Spiritual frontliners

Published May 2, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

WORD ALIVE

By FR. BEL R. SAN LUIS, SVD       

Fr. Bel R. San Luis, SVD
Fr. Bel R. San Luis, SVD

A reader, Ronald Ricamata, e-mailed me, saying, “In this difficult time, our priests, nuns and seminarians are also frontliners.

“Our spiritual frontliners fight against an unseen enemy. They must be acknowledged and appreciated, too.”

* * *

I agree with what he said–not because I am a priest—but because there’s truth to it.  There are services that only “spiritual frontliners” can do, like anointing the sick and the dying, hearing confessions, celebrating Holy Mass. These are services that lay people, whether he is a king, a president, or the wealthy, cannot do.

* * *

Today is “Good Shepherd Sunday.” It is designated by the Catholic Church worldwide to focus attention on vocation of “spiritual frontliners” or the religious  priests, nuns,  and lay brothers and to pray for more vocations.

* * *

Every year thousands graduate from various courses in our country as shown in the just-concluded bar examination. While there’s an over-supply in these courses, there is an under-supply of religious graduates.

When I entered the seminary more than 30 years ago, we were seven in high school undergrad class. Little by little, our ranks dwindled until I was the only one left. I consoled myself, saying I was the “valedictorian” of my batch—but no salutatorian!

* * *

It’s not easy to embrace the religious life because of the difficult requirements and lengthy formation years. In other courses, if you have the desire, the money, and enough brains to get by, you can graduate.

Not so in the religious life. You may have a strong desire and money but if the seminary superior deems you unsuitable because of character problems or poor health, then you have to accept the superior’s decision as God’s will.

* * *

The example of the father of St. Therese of the Child Jesus is a case in point. Louis Martin wanted to become a priest but he was not accepted in the seminary due to poor health. Eventually he married Celia Guerin who had also tried to become a nun but could not make it. Their wedlock resulted in 10 children. (There was no family planning yet then!).

* * *

And, would you believe? Four of the girls became  Carmelite nuns and one of them, Therese, became a great saint, a doctor, and the “millennium saint” of the Church.

If Louis Martin had become priest, he would not have sired a saint.

Incidentally, that also teaches us that sometimes our prayers are not answered, like that of Louis Martin, because God has another plan for us. Prayers are answered. Yes, but NOT in the way we want but in the way God wants.

* * *

If you, young people, have the inclination to serve God and people in  a more dedicated way and total commitment,  don’t stifle  the desire.

Be open  to the possibility of  a  religious  vocation. Consult your parish priest or a vocation director, and ask God to help you make the right decision.

* * *

ASK YOURSELF:  How can I help promote more vocations to the priesthood, brotherhood, and sisterhood? As a parent, do I encourage my children to enter the seminary or convent if they have the desire and inclination?

* * *

Parents can show their love for God by supporting  and  encouraging their children who have the desire. The truth is it’s God  who  manifests his love for parents when he chooses  one  of their children to serve Him.

* * *

THE LIGHTER SIDE. About the distribution of financial assistance to the poor and jobless in barangays and towns during this Covid-19 crisis, why is it that the names of beneficiaries are always lacking, whereas the voters’ names in elections are overflowing—even names of the dead are included!

* * *

A drunk staggers out of a bar and runs into a priest. “Hey, Father, I’m Jesus Christ!” The priest says: “No son, you’re not.” “Father, you don’t believe?” he said. “Here, I’ll prove it.” He walks back into the bar, pulling the priest. As he comes in, the bartender looks up, sees the drunk and groans: “Oh JESUS CHRIST, YOU’RE back again?!”

* * *

   Today Good Shepherd Sunday, let’s SUPPORT SEMINARIANS  aspiring to become priests and missionaries. Without seminarians, we cannot have priests, bishops, and popes because they all start as seminarians.

* * *

          May I appeal to readers to chip in or sponsor seminarians for a school year.  For inquiry, e-mail me at: [email protected].

 
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