t able to develop his hidden talents and skills for four years of stay at RC-SABV.  He wasted a lot of time and opportunity which would have been a good occasion for him to develop his hidden talents and skills. 

He had few friends when he was an intern because he felt humiliated when he was with the externs.  He wasn’t able to be true to himself because he was afraid to open up to the externs and with the other interns.  Only a few of the other interns fully understood who he was.  He ended up pessimistic and introvert at the end of his high school years. 

But, suddenly, Alex’s dark moments turns to light.  And, that light marks the beginning of the transformation of Alex’s life.  (To be continued)

 

The Story of My Life (Episode 1; Childhood Memories)

ImageWhen the clock strikes at 12 for 2014 I cannot but think of the most special and wonderful day of my life which I cherish most, i.e. my birthday.  I will be celebrating my birthday on January 9, 2014 and it will be a silver birthday celebration because I will be turning 25 on that day.  In preparation for my birthday celebration, I have thought of sharing the story of my life.  What made me think or urged me to share my life story?  As I surf on the internet in order to find inspirational quotes for my next blog entry, I was stunned by the maxim of James Matthew Barrie, a Scottish dramatist, novelist, and best known as the creator of Peter Pan, which says; “The life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story, and writes another; and his humblest hour is when he compares the volume as it is with what he vowed to make it”.  His splendid quote inspired me to share to the whole world who is Alex C. Henon as a child, as a high school student, as a broken-hearted teenager, as a seminarian, and as a religious.  However, I admit, it’s a risky job to share one’s life story.  People may sometimes misunderstand it or may sometimes find it too boring.  But, for me it doesn’t matter whether people may misunderstand it or find it too boring.  I am greatly convinced that sharing your life story is a noble chore.  Sharing life story is not just a matter of sharing wordplay.  It’s a matter of sincerity, transparency, healing and touching people’s souls.  Indeed, Melody Beattie attests it by saying “Live your life form your heart. Share from your heart. And your story will touch and heal people’s souls.” 

When the clock strikes at 3 am of January 9, 1989, a baby was born in the outskirts of Malibay, Pasay City.  This baby was the second son of Noemi B. Calambro and Eliseo O. Henon.  The baby was not born in a prestigious hospital; he was born on the banig, a local Filipino sleeping mat which is being used by ordinary Filipinos, especially the poor, for sleeping.  With the help of the komadrona (midwife), the child was delivered healthy.  The baby was named by his father and mother “Alex”.  Why is the baby’s name short?  His mother and father wanted that the baby’s name short, so that when he already reach the certain age for schooling and start going to a primary school, he will not be in difficulty writing his name.  Alex was still a child when he already felt how his parents love them so much despite their poor situation.  Though his parents acknowledge that they are poor, it is not a hindrance for his parents to persevere towards a better life and to support them in their temporal and spiritual needs.  In general, his family is a happy family amidst poverty.  Though they are financially unstable, the happiness in their home remains.  His parents experienced a lot of problems, difficulties and trials in their home, but, in those things, they learn not to lose hope and to be determined in life.  Through those things, his parents learn the value of diligence and hard work.

Speaking of his best remembrance/s during his childhood, he has a lot of it. Oftentimes, his mother and father brought him, together with his brother Emil and little sister Nanette, to Manila Zoo when his father was still earning a good salary from his job.  His mother kissed him on his cheek in his 8th birthday.  Even though he is sick that time, he felt so happy celebrating his birthday because of the simple expression of love that his mother did to him.  When he was an elementary school pupil,   his father always brought him to school together with his bike every morning before going to work.  His father always brought them pasalubog (gifts) after receiving his salary from work.  The pasalubong is mostly bread or sometimes toys.  His mother taught him how to write, read and solve mathematical equations in a strict way with love.  His mother taught him how to pray the “Our Father” and she also taught him how to pray before going to sleep.  His father taught him to sing and to appreciate the music of his time.  In a strict and loving way, his father and mother taught him how to do the household chores.  When he is sick, his mother cared him all the time.

His Christian upbringing and formation consists of his mother’s diligence in teaching how to pray the “Our Father”, the proper signing of the cross and how to pray before he sleeps in the night.  His parents’ willingness, participation and respect in attending the Sunday Mass was introduced to him when he was still a child in a simple and practical way.

When Alex was still a child, his first communion was very special experience for him.  When he was not yet receiving his first communion, he always looked at his father and mother after they received the Host from the priest or the lay minister.  He always asked them what they were chewing and if the taste was good.  They were always answering Alex in silence.  So, when he was a child, he always says to himself that someday he will have his opportunity to eat and taste the Host that the priest or the lay minister gives.  He once told himself that the Host which the priest or the lay minister gives was something precious which makes people good  and kind.  Since he was a naughty child, he remember that every Sunday Mass, He was always longing for the Host, so that he may be transformed into a good and kind boy and his mother and father would not anymore give him a punishment for being a naughty boy.

Although his father and mother were so strict when it comes to discipline, he was influenced by the moral disorders in their place resulting to his naughtiness and hardheadedness.  He grew up in the shanties where moral, social, physical and spiritual conditions were miserable.  The innocence of his childhood was overcast by shameful moral disorders and experiences which caused him a lot of pain, suffering and guilt when he started advancing in age and maturity.  His childhood friends influenced him to watch pornography, to engage in masturbation, and to steal money from his mother and father’s wallet.  When he was a child, he thought it was good because his friends do all those things.  He thought it will make him happy and joyful when he does those things.  But, when he grew up in age, reason and maturity, and when he can now determine what is right and wrong, these things became his pain and suffering most of the time.  It caused him to see himself shameful and bad. It bothered him a lot.  It was the reason why he blames and complains to God that He allowed it to happen to him when he was a child.

He experienced also a lot of pains, sufferings, and rejection during his elementary years.  He was always being bullied by his classmates because he was the weakest student in their classroom.   He experienced being humiliated by his teachers in grades 4 and 5 through shouting at him some humiliating words like “tanga”, “bobo” and gago in front of his classmates if he can’t answer their questions and if he can’t follow their instructions.  When he reached grade 6, he strived in his studies, so that he may not be any more bullied by his classmates and be humiliated by his teachers.  He really exerted a lot of efforts for his studies which made him being included on the Top Ten.  Unfortunately, he was been removed from the Top Ten because his teacher had favoritism.  He felt very sad and rejected that time because all of a sudden, the diligence and hard work that he exerted in his studies were all wasted.  (To be continued)