Saturday, January 28, 2006

St. Ignatius' Prayer for Generosity

Engraving of St. Ignatius kneeling at altar

Lord, teach me to be generous.
Teach me to serve you as you deserve;
to give and not to count the cost,
to fight and not to heed the wounds,
to toil and not to seek for rest,
to labor and not to ask for reward,
save that of knowing that I do your will.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Prayer for Vocations

O loving and gracious God, Father of all,
you bless your people in every time and season
and provide for their needs through your providential care.
Your Church is continually in need of priests,
sisters and brothers to offer themselves in the service

of the gospel by lives of dedicated love.

Open the hearts of your sons and daughters
to listen to your call in their lives.
Give them the gift of understanding to discern
your invitation to serve you and your Church.
Give them the gift of courage to follow your call.

May they have the spirit of young Samuel
who found fulfilment in his life when he said to you,
"Speak Lord, for your servant is listening."
We ask this through Jesus Christ,
our Lord and Redeemer. Amen.

Monday, January 23, 2006

A Worldwide Brotherhood

The Society of Jesus is the largest order of men in the Catholic Church. Our 20,000 brothers and priests work in more than 120 countries. Ignatius of Loyola started the order in 1540. St. Ignatius gave up his life as a nobleman and knight to serve God by serving others as a "contemplative in action." He wanted the passion for all a Jesuit does to spring from his life of prayer and his companionship with Christ. Every Jesuit begins his religious life with Ignatius Spiritual Exercises, which become the well-spring for his prayer, service, and companionship with his fellow Jesuits.

Becoming a Jesuit means becoming a brother to men spread over all the Earth, bound to them all by a common love for the Jesuit way of following Christ. Jesuit priests and brothers alike vow lifelong chastity, poverty and obedience, and they work side-by-side in all the Society's apostolic efforts.

All Jesuit begin their formation as novices for two years, then move on to first studies - one year of juniorate (focused on the study of communications skills in Filipino and English) and two years of philosophy. After a period of fulltime ministry (usually teaching in one of the Jesuit schools) called "regency," those wanting to be priests begin further theological studies that usually last for four years. They are usually ordained within 11 years of entering the novitiate.

adapted from

Friday, January 20, 2006

God's Call

Being "called" is a very mysterious reality. Often when someone is called,they do not realize it or accept it for some time. This is especially true if your "call" is a religious call! We may begin to ask ourselves the questions: Who's calling? How do I answer? Then again we may want to say: Stop calling! I'm too busy to take "calls" right now!

Each day in the community where I live we pray for Vocations. Today, when we speak of "call" or "vocation", we often mean priesthood or religious life. But, what about the majority of people we know? Are they called? Do they have vocations?

Vatican II reminds us that by our baptism all Christians have a fundamental call to holiness. All of us are invited into a very special friendship by God. How we live out that special relationship with God is as unique and different as we are!

How do we know what we are called to be? How do we know if we are called to a religious vocation? The key, of course, begins with self-understanding, prayer, and a willingness to allow ourselves to ask the questions. We often need to have other people share in the discernment process. A good spiritual director is a necessary element of any vocation discernment! So often we feel that we are the only ones who have these types of questions or feelings. We may feel we are the only one in the whole world who has been called! Of course the opposite is true.

Therefore, we cannot go through the discernment process on our own. We need to talk to those special people who know us well and speak to us honestly and directly. We may also need to hear the experiences of others and find strength in the shared pursuit of this mystery.

Go to the Scriptures to see how God has acted in the past. The prophets and the apostles all had different responses to their individual "call". The enthusiasm with which they responded to God's call varied. Some were willing to give up everything. Others did not want to respond at all! Knowing how God acted in the past can help us to understand how God may be acting in our life right now!

We often hear: "God's ways are not our ways". Certainly in the lives and events of Scripture this seems to be the case. From a human standpoint, God seems to act so illogically especially when calling individuals to accomplish some task. Our culture and "business" orientated approach to vocational discernment usually encourages us to try and find the most qualified person for the job. We seek the most experienced, the best educated, the most gifted! Yet, look who God chose! Moses, Sarah, David, Jeremiah, Mary, the apostles, and many others - people seemingly limited because of age or lack of skill but human beings in tune with the reality of God's presence in their lives.

Do we at times put ourselves down because we feel that we are not worthy enough? Or good enough? Or talented enough? Do we put ourselves down because we are not perfect? Do we rule out the possibility of a religious vocation because we are all too aware of our "humanness"? If so, we may be overlooking the very gift that God has given us to serve the Church.

