by Aime, sx
Last Tuesday, Fr. Eugene and I went to the Augustinian monastery in Bulacan for my retreat in preparation for this final profession of vows which we celebrate today. Before getting to the place, we had to pass through the Areneta land, and from one end to the other there were five check-points.
At the main check-point, something simple caught my attention: a sign board with the warning “No sticker, no entry.”I asked Fr. Eugene if there were other ways to go to the monastery, and the answer was affirmative, but that way is very long and the road is full of potholes. So, to pass through that well cemented road, to enjoy the scenery of the small mountains and hills, and the unpolluted air, one needed to have a sticker, because“no sticker, no entry”and the armed guards seemed to be quite serious about it.
There at the gate, I started to read my journey.
If I stand here in front of you, first of all, is to say “thank you” to God. A “thank you” with very big letters and with a very big heart. I do believe that if He would have written along this journey “no sticker, no entry” or “no holiness, no entry”, today this would not be taking place. Even if I didn’t impress Him, in His mercy and gracious love He allowed me to journey again and again with Him. Without him, I would have given up long time ago, because I know I am not perfect. So, all of this is not about me, it’s all about Him. [Somebody wrote to me: Congrats Aime, you made it! And I replied, thank you, but…God made it, not me.]
I say also “thank you” to my family, my father, my mother, and my eight siblings, for whom I remain always “Aime”, the beloved, and in whose hearts I never read “No sticker, no entry.”[Two weeks ago, someone asked me if someone from my family would come here… I said “yes”, my Father will! Three years ago he passed away, and at this time I do believe, he is here, his gaze from heaven is here, he can’t miss this, and he doesn’t need any sticker or ticket anymore to move from one place to the other.
I thank the Xaverian Family, the priests and the brothers, who have accepted me as I am in this big family, on whose faces and hearts I always read the word “Acceptance”, not “no sticker, no entry”. If the formators and my spiritual director had established as principle “no perfect Aime, no entry”, this also would not have taken place. Thank you! To the Xaverians who are here, those who are spending themselves in other missions, those who are now enjoying in heaven with our founder, Fr. Sartorio, who guided my first steps in this journey and whose picture I carried along with me as I was coming to this mass…I owe you everything.
I thank the Marikina community, Fr.Mex, Fr.Emmanuel, Fr. Henry and all the parishioners, for whom, even if I don’t have a sticker I can enter any gate, because I am part of this community. [May nagtanong sa akin: bakit posa Marikina ang iyong pagdiriwan ng final vows? Ang sagot ko po ay: Kasi nasa Marikina ang kalahati ng aking puso! Di ko makakalimutan ung karanasan natin, noon na-Ondoy tayo at pagkatapos niyon.]
From the very deep of my heart, I thank all of you who made all of these possible, people who brightened my way from the very first day of my arrival in the Philippines… The choir, the altar servers, friends and benefactors…“No sticker, no Entry”was not the message I got from you, and through your generosity, your faith, your prayers, your friendship, you enriched me and helped me to persevere.
As in your world there was no “no sticker no entry”, I did consider you “Confortians”, to some extent, Xaverians.
Conforti’s dream was that the whole world should become a single family of the children of God.
A world where there is no need of checkpoints, but a world where “no sticker, no entry” is replaced by “welcome”, welcome my brother, welcome my sister. Thank you for welcoming me, thank you to everyone. As I start a new journey as a “married person,” I ask your prayers. That I may remain focused, and live my consecration to God joyfully, humbly and wholeheartedly.
I hope that many young Filipinos from this Parish will join this dream of Conforti: to bring the Good News to all who do not know him and thus making the world a single family.
On December 03,I will be ordained to the ministry of service (diaconate) in Novaliches. All of you are welcome there. Unlike the Areneta land, there is no need of sticker to enter there.
Maraming salamat po sa inyong lahat!