“A Journey that starts with a Humble Cross, a Journey that will end on a Triumphant and Glorious Cross”
“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” – Mk 8:34
As a seminarian of the Institute of the Incarnate Word, it is part of our formation to do an apostolate, especially for those people who are thirsty for the knowledge and especially for the love of God since this is part of our charism- inculturization of the Gospel. Here, in the Philippine Formation our academic year usually begins in the month of July, thus new academic year means also new apostolate- it also means a new cross. These words of Jesus Christ on Mark 8:34, inspire and remind also the three of us (Bros. Edward, Vince & Hongjun) to follow Jesus in his footsteps, when we are assigned to do a missionary apostolate to a little Sittio in Brgy. Sto. Toribio. The name is sittio Sampalukan, (samplukan means tamarind in English). The Sittio is merely composed of 80 families almost all of the populace belongs to the Catholic Church, hence in a way it’s also a blessing since at least the people is also having some basic precepts about our faith and we are thinking that it will be easy for us to conduct or to do well our missionary service, but as time goes on we are totally wrong.
For the first few Saturdays we did our best to establish the kids oratory and the youth oratory we also intensified our house to house visitation, in which we are very grateful to the people that they show so much hospitality, hence our purpose is to tell them what is the purpose that we are here and re- evangelize them, since they have already a wrong belief about the doctrine and the teachings of the Church. Furthermore, we keep telling to the parents to push their child to attend to the oratory for the sake of having knowledge of Christ and eventually a love for Christ. Consequently, as I said at the beginning it is not easy, most of our Saturdays, we have only a handful of children and because of some instances we need to cut or to stop the Youth oratory since no one is attending. Thus, we admit that we are on the brink of giving up, most especially during the time that we are starting to organize the Christmas Party of our children Oratory and no one is cooperating well to us. But God said to us, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (Cf. 2Cor 12:9), hence we are very weak but little by little we’ve realized that we are being perfected with our own weakness, thus we did not surrender the cross that was given to us, we pray, ask some advices to our beloved superiors and did our best to look for the best person that God wants us to be with.
Thus, because of our perseverance in our apostolate to communicate the rightful message of Christmas, God give us the grace to celebrate meaningfully the “Nativity of Our Lord” last December 2014. Even thou the electricity were cut off and the weather is totally against us, it did not hinder us and the people of ‘Samaplukan’ to celebrate it with un explainable happiness and joy, realizing that the birth of the messiah is the unconditional love of God for his people. The people are joyful and realize that the true meaning and the centre of Christmas is Jesus Christ.
Furthermore, the next program we did after the Nativity of our Lord is to organize a Parent’s Catechism. Our purpose is still to re-evangelize the people most especially the parents of the Kids and youths that are entrusted to our care, further on we all know that the parent’s are the first teachers of the children, thus it will be better that the parents have at least the rightful doctrine to teach to their children and because of this the children will not go astray. Hence, organizing this, is a cross, but it did not hinder us we persevere in our prayers and ask other peoples prayers and support. As a result, God give us the grace, after the seminar, the parents of our kids and our Youths went home joyfully, some of them even say, “Thank you for deepening our intimate love for God! Please continue to help us in our Way of Holiness!” Hence we responded with this request with great enthusiasm to continue our journey with a humble cross. We continue to organize two major ‘holy’ events, even thou our time is already limited since our apostolate is soon to come an end.
We organize Youth pilgrimage, thought them thru the old churches that we’ve visit, that we are fortunate that we can go anytime with this churches to pray and to talk to God anytime we want. We told them that, it is possible to offer yourself to God when you are still young by going to confession, attending the holy mass and receiving holy communion and it will be more pleasing to God, we should not learn to offer ourselves to God when we are already old and our physical fitness starts to fade, My dear youths ‘Don’t offer the leftovers to God’.
Moving on, our journey is about to come to an end. Thus, our final goal is to let the people of sampalukan to know the true meaning of lent, thus we seminarians and the people of Sampalukan organize a procession of Way of the cross. The people responded with great enthusiasm to attend the said procession, but prior to that we thought that only few people will attend the said event since during those time the weather once again is not in our side and they did not arrive on the said time, so were just planning to do the way of the cross inside of the chapel without the procession. But God said, don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand (Is 41:10), hence even thou the rain is very heavy it did not hinder the people to attend the said event in the original plan. I saw in the eyes of the people the emotional of happiness that seems like it is their first time to experience such delight. When you look to their eyes, they’ve realize that Jesus died for them on the cross because of such love to us. The candle wax that is pouring in the hands of each attendees of the procession didn’t mind the painful heat of the melted wax on their hands. We saw to them that, this thing that there are experiencing now is nothing on the nails and scourges that Jesus receive during his passion. The rain did not deter, the wax of the melted candle did not hurt and the sudden heat of the sun that can cause sickness did not bother them, as long as they will be part and to make some sacrifices for the holy procession – for God.
As we are about to part ways to the people of the sampalukan, our group that was assigned in this little sittio realize that our missionary assignment for one year ends with Triumphant and glorious cross. The moment that Christ is about to carry his cross, a cross that full of shame and disgrace, it turned out that after he was crucified will became gloriously needed and desire by every people, since it reminds us that Christ died for our sins, but most importantly it brings us the message that God Sacrifice himself for his unconditional love. We are sure that little by little the people of sampalukan realize that the cross is not a shame, but a blessing. It should be welcome, not to reject. Hence, we all know that, there are still a lot of things to work out with this sittio, Thus we pray that the people of Sampalukan may persevere in prayers and to the humble message of the Gospel. We are hoping that time will come that they will tell and realize to themselves: “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” – Gal 2:20. May the Almighty God always bless the people of Sampalukan and bestow on them abundant blessings!
Sem. Edward Teodor P. Torio
Sem. Vince To
Sem. Hongjun Li
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