The Lonely Road

Many a classmate and friend find the articles in Scriptum entertaining and insightful. According to them, the articles both make them laugh and cry at the same time. They are reminded of that period in their lives--of a time that holds so many memories of a place, of a separate peace.

Perhaps that is a common sway to all those who have trudged the hallowed grounds of our IHMS.

The articles are no mere chronicle of secular and trivial events, but rather of a sublime life journey with God.

We moved in the crowd. We made memories together. But alongside that road--the events chronicled in these pages--is a lonely path that only the individual can walk with God. Indeed our journey was a walk, not unlike the road to Emmaus. It was a journey we young hearts took while discerning the will of God for each one of us.

We laughed with each other; exchanged stories. We were always together, and sought each other. We set common activities together. But in the silence of our hearts we knew we were journeying alone with God. We had to make our own life choices. We had to set our own vision and future path.

It was something that had to be taken.

The stories we weaved were significant distractions in life. Behind each story is a story of awakening, of growing, of finding God in our life.

This is what makes our stories poignant. It speaks of the lonely path that we had to take. It tells of the truth. And it tells of the beauty of traveling down that path with our God.

The journey continues several years after IHMS. The individual sharing during our class reunion confirms that.

We only hope that we will discern His presence in our continuing journey and remain faithful to Him in the end . . . at least, until we meet again for the next reunion. (nox arcamo)

And So Quietly He Passed

Four years we lived with him under one roof. But we never really got to know him that deeply. He kept to himself and to the few intimate friends he felt comfortable with. Well, he must have uttered no more than a hundred words all throughout to those not close to him.

He was not aloof. He was simply low key, preferring to remain quiet and unrecognized in the group. In fact, he was kind and unpretentious--a person without guile.

He never got angry with anyone. Nobody bothered to tease him or call him names. He was that inconspicuous. He could enter and leave the room without catching any one’s attention.

He was not the type who caused trouble to the group. Neither was he uncooperative. Instead he always participated in the group, even if at times the group may have taken him for granted. Nonetheless, he remained faithful to the class.

He must have had simple needs and simple dreams. He became an engineer and found a decent job in Manila. A simple life for a simple person. And life came to a close at such a young age. God must have other plans for him.

So, in November of 2004--and in the same manner as he lived his life among us in High School--Samuel passed away… quietly. (nox arcamo)


Misteryosong Paagi sa Ginoo

Kasagaran sa mga tawo nagtuo gyud nga ang seminaryo maka buotan. Gani daghan mang mga ginikanan nga gipasulod nila ang ilang anak sa seminaryo dili aron ma pari kun dili aron lang ma buotan. Ilang ipasa ang responsibilidad sa pag umol sa ilang mga anak aron ma buotan ngadto sa mga formators sa seminaryo.

Dili ta makaingon nga sayop sila kay ang programa sa seminaryo para man sab gyud sa pag hulma sa usa ka kandidato aron siya mahimong pari sa umaabot ug ang atong imahen sa pari mao man ang usa ka tawo nga buotan.

Apan usahay ang mga maayong intensyon ug programa dili baya otomatikong mohatag og maayong bunga!

Ang atong kasinatian sulod sa seminaryo maoy magmatuod niini. .Kun atong balikan ang atong kagahapon maka maingon gyud ta nga may uban kanato nga diha man gani nakakat-on sa paghimog mga salawayong buhat -- sama sa pag inom ( og alak) ug pag panigarilyo --sulod sa seminaryo. Daghan ang mahimong hinungdan – ang uban tungod sa barkada, uban gustong magpasikat ug may uban gusto lang gyud nga mo suway.

Kahinumdum mo sa mga gibuhat sa uban nato kaniadto? May mga nang ransack sa Father’s Refectory ug diha poy sa Faculty Room. Gani sikat ang mo ingon nga, “Nangawat mig manok ganiha.” Mga buhat nga dili mahunahuna sa mga taga gawas sa seminaryo nga atong mabuhat apan atong gibuhat..

