On Friday evening, it was finally time to attend the 2 days,1 night Diocesan Vocation Recollection and since this was my first time, I was apprehensive as to what Jesus wanted to show me as I have been caught up again in the new semester and other commitments that I came to seek rest and peace.
I would like to address the misconception that the recollection is about the discernment towards priesthood as this is just one aspect of our vocation journey as we are called by Jesus to have a purpose and meaning on this pilgrimage of self-discovery. Everyone has his or her own vocation and we should try to find that vocation and live it by praying for the ability to see it. I am also thankful to be able to attend this recollection with a friend from Catholic Society so that I will not be lost.
The Diocesan aspirants were such an inspiration in their own way as they believe in the power of prayer and would pray at different hours a day as a community. Through their own sharings, I also understood more on the structure and expectations of an aspirant, and it is a heavy responsibility, indeed. Their time and life are dedicated to learning and serving others.
On the first day, we were offered a scriptural reflection from the first book of Kings (19:3-13) on the story of Elijah. It showed that Elijah had already planned to give up on himself and God still provided in his time of inadequacy and struggle through a gentle breeze. The passage was so relevant to me as I have always been running away from the negative aspects of life and I wanted for this recollection to be able to just be free and comfortable in God’s presence. I just felt that I needed to clear my mind for awhile and to find the voice of God.
Like Elijah, there are times and moments when I feel that I wish that life would just end and I would be free from everything. Moments such as of great anxiety, stress, esteem and inadequacy have pushed me to not see that Jesus loves me through everything and that I am good enough for him and him alone. I have to learn to block out society’s perception of people so as to ward off the negativeness. All these I offer to Jesus in the hope that he will guide me through them and to place myself in his loving and comforting embrace.
After the holy hour, we were divided into our various sharing teams for an activity based reflection and sharing. It was an activity where we had to choose a picture from the many pictures, and it has to be one that strikes us the most. The photograph that I picked was that of the nativity scene but surrounding the nativity scene was darkness and only Jesus, Mary and Joseph had a orange glow in the middle. The photograph also showed Jesus and Mary looking lovingly at the infant Jesus. The significance is that even though we feel like we are surrounded by darkness, there is light which is what we cling on to – the family.
The next day, the diocesan community did an activity which they had never done before which is a faith walk to Punggol End which is facing the sea. We were told to just take a relaxing walk with breakfast in hand. We were supposed to take a photograph that strikes us and it was a beautiful experience to connect with nature.
The photograph was about two ships moving across the ocean to its destination. To me, the waves signify life’s uncertainties and the boats are us, moving certain paces on the journey to Jesus. Both boats were trying to compete with each other but we will get there. To see the ray of sun which is the one true light that lights up that particular spot. Despite everything, we will get to our goal of meeting Jesus, eventually.
The group sharing sessions with the brothers were interesting as it offers insight to the life of a deacon and the challenges that they face. Therefore, we were all inspired and happy to share our personal experiences of how God has touched us.
Throughout the retreat, I am thankful to my group, Brother Shawn who was the facilitator of the group and the friends that I have encountered. With good friends and food (fellowship), the vocation recollection was a fruitful and memorable experience.
To end this post, this was the hymn “Holy Darkness” that touched me during the vocation which was that even in darkness, we have to learn to come away from the pressures of daily life and to be with God, and that it is a requirement and an invitation to be in communion with him. God Bless!
“Holy darkness, blessed night,
heaven’s answer hidden from our sight.
As we await you, O God of silence,
we embrace your holy night.
I have tried you in fires of affliction;
I have taught your soul to grieve.
In the barren soil of your loneliness,
there I will plant my seed.
I have taught you the price of compassion;
you have stood before the grave.
Though my love can seem
like a raging storm,
this is the love that saves.”
Written By: Darren Chan Keng Leong