Holy Week Reflection on Mercy

I found this article this morning and somehow it sparked something in me especially this time of the year where we commemorate the Paschal mystery of the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus. Closely related to my vocation, mercy offers a rich plethora of reflection on God’s love for us and in turn how this beautiful virtue can turn this apathetic world of our modern age into a compassionate and loving one.

Mercy, is not foreign to me. From my childhood, sudden realization of compassion towards others are evident without any effort. Perhaps this was brought about by the subconscious stock of our shared past to view with love and care to those who have less, suffering, or alone. I can still remember my compassionate heart for kittens left alone in the streets and how I tried to save them and bring them home to take care of. Suddenly my mother realized we already have seven or so cats in the house. One experience which left a mark in my heart and being when I was five or six years old and my mother  brought me along to hear mass at Bustillos near Quiapo. I saw a lame man by the gates of the Church, somehow a deep mercy gushed into my consciousness and asked my mother apologetically, ” Why is he suffering, does God doesn’t love him?” My mother as if struck by a lightning, held my hand tight and told me assuringly, “God loves him, God loves us all.” I thought it was my baptism of fire on mercy.

Fast forward, mercy played a special role in my life. I see myself in situations where there’s always an outcast person in our group or where I am positioned and as if instinct, I found it natural to always be near that person, know them, and let them feel that someone listens to their stories, laughs at their jokes and journey with them. Thankfully, God gave them a second chance and some of them found their path towards God.

But there was a time that I myself asked for mercy from others which I did not receive because laws and regulations are far more important than human persons. This somehow rattled my Faith and asked God why? I rebelled and turned my back and tried to sort my way. During those times, I was alone and I left God at bay. But God’s mercy is persistent. The wound it left in my being somehow healed and the scar became a source of recollection of how God has been gracious to me despite my unworthiness, brokenness, and sinfulness. In that darkness, I hear God’s call to come back and repent. My tears was my bread as I sour-grape on the seemingly numbness of others and how God permitted such situations.

But God is good, all the time! as I realize things over time, I learned to forgive and let go. I realized that every person has the same capacity towards love and hate and his choice and will plays a greater role in choosing this in all his actions. I learned to forgive those who caused pain and hurt me. This time around, my wound was the source of greater love which I didn’t know I am capable of.

In a month’s time, I will enter the seminary, a congregation that somewhat professionals of mercy-giving; mercy-ing per the above article. I learned from them early on that mercy is a fourfold action of the human person and the grace of God. Th unction or feeling of mercy we feel innate should move from thought, will and action. This is not possible unless we ask God to grant us the grace and courage to be merciful. Somehow, I thought this is what we lack in the modern age right now. The courage to act in the spirit of merciful love. Thanks be to God for a modern example in the life of Mother Theresa of Calcutta, the par excellence of mercy and love in our times.

This Holy Week, let us pray to God, that in our experience of His mercy and love, grant us the same grace and courage to give all to others. That in sharing our mercy, others may experience the love and mercy of God.

Have a blessed Holy week.

God’s surprises

“Let us ask ourselves today: are we open to ‘God’s surprises’?” – See more at: http://www.ignatianspirituality.com/18791/gods-surprises/#sthash.I99RfAoJ.dpuf

 “Let us ask ourselves today; are we open to ‘God’s surprises’?”

Pope Francis

“Let us ask ourselves today: are we open to ‘God’s surprises’?” – See more at: http://www.ignatianspirituality.com/18791/gods-surprises/#sthash.I99RfAoJ.dpuf

I found this beautiful quote from this site and it somehow echoed similarity in my journey with God in this existence we call life.

God surprised me that at age 35, I will re-enter seminary and follow Him and try to become a priest. This is something I never thought to be possible. It’s been some time since I was “inside” and it was but a wishful thinking for me all these years to think that I will re-enter the seminary to pursue and respond to God’s call. The call that I heard from my childhood was kept alive by God and kindled lately by discernment and desire to be close to God. I never expected that I will leave soon my job and join God in the road less traveled as they say.

Sometimes we have the tendency to dictate God what we want in our lives. Either through prayer or intentions, we want our way to prevail because after all, this is what we think and believe to be correct. All the more in this present generation, where the will and freedom of the human person reigns absolute above and beyond traditional systems of thought and morality, humanity steps forward to claim its freedom to self-determination and fate. The above quote from our good pope somehow is a sign of contradiction where it delivers an attempt to let God shape us in ways unknown to us or indirectly not in our paradigm.

As I reflect these days on this unexpected road towards my call, I thank God for giving me the chance to be surprised again by His love and grace. Unworthy that I am to such gift of a calling, I humbly bow with joy and penance in my heart in responding to His invitation to be a priest. Wherever this might lead, no one knows but one thing is for sure and will keep in my heart; I will continue to place my trust on this loving God and will enjoy the surprises this adventure / call will lead me.

The human side in me is anxious, as I leave my comfort zone into the unknown of this so-called calling. Others might tell me that I am crazy, foolish or wild to undertake such course of action. Yes, that is the post-modern in all of us. In this age where all is somewhat planned, secured and practical, priesthood is the last thing to be sure of, planned and practical. Again, the sign of contradiction, and God surprises us all with beautiful twists and turns in our lives. I remember fondly one quote, “saints have pasts, and sinners have a future…”

But nothing can escape the surprise God in stored for us. Like an adventure, God leads us to some unexpected bends only to find out that we didnt think of it as possible. Discernment is needed, I thought, to see the paradigm God wants to show us.

As I continue to this journey, I pray that I may be sensitive to God’s openings and graces as I respond to the call of priesthood.

“I do not see the road ahead of me….”

I found this prayer on this blog and something in me resonates the same prayer at this point of my life.

My Lord God, I have no idea of where I am going.

I do not see the road ahead of me.

I cannot know for certain where it will end.

Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.

But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.

And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it.

Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

- from Thoughts In Solitude
by Thomas Merton

Others might find it disturbing that my response to God’s call is somewhat a kind of abandonment and dependence on God’s gracious will. Before, I used to say with conviction that I will be a priest, somehow this kind of thinking is faulty as I neglect entirely God’s plan in my life. God is merciful and he grant me the wisdom to realize such an error in discernment. I just realized that God calls us to try and be available to His plan whatever it is. This way, we can avoid heartaches and frustrations when what we thought to be did not happen as we want it to be. I need to participate in the dance God is playing in my life, and with an open heart and loving prayer, remind myself that He loves me and will lead me to His bosom. This in turn will make us open to the grace God sends in our way, difficult or good experiences – everything for the glory of God.

Vocation at this point of time on my discernment, is the ability to respond to God’s invitation to share that journey of Faith according to His design and plan. Whatever that plan / design is, what matters most is that we pray constantly for the grace to heed His call in this life and follow it with humility and love. Again, that theme of desire purifies our intention until we reach the point where we no longer care what will happen because God will provide anyhow. For some, this might push things to the edge of human understanding and logic but as far as I can see, God calls us not to be anyone but to be ourselves in His loving gaze and grace.

Whatever life God calls us to be, let us pray constantly that we may please Him all throughout, that by doing His will, bring greater glory to His name and holiness and by that same love and grace,  participate and live the call God is calling us.