Apan dili sayon ang paghukom sa mga binuhatan. Tingali apil to sa atong kabatan-on. O kaha, sa usa ka punto, basin adunay depekto usab ang programa ug mao nga wala kini makatubag sa atong aktwal nga panginahanglan? O kaha dili andam ug takus ang mga gitahasang mga tawo sa paghulma kanato mao nga wala sila sa tempo kun ang atong pormasyon na ang paga hisgutan.

Ug dinhi ko maka ingon nga dili diay sayon ang paghulma’g tawo, ilabina kun ang atong gihunahuna mao gayud ang ideyal nga tawo. May kinutuban ang mga programa ug may kahuyang ang mga gi tahasan sa pag implementar sa mga programa.

Apan bisan pa sa mga depekto maka ingon gihapon ta nga ang Diyos mo trabaho gyud sa misteryosong pamaagi. Mao kini ang nakapaanindot sa atong kinabuhi. Usahay gani, mo sugot Siya nga buhaton nato ang dautang butang aron lamang makita nato ang kaanindot sa maayo. Ug mao na ang nasinati sa uban nato. Nakakat-on sila sa lisud nga paagi.

Bisan pa sa mga sayop kaniadto, tinuyo man o dili, maka ingon lang gihapon kita nga nahimung parte sa atong kinabuhi ang seminaryo ug dili na gyud kini mapapas pa sa atong panumduman. Mao nga kinahanglan ato kining paga balikbalikan. Ang uban dili ganahan mo hinumdum tungod kay dili maayo ang ilang kasinatian sulod sa seminaryo. Apan nagatuo ako nga labaw gani nga kinahanglan natong balikan ang kagahapon kun kini dili maayo aron makig uli kita niini kay matud pa sa uban mao man kuno ni ang dalan aron kita makapadayon sa pag atubang sa umaabot nga luag ang dughan ug may gihambin nga paglaum. (soc mesiona)

Visiting the Blessed Sacrament

Our innate desire to relate with God was already evident even we were in our teen years. A case in point was our frequent visit to the seminary chapel. Many of us learned to visit the Blessed Sacrament way back when we were still in first year high school. Maybe because we were uprooted from our biological fathers and mothers at a very early age that we were looking for someone who could fill in the void. But one remarkable thing was that we were able to transform our emotional want into an opportunity to develop a personal and spiritual relationship with God.

I would say it was not a fad, for we were very consistent to the very end that we left the seminary. In fact it became a real habit. It was a practice neither sanctioned nor commonly heard being encouraged by the seminary fathers. The initiative was purely from our own. Usually we would do it after meals, either lunch or supper. Prominent among the devotees was Junior. Because of what he observed, Baloy made a prediction: “Ma pari jud ni si Junior kay sige’g ampo.

We had no background of Ignatian prayer, lectio divina or any other acknowledged form of prayer at that time. So our ritual was simple. We would kneel in front of the Blessed Sacrament, say a silent prayer and kiss the tabernacle before leaving. For us Jesus in the tabernacle was very real. We would also do the same to the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary. We did not mumble sophisticated prayers but conversed casually like talking to a close friend.

Of course we had the structured prayers that we did regularly as part of our daily routine schedule. But our personal visit to the Blessed Sacrament was something different. I am not saying that the structured spiritual exercises were not relevant at all. They had their own important and significant values insofar as spiritual formation was concerned. But the devotional and personal visit was something we considered different because it was done out of our own free will and desire.

Perhaps we did not recognize its full value during that time because it was so normal for us to do it. I’m sure our appreciation of its importance only came out when we left the seminary. For it was then that we had to rely on personal decision to sustain what we have learned in the seminary. For gone are the structures that we could rely on for guidance.

