Thursday, June 15, 2017
Celebrating my Golden Jubilee as Missionary and Religious...
Golden Jubilee as Missionary Oblate of Mary Immaculate…
On this date, June 15th, fifty years ago (1967), I pronounced my first vows as a Missionary and a Religious in the Congregation of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. I was young, barely 19 years old, and full of energy and idealism to conquer the world for the Lord. I did not know what the vows would entail in my life; the cost I had to pay; and the challenges I would face in the world out there.
What I did promise the Lord, fifty years ago, as I put my hand on the plow, was that whatever, there would be no turning back and NO looking back. My faith in him was the guarantee that he would always be there by my side.
People described me, then and perhaps even now, as a “stoic man”. When in pain or sick, suffer and endure alone; when successful and challenged, simply smile, relish them and move on; I rest simply by staying in my room.
God’s abiding presence had always been there these past 50 years, albeit often I did NOT feel his presence and thinking I was all alone. Yet, on a second thought, I would NEVER have survived many difficulties and trials on my own! God had been there and he left his marks even in the wounds and scars I bore.
I have often said that God broke me three times, bodily and spiritually! He broke my heart, first in 2002. Then he broke my manhood in 2014. And last he broke my head in 2016. But he also touched me as if telling me to remember always his promise and my promise fifty years ago that had stood the test of time! Through this brokenness, he was telling me that it is NOT in my heart, neither in my manhood nor in my head that He seeks as offerings and holocausts. Neither should I look for what my heart desires, nor for any spiritual technique, and not psychological quick fixes that would give substance to my life.
In my senior years, he invites me to begin to se what is in front of me and begin to learn and notice the obvious often hidden by many cares and perceived obligations and duties. I was rather slow in earning – looking for his face in defined places, preferred ministries, special duties and tasks, on specific days and rituals, yet God is NOT there…! He is HERE.
Yes, as my strength deems; as my years get shorter by the day; I should take notice that God is here … I live and breathe, grow in my senior years in the womb of God.
Now I remember, the lessons taught by my mother, these are three important lessons and icons to go by for the rest of my life. Jesus Nazareno (Quiapo) – Jesus bore the cross and gave his life for me! Mary is always the Mother of Perpetual Help (Baclaran)! And again Mary leads the way to a safe journey back to the Father and her Son and in the Spirit – Nuestra Senora de Buen Viaje (Antipolo).
Yes, in my brokenness, I have found refuge in these three shrines. And I made pilgrimage to these three sacred places of the direction that has stood the test of time!
I conclude with praise and thanksgiving for my community – the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, the people I minister and work with through the years, friends and kapamilya – MARAMING SALAMAT PO!
Fr. Eliseo R. Mercado, Jr., OMI
Badaliyya – Philippines
June 15, 2017