29th March 2010 – 4th April 2010
San Damiano Friary / Greccio Friary / Ch of St. Mary of the Angels
Franciscan Friars Vocation Camp
I have had two retreats and the third retreat would seem impossible. My examination results were released via a text message and email and knowing that a mail will be sent to my house, i thought i can forget about joining the one week vocation camp with the Franciscan Friars. With Lowell’s help, i managed to get permission to join in the programs without staying-in. Before I go for this Vocation Camp, I really felt no calling into the Ordo Fratrum Minorum, O.F.M. but now, yeap, it’s there!
The first day’s program started with watching a general vocations video and introduction to the priestly vocation by Friar John Wong. The video made me realized about how God can be found in Silence and complete silence indeed is impossible. That’s when we have to attempt to create silence in our heart. In the afternoon, personal sharing and learning about the liturgy of the Holy Week by Friar Derrick Yap. It ends very late on all days and I’ll miss out a lot if i go home every day! That’s when I felt i need to stay-in to experience the full effects of the retreat. I went home on Monday night to reveal my bad results to my Dad. Surprisingly and Miraculously, he found my bad results, good. AWESOME! Surprisingly too, he allowed me to stay from Maundy Thursday till Easter Sunday.
I forgot what exactly happened on Tuesday but for the first two nights was on Franciscan Spirituality by Fra. John Wong and for both i skipped. The good thing is, Gabriel Seah managed to summarize both talks in a few sentences. Thanks be to God.
Wednesday was the day we had to be at the Greccio Friary by 9am. I took a cab down to Chestnut Drive for fear that i might be late ! I reached there at about 8.20am ? Walked up and down Chestnut Drive for at least 8 times ? I couldn’t find the Friary ! But was saved when Fr. JP told me that it’s situated within the CHIJ compound. Gabriel arrived about 10 mins after I did. The rest, Julian and Lowell and Friends, arrived late! At the first Session, Friar Joseph Nasanathan gave us this really good article (which can be found within this blog), to read and reflect. After an awesome indian food lunch, we had Friar Arul to talk to us about Vocation and Discernment, Postulancy, Novitiate and Post-Novitiate, etc. I asked a lot of good but retarded questions. =P The need to stay over at the Friary was intense. I went home that evening for dinner, packed my bag and off i went. It’s amazing how God works in your life.
Maundy Thursday arrived. In the morning, was Chrism Mass at the Ch of St. Bernadette. We arrived early, hoping to get seats but got in only to find ourselves standing at the back. While waiting for Mass to start, there was this woman quarreling with the warden over a small mater. The woman was saying something like, “No, you didn’t tell me that, you lied, you need to go for confession.” Poor warden. Honestly i feel like scolding this woman, telling her to shut up and watch her temper in God’s house. It happened like 5-10mins before the Chrism Mass. God taught me patience and that we should always examine our own conscience before helping others examining theirs. 🙂 We also celebrate the institution of the Priesthood and we witnessed the Diocesan and Religious Priests renewing their vows. All the priests are very different in terms of their character. This, indeed, is a very rare occasion for all to gather in one place. I saw Fr. Augustine Tay in white cassock ! =P
After Mass, was lunch at the Friary and an afternoon session with Friar John Wong. That session, Friar John Wong taught us meditation I think, That was when we were shown two vocation story interviews. One by a Marist Brother, one by a Priest. The one by the priest was especially interesting, like how he celebrated the “Mass” when he was younger. There was particularly one matter he said that struck-ed me. What you want may not be what God wants. Many times, i find myself standing on the side of what I want. Have i seriously thought about what God wants of me? Like the Priest in the video, it was very difficult for me to say, “Lord, Let your will be done” because I’m afraid of what God chose for me.
Kenneth reminded me just now that:
to enjoy the fullness of religious and priestly life, is to fully embracing the married life.
to enjoy the fullness of married life is to fully embracing the religious and priestly life.
I believe it was on wednesday night when Father asked us Aspirants, what is it that makes us truly happy ?
In the evening of thursday was the start of the Easter Triduum. We had Mass of the Lord’s Supper to commemorate the Institution of the Eucharist. We were given the opportunity to sit at the Loft from Maundy Thursday till the Easter Vigil Mass. From there, I had an extremely good view of how Father John-Paul celebrated Mass. I used to doubt that Father commingles the Body and Blood of Christ =x. Tenebrae followed after Mass. Very rightly, His Grace Archbishop Nicholas Chia mentioned during his homily at the Chrism Mass that without the Eucharist there can be no Priests, and without Priests there can be no Eucharist.
The atmosphere of Good Friday started when Reverend Mr. Derrick Yap, O.F.M. banged the Book of Gospels against the Altar which created a thunderous sound. The recollection by Friar John Soh, O.F.M. was especially awesome. I think Kenneth was mentioning that Brother John Soh’s kind of the Ideal Friar. =O We went for the 3pm Good Friday Service. Sure enough it rained.
Friday went by and Saturday came. It was a day everyone’s been excited for. The Aspirants, the two Fathers, the two Brothers had scary chicken rice from the rat-infested stall. Afterwards we went back to Church and help with the banners before heading to the chapel for the afternoon reflection and meditation. Brother Julian, one of the Aspirants is to be baptised on easter vigil night! Everyone was excited for him too. For him, he told us he was tricked into coming for the camp but after the camp, he said he now has slight interest in the priesthood and the best part is that his girlfriend is very open about this!
Then came Easter Vigil Mass. The Lord is Risen. Alleluia! It was an awesome Mass i must say. I see many friends being baptised and confirmed and I start thinking when will I get confirmed. This boy we met on Saturday, his name spelt Cody i guess. Very interesting boy. Wish i have a younger brother like him. He told me about his parents and how he don’t play computer games. I told him maybe his future will be with the Franciscan Friars! =P
This one week with the Franciscan Friars had been an awesome experience. Julian was like, “Is there a one-week postulancy?” haha. I too want to experience a one-week postulancy if it exists!
Lord, I will go where you lead me to.