On Regency: A reflection by Brother Sean, future cleric
Posted by exodians on March 1, 2009
I am aware that there are guided regency programs wherein seminarians still have regular visits to the seminary to “renew” why in the first place they entered the seminary to at least purify the intention in pursuing the vocation. In one way or the other, the one with guided programs shows the explicit support to the “seminarians” who are in their exposure than those who are left alone with their own efforts to find a job without being monitored.
These regents who are literally outside seminary structure and forced to live ordinary lives entirely apart from churchy lifestyle need support twice as much as the seminarians inside the structure do. They or we need twice as much prayer than those who are inside do.
My batch mate who was admitted in a theological seminary in Davao said to me in a text message that we pray for them so that they can pursue and persevere in their vocation. I said in my reply, we certainly will but we need twice as much prayer than you do. He then understood my point and agreed.
Not that I’m saying that they, seminarians inside seminary structure, do not need anymore prayer because they are inside the seminary and that being inside secures and guarantees their vocation. My point is everyday here outside, our vocation faces temptations in all sorts of forms and with a deceiving appearance which I think will be difficult to pay no attention to.
Everyday also our vocation is tried to its limits, pushed to the edge to gauge whether we truly care for our vocation or not. The world offers enticing, practical, temporal, and seeming solutions to our needs and wants. It requires a lot of discipline to tame our urges and our cravings for material possessions and carnal pleasures. Our once force field, comfort zone, and security wall around us are now taken away leaving us totally defenseless from hostile and ruthless reality.
We cannot ignore the existence of these potential candidates we have for our Church. I understand the point of the formation why there is a “need” for regency is to ensure the quality of seminarians entering the seminary and determining whether they will be assets or just liabilities of the Church.
I still recall vividly the words I pondered upon during my regency that, “the Church has suffered enough, it has endured enough” meaning if someday I decide to really pursue my vocation in theology, I must be ready to renounce everything, as in everything, every mundane pleasure the world can offer. That was the time that it hit me. I finally said to myself that I was not yet ready for theology.
The renouncing part kept me thinking for a while if I was indeed ready for what I thought to be a straight and secured path that I chose or perhaps chosen for me when I decided to enter the seminary. I once heard that the Church does not need many priests but good ones, that the priests do not lay their lives down for the Church but the Church risks its life for its priests.
Others keep on telling the same thing about going out of the seminary for a while. Some would say that perhaps something is meant for me other than priesthood. Perhaps I am called in different vocation. Many would add that for a moment I am putting my vocation in a dangerous situation wherein I might forget my being seminarian and let myself be indulged in the worldly pleasures and might have a difficulty in getting out of it.
Don’t get me wrong, but it was my first impression on the regency when I was first given the recommendation to take an exposure. Perhaps I was still in the primary reflection of Marcel, taking into the account the immediate feeling and reaction without assessing the implication of its genuine purpose for greater scheme of things.
When things have come into a point of confronting the reality of me not proceeding to theology because of some, if not many, given reasons for me not to, I gradually forced myself to accept things the way they are and try to see things in different light. I tried widening my horizons into this difficult yet have-to-face undertaking.
Although I was left with no other choice but to accept my fate, I still felt that I was a bit wounded and in pain the time I was recommended for regency. I felt dependent with seminary’s structure during my four years in the seminary because I was secured and certain about things going on inside with its routine.
The uncertainty outside my used to be “own little world” pretty much scared the hell out of me. Many were dismayed about this decision including me, seeing people react differently when they learned about my going out of the seminary. They kept on asking why. Then they would add before closing the topic, “sayang naman”. After hearing the sympathy from them as if they were the ones who lost something, I thought for a while that there was something to feel sorry about, or regret like something valuable had just lost…my vocation.
Snapped back into reality, I started finding a job which I enjoyed much when I was given the chance to teach in the orientation days during summer when candidates for collegiate seminary were to take subjects in preparation for their college life. And one of which was the subject I was tasked to teach. I finally experienced the new-unemployed-graduates kept on complaining about—tough competition in terms of finding a job.
I was alone in the middle of the large Metro Davao without any help from people who might know some connections for an easy-job-hiring. Finding a job was not at all the one we see on TV that after graduation with above average grades enough to present appended to credentials could guarantee a decent and well compensated job. (Well, at least a job) Therefore, I prepared a number of résumés with other requirements and credentials attached, bought folders that served both for keeping my files organized and keeping my head burned from the blistering heat of the sun.
