DISCOVERING THE TRUE HAPPINESS (The Philippines)
“The secret of peace and happiness is found in one’s self-denial, in emptying oneself and letting everything be filled by God’s love” (Blessed Ascension Nicol Goñi). There are people who search for happiness in the material things: money, cars, possessions and other things that are not from God. Mother Ascension gives us the clear answer to happiness: true happiness is to be found only in God by discovering oneself.
Let me share with you my experiences of finding true happiness.
The stage of postulancy is as if it were a ticket to a journey back to my experiences. While being a postulant, I discover that it is also a special opportunity for me to reflect myself, and to find out, WHO I WAS, WHO I AM and WHO I WILL BE in the future.
I found out that discovering true happiness does not come from what people say. It comes from within oneself. It is true that experience is the best way to learn. Since my first year of postulancy, I have been learning many things through my experiences actually, especially in the most difficult times I have faced. Therefore, for me “experience is the best teacher ever” as Nelson Mandela used to say. In order to be a great missionary, it is a precious time for me to change so as to prepare myself for the future. Everybody knows that the future is a mystery, but it is our own duty to take care as it is in our own hands and we always have freedom to make a choice. I believe that in life is never late to change.
Our postulancy was initiated on August 15, together with my two companions: Rosalina and Rosita in St. Rosa de Lima community, P. Noval. Before this stage, we have had a retreat with the Provincial Coordinator of San Luis Province, Sr. Virginia Benito. I was inspired in that retreat by Sr. Virginia’s powerful message: “Our Call is a special gift from God”. This sentence made me realized the importance of my vocation and helped me deepen in my personal prayer. I am very happy with the sisters in my community for their help and support. Being one with great missionaries means I am not let alone, abandoned, unloved and unwanted. I have great sisters who are not only my sisters, but also my parents and best friends as well as people in whom I can share and feel the presence of God. I owe them a lot for their love and friendship. The have made my vocation grow stronger. I discover the love of Christ through them each day. As a human being I am not perfect, many times I struggle with myself in order to follow some of their examples and teachings. Sometimes, I found it hard just to listen to them as I think that my thought is the best. Hence, I sometimes decide to go away from what they want to teach me. Yet, they do not tend to see my imperfections and failure, but they always try to guide me back to God’s way. Their generous and loving patience have inspired me a lot to follow Christ. These are not the only things that I learn from them, but I also learn that by being a follower of Christ I should be joyful and loving person as they are.
This Congregation of Missionary Dominican Sisters of the Rosary is following the teaching of Saint Dominic that everyone should study in order to know more about Christ, our Master. Therefore, with grateful hearts, my sisters in this province (through my community), have decided to send me to study. In this place where I study, I begin to learn, to know more on this life, I’ve been called by God.
During my modular classes, I met many brothers and sisters who were coming from different Congregations. They were good friends, they shared with me their knowledge, talents and times. Before I decided to enter in the convent, I thought that for being a nun I did not need to study, but during my Sojourn classes in year one, I realized that studying is also one of the important things for the religious life. In order to preach the Good News to the people, I need to know and understand the life of Jesus through others.
After the Sojourn Classes, I was sent by my professors and had my exposure in Baseco, Tondo (Manila) and I stayed for nine days with the Urban Poor. Baseco is the place where the people of Manila throw the garbage. Therefore, it is dirty and smelly. At the same time, it is a small place filled with many people. Daily work could be peeling garlics! Since they do not have proper work, the government provides a project for every family. In order to sustain their family, they have to peel one sack of garlics and the payment is 100 pesos. Besides, most of the children are malnourished and do not go to school.
I was shocked when I arrived in my foster parents’ house, they are very poor, yet they are very generous and faithful to each other. One of my foster parents’ child is transgender. It was my first time to stay with a transgender in the house. Despite of my first impression, I was very happy to stay with them and overcome my feelings because we shared our life to each other. I was helping my foster mother to cook for the district children and helped in the parish Church.
Religious life is a beautiful gift for the Church. Therefore, I am challenged to be alert, awake and always attentive to those who surround me. I try myself not to harm anyone and not to be selfish. I have tried to be concern about others, give time for myself to be with them, then I really discover the great happiness in my heart, and it gives me strength to go beyond. As a saying goes “in order to be happy we should make others happy.” Everything is possible for God. Trusting in God is to let oneself be protected by Him. I am grateful for all his protections throughout my life, especially the chance of nine days of my exposure in Baseco. I am grateful to San Luis Beltran Province, Philippines and Virgen Fiel community for all the support and prayers.
This experience has helped me realize my calling, to follow Christ, to be a disciple of Him. Yet, I started my state of life in Postulancy last year which taught me a lot of things that I could never imagine. Being a missionary, I must be an instrument of God to all the peoples. In a particular and peculiar way, is to bring the Good News to the poorest among the poor. The experiences of being with the poor has made me realized how lucky in my life I’ve been, that I am called to be a religious. I have enough things for my need, yet many times I still complaint. By looking at the poor, I questioned myself as a missionary, what will I do to help them? Can I continue to be just concerned about myself and leave them alone? When I think of leaving them alone, my heart is not in peace, because I find Christ in them. I discover His love through their sufferings and their pains that I have seen with my own eyes. It is not easy to leave somebody alone in their times of difficulties. I believe that my calling is for them, yet, it might not be easy if I am not united with my community. Therefore, as long as I am united with my community there is nothing difficult that cannot be surmounted, and the true happiness can’t be far by then.