My decision to enter Saint Paul Seminary came in a time when I was actually in the peak of my career. It is not that it is worth noting where I came from and what I had given up for, it is just that I wanted to be reminded that I left my job in Television knowing that I will be serving God. I felt I was ready for the formation that was why I took the big leap. But I must say that my choice of entering the seminary was not a bed of roses. I endured a lot of tempering in the fire to be molded into the person I need to be for the ministry. I endured nights of loneliness and desolation. I am a cry baby, I spent several nights crying in my bed and pondering on what I had done. Leaving a good job, my dear family, my friends, beloved and thousand of possibilities that awaits me. The great consolation I had was that the Lord is there for me; he sees my heart and knows my desire.
In the new set up (seminary), I felt I was given a set of new eyes to see. And see things on a new perspective, ‘a new way of seeing things’. Back in my work, I use to lead the pack to arrive on a goal we set. Placing my self as the head and putting pressure on my subordinates. Now, I placed myself as the follower, rather than the usual me doing all the tasks and labor. I am now being led by younger people whose ages were even half my age. Following them and asking their advice on things. I was humbled by this experience knowing that there are a lot of things to be known and to be discovered in the formation life.
Now I feel I’m having the longest retreat of my life, 359 days almost a year and 4 days now. A retreat that is longer and more demanding. Like in a retreat, I enjoyed every moment. Going to mass and celebrating the Eucharist everyday, it is the gift that I am very thankful of. My previous work did not allow me to do it because of the tight schedule. The Eucharist gave me a different elixir, a revitalizing experience that made me finish my everyday tasks. Having fixed prayer time and a quiet time to be in communication with God helped me a lot. It made me more aware of my prayer life and focus on my actions throughout the day. I also felt I was like in a rehab center in a positive sense, realizing that I need to be cured of the unnecessary things and desires that I was sick of. It was not like a drug rehab, mental rehab or the Alcoholic anonymous type.
It was like “I am Edward Dantis and I (am an alcoholic) wanted to serve the Lord” type of testimonial that you will hear when you enter. Men here are not intoxicated or drugged, not of substance abuse but men who share the same passion, desire wanted to serve the Lord 24/7.
Being in the seminary is also like a fine tuning experience for me, like in a car that has to be re tuned before it is set again for the road. I know that I will need a lot of preparation for a life of service and ministry that I wanted to live. I have the basics and the idea how to do it, but I need to be equipped and well trained before I go to into full time ministry. I felt I was young again and I was back to my college days, where my only concern was my studies. But to be honest, I felt at times that I was so behind. I felt desolated after the exams and quizzes thinking that I could have done better if I was a bit younger. Now I cannot memorize theories and the likes, unlike when I was in college. I also asked myself especially in times of stress ‘why I need to go back to studying again?’ But, I realized that I have to study well if I wanted to pursue the kind of ministry that the Pauline has, a learned ministry. Realizing that I can only teach and share if I had studied, equipped my self with knowledge. I had the chance to be more, a chance to do what I really wanted to do. Teach theater, TV production and give workshops.
I never had a chance to have a brother, be it younger or older than me. I always wanted to have one. I have 6 siblings, all of them are girls. Here, I was gifted with a chance to be with at least 50 brothers of different backgrounds, talents and temper. Where I also found reflections of myself, the traits I admire in me and those I somehow despise. This brotherhood was forged in common love for God and the desire to serve his people. I was almost in tears when we sang the batch song “Pastoral”, it spoke of our desire why we entered the seminary. The prayer Secret to Success will forever be meaningful to me. It became our pact to God, on how we will aspire to live as Pauline. It comes with the whole history of men who came before us and made a pact with God, consecrated their lives to be communicator of God’s love to all men. I felt a sense of security that I am with other men discerning seriously about their vocation, sharing the same passion for ministry.
It serves as a sanctuary for me, a refuge, a real home away from home.
Here I had experienced pure and simple happiness, contentment. I had the chance to enjoy the pleasures and luxury in life when I was outside, but now I find joys and satisfaction in little things. Like finding out that the ‘merienda’ or the viand for the night is my favorite. Knowing that the movie for the Friday film viewing is worth watching makes me feel happy.
It was also in here that I came to realize my brokenness and inconsistency, the pull of my two selves in me. The desire to be good, turn away from sin but not doing it at all. The great want of integration of the self, to strive for wholeness and deal with the spoiled child in me. I know I still need to purge the things not so good in me, discouragement, lack of will and compassion. I am a total sinner but willing to serve God. I believe that God, who in spite of my brokenness is willing to accept me. It is in this seminary where I was able to look into myself and know what I really wanted to do in my life. Deepen my love for God; aspire to love Him profoundly after realizing His immense love for me.
I can see clearly now God’s abundant grace given to me and how little I responded to it. Remembering what I wrote in my digital organizer many years ago: ‘Una akong minahal ng Diyos, ibinabalik ko lamang sa kanya ito sa pamamagitan ng pagtugon sa kaniyang pagtawag. Ang pagtugon sa tawag ng pag-ibig at pag-aalay ng sarili’. My vocation as a response to God’s call to love and offer myself.
John 10:10 “I came that you may have life and live it abundantly”