Now that I’m a priest I deeply appreciate that simple practice we learn in the seminary. There are ups and downs in the priestly ministry and renewal in priestly life always points to a return to prayer. Priests who no longer pray regularly are in great danger of losing their vocation, many would say. A friend-priest said to me: “Mahal kaayo ning renewal program para sa mga pari karon, unya ang katapusang isulti raba mao nga kinahanglan gayud mag-ampo kay mao kuno ni hinungdan ngano mag crisis ang pari. Aron dili na ta mo bayad og mahal mag-ampo lang gyud ta kanunay.” And he is right!

I would say we were lucky we learned to love to pray at an early stage of our seminary formation. I am sure that that innocent beginning made a difference in our lives today, whether we become priests or not. Maybe some of us have not sustained it because we have been preoccupied doing something else. But I notice that when we grow older we long again for something else this world cannot provide, that is, to have a personal relationship with the Lord.

One might wonder why Junior did not become a priest if indeed prayer is power. But let us not see prayer as something that which is endowed with magical power. For prayer, as we experienced it, is more of a means by which we can establish a deep and intimate relationship with the Lord. Besides, ordination to the priesthood is not also something that we can solely determine to happen. Priesthood is a divine gift. As such we can only ask for it, but the power and prerogative to graciously grant it belongs to the giver.

For sure it does not make Junior a lesser mortal just because he did not make it to the priesthood. For God has given Junior another gift – married life. In fact he is blessed with five beautiful daughters which I’m sure are the apples of his eyes. But whether we become priests or not it’s the same, we are all called to a life of holiness. And being prayerful is a means to achieving it. Perhaps Baloy can rephrase his observation, “Santoson gyud ni si Junior kay sige’g ampo.” (soc mesiona)

The First Mass

It was the summer of our first year in college in 1981. Fr Silex was the Kura of Taloto and he instituted an experimental way of managing a parish. He established the sobre system, wherein parishioners contributed using a sobre (letter envelop) and in exchange get all sacraments for “free”--that is, without the usually corresponding fee or “donation”. Thus, KBL or Kasal-Bunyag-Lubon libre.

It was my first pairing with Junior who would eventually become a perennial partner in several misadventures.

One of the tasks assigned to us was to gather the people of Peñaflor for an anticipated mass. It was one of the efforts of Fr Silex to bring the holy mass closer to the people. And there he would explain the mechanics of the system.

Junior and I spent the entire day visiting the houses near Peñaflor, telling them of the mass. We started our long walk at the intersection near the Taloto church. Like Mormons--except that we were in denims, T-shirt and rubber shooes--we braved the summer sun.

Jovil was supposed to be with us, but being several years older had other important things to do and couldn’t join us. We were expecting another one, a special class student, who was supposed to arrive that day.

In one of the homes we visited, there were three young ladies in the sala. They were kind enough to offer us water and invite us inside and listen to our invitation to the mass. We only realized they were non-Catholics when we were about to leave.

We continued on our way towards the main highway. People were receptive to our invitation. The holy mass was supposed to be held right in front of the Veloso residence. But it was transferred to a vacant space across the street, under the coconut trees, when we realized that there would be more people coming than expected.

We prepared the altar with the help of the people in the vicinity. They provided the table, white mantil and chairs. It was the bayanihan spirit in action. They were excited to have a mass right in their neighborhood.

The special class seminarian turned out to be Morj who came on board a tricycle. He was on his way to the seminary but decided to join when he saw us. The moment he arrived, and before he could utter any word, we asked him to help carry the chairs. Looking so clean and crisp and covered in sweet perfume, Morj must have felt revulsion looking at the two haggard-looking seminarians who were sweating and reeking of foul earth.  That must have shocked him. He carried a couple of chairs, and we did not know what happened to him after that. We just saw him fled aboard the first available tricycle that passed and never returned.

The anticipated mass started at 6:00pm. Our efforts seemed rewarded at the turnout. There were many people in attendance. All the available seats were taken. There was nothing unusual in the mass, except that for Junior and me, it was a solemn and memorable one.

NB: We haven’t gone back to the site for a mass. But we heard that there had been several masses after that one. A chapel was built right in front of the Veloso residence where masses were held. (nox arcamo)