Thanks to the initiative of Mother Elna and her Council, the FDZ Junior Sisters gathered once again last December in MND, Laoag City, Ilocos Norte, Philippines. For many years already, our Delegation has this event when Juniors under its Circumscription can convene to be enriched spiritually and fraternally through prayer activities, sharing and camaraderie. On this occasion, the excitement intensified because Sr Marsiana Mbola (from the community of Maumere, Indonesia) joined us and our 3 neo-professed Sisters aflamed our zeal with their attendance – Sr Kresentia, Sr Leni and Sr Mary, our first professed sister from Vietnam. We were 12 Juniors in all.
Sr Gladys had the first day session with us on “Vows in the Light of Faith”. Faith in general was discussed until something concrete and specific was outlined. I could not forget the fact that faith involves ‘desire’, ‘decision’ and ‘action’. St James actually wrote about this: “…to profess faith without works? Such faith has no power to save…” for indeed, a person, when tested in tribulation cannot but manifest how he/she practices his faith or that his/her approach to it reveals how faith penetrates him/her, by heart and willpower. I concur with Sr Gladys that faith is but a personal adherence and practice for no one can do it for us or oblige us on it. Sr Gladys linked it to the life of a Religious. That is why, for a person to enter or embrace Religious life, a certain faith must be necessary. Without it, pronouncing the Vows would be fruitless and meaningless. I came to realize that some religious brothers, sisters and priests go out not because they lose their vocations but maybe because secularism and the lures of this world have blurred their real purpose in life, clouded their faith in God who is the source and goal of their life. I want to quote here, “It is in trials and sufferings that one can grow in faith and self-confidence.”
On the second day Mother Elna talked about the “Vows in the Light of the Word”. It was an opportune time for us to be updated on Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation on Evangelii Gaudium – the Joy of the Gospel – which Mother Elna had deepened. Yes, this is true. One can be so acquainted with the Word, but, and I quote here, that there are three reasons how this Word can affect us, namely:
- Transformation and
This is a fact that centered me on, because I admit my own lack of it and the need to improve it. For we cannot, after knowing and praying with the ‘Word’, remain passive and lazy. Why then are we called “pray-ers” for Good labourers? I believe it is because of this. In our own little way in our ministries and apostolate, we can spark a little of it everyday.
It was such a short moment to know all but the chance to hear from each one’s varying perspectives and encounters, struggles and progresses – certainly enriched us personally. I gain courage and consolation that I am not alone in the trials of life, in the ministry. It is a joy to know that my sisters (in this Delegation or in this Congregation but of the world) are in solidarity with me, only that I sometimes forget about that. I ponder and am so grateful for this concern from our sisters to form and mould us today, the younger generation, for we too, are going to share it to the future generations too. May the Lord of the Harvest continually grasp us through this lifetime offering for His Harvest.
Sr M Jeanette Barsanas, fdz