Spiritual frontliners

Word Alive–Fr. Bel San Luis, SVD / May 3, 2020 / 4th Sunday of Easter

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 unseen enemy. They must be acknowledged and appreciated, too.”

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

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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.

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Every year thousands graduate from various courses in our country as shown in the just-concluded bar examination, but 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 rank dwindled until I was the only one left. I consoled myself, saying I was the “valedictorian” of my batch—but no salutatorian! But I mixed with other seminarians from Cebu SVD seminaries and from the North. When we were ordained priests, there were 11 of us.

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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 deem you unsuitable because of character problem or poor health, then you have to accept the superior’s decision as God’s will.

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

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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 became a 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 He wants.

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If some 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.

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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?

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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.

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THE LIGHTER SIDE. About the distribution of financial assistance to the poor and jobless in barangays and towns during this Covid19 crisis, WONDER WHY the names of beneficiaries are always lacking, whereas the voters’ names in elections are over filled up—even names of the dead are included!

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

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

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I am appealing to readers to please chip in or sponsor seminarians for a school year to our Adopt-a-Seminarian” scholarship program. For inquiry, e-mail me at: belsvd@gmail.com.

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