Praise be Jesus Christ
Good evening my dear holy people. I was very hesitant to accept the invitation to give my testimony because of the difficulty to speak the English language. I’m not very proficient in speaking English and I find myself very limited. But I am inspired by this year of faith even if I am a little bit nervous. If I have to speak then, I will speak in the name of faith.
I came from the Philippines. I was sent here last year to share the life of my Irish sisters. I received a very warm welcome and I feel very at home with my new community. I would like to express my gratitude for the very warm welcome I received from all of you too. My parents were catholic but not very devoted except my Mother who brought me along with her to the church. There were two children in our family, my brother and myself. My Father was murdered when I was 18th years old. My Father’s tragic death was the saddest and most heart breaking moment in my life. I lost a father. I understand and sympathise with those who had the same experience as I had.The pain and the anger takes time to heal.
I was baptized by an Irish Columban Missionary Priest who was assigned in our small town and the first organization I attended in the church was Legion of Mary which was founded in Ireland. So, no wonder I’m here. From the beginning Irish People become part of my journey in life. When I was five years old my family migrated to the southern part of the Philippines because of the constant conflict of Muslim and Christian and other rebel groups. Everyday we heard of killings and many died in our small place. We lived in a very small house near the railway station. So every time the train passed our house shook. I did not experience the pain of poverty because as a child I was content to play with my brother and children around and to have parents at my side. After two years we returned to our home town. I went to University and graduated as a Pharmacist.
My Mother knew that I was attracted to the Religious life. I told her I wanted to be a nun and asked her consent, I was refused and she used to say if I pursue my desire she will marry again. Both of us, my brother and myself did not want our Mother to remarry. I did have a boy friend but the thoughts of having a life partner for myself did not excite me. I was advised to discern my vocation “ well it might be only a passing whim”. I discerned for years and asked God for a sign but there was no sign given except the sense of emptiness. Every time I visited a Church or chapel I heard the same responsorial psalm “If today you hear the voice of the lord, harden not your heart”. That passage struck me and I found myself confused and my heart was restless. I asked a priest to direct me, he brought me to a Poor Clare Monastery for a retreat and there I found myself very much at peace and happy.
I applied to the Poor Clares without my Mother’s knowledge. One week before I entered I asked my mother’s blessing, she cried, sobbed, closed her room door and for days she did not talk to me. I received hurting words from my relatives, that my heart was made of stone, that I had no compassion for my mother leaving her alone. I suffered in silence. The day before I left home I knocked at her door, she opened it and we embraced each other crying. I saw my Mother’s eyes swollen with crying. She let me go. On the day I entered the Monastery my Mother, Brother and relatives accompanied me. Later my Mother was extremely happy about my decision. As a Poor Clare I am just an ordinary sister in our community in the Philippines and here in Carlow. Our main apostolate is prayer. Outside of prayer my office or work is to do dishwashing, cleaning and I love doing gardening and cooking also.
Dear friends, there is nothing extraordinary in my life but in this very ordinary life I professed I always encounter God. God is truly present in every event in life and God speaks and reveals Himself to us in a very ordinary way in our lives. My great experience of God’s revelation to me was when I walked in the garden one day and I heard the dog barking under the tree. He came out with a big crow in his mouth and proud to show it to me. I immediately pulled the bird from his mouth and raised my hand to protect him from the dog who jumped so high he almost pulled the bird from my hands. The bird’s feet was tied with a nylon thread and a fishing hook in his mouth. Once inside the convent I wrapped my hands with cloth because he kept on biting me. With the help of a sister I released the hook from his mouth. He resisted, the more he resisted the more he suffered because the hook had lacerated his mouth and blood flowed out.
The hook was removed and I put him in the shade so that he could fly but I was not content with the small area of the shade. I held the bird in my hand, went outside and set the bird free. He flew and soared very high as if he owned the universe. Dear friends, we are like that bird hooked by our own worldly cares, worries, ambitions, pride etc, in other words sinfulness. Why? Because we allowed ourselves to be shaped by the wisdom of the world not by the wisdom of the gospel and the very heart of the Gospel is love, a love that preserves and promotes life and goodness, a love that sees the needs of our brothers and Sisters.
When God tried to change our lives and uprooted what is not good in us we resisted. Like that bird the more we resisted the greater we suffered. We have one common call for all of us. That is to be holy. God wanted to set us free so that we can soar high to holiness of life. Let us allow ourselves to be shaped by God’s love and allow ourselves to be transformed by His Word which changes our lives. In that encounter with the bird God revealed Himself to me. The compassion that I had for the bird, the desire to heal and give him life so that he will not die, the protection from the dog, setting him free and lastly I did not see the bird as bad but a tiny helpless creature that needs to be cared and loved. That spoke about God himself. We are helpless creatures that needs love and care.
Lastly, I will tell you a little story, a girl entered a monastery. As a postulant she encountered many difficulties. She was introduced to much hard work which she never did at home. One day all the sisters in formation were assigned to clean the house. They had been cleaning for months in preparation for the coming seminars for all the sisters from different monasteries and the old house was the last to be cleaned. She went ahead to do the cleaning, scrubbing the floor to make it shine, sweeping all the dirt. She was nearly finished and there was no sign of the sisters coming to help. Her heart was heavy exhausted with much working and she begun to pity herself, crying, sobbing, and complaining to God.
When she was about to gather the droppings from the different kind of big crawling insects suddenly she saw before her eyes different sparkling coloured precious stones like jewels at the same time as the droppings. How it happened she did not know, she cried with joy and delight and did not know what to do. She carefully gathered it all in her hands and put it on flower pots. That event lasted only for a few minutes. Then she saw her sisters coming. Dear Friends that postulant was me. From the first stage of my formation I was graced by God. There was a purpose why my sisters came late. If they came I would not have experienced such a great grace. There is nothing that we suffer that God gives no value to. Everything is precious and treasured in his heart.
With our Holy mother St Clare I say “Thank you God for having created me”
Date: 19/09/2013 15:15:42