A journey inward… onward!

My day to day experiences serve as filters through which I am able to know myself better and to get to know more about Jesus inside out. The longings of my soul and the call of mission are forces that haunt me powerfully. Thus, with conviction to follow my life’s project, commitment and perseverance become my allies.

mountains

Combating my own struggles in the midst of doubts and inner conflicts, I acknowledge that indeed discernment requires patience, honesty and interiority.

Thankful for the opportunity of a week-long retreat before going to Vintar in the Philippines as my new assignment, I was able to re-discover and verify my own calling and uniqueness, my passion, my vision and my mission as a Daughter of Divine Zeal.

Inward… once in my journey I was like Alice in Wonderland:

She comes upon a crossroads.
She stops and wonders which path to take.
She doesn’t know what to do. Suddenly she notices a hare.
She runs to meet him and says, “I have come to a crossroads;
could you tell me which path I should take?”
The hare asks her, “where do you want to go?”
shrugging her shoulders, Alice replies, “I don’t know!”
“Well then, young lady,” answers the hare, “You may take either path.”

Then God reminded me:  “you did not choose Me. It is I who chose you... (Jn 15:16)” Fascinated – and it still fascinates me – God chose me! It assured me once again of His loving presence.

Thus, I take the path Onward…

rogate

Rogate – pray! Image courtesy of Sr Elvira Plazuelo fdz

The simplicity of life in Vintar influences my day to day choices. My first real experience in pastoral work offers me ample opportunity to be in communion with myself, with people of diverse cultures and beliefs and above all  with our Mother Nature. Again, I am challenged to journey onward and assimilate the reality of ROGATE where I am sent by the congregation. The journey may at times  be mountainous, or at times continuously flowing, or sometimes dry and stony but who can separate us from the LOVE and MERCY of God?

Indeed, … facing the change can CHANGE everything!

Sr M Connie Borjal, fdz
Philippines

The princes and princesses

People gathering together.Just as Saint Hannibal, our Father Founder considered the poor as princes and princesses, Mother Elna – superior mother of our Province also called the poor people in Marikina in the Philippines as such.

That beautiful word inspires me to serve and honour the lowest. In the celebration of Mother Nazarena’s 75th birthday in Heaven, 75 poor families were invited to eat in our “small restaurant “.   Our garden, although small, became beautiful like a little restaurant because of the presence and smiles of these princes and princesses.

Therefore, all of us – the Sisters, novices and postulants as well as the teachers from both schools of Padre Annibale School  in Marikina and Padre Annibale Integrated School in Laoag – served them happily.  The food was carefully prepared with much love and attention from the part of the Sisters.

After the sumptuous lunch, a short program with intervals of games and prize-giving was organised for them.  They really enjoyed it so much, young and old alike!

This celebration made me remember one Holy Thursday when my spiritual Father also invited many poor people in his parish for an important party. He asked us to prepare the party solemnly like that of a wedding and we served them enthusiastically. During the party, the boys who were living with him murmured: “Why do we have to waste time for a party for ordinary laity, not even priests or bishops?” But my spiritual Father scolded them saying:  “Do not be lazy, this is the beauty of religious life.” I realised once again the beauty of the religious life through this event.

After the celebration, I saw 75 families leave with heavy packs of food, full of happiness and joy externalised on their rustic and ingenuous faces. Indeed, the people had brought bliss to me and to this day my mind is always reminded that I must honour and serve the poor happily and I have to regard them as princes and princesses.

Together with the party on that last Holy Thursday in my parish, the 75th death anniversary of Mother Nazarena is not only an important lesson but also a meaningful example for me to be called to serve, love and see God in the poor, the unhappy, the least and the outcast as Saint Theresa of the Child Jesus said to her companion, “for you are the image of God, I love you”.

Postulant Teresa Nguyen Thi Hao

What can I do for vocations?

National Vocations Awareness Week (03 – 10 August 2014)

Man contemplating at the foot of the cross...

PRAY – INVITE – ENCOURAGE – SUGGEST – PROMOTE

Young people respond to a challenge, an invitation. The Church needs holy priests and religious and strong, faithful Catholic marriages.