Despite the burning heat of the sun during summer, there I walked, sweated too much, dried the sweat and sweated some more. Funny how a once held jumped-up personality being a seminarian who was given much privilege, now was left in the place where nobody knew. And so I had to keep on moving otherwise I would end up being “palamunin na naman” through out a year or two.
I had to travel from one place to the other enduring the heat at the same time the distance traveled. I had to repeatedly ask for directions for the Human Resource and all of those trying times where my patience was tested to its limits that I almost gave up trying, but did not. After laying off my cards, I waited even for just one call. It’s enough for me to say that all my efforts were not wasted, not to mention my wondering where my papers went after they were even read. But not a single call I received. And so I decided to go back home to the seminary chapel to implore divine intervention in my employment.
I practically did almost everything I had to do but failed to be employed. I followed every step from the module how to get employed but I guess I ran out of luck this time. By the time I stepped out the chapel calling every saint I knew, (I guess I knew only a few of them) none worked out except when I met our former Dean of Studies in the hallway asking how was my job hunting going on. I told him with disappointment that until then I was still waiting for any call from the Schools I applied in. His face brightened up with good news that in Notre Dame of Tacurong College (NDTC), they were looking for a substitute college teacher who would have the subjects Philosophy and Religion left by a teacher for further studies in Manila.
That was enough for me to rejoice and thanked him for countless of times for bringing up the essential information that would finally mark my being a full-pledged professional. He was also the one, my ever supportive Dean of Studies, who kept on reminding me to submit immediately my requirements for that position and so I did. I underwent series of interviews to have formally hired me for the job with my co-regent who also applied.
This, thus, began my regency period.
My first few months were like walking amidst the dark room. (nangangapa sa dilim) I didn’t know what to do first, didn’t know how to approach new people, didn’t know how to be, a seminarian or an ordinary employed personnel. I didn’t know almost everything because everything was new; new environment, new people, new set-up, new world, new all.
It was actually good to be far away from the usual. Here I felt that I was in the world of reality, the world where things, people and events were really real, that this was the world we were all once prepared for. But not exactly the one prepared for because that was supposed to be in theology.
Nevertheless, this was it. This was the real life test. I met different people. I knew how to adapt to the culture and language used. (Hiligaynon known as Ilonngo). I heard different stories of life from people I closely relate. I finally became a teacher whom I practiced a number of times before the mirror rendering my lesson.
I finally, finally made my own money which I can say is mine and I worked hard for so I deservedly to have. I learned how to budget the income for the weeks that would follow which was for me a very tough one to handle and is still struggling to manage. I had to budget time also, that I have to really learn until today.
My new life was a real life situationer which I could constantly share to my students and fellow seminarians. I walked humbly to the school’s hall still couldn’t believe that I am now a teacher…in college which was never even in my dreams.
I gave unreasonable high grades because I used to be a student too that talked me into it. There was one incident however that I experienced in my class with Nursing that marked my exposure with great frustration as my first year. I was confronted by my students during my class period just because I reprimanded them with their outrageous behavior inside the classroom. They felt they had power over me for I was new and I looked younger than few of them who had that course as their second course already.
It was a challenge I never thought I could overcome. One student stood up feeling that the sentiment of her classmates was one with hers. She was 25 years old obviously older than me. So she stood up and said many hurtful words, insulted me both as ‘seminarian’ and teacher. She even pointed her finger at me while saying those but repeatedly said sorry while she was ventilating her obviously uncontrolled emotions.
Her classmates just couldn’t watch at the scenario that they all faced forward and tried to stop her. I was seated at the back because that was a reporting. I just sat there totally stunned by her acts. I failed to reconcile myself at the moment and didn’t know how to react that I was in fact their teacher in that subject. And so what I did was just listened to her and kept my mouth from releasing the same intensity of hurting words.
I just stared at her feeling the burden outburst from her chest for she was crying hysterically. I was taken aback when she mentioned about being a man of faith and all that acting otherwise for her judgmental and biased argument. All the emotions that I felt that time were confined in me although I felt burning inside of me to at least defend myself from all of them but I decided to just keep quiet and listen.
