Several months into my novitiate, a priest reminded me that soon I was about to consecrate myself to God through religious profession. At that moment I received a clearer picture of what the religious life was all about. I was to belong exclusively and directly to God through the profession of the vows of chastity, obedience, poverty and of not seeking ecclesiastical honors. Indeed, all Christians are consecrated to God through their baptism, but still some choose to respond more radically to this consecration through the religious life, as in the Gospel story of the rich young man who asked the Lord, “What more can I do?” (Matthew 19: 16-20). The religious life therefore is but a response of love to Love! Religious women and men are like Mary Magdalene on that first Easter. They have come in personal contact with the Risen Christ and by their lives they proclaim to the entire world: “I have seen the Lord!” (John 20:18).

One of the greatest things I have come to realize during my Novitiate is that all is grace. Last year, I was sent overseas to the Philippines for the year of canonical novitiate. I had not been to the land of my birth since my family had emigrated from there more than 19 years ago. I agreed with much trepidation and even slight resentment to go and to give it a try. A year later, here I am full of gratitude to Almighty God for the wonderful people and experiences that God has graced my life with. There, I reunited with my relatives whom I had not seen in almost two decades. I met great people and made close friends. I visited places of which I had only heard of in conversations and ate foods which made my mouth water after seeing them on the Travel Channel’s “Bizarre Foods.” Above all, during this year, I can say that I was able to deepen my love for and relationship with Jesus in the Eucharist.

I tell you of my experiences to illustrate the loving providence of our God. As Matthew reminds us in his Gospel (chapter 6), if the birds and flowers are provided for by God, how much more will God provide for us! Looking back on my life, I see that God has provided for my every need. God has blessed me with a loving family, great friends and a wonderful religious community. God has seen me through 23 years of life, 16 years of school, 5 years of driving (without any tickets or accidents) 5 years in the seminary and a year of novitiate! All this is more than enough proof of God’s love for me. On the 26th of June 2010, I responded to this love, and consecrated myself to God through the profession of four vows. I have seen the Lord and I can sing (ok, I’ll just tell) of the marvels God has done for me! Will you not do the same?

Pray for our seminarians, especially the 29 in the Philippines!