From the Director
At the age of 21, I first felt the call to the priesthood. I was bewildered by this seemingly other worldly pull. There was no vision, no voice but just a feeling. It certainly didn’t come from me since I never entertained the thought of being a priest during my early years. So, how could this be? I fought against it for a few years, but eventually I concluded that it was from God. Yet, who was this faceless being that called me to His service? I began a search to know this God. In my prayers, I asked for some type of revelation, a sign, to reveal Himself. Maybe a concrete voice will talk to me. Maybe a vision will appear. Alas, no such thing happened. Thus, for me, the mystery of the Holy Spirit was the known face of God.
Some years later in my spiritual year of formation as a seminarian, I participated in the Ignatian 30-day retreat. I had to practice contemplative imagination prayer which is meeting God through a story, specifically the Gospel. In this process, I was given a Gospel passage by the spiritual director and would spend the day contemplating over that passage. In another words, I had to imagine myself within the story, walking with Jesus and the disciples. I had to imagine, with my senses, the sights and sounds of being there. I had to contemplate on the appearance of Jesus, what He said, how He said it, etc. It took some time to adapt to this way of praying because, before, my prayers were more of me “talking” to God. Contemplative imagination was me “listening” to God, receiving from Him in what I experienced. Thus, I came to know better Jesus.
One thing I have learned in my many years of experience, God never stops revealing Himself to us. It can be through prayer, feelings, an experience, people, or nature.
As a priest, missioning in Chile, I came to know Jesus through the people I ministered to. The alcoholic man who overcame nineteen years of addiction. The poor pregnant woman who was filled with joy for being a cradle of life. A young teenager in a wheelchair suffering from spina bifida who desired to be an altar server, helping the priests celebrate Mass. Their courage and faith to overcome insurmountable odds with hope revealed to me the face of Jesus who liberated people from their suffering by giving joy and love.
Throughout the years, I have come to awareness that our relationship with God, specifically Jesus, is never static. It is continually evolving. At different stages of our lives, we experience God differently. At times God may seem to be distant or unknown. At other times, closer and more intimate. One thing I have learned in my many years of experience, God never stops revealing Himself to us. It can be through prayer, feelings, an experience, people, or nature. It is a matter for us to take notice. As Fr. Richard Rohr states, “We cannot attain the presence of God because we’re already in the presence of God. What’s absent is awareness.” How have you known God?