Tuesday, June 30, 2009

You Asked, I Answered

The following were questions asked of me by friends. I wasn't up to writing anything interesting lately and so I thought of including this piece here. I hope you don't mind the personal flavor but for whatever it's worth, here it is:

When and how did you get your calling?
My vocation story can be described as a gradual process instead of dramatic like some stories can be. I was always a religious child I suppose having spent a lot of my childhood days with my grandmother who was very devout. My upbringing was also kind of sheltered . I remember how we used to play as nuns and used towels to cover our heads. In my grammar years, I tried to blend in with my classmates and did not show any inclination to anything religious. In high school I had contacts with Sisters because our school was operated by them. Every so often I would listen to their radio programs and was impressed by the way they played Christian music and read the Psalms. It made me think of spiritual things. I began to think of the possibility of becoming a nun, but I felt it was too complicated. Then I met the Carmelites the year I graduated from college. I was struck by their radical way of life. I had a lasting experience with Our Lady of Mount Carmel beginning July 7th and when I received my brown scapular on the 16th I had an irresistible feeling of wanting to become a Carmelite nun. The road to becoming one was full of twists and turns, doubts, anxieties, tears , anger and looking back. I always knew I wanted to belong to Jesus alone even though I wasn’t sure what community it would be. But love for Mary convinced me that Carmel was the place for me.

When do you feel the closest to Jesus?
When I was much younger in my spiritual life, I used to base my certainty of closeness to God by the way I felt. When my prayer life was full of consolations, I thought then that Jesus was close to me. And maybe He was. Now, many years later and having gone through the ups and downs of religious life, I feel closest to Jesus after I receive Him in Holy Communion. My faith tells me so. It is when I receive His true Body and Blood that I am most surely united with Him even when I receive Him in aridity and dryness of feelings.

How can you help Him save souls?
My vocation to Carmel obliges me to save souls through prayer and sacrifices. Jesus could have saved all of us by a wave of his hand, but He went through His Passion and Death to save us. In like manner, I believe I can give Him souls by offering prayers and enduring sacrifices for their benefit. As a Carmelite Sister particularly entrusted with the elderly and aged Residents, I also try to be present to our residents in times of spiritual darkness brought about by physical sufferings, and to talk to them about the mercy of God and to trust in Him. We do the same with family members. Some of them come back to the sacraments after many years of being away. Some of them, by God’s grace, have conversion experiences.

Who is your favorite Saint?
I do not just have one favorite Saint, I have a few, but most of them are Carmelites. Among the Carmelites are St. Therese, St. John of the Cross, St. Teresa of Avila and Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity. Lately, John of the Cross and Elizabeth have been my constant companions. Among the non-Carmelites I love, St. Francis de Sales, Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha and St. Agnes of Rome. I read mostly Carmelite Saints.

How old were you when you knew you were being called?
I was twenty.

Was your family devout?
Both my grandmothers and my mother were devout. The rest of my family was not.

How much time do you spend in prayer?
We have scheduled prayers recited with the Community. Our Morning Prayers, Mass, Rosary and Evening Prayers are done in common. Daytime prayers and Night Prayers I do on my own. I also try to be faithful to two hours of mental prayer on my own, one in the morning and one late at night. The Sisters are free to visit and do adoration of the Blessed Sacrament whenever she’s free from ministerial obligations.

If you could ask the Holy Father one question, what would it be?
“Most Holy Father, is God pleased with me?”

If you could speak with the new President, what would you say?
“President Obama, restore our nation‘s moral values by respecting life in all stages.”

Do you have devotion to the Divine Mercy?
Yes, I do. When I was growing up, the Divine Mercy was very popular. The Three O’clock Prayer was played on TV everyday on the hour. The Angelus Prayer was also played in public places like Supermarkets and Department stores at 6:00 pm. I don’t know if they still do that now in the Philippines.

What do you think about the most?
My Carmelite life. People who are close to me. People who bother me!

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