Don’t be afraid to do something to promote a generous response from today’s youth!

Catholic Vocations | Image courtesy of pixabay.com

Quench from thirst

There are times when I feel like I am so thirsty and I just want to be quenched from that dryness.  My prayer moments and my relationship with the Lord through people around me are ways  to satisfy this dry feeling. I see things and events with God’s grace in the eyes of faith. And I am grateful to the Lord for sustaining me and my journey with the richness of His love and blessing.

One of the blessings I received recently is the opportunity to attend the Permanent Formation Course (May 2014), organised for the Sisters of the Madonna della Guardia Delegation. The topics discussed are truly the font of our life and spirit as Daughters of Divine Zeal. The whole course was a deepening of what I have heard in the past, some new insights and most of them were eye openers. It has brought me new light and a new challenge for a better FDZ life.

sr-elvira01

Visiting the historical places where our religious family started, brought me unspeakable joy and gladness. It was a very awesome feeling to once again kneel before the uncorrupted corpse of Father Founder, St Hannibal, and in front of the tomb of Mother Nazarena, and I offered prayers for all the Sisters especially for the establishment of the Our Lady of Divine Zeal Province.  To them both I presented each member of the circumscription.

sr-elvira02
Through this enriching experience, I felt quenched of that deep desire within me.

Let us keep our prayers united for the journey ahead of us!

Sr M Grace Elvira Plazuelo, fdz
Rome, Italy

Every vocation is an exodus from self

National Vocations Awareness Week (03 – 10 August 2014)

Women reflecting about her life

The theme for this year is from Pope Francis’ Letter for World Day of Prayer for Vocations: “Every vocation is an exodus from self … it leads us on a journey of Adoration of the Lord … and service to him in our brothers and sisters.”

This is a reminder to all of us that all vocations require sacrifice and service. Whether married, consecrated life, priesthood or apostolic celibacy – we are all called to serve God and our neighbour.

Please pray that many young people may hear the Lord’s call to serve, particularly in priesthood and religious life.

Catholic Vocations | Image courtesy of pixabay.com

On the threshold of a new beginning

Nothing stays, everything flows.

Change can come in two forms:  for the better or for the worse.  But for the Daughters of Divine Zeal in the Philippines, the “change” that is taking place is a moving forward, a challenge to combat and an opportunity for growth.

Our Lady of Divine Zeal ProvinceThe 1st of June is a very special day for the two Congregations founded by St Annibale Maria Di Francia:  the Daughters of Divine Zeal of the Heart of Jesus and the Rogationists Fathers.  This year has been extra special because the Our Lady of Divine Zeal Delegation began a new chapter of its existence as the Our Lady of Divine Zeal Province.

An opening Liturgy was held at 9:00am in our Chapel, attended by all the Sisters.  A symbolic sand offering was made by each one, a gesture of the individual willingness to be part of this “new Province builder” through hard work, trust, sweat, joy, fidelity and love.  Yes, as one ought to expect, a new beginning implies deeper, newer challenges, tougher works and all aspects of preparation.  This change, this gift, this chance, this new thrust for each Sister, each Superior and each member of the Province is likened to a small seed that we all just planted in the ground.  It needs to be watered and be placed in the spot where the sun will soak it with its warmth.  This means that our efforts alone cannot make it grow and bear fruit.  It is through the blessings of the God, the inspiration and guidance of the Holy Spirit, and the “warmth of the Sun” of Justice that all our endeavours will fructify and will grow “into a large tree where the birds build their nests…”

Personally, this new threshold we are just entering is scary to venture into but I tell myself that life is always full of this.  Yet, is it not the best moment where our faith is best tested, our unity strengthened, our vocations challenged, enriched and shared?  Send us forth, O Lord…

Sr M Jeanette C Barsanas, fdz
Philippines

I could never thank you enough, O Father

A Sister reflects on her 25 years of Religious Life at a Celebration of Thanksgiving in a Philippines parish

In the greatness of His love, the Lord has called me even before my existence.  Since then, He has always taken the initiative.  He led the way to where He knew was best for me.

