Regularity! Stability! Permanency! This is very often the heart’s desire of people who accept job invitations in the corporate world. Stability in work provides the opportunity for them to settle into an area with their family and pursue the kind of life they desire for their family. It also provides an opportunity to make plans for the future and receive benefits to secure future needs. While this desire is generally true in the lay state, my own experience in consecrated and priestly life has taught me that I should never settle in too deeply or make too many future plans because one never knows when the phone call may come for a new assignment in a totally new location! Admittedly, all of this is something that consecrated priests should know they have signed up for by the very nature of their vocation.
The decision, through prayerful discernment, to enter into consecrated and priestly life must be the right response to the deep longing of one’s heart to be settled, not in a particular place or job, but rather, totally settled in the will of God and the peace that comes from that. In consecrated life, the will of God is manifested in a particular way through the assignment that we receive from our proper superior in the community. As such, the exercise of our freedom is made in the decision to choose the consecrated life in the particular community we belong to, and then is further expressed in being able to respond affirmatively to the assignments given to us! Therefore, freedom in the priestly and consecrated life is rightfully exercised by one’s obedience to superiors, in which is found the will of God. Precisely in this promise of obedience, one finds a beautiful stability in God’s will which gives a great sense of peace and security.
While all of the above may be perfectly good in theory, it also requires the grace of God to assist one in being able to respond to changes that sometimes catch us by surprise. For the past couple of years, I have been assigned as the Secretary of the Regional Priest Servant in the SOLT Asia Pacific Region and have been assisting with the pastoral needs at Pope St. John XXIII Church in Palanas, Pilar, Sorsogon. It has been a great joy to serve in this new environment after serving my first five years of priesthood at the Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity College Seminary in Naga City.
After working in formation and education with college students, it has been a real blessing to be in a more regular pastoral setting at St. John XXIII Church. I have wholeheartedly enjoyed giving the gift of my priestly ministry to the people there and looked forward to building great relationships with the people there, hopefully for many years to come. As such, you can imagine my surprise when I heard the voice of my superior saying: “May we bring you back to the College Seminary in Naga?” Interiorly, I cried! However, I also realized that it was an opportunity to renew the freedom of my promise of obedience and respond with a resounding “Yes”!
In obedience, real stability in the will of God is present! Now, I am happily back again in the College Seminary with a strong commitment to live out the Call!