Jasper N. Martir, nSJ
August 5, 2016
“When God desires that you learn something, He will keep on teaching you until you do.”
In the days before I enter the Jesuit novitiate, I cannot help but remember these same words from Sch. Bryan Arevalo during my very first spiritual direction session. That time, I was still part of the Jesuit Vocation Direction program, and even though that session was roughly two years ago from now, these same words could not be any more relevant today.
After all, when the lesson to be learned is His unwavering love for me and for all, God’s grace will always find a way. Amidst everything the Lord has done, I am no one but a simple man after God’s own heart — a man drawn to love by a Love unlike any other.
Like many others before me, never in my wildest dreams did I want to become a priest. When I was young, I wanted to be a lot of things, like an astronaut, a pilot, a truck driver, or a teacher, just to name a few. Whatever I ended up becoming, I was sure I wanted to get married and have kids. When I grew up, I realized a meager life of eating, working a dream job, playing video games, reading, browsing the Internet, and sleeping was enough for me. Cliché as it may seem, I knew what I wanted, and I was determined not to let anyone change that.
Yet, there I was, attending Sunday school catechism, tuning in to Flying House or Superbook reruns while still managing to play with Lego blocks when I was a toddler. There I was, stubbornly insisting that I should study only in a school with a church beside it, because I somehow felt more secure and at peace having a church within reach. There I was, breezing through all those CLE and Theology classes all throughout my academic life, hardly ever studying for any test but getting high grades regardless. There I was, desperately clinging to God in prayer in those painful years after my father’s death, hoping each and every day was less of a nightmare than before. There I was, serving Masses after I moved to Ateneo, initially as a one-time gig in high school, but blooming into a passion in college, regardless of how inconvenient or sudden the Masses might get.
And, finally, there I was, talking to some Jesuits I hardly knew about a desire I hardly ever paid attention to, because a certain seniors’ retreat in college made one thing clear after all the years of wandering: the path of priesthood in the Society of Jesus was the better chance I had for a lifetime of fulfillment.
Looking back, I guess what made me even consider this way of life was the overwhelming sense of peace I experienced in praying, serving Masses and doing other related apostolic work, particularly with the Jesuits of Ateneo. Sure, I was very close to living the confident dreams of my youth, but later on it just didn’t make sense dreaming and working so hard for something that felt so hollow in the end. Then again, all the moments with God, both heartwarming and heartrending, were there from the start, waiting to be realized. All the while, I had been too busy thinking I could earn love and respect for myself from all sorts of places. And yet, all along, the Lord loved me as I am.
Throughout the 22 years of my life, the Lord has been patient with me, but far from complacent, as a father is to his beloved son. Perhaps, like Jeremiah in the days of old, He knew me even before I was born and set me apart, and knowing full well I’d get lost as often as I could, He had been busy placing all those markers and milestones to make sure I knew where to find Him. Perhaps, the call remains the same as I enter the Jesuit novitiate — to remember to be patient, but not complacent, with myself, as the Lord always was.
Either way, when God desires that I learn something, He will keep on teaching me until I do. And when that lesson is love, things can only ever get better.
Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam.
If you’re considering the religious life, please join our vocation discernment seminar on August 21, SUNDAY, 9am at the Loyola House of Studies, Ateneo de Manila University. For more info please contact 0917-JESUITS (09175378487). No registration fee.