It was in this parish that God started to inscribe my vocation story.  It began with my encounter with a Daughter of Divine Zeal. The sister, whom I first met, looked at me with a smile and from that gaze we became friends.  From that friendship, the Lord slowly and clearly manifested His plans for me.  This discovery filled me with unexplained joy, although it was coupled with many questions deep within me. I was caught in a crisis, but what resounded in my mind were the words of Jesus: “Pray, the harvest is great…” remembering that when I was a child, my mother taught me how to pray the Rosary and to offer that prayer for the Pope and for the sanctification of priests. Without knowing it, my mother was already enfleshing the charism of our congregation, in which my family, I believe is practicing until now.

FDZ Sister with choir
As a young woman, I had plans for my future.  But my plans were not in accord with God’s plan for me.  Instead, I strongly felt a call from Him and indeed the invitation of Jesus to “follow me” prevailed. And so, armed with courage, I left home notwithstanding my parents’ contradictions.  It was a great detachment on my part.

When I got into the convent, I discovered many things about myself. I was confronted with challenges and the consequences of my “YES”. Humanly speaking, it is difficult to give oneself totally and exclusively to God, He asks for a continuous self-giving and renouncement, even in the most ordinary things and events of daily life which at times seem useless. In my journey, I was always consoled by the invisible presence of the Blessed Mother, whose guidance and protection I always felt. I would turn to her anytime – in good times and in bad, in joy or in difficulty. She assisted me to find people who helped me to understand my nothingness and to hold on to the goodness of the Lord. They have sustained me in my journey of uncertainties and fears. They strengthened my hopes and fortified my commitment with love.

Today, to think about the journey I have had over the past 25 years of my religious life makes me feel such awe, wonder and deep gratitude. If it was only me, surely, I could make it alone. But the persistent love of God and His faithfulness has sustained me through all these years. Today, all I can say is “I could never thank you enough, O Father!”

In my limited words I still want to say thank you Lord for everything that you have provided to me, for your faithfulness and unfailing love that has sustained me throughout these years, and I ask you the grace of holy perseverance and a faithful response to your daily invitation until you will call me to my final encounter with you. Let us keep going Lord. With you, I am not afraid to go forward.

It is also right to say thanks to all the people who have been God’s instruments in my vocation. I want to remember at this moment the late Rev Mariano Pacis for being my spiritual guide; I thank Dra. Rebecca for all the help she gave me; I offer particular thanks to God for my parents and family, relatives and friends, and my religious family who sustained me with all the support I needed during my journey. And for this celebration of thanksgiving, I express my heartfelt thanks to all the celebrants,… and to all of you who are here to share my joy of God’s Faithfulness; to the choir whose angelic voices made us all feel delightful; and to all of you behind the scenes, who worked so hard and sacrificed so much to make this celebration solemn and successful. I invoke God’s blessings upon each one of you and your families.

Daughters of Divine Zeal at various stages of their Religious Life
With my thanks uttered and unuttered, I place myself in the hands of our Loving Father. And being a Daughter of Divine Zeal, through the intercession of St Hannibal Mary Di Francia and of Mother Maria Nazarena Majone, I pray that “Rogate” may be diffused in the whole world and that the Lord will heed our prayer and send many more vocations in the Church.

Before I end, I would like to pose a few challenging words to the young people present here today, mga ading, have you ever thought of what to do with your life? Or have you ever listened to the voice of the Lord who tells you which life is best for you? Start to think about it and please don’t forget to encounter the Lord in prayer… it is only in prayer that He meets you and speaks to you. Have a good conversation with Him. You know, it feels good to listen to Him and respond to His invitation. I say this, because I have experienced it myself. I was 28 years old when I heeded my call. I tell you, don’t be afraid to respond to His call for He takes the initiative and He sustains each one whom He calls. His grace is enough to take you to the life He prepared that is best for you. Take the challenge, OK? I wish you all a very good day! Thank you.

Sr M Corazon Villanueva, fdz
Philippines

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