I thought to myself, there are certain things that are better left unsaid. If had not controlled myself, I would have released greater insult to her that may diminish her wan existence from the room in embarrassment, but I just saved her from that. The next meeting when all things calmed down already, I sorted things out objectively and pointed things which they thought I made a mistake or acted as very unbecoming both seminarian and teacher.
I spoke to them in a manner of calm voice without any dash of emotion. I was surprised that I faced it very professionally without any remorse on my part. I settled it once and for all not knowing that it already came to the attention of their Dean without even hearing my side. That was unfair in my part but I didn’t object anyway.
For me it was already settled. And it had been the talk of the town far another weeks that followed. Teachers kept on blaming me that I didn’t bring it to authorities so that those students may be given corresponding disciplinary action. I saw their point because it might cause a domino effect perhaps on other teachers, that I failed to see.
I realized that but it was already too late for the semester just ended and I gave them still high grades which they constantly thanked me for. The only consolation I had was, I was able to control myself from blotting out what I knew, be impartial and patient of the situation. Somehow I outgrew myself from being emotionally attached and reacting favoring what I felt about things.
I learned to keep quiet and listen to what others had to say even though I could certainly refute easily their argument. When the faculty asked me about that, I just smiled in my most polite reply that it was already settled and that nothing was there to talk about anymore.
When a group of wedded female teachers gather together and talk about their marriage and relationship with their husbands, while I am with them coincidentally, for example in a meeting, I am often asked about my opinion being a male as to what I have to say about that. I just say that I am not a married man yet and so my opinion will not matter anyway. Sometimes they insist but I refuse to answer. More often that not, they deliberately make me hear the negative implications of being married and then after that majority of them would say, ‘O brother, mag-aasawa ka pa ba?’ followed by a laugh out loud. I am not saying that I am not open to marriage or something to that extent while I am amidst the great ocean of possibilities. Of course I am.
The inspiration that we have always had for this kind of vocation is the life of our priests here who constantly remind us of our vocation and the life meant for us to serve the greater glory of God. Our company with the resident administrative priests who run the school have always kept and preserved our vocation by letting us see the reality and foretaste of being priests in the future. Whenever we are with them, they let us see their own weaknesses yet encouraging us to be good and loyal servants who remain humble when they have all the chance to grab power, fortune and fame but beyond all those Christ has to be pre-dominant in their lives, that it is Him to whom we should give greater glory and not our own personal benefits and will.
The clerics’ company has guided us through out our journey in this regency. It motivates and inspires vocation. It is one of the blessings I repeatedly thank for until now for it has well kept our vocations alive. I am not saying that our vocation entirely depends on these individuals but by their good examples, we persevere through thick and thin our vocation.
Finally, I realized that being apart from what I am makes it even clearer for me what is in store for me, that absence from the formation makes the heart grow fonder as the climber sees the mountain clearer when he is apart from it and is seen on plain. My goal since then is to be a priest as I said in my interview I see a priest as a sacrificial lamb who is being offered for the people. Regency has now given me an opportunity to assess my own life, reevaluate my vocation and set my goals straight. In another light, I have been pursuing this because I believe that this vocation has to grow when let alone yet nurtured by being there.
Another is that the seminary is not at all a structure because if it is, and I try to escape and run away from it only to find out that formation is in the heart and in the person’s willingness to be formed in Christ’s likeness that I can never really escape, that formation does not only lie inside the seminary but the primordial agent of formation is the formand himself.
And so I would like to end this report with an inspirational message from yesterday’s gospel in imitating Jesus Christ. Christ:
“Follow me: I am the way, the truth and the life. Without the way, there is no going; without the truth, there is no knowing; without life, there is no living. “I am the Way which you follow; the Truth which you must believe; the Life which you must hope for. I am the straightest Way, the sovereign Truth, the true Life, the blessed Life, and uncreated Life. If you continue in My way you shall know the truth, and the truth shall deliver you, and you shall attain everlasting life. If you will enter into life, keep the commandments. If you will know the truth, believe Me. If you will be perfect, set all things. If you will be My disciple, deny yourself. If you will be exalted in heaven humble yourself in this world. If you will reign with Me, bear the cross with me. Now that you know these things, happy shall you be if you do them.”