Sanchez: Full cycle

IN MY youth, I dreamed of being ordained as Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI) missionary to be sent to far-flung areas in Mindanao.

After my elementary school graduation, I had a heart-to heart talk with the OMI vocation director. He declined to accept me because I was too young.

He said we can talk about it again after my high school graduation. And we did.

Except raging hormones changed my mind. I will try a different direction in my life, not even a spiritual life.

I have been involved in various social and political causes. A political activist. Environmentalist. Human rights advocate. A peacemaker.

I found fulfillment doing these things. But I felt something lacking.

And then it hit me. A calling to serve God. And I felt that of all places in the intensive care unit. And six years later, back to the hospital, suffering from hemiparesis.

I realized these are the signs that God is telling me to come and follow Him. I felt, heard the call when I was in my weakest. At the ICU (Intensive Care Unit), save me from the hum of machines, I heard nothing. In my paralysis, I called out to God, asking for guidance of His will.

When I recovered somewhat in 2015, I read a Facebook post asking for participants to the Prayer and Life Workshop, a Catholic charismatic movement.

I like the prayer and practice of weekly exercises. Do as He preaches through PLW prayer guides (PGs), do as He did.

Two years later, I’m blessed to be assigned as the prayer guide of the Prayer and Life Workshop to minister to inmates at the Metro Bacolod District Jail-Special Intensive Care Area at Barangay Taculing, Bacolod City. “I was in prison and you came to visit Me. Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these My brothers, you did it to Me.” Matthew 25:36, 39

Last week, we held the desert, the culmination of the 15-week PLW sessions. Of the 21 original sign-ups, 11 choir member-participants, seven inmates completed the entire course. Indeed, “For many are called, but few are chosen.” Matthew 22:14

What is special about the desert? It is here where all signs of life disappear as in the case of the lahar around Mt. Pinatubo. Only when everything is almost absent can one feel the Divine Presence. When everything is quiet, only God speaks.

Now I’m ready for the next journey in life. On June 18, 2017, I will be one of the PGs about to be sent off as a lay Franciscan missionary. Thank You, Lord. I lost You once, now I have You again. In my age, I have come full cycle.