FOOT STEPS TOWARD LIGHT
By: Bro. Marcelino Rapayla Jr.
Goooong! It’s the bell again…the almighty bell that dictates the day’s concatenating tasks in the seminary. Many times, I grumble in silence, when it tells me to go to the chapel, to the study area, to the school, to the music practice, to the gym for sports, and to the respective services. It harnesses me to it many times, what only a 30 minute time for wash-up…and, oh, need I mention, its other equally harassing 30 minute schedules: those 30 minutes of eating, those 30 minutes of cleaning in the morning and afternoon, those 30 minutes of preparing for the long hours of classes? The almighty bell is a ”noisy gong, a clanging cymbal;” it’s only love is to annoy, if not to punish, to make my seminary life miserable.
But in these last days of the school-year-on these days when I need to make an honest evaluation of the journey I have undertaken toward priesthood, it is the bell that I turn to reluctantly, to remind me of the works left undone, the deadlines to be met, the responsibilities to be performed well.
It is also the bell that reminds me most especially of the more important path of my priestly formation, this crucial path that I am not always taking o heart. And I am referring to the five steps of my priestly formation which most of the seminaries practices, either secular or religious formation.
On the human step, if I want to be accepted for who I am, I must also be open to personal change. I need to become obedient and disciplined. I have to develop a sense of responsible freedom which is a freedom from selfishness and individualism. I must keep a lifestyle of simplicity, not always attached to comfort, not given to luxurious tastes, not pandering to the wealthy. I need to celebrate my unique worth and dignity as a person regardless of my personal circumstances, my history, my family.
On my spiritual life, if I want to develop an authentic humanity, I must learn Jesus. I must have a personal relationship with Him. I must love prayer, reading the Bible, attending the Holy Mass, going to confession, in short, the “sense of the sacred.” Jesus must become the central figure of my life, transforming all my relationships, my perceptions, my desires, my choices.
On my intellectual formation, I must study, not exactly in the sense of academic excellence but in the sense of being able to face my life intelligently. I need to acquire a deeper understanding of people, of human existence, of the world, of history. I need to read intelligently, write creatively and engage in speculative thinking. I must be prepared, in the future, for the exciting adventure of proclaiming God and His message to the world; the profound mysteries of the faith, I must be prepared to communicate intelligibly, forcefully, meaningfully.
On my pastoral training, I must develop a deep sensitivity to what is going on in the world. I must cultivate an interest in culture, ecology, politics, so that I will not become oblivious to the social realities of injustice, poverty, graft and corruption. I must grow in solidarity with the “joy and hope, the grief and the anguish of our times especially those of the poor.” I must become a man-for-others because priesthood is a means of serving the needs of others rather than a means of acquiring power, fame, and fortune.
On my community life, my priestly formation becomes effective only in my daily life of communion with others. The seminary community is not barkada. No, far from it! A barkada is where the members share the same passions and interest, such as playing basketball and soccer. But the seminary community is gathered around a person. And it is Jesus. When Jesus called his disciples, it was to transform them into a community first; the mission came only second where “to bring God closer to people, to bring people closer to God.” Therefore, I must first be schooled in a community; in love…my fellow seminarians are all my friends and brothers, each one of them has a name, a face, a story.
So there they are, the five steps of my priestly formation: the aim is pastoral; the means to it is intellectual; the foundation is human; the heart is spiritual; the locus is the community.
OAD Aspirants, we owe it to the bell to keep reminding us of them. The bell signals an approaching significant event where all the steps of priestly formation come into play, integrating, interacting, and compenetrating each other. The bell does not merely summon us to go to just mere places and like automations we go as bided to the chapel, to the study area, or to the school. The bell summons us to moments of sacred encounters with ourselves, with others, with God, to sanctuaries after sanctuaries in all our days in the seminary, where takes place always the magic or the miracle of our priestly transformation, where God’s grace and love always searches our hearts, our soul…begging acceptance, begging a response.
We have had fun calling the seminary by many names. If it is not heaven, it is called purgatory. If it is not purgatory, it is called hell. But if it is not all of these names, it is simply called home which cultivate a path that leads our foot steps toward light. A light which have a name and He is Jesus. Brothers, in spite of everything this school-year, in spite of ourselves, it is good to be on track! Like Jesus, we should be a light to others!
Sia lodato Gesu Cristo!
Marcelino A. Rapayla Jr.
St. Thomas of Villanova House – OAD Aspirants
Tabor Hill, Brgy. San Jose (Talamban), Cebu CIty
Tel. no. (032) 344-6100
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