26 September 2006


Today it has been 1 year, 1 week & 2 days since I got ordained as a deacon.

This anniversary fact first came last 16 September when I went to the ordination to the diaconate of some members of the batch next to us at San Jose.

It was a bright Saturday morning. The ordinandi were visibly beaming as well. Their family and friends were present. Bp. Bacani was the ordaining prelate. Loyola House's St. Ignatius Oratory turned smaller with all the guests who came to witness the ordination, some of them spilling to the side corridors. A few happy tears too were spilled at certain high moments of the rite: 5 young men prostrated on the sanctuary's marble floor as the congregation invoke the intercession of the saints; Bp. Bacani laying his hands on each of them, one after the other, to confer the Sacred Order of the Diaconate; the newly-ordained vesting for the first time the deacon's stole and the dalmatic, assisted by their parish priest, another priest-friend and their parents.

Aside from the obvious remembrance of a similar event which happened 1 day shy of a year ago, suddenly it came to me: I was back again at San Jose, back to its familiar familial atmosphere, back once more to the company of people whom I shared space and life with just a few eternal months ago. Words like magis, cura personalis, familiaritas cum Deo, et al. rushed back and claimed their lost meanings. Even the old oft-quoted words appeared with the freshness of a just-heard thing: “Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, than falling in love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you will do with your evenings, how you will spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love and it will decide everything.”

Amen to that and to all such Jesuit/Ignatian words, even if today they are no longer confidently attributed to the saintly Pedro Arrupe, S.J. It was an ordination, a most fitting time to hear once more those words in the homily, in the words of thanks, in conversations – including the one which I and a classmate had as we did a celebration of sorts for our ordination anniversary the next day, Sunday.

I can’t help but compare. I’ve only been in my diocese since April, a little less than six months, yet it seemed I have acquired a new epistemology, a new set of things to learn and live with: the literature of pastoral bulletins and circulars; the unique sociology of a provincial presbyterium; the psychology of clerical age-groups; the economics of remittances; the mathematics of bination, trination, quaternation and pluri-intention Masses; the politics of social action; the different management styles of pastors; the procedural arcana of our general assembly; an alternate philology for words like: prayer, dialogue, support system, on-going formation, simplicity of lifestyle, and especially, Church of the Poor.

Limited experience and viewpoint notwithstanding, it seems to me rather strong, this seeing of varied levels of dissatisfaction and dissipation among our clergy. There seems to exist among us a heady mix of several coping/escape mechanisms: a groping for direction, a desperate clinging to the stability of the status quo, a nostalgia for real/imagined better by-gone days. Yet in all this, the Word of God continues to be preached, the work of evangelization proceeds at a certain pace, the People of God have not been relatively led astray. Our situation sometimes gives new dimensions to St. Therese of Lisieux’s “everything is grace”.

If I were fatalistic I would say I sense, as I sometimes do, an imminent time for reaping the rewards of all our blunders and good intentions, of our denials and discernments, of our failings and excesses, of our diligence and fidelity – in short and in Gospel-speak, a day of harvest both of those wheat and weeds we have so (choose your adverb) planted. But I am not.

I am just a transitional deacon, 1 year, 1 week & 2 days older.

Ora pro nobis.

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