LEARNING TO CHERISH THE STRUGGLE OF CELIBATE LIFE
On November 25 – 27, 2013, I, together with Leony, Lemuel and Joey; had a celibacy seminar in Iloilo with Ms. Cynthia C. Baga as our facilitator. During the first day of our course, Ms. Cynch asked us to make our working definition of celibacy. “What, would I make my own definition of celibacy?”
I defined celibacy as “a relationship that allows individuals to be available to everybody and not just with some one person. It is a call to engage into a healthy relationship with other people and realizing how the self is for other selves.” That was my definition then. I do not know why I wrote it. But there was something in it which is of great importance to me. Speaking of “healthy relationship with other people,” it is not just as simple as I thought or wrote. Even this simple phrase demands a lot. How much more when I come to embrace it for life? Then it will be much more demanding in terms of living it. There will be many challenges and trials to come.
On the other hand, Sipe’s definition is very clear and explicit. He defines it as “a freely chosen dynamic state, usually vowed, that involves an honest and sustained attempt to live without direct sexual gratification in order to serve others productively for a spiritual motive (Sipe, A.W.R. 2003, p. 32.).” it is as clear as the crystal that shines in a certain space. He clearly states the essentials of celibate life especially in the perspective of the ministry of a celibate person – also my future ministry. is clear but still it is very demanding as I examined it. My definition was just the tip of an iceberg. Why? Because there is still a broader and wider horizon that lies underneath celibacy.
As the session was going on, Ms. Cynch introduced us to the four stages of celibacy. Hearing her speaking on the stages of celibacy, I said, “What, there are still stages?” At the back of my mind is a reaction showing my astonishment. Along the way, I said to myself that I am not yet in the celibate life. I was sure that I do not yet have a taste of celibate life. However, as it was presented, the first stage is all about ‘Adolescent Stage’ with an age range of early puberty to late 20’s based on Erik Erickson’s stage of identity. I thought I was not yet practicing celibacy but in fact I was practicing it ever since I thought of joining the Redemptorist Congregation. It was not yet in my awareness that I am on my way to nourishing celibate life.
The course enlightened me. It gave a lot of input and material to remember and ponder on in my formation. Celibacy is not just the absence of sexual satisfaction but its emphasis is more concerned with the way of a person’s life and his or her relationship with colleagues and other people. I am aware of the possible consequences especially when I come to freely choose this lifestyle later on. It is a continual challenge for me to really practice and live a celibate life from now on. As I said earlier, celibacy is not an easy lifestyle. It is a constant struggle and a sustained attempt to live it out. Finally, repeating Ms. Cynch’s first presentation, celibacy is a way of living, loving and serving.
by Dominic P. Simbajon
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PSI-1 & PSI-2?
The major differences were the dates (July 2-6 & November 25-29), venues (Holy Family Retreat House, Cebu & Assumption Socio-Educational Center, Ilo-ilo), speakers (Mylene Gorecho & Cynthia Baga), and participants (fewer yet handsomer!). But the two programs were more correlated rather than separate. The second PSI (Psycho-Spiritual Integration) was just a continuation of the first.
With the five-day program, I discerned that my individual needs are not far from the congregational values as well as the desires of God for me. I felt more comfortable after these insights. In addition, I was able to recognize the gaps and my growth edges. Thus, I know what are the things that I should now work on to further my vocation.
by Joey Trillo
DON’T GIVE UP, BROTHERS!”
It was the battle cry we postulants learned from Fr. Colm during our Jimalalud mission exposure last October 10-25, 2013. It was the battle cry we used either to push ourselves to the limits during the grueling task of climbing steep mountains and hills , or to inspire us to be ever hopeful and grateful of the treasures that lie ahead: the utter joy and happiness of the people in the area in seeing us bringing hope and love through the Good News of Jesus Christ. I know I sound corny here, but hey, the heart knows what it feels when the mind cannot comprehend.
Climbing the steep, rocky, and sometimes muddy cliffs of Jimalalud, Negros Oriental was the biggest challenge for me. Fear and exhaustion almost discouraged me, yet with God’s grace, my missionary spirit prevailed. During one of our mountain climbing ordeals (!?), I could almost feel my heart thumping wildly inside my chest and I was starting to see twinkling stars as if Van Gogh’s Starry, Starry Night painting was right in front of me (and it’s still eight o’clock in the morning!). Thankfully, my fellow postulant, Dominic, was there to literally push me, when I could barely lift my legs. We were already midway to the top, so going back was not an option and our bags were getting heavier by the minute. All the while I was silently praying the Rosary, and invoking my guardian angel’s help, Our guide and Fr. Colm, with his unbelievable tenacity and agility to climb mountains with only a long umbrella to keep his balance, were ahead of us always and to hear him holler at us from above “don’t give up brothers!” somehow encouraged us to push ourselves more, to persevere for God’s glory. When we finally reached the top not yet half way already a sense of pride and accomplishment was almost overwhelming. But it was the scenic view of the mountains, against a backdrop of a clear blue sky and a few wispy clouds that then engulfed me. During the short break to catch our breath, silently I prayed to God, thanking and praising Him for allowing me to see once again the beauty and grandeur of His creation.
For me, the highlights of my Jimalalud mission experience were the song practices and Bible sharing we had during the evenings. To see the people gathered together, hungry and thirsty for the Good News, with only a ‘tingkarol’ (a makeshift gas-lamp) for light is a scene so tearfully inspiring. To see their smiles, to hear their sorrows, and to share in their joys and hopes through the simplicity of faith, is for me, a treasure worth climbing for. The realization, inspiration, and insight I gained during such moments is like a balm that heals every pain making me forget that I just had a body-wrenching experience in going there. Somehow, knowing that most of them came from very distant areas with a very difficult terrain to tread just to come to the Bible sharing even in the dark of the night and sometimes amidst wind and rain, gives me strength and inspiration to persevere.
Fr. Colm may be unconventional in his mission ‘style’ (Jesus was also considered ‘unconventional’ during His time, too, right?) but personally, it was his ‘style’ that brought me into the reality and sense of being a missionary. The challenges I faced during the mission gave me fresh insights and awareness of my being. Different aspects of my formation were challenged, as well. But in the end, it was my growth in faith and maturing in my relationship with God which I found most rewarding. Truly, God’s power and strength is made manifest in times of weakness. Love. Serve. Persevere.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for it is in weakness where my strength is made perfect.” 2 Cor 12:9.
by Jose Lemuel E. Nadorra