Monday, March 27, 2006

Through the looking glass darkly

There are times when my journey to discern have brought me so low that I could only say "Help me, Jesus, I am stupid, blind and deaf; I know not what you are telling me." I'm not such a self-reflective person to realize I've spent too much time mulling over it. Rather, looking at my last few posts, one can say I have been very pre-occupied with this question. Very preoccupied, indeed.

Thus the last CHOICE weekend (March 24-26) in which I was part of the presenting team was a timely reminder from God to look at the situation around me. Vocation is one of the topics discussed in the weekend, and it has all to do with finding our role in any given circumstances. I met such wonderful people from all backgrounds and got to know a wonderful priest, a sister, another single presenter and two couples, and learned to listen to the 'now and here' promptings of the Spirit as I listened to participants' stories.

It was good to be instrumental for a weekend, to forget my own pre-occupations.

Like communication lines which are corrupted with noise, I got glimpses of insight and perhaps, parts of what God is trying to tell me? It started when Sister Fran 'raised an eyebrow' when I expressed my admiration for the lay vocation of Opus Dei. I told her I don't know much about it other than its general spirituality, and she contrasted how traditional it is, to the firebrand 'radical' Jesuits (hmmm... *raised eyebrows* :p).

Sister Fran seems to be on the side of the Jesuits as she said Christianity is still seen as a 'foreign religion' in Asia due to the lack of cultural component in its evangelizing approach, and began sharing how the Zen bell had been used in some of her retreats (which gave some people the goosebumps) and how localization of Masses is important (such as the need to have dancing in Africa...) that she bristled at a newspaper article reporting Pope Benedict's "Crackdown on Liturgical Abuses"... I was getting quite upset at this point, but I didn't want to ruin that weekend nor offend Sister, who obviously has good intentions.

Anyway, the last straw was when Sister said we cannot tell non-believers that Jesus is the only salvation, especially not to the Chinese-educated, because it may repel them into thinking "mo kau chou?!" (trans.: are you not teaching right??!!). Well, neither this blog post nor the weekend was about me & her, nor our doctrinal beliefs, so I decided to leave the conversation.

After this, it seems clear my vocation isn't about evangelizing through promoting common values that Asian cultures have with 'Catholic culture'; but rather through daily life example. That's why my journey has attracted me to 'lay spirituality' kind of vocation, like Opus Dei. I discovered my 'traditionality' was what led me to them, and not them influencing my Catholic outlook.

At the end of yesterday, I asked Fr Frans about the first steps for discernment (albeit not about the religious kind). He said to listen to our own physical response (somewhat like the Ignatian concept of 'desolation' and 'consolation'). I think I haven't given the leaving option much thought for it to be a viable alternative; sometimes I felt I am being lazy when I cannot bring myself to wake up in the morning to go to work I begin to dread.

And this morning I read an email from a friend far, far away:

"God is your strength and protector and He who started this great work through you will bring it to blissfull and flourishing heights. Heights unimaginable. Just do your best, knowing full well that God is in full control of all you lay your hands on."

Mother Mary, St. Joseph, Ora pro me!

1 comment:

Bravo said...

Hi Antonia,

Nice to see you again this evening… was hoping to catch up with you but I guess another time.

Whats the diff of this Opus Dei thing with the Jesuits? I do not know much of Opus Dei so can’t say much of it.

I had always considered us as Catholics living in an Asian culture (and we have our own Catholics traditions). I like what you say about “evangelizing through daily life example” which I believe is what God had ask us to be “the light of the world”… and where that source of light that will shine thought us? Christ Jesus love or God’s love that we need to draw upon… to quench our thirst and fuel that light … that value… that action... that will allow us to touch others… be it through Choice, Opus Dei, JRS mission, lay Franciscans or in my daily work. Wrote something on it on my blog.

Pray that God will guide you in your uncertainty & discernment… Psalm 23.