Monday, February 14, 2011

Active Contemplation: My Oratory Experiences

The first time I joined the apostolate of the Religious of the Incarnate Word, around September 2010, I was very silent and never really participated. My twin brother brought me to the Cathedral Oratory, and while the sisters were giving the Catechism and while the kids were playing, I was thinking over and over, "I am a contemplative; I am not meant for such active apostolates." Look at my pride!

I didn't continue going to the oratory. The thought of protecting my contemplative vocation made me stop going to the active apostolate.

One dark morning, October 16, 2010, I was informed that my former community, which is contemplative, was suppressed. I felt my vocation was lost. I felt I lost my identity too. I was devastated and for months I was depressed. I almost gave up. I remember Saint Teresa complaining to the Lord during on of her trips. If I remember it right, the weather was bad and Saint Teresa fell into the mud. She complained to the Lord and He answered, "This is how I treat My friends." Teresa answered back, "No wonder You have a few of them!"

The story came into my mind since I have the same disposition during those dark months. I thought, "What's the essence of serving the Lord when the only things you earn are pains and sufferings?" One time I asked myself, are these troubles worth experiencing?

Thanks be to God, He didn't give up on me. He used my twin brother to make me survive the interior ordeal I was experiencing. My brother would invite me to SSVM profession and investiture ceremonies. When the Religious of the Incarnate Word started an apostolate in our school, my brother informed me about it. I participated in that apostolate (this time I am the receiver of the apostolate). There, my life was completely changed. I don't know how, but my it seems my life was renewed. The inner anchorite is being called out of his anchorhold.

I started joining them wherever they go. Last December, they brought us to the apostolate in Brgy. Tangway. Since then and until now, I join the Religious in their Tangway oratory.

This time, I am no longer chanting "I am contemplative; I am not supposed to be here." I found out that contemplation is very possible in active apostolates. Feeding the kids and catechizing them have taught me a lot of spiritual insights, just like how prayer and meditation does.

Last Saturday was a very special day in the Tangway Oratory. That afternoon, the kids were very alive and sweet. They even tickled me to death! (O those naughty kids!) They were full of happiness and were living their lives to the fullest.

But I am not sure if they retained the happiness when they went home.

Prior to the Oratory activity, we were informed that the the families of the most kids were being asked by the City Government to vacate their houses. They were going to build a new road and they have to demolish their houses. If I am not mistaken, they were given a relocation area but they have to rent.

Rent? These families seldom eat. Their kids don't go to school. They live in huts and I wonder how they survive the changing weather. I don't think some have electricity. In short, they are living in poverty, and the government is asking them to rent?

The kids were telling me, "Kuya, they are asking us to leave Tangway!" Their voices were filled with fear and worry. The Sisters were telling them to pray about it. All we can do is to pray about it. Only God can handle this. I pray He will touch the hearts of those involved. May God move them to charity.

I then became interested with the lives of these kids. I asked one of the girls how old she is. She is 12, but it is not obvious. With her small frame, she looks younger. She said she is in Grade 2. I don't know how to describe how I felt upon learning that. She is supposed to be in Grade 6 or in high school already.

I asked another girl about her education. She said she doesn't go to school. She didn't even enter Grade 1. Now she is 10 years old. As she was telling me this, her eyes was filled with loneliness and disappointment. She said during her kindergarten she had a medal recognizing her efforts in a school in Cavite Province. She didn't got the medal because her family had to move to Tangway. I cannot forget how she expressed her disappointment. I then thought how I lazy I am in school. My laziness would offend these kids. I am so ashamed of myself.

These kids are my best friends. To serve my best friends is my prayer and meditation. To help them is to help Jesus. To gaze at their faces is like gazing at the face of the Crucified Jesus. To play with them is to move my heart into deep contemplation. My heart is lost in the joy of being with them.

Sorry for the grammar/typographical errors. I do not have the time to proofread.


  1. i am glad you found that being active doesn't mean giving up contemplation.. for active contemplatives, activity enhances contemplation...and vice versa.

    mother teresa is a contemplative by heart, but her hands and feet are active. she spends one hour of prayer before mass, just being with her Jesus. and this gives her the strength for that day's work. we should learn from this...

    i'm happy for you, and still praying for you.

  2. Thank you John for your comment! Someone also reminded me of Mother Teresa. Thank God I am learning!