Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, I have been accepted to begin Seminary studies in about a month’s time, and I have two brothers also with me in my batch for the Diocese, and I also hear of several friends joining different Religious Orders. I am very grateful to the Lord and to all those who have been praying for us. I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back, no turning back. Come to think of it, I feel happy to have tendered my resignation recently, to give up a career to answer the Lord’s call, which is what I prefer because the Lord is greater than anyone or anything else. And I do it in obedience to the Lord and the Church.
Taking stock of this long and winding journey, beginning with the following verses that come to mind:
Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest.”
1 Peter 5:7 “unload all your burden on to him, since he is concerned about you.”
Jeremiah 29:11 “Yes, I know what plans I have in mind for you, Yahweh declares, plans for peace, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”
Firstly, I am grateful to God for the love and support I have had in the parishes of Church of St. Vincent de Paul, my home parish, and also Church of the Holy Spirit, the parish I spent my kindergarten and most of my childhood and teenage years in, as well as friends from various parishes and ministries throughout the Archdiocese of Singapore especially my Seminarian brothers. As well as the love and support I experienced in the Archdiocese of Brisbane, Australia where I spent 3 years as a University Student. I am also grateful to my family, not only because of their love and support, but also because of the prayers and willingness to put up with me during these years, where at times I felt very confident in God’s call and at other times I felt like running away, and also, there were times when I felt a lot of self-doubt that God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit would call someone as unworthy as me.
Secondly, I think of the times I felt very unhappy during my times as a student, as a working person at different phases and points in my life, and this is what I can say thinking about these moments in comparison to knowing and encountering Jesus Christ the Son of God, and knowing that I’d be spending many days, weeks, months and years ahead if He wills, with the brothers He has called me to journey with in a special way, and to journey in a deeper way with the rest of the brothers and sisters, whom He has called in love. This comes to mind, comparing what I give up compared to what the Lord invites me to take on:
Philippians 3:7 – 8 “But what were once my assets I now through Christ Jesus count as losses. Yes, I will go further: because of the supreme advantage of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, I count everything else as loss. For him I have accepted the loss of all other things, and look on them all as filth if only I can gain Christ”
The reality is this, I know that to answer God’s call means I must also give up earning an income, and it gives me joy because I would like to preach the Gospel for free, this is what gives me joy that one day I can say this fully:
1 Corinthians 9:18 “What reward do I have, then? That in my preaching I offer the gospel free of charge to avoid using the rights which the gospel allows me.”
Looking ahead, I will still struggle with community life amongst my brother Seminarians and brother Deacons and Priests, and also in the wider community with fellow Lay people (Note that Seminarians are still lay men, till ordination to Deacon, because only Deacons, Priests and Bishops are members of the Clergy. Also note that Religious Brothers and Sisters are Lay people who have joined Religious Communities, hence they are called Religious with a capital “R”). No doubt I love my brothers and sisters a lot, and I know that I have to depend on the love and grace of God to love them all fully. For I often fail to love and to accept love, and this is an ongoing struggle; I am still a sinner who is always repenting, like all the Baptised we are saints with a small “s” and not yet Saints with a capital “S”, so please bear with me as I bear with you, as we all desire to love like Jesus. Oh yes, today is also the anniversary of my Confirmation about 13 years ago, praise the Lord. It’s more than 28 years and 6 months since both my Baptism and Birthday too. Praise God! A year ago was my closest nephew’s Baptism, and the next week is my closes niece’s Baptism. . . How beautiful it is, as I am also about to leave my career behind in 8 days’ time. Looking forward with hope:
Psalm 45(46):1 – 2 “God is both refuge and strength for us, a help always ready in trouble; so we shall not be afraid though the earth be in turmoil, though mountains tumble into the depths of the sea,”
Romans 8:31 “After saying this, what can we add? If God is for us, who can be against us?”
Matthew 28:18 – 20 “Jesus came up and spoke to them. He said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, make disciples of all nations; baptise them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you. And look, I am with you always; yes, to the end of time.’
There is joy to bring the Gospel of the Lord and His kingdom to people. I enjoy serving in ministry and also in prayer, and it gives me joy to share with others in school in the past, and throughout my working times about the Word of God and the Christian Faith, that others may come to know Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church He founded, in which the Saints and Angels of God rejoice with the repentant sinners redeemed by the precious Blood of the Lamb of God. I did it sparingly, as time permits me, and soon I can do it freely because it will be my full aim and only thing to do, and this is what makes me know that my vocation is not Marriage or being a Lay Single, because honestly every time in my younger days that I tried to date or hang out with a group of friends for long, I would often end up talking a lot about Jesus Christ, various texts and books of the Bible and about the history of the Church and the world’s history in the light of Salvation given us by the Lord. I find the greatest joy in living for God than in the ordinary life, for I know that the Lord made me to thrive, and I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back. Amen.