For some tragic reason we may be too blind to see the unique gift we can bring to religious life. "Come, follow me," Jesus said to the apostles.

To us, this may sound very vague and unclear. Most of us want clarity. We want a job description before we say yes! We want to know our benefits. We want to know what is expected of us. Yet, when we receive the call, Jesus simply says, "Come, follow me".

Our need for control and certainty can prevent us from responding to the invitation of Jesus. Our concerns and anxieties about the future can often be paralyzing and can minimize our freedom of choice. And yet the questions remain - am I motivated by my faith or controlled by my fears? What is it that is getting in the way of my response to God? Why do I feel so unfree at times? Unable to move forward?

Again experience in the Scriptures can assist us. While God's action in our lives may seem illogical and vague, God's call or invitation is never in the abstract. God calls each of us personally, by name. And God called in the present. These two realities can help us as we try to determine our best response to God's invitation.

Since God calls us by name, our response can only be from the unique individuals that we are. We respond with our own talents and abilities, our own shortcomings and limitations. As Peter was different from Paul and Mary from Martha, so each of us is different and so is our response. We respond to God in a way that is not better or worse than others just uniquely different.

God calls us always in the present. Jesus called his followers at a particular moment in history. They answered accordingly, out of their culture and time frame, out of a whole series of relationships. Today's disciples are no different. The circumstances and people in our lives help to clarify our response to God. We live in the 20th century with uniquely rich backgrounds and special human relationships.

Being attentive to our experience will provide the clarity we need. God's call is mysterious and unclear. Knowledge of ourselves, acceptance of our strengths and weaknesses, and self awareness are crucial in helping us respond. But it is the realization that God is present NOW inviting each of us to a deeper friendship that is the source of this call. It is the promise of Jesus, "I will be with you always" that makes our response possible.


Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Vocation Seminar on February 2, 2005

Saturday, January 14, 2006

What is My Calling?

How can a solider in the middle of a war be effective if he or she doesn't know what their assignment is? Are they supposed to lie back and defend or should they attack? They'll end up not doing anything, the wrong thing or even end up hurting soldiers on their side.

When it comes to the Christian walk, which God refers to as a spiritual battle (Eph. 6:10-20), many Christians have no idea what their assignment is. This reduces the Christian to an ineffective life. This Christian ends up walking aimlessly around the battlefield in the wrong place and maybe shooting Christians along the way (which happens way to often). If there's enough Christians who are like this, the entire army is reduced to ineffectiveness.

So how does one determine what one's calling is? First we have to discuss that there are general callings and specific callings. General callings are for all Christians such as to worship God, be a good witness, and transform culture. But God has given everyone specific callings - callings personalized just for you.

God has given you three main things to figure out what your calling is.

#1. Gifts
#2. Talents
#3. Resources

It can be put this way: Gifts + Talents + Resources = One of Your Callings.

Gifts are spiritual areas of life that God has given you (Rom. 12:3-8, 1 Cor 12). Some gifts are: teaching, service, preaching, encouragement, generosity, music, hospitality, etc.

Talents are physical areas of life that God has given you that you are good at. Public speaking, singing, mathematics, debate, accounting, writing, cooking, interior design, child care, etc.

Resources are physical objects God has blessed you with that enhance your gifts and talents. Money, car, house, friends, schooling, degree, church, family, etc.

For example God has called me to be a teacher of doctrine. When I was in high school I was learning that I was getting pretty good at teaching and logic. This was an inkling that I might have a gift in this area, but I wasn't sure yet. Later in college my public speaking (a talent) increased. I started to learn more about Christianity in college and continued in Seminary - these are resources. The gifts, talents and resources put together point me to my calling of teaching doctrine.

Another calling God has given me is: giving money to his work. God has given me the gift of generosity, talent in accounting, and the resources from that job would be money. Those things combined make me realize that I have been called to be a source of income for God's work. So if my father's ministry in the Philippines needs money I am quick to give. If my friends need monetary help in a rough period of life, again I am quick to give. My gifts, talents and resources point to my calling of giving.

If I didn't know that this was a calling I wouldn't be so willing to give, and even if I did give money, I would not be worshipping God in my service. Furthermore the ministry in the Philippines would have a lot less money to work with - lessening its effectiveness. So me not knowing just one of my callings affects potentially hundreds of people in two countries.

God is telling you what your calling is by these three things. You can't wait for God to tell you what your calling is, because he's already telling you what it is through your gifts, talents and resources. That would be like waiting for God to tell you the answer when it's already right in front of you. You ask, its there, you wait, its still there, you question why you haven't received any direction from God - it's been there the whole time. To 'hear' God, you must determine your God given gifts, talents and resources.

