Posts“Why do you want to become a priest”...
I remember when I was young, I would often accompany my Uncle, Msgr. Reynaldo Kalaw, to different chapels in our neighborhood for the celebration of Mass, for visiting the sick, for catechesis, for anointing of the sick and for many other priestly activities. I was very much influenced by his goodness and zeal and wanted to be like him. Knowing that I had a vocation, he asked me the question, “why do you want to become a priest”. I told him I wanted to become a priest to celebrate the sacraments, teach and do the work of God. In his direct manner, he said “wrong”! You should become a priest because, above all, you want to become a saint. These words have always remained in my heart and they can all the more be applied to our religious life. Why do we want to be a religious in the family of the Clerics Regular Minor? We want to become religious in this religious family because we want to become a saint and to embrace the newness of the Spirit.
This good thought leads me to a recent message of our Holy Father, Pope Francis, to the Pontifical Mission Societies. In this message, he underlines that “Salvation is an encounter with Jesus, who loves and forgives us by sending the Spirit who comforts and defends us. Salvation is not the consequence of our missionary initiatives nor of our talking about the incarnation of the Word. For each one of us, salvation can take place only through the lens of an encounter with the one who calls us. For this reason, the mystery of predilection begins and can only begin with an outburst of joy and gratitude.” Our daily encounter and our daily “YES” with the Lord is the stepping stone for us to become a saint.
Having said this, there are certain essential elements which we must recognize in order to help us foster a growth which will lead to an appreciation to “newness of the Spirit”. This includes the attraction of the Gospel over proselytism, gratitude and graciousness, humility, the avoidance of unnecessary burdens, meeting people where they are at.
At the same token, there are things that must be avoided which include self-absorption, control anxiety, Elitism, Isolation from the people, the proper use of funds, and abstraction and functionalism which lead us to solely imitate secular models
Pope Francis concludes with these words, “In any event, always demand that every consideration regarding the operational aspect of the PMS be illuminated by the one thing necessary: a spark of true love for the Church as a reflection of love for Christ. Yours is a service rendered to apostolic fervor, namely to that impulse of Christian life which only the Holy Spirit can bring about within the People of God. Think about doing your work well, “as if everything depended on you, while knowing that everything in fact depends on God” (Saint Ignatius of Loyola)”.
As we remember Saint Francis Caracciolo, let us pray that, as religious, we will become selfless in our vocation, in our desire to become a saint and a brother to one another. Please know that you are all in my thoughts and prayers.