Inspiring stories of faith

JUST BE - Bernadette Sembrano (The Philippine Star) - October 9, 2013 - 12:00am

Sister Mary Bernard, a Carmelite nun, was unable to attend the wake of her father. In the Mass offered by the monastery for her father, the priest told her that when her father goes to heaven, God will say to him “This man gave his daughter to me.” I heard this story more than a decade ago when I was still in high school. Our org, Student Catholic Action Group in Angelicum School, went to visit the Carmelite Monastery in Gilmore, San Juan. 

Did I seriously consider entering the monastery? I’m not quite sure or perhaps it’s one of those aspirations young girls have. I thought, and stress on ”thought” I had a calling when someone gave me a rosary in Sto. Domingo Church, and told me I looked like a madre. Was that a sign I was looking for? I believe that when you are called to do something, it would be very clear. 

What attracted me to Carmel was the story of St. Therese, the Little Flower. It is a story of a young girl whose love for Jesus she expressed in her little ways, unlike other saints who died martyrs because of their faith. St. Therese believes in doing small things with great love for God. In fact, she lived a simple life in a cloistered monastery and she came to be known only after her death, because of her manuscripts. 

Next to St. Therese, and because of my Jesuit priest friends, I grew curious of St. Ignatius, and their spirituality. Essentially, it is finding God in all things. Unlike Therese, St. Ignatius was more all out in preaching the Word of God and evangelizing. What strikes me about Jesuits is their detachment from material things. My friend, Fr. Rudy S.J., is now based in Cagayan de Oro (CDO), and although he has made friends in Manila and was a bit sad at first when he moved to CDO, I know that Lolo Rudy appreciates his new-found home and the students that he spends time with at the Xavier School. This detachment that he has allows him embrace and appreciate the present. 

There’s St. Francis of Assisi and his life in mission. It was because of Pope Francis’ choice of a name that made me want to know about St. Francis more. St.  Francis initially thought that he was called to build churches, and later on realized that he was called to evangelize and serve the poor. This is exactly the kind of person that Pope Francis is, the Pope of the People and with a hint of his Jesuit background. He is practical concerning the teachings of the Church like when he was pressed by the media on the stand of the Catholic Church on gay marriage. 

I can’t help but be in awe of the life of holy people. But then, I am reminded, too, that they are but ordinary people who humbly allowed God’s grace to move them to serve. Religious life is a vocation but so is marriage, or single blessedness. Our work and our passion can be our vocation, if we see its greater purpose of serving others beyond ourselves.

A quote from another favorite of mine, Mother Teresa:

“Love cannot remain by itself. It has no meaning. Love has to be put into action and that action is service. A mission of love can come only from union with God. From that union, love for the family, love for one’s neighbor, love for the poor is the natural fruit.”

(Do e-mail me at @bsaguinaldo@yahoo.com.ph.)

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