Dennis DC. Marquez, SSS September 20, 2011
Pastoral Psychology Fr. Jason Laguerta/Sis. Angie, Sisters of St Anne
In our Congregation this week, we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of our Novitiate House in Bulacan. This has been the focus of our community’s creative adoration to the Blessed Sacrament last Friday, September 24, 2011, where all of us, in our respective groups, shared our memorable novitiate experiences. The occasion enabled us to reflect and to see our self on the process of two years of stay in the womb of our congregation. Let me share my experience.
Description of the experience:
At first, I have a hard time with my novitiate formation. There would be no day that would pass in my first one and a half year that I would not request for or complain on so many things. Of course, my formator didn’t grant me any of my clamors, he even got irritated with me most of the time. My dependence towards technological gadgets has made my journey a little bit unsatisfying in my part. With these reasons, I found, novitiate life as dull and unproductive. Two years seems to be eternal. I honestly admit that I even hate it.
My own experience of the experience:
It’s an experience of God’s grace. I always wanted to go out. I always cannot find the meaning of so many menial jobs that we’ve been so busy about. There were so many times that I found myself exhausted not by praying, but by these non-sense cooking, doing the dishes and preparing for the next menu again. Until, for almost a year, I was assigned as a refectorian… gosh! my patience was really tested: I always hated to do the dishes, I always hated to do the cooking, I always hated to do the cleaning. It was my ultimate dying moment. It was hell… terribly hell.
Identifying the patterns:
Actually, they’ve seen me doing great with the refectory. Everything was so organized, but I don’t appreciate my own efforts. Deep inside me, I felt that I always resisted. I don’t see it rewarding. I always pray that I would be relieved from the refectory, but my formator extended me a little bit longer than what I am expecting for. For few months, I realized that I am sickened by the refectory, but I must also find other ways to make myself feel something rewarding, enjoying, and life-giving and sustaining diversions. I realized that instead of being bothered, I can try gardening when I’m not busy with the refectory. That, I can also take care of our community dogs and cats when I got ill-tempered with the refectory. And I did, I literally did. I set-up a garden inside the refectory and our dogs and cats dine with us in the refectory. My formator, in his grace, didn’t matter all these. He even gave me petchay seeds to plant into our in-house garden. Plus, he gave me his own dachshund dog for me to take care, and even allowing me to let that dog to stay inside my room.
Dynamics, level of insight:
I realized that I have a tendency to focus only into one activity. The only thing that let me bonded with that activity was not service, but only a challenge to accomplish something. My formator has seen this. He helped me to really change my pattern by allowing me to indulge to other life giving things aside from our prayers. I appreciate now the farmers living in our novitiate area, for gardening has taught me patience over things… from sowing the little seeds, watering and weeding them constantly, and cooking it as one of our dinner menu for my beloved brothers and formator of our community. And the joy of caring for our community pets has taught me compassion over these helpless animals. I remember, there were Sundays, where our farmer-parishioners visited our in-house garden. They brought me some seeds and taught me practical planting techniques. While the children, they cuddle and play with our community pets, specially, those which I taught with some skills to follow simple commands. All of these were fruitful. My refectory experience has opened door of opportunities for me to further grow as a person. Each endeavor: gardening and caring for pets has become the joy of our community. And everything has changed for me since then on.