God has a calling for everyone. Sometimes you are at a point in your life that you do not know your calling for when you are an adult, but you still have a calling right now. For most kids the calling is a little more general and becomes more specific as life goes on. God has called most everyone to be a student early on. I wouldn't have been able to be as effective as an accountant to make money for God's work now if I screwed around in high school and college and got bad grades, got a useless degree and worked at Spatula City making minimum wage. So for those of you in school right now, that is one of your callings - so do it well. God is preparing you for a more specific calling that will have wide ranging effects.

Figuring out your calling isn't the easiest thing in the world to do.


Friday, January 06, 2006

Panalangin na Malaman ang Kanyang Loob

isa akong silyang nakatunganga
sa harap ng papel at pluma
sa matamis na simoy
na hatid ng hatinggabi
at ng kundimang sadyang
sa diwa kong balisa
at sa'king pagmamasid
nais kong iguhit
sadyang nasa ng pusong
umawit din ngunit
san pupulutin ang tinig
sa anong ibon hihiram
ng huni
at dito
dito sa pinagkakalagyan
sa kapayapaan
sa balisa
sana'y ang sarili'y
maihanap ng kahulugan
nasa'y mamasdan ang tunay
na larawan
ng buhay.


This poem was written by Danilo dela Bajan, one of the 47 participants of the Jesuit Vocation Workshop held last December 26-30, 2005 at the Sacred Heart Novitiate.

Who God Uses

Here's something worth reflecting on. Sometimes, we feel that we are not worthy to respond to God's invitation to the religious life because of our sinfulness. Here we are reminded that God also calls and uses the sinful. Whenever, we get in touch with our sinfulness, it is to remind us that we have a God who tremendously and extravagantly loves us despite our sinfulness. So the next time we feel discouraged to respond to God's call, think of the following people. Perhaps, our attitude should be like that of Mary who trusted in God's grace and providence because she humbly accepts her limitations. Her "unworthiness" did not stop her from saying "Yes" to God's will.

The next time you feel like GOD can't use you, just remember...

Noah was a drunk

Abraham was too old
Isaac was a daydreamer
Jacob was a liar
Leah was ugly

Joseph was abused

Moses had a stuttering problem

Gideon was afraid

Samson had long hair and was a womanizer

Rahab was a prostitute

Jeremiah and Timothy were too young

David had an affair and was a murderer

Elijah was suicidal

Isaiah preached naked

Jonah ran from God

Naomi was a widow

Job went bankrupt

John the Baptist ate bugs

Peter denied Christ

The Disciples fell asleep while praying

Martha worried about everything

The Samaritan woman was divorced, more than once

Zaccheus was too small

Paul was too religious

Timothy had an ulcer...AND

Lazarus was dead!

No more excuses now. God can use you to your full potential.
Besides you aren't the message, you are just the messenger.

1. God wants spiritual fruit, not religious nuts.
2. Dear God, I have a problem, it's me.
3. Growing old is inevitable . growing UP is optional.
4. There is no key to happiness. The door is always open.
5. Silence is often misinterpreted but never misquoted.
6. Do the math. count your blessings.
7. Faith is the ability to not panic.
8. Laugh every day, it's like inner jogging.
9. If you worry, you didn't pray. If you pray, don't worry.
10. As a child of God, prayer is kind of like calling home everyday.
11. Blessed are the flexible for they shall not be bent out of shape.
12. The most important things in your house are the people.
13. When we get tangled up in our problems, be still.
God wants us to be still so He can untangle the knot.
14. A grudge is a heavy thing to carry.
15. He who dies with the most toys is still dead.

God, grant me the Serenity to accept the people I cannot change, the Courage to change the one I can, and the Wisdom to know it's me.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Prayer of Abandonment (Tagalog)

Ipinapaubaya ko ang aking sarili
sa iyong mga kamay;
Gawin mo sa akin ang bawat naisin mo.
Ano man ang gawin mo ay ipagpapasalamat ko.
Nakahanda akong tanggapin ang lahat,
Masunod lamang ang iyong niloloob para sa akin,
at sa iyong mga nilalang.
Wala na akong mahihiling pa, Panginoon.

Sa iyong mga kamay inihahabilin ko ang aking kaluluwa:
Ibinibigay ko nang buong puso,
sapagkat mahal kita, Panginoon.
At kinakailangang ibigay ko ang aking sarili,
isuko sa iyo nang walang pag-aalinlangan,
at may pagtitiwalang walang kapantay, sa dahilang
Ikaw ay aking Ama.

Charles de Foucald