For Where Your Treasure Is, There Also Will Your Heart Be by : Sr. Lorelei Marie Margaret Libo-on, O.Carm
My vocation story to contemplative life started when I was only 20 years old. At that time, I was a postulant in an active congregation. I wrote a letter to my formator about my desire for contemplative life, but she told me that I was still very young and contemplative life is very hard. So I decided to ignore the call. I gave my whole life to the community but the desire remained and kept on haunting me. I struggled so much before my Temporary Profession of Vows, again before my Perpetual Vows and even when I was given the heavy responsibility of leading our congregation. I went through a year and a half of exclaustration because I was searching for something… the real Treasure… “may kulang sa buhay ko!”, although I was happy with my life as a Religious and people had seen a sense of contentment in me.
As what a song implies:
“Lord, I hear your Name and in shame I turned away.
But I felt so cold to be far from my Lord, far from You, my Lord.
Lord, I hear my name, now I go before You, my Lord.
If it is Your will, let it be, let it be. Let me be what You will.
Let me do Your will.”
I was so afraid to respond to God’s call because of my possessions, my treasures… not money nor wealth but my community, my family and friends. After twenty four years in the Religious Life, I’ve known so many people and they became part of my life. My family and friends have not stopped telling me that God has given me a special gift and that through that giftedness, God has touched so many lives. How then can I touch their lives if I were to be confined in a monastery? They cannot understand the mystery of God’s call… “a call within a call”.
“Patient endurance attains to all things. Lacking in nothing, God Alone suffices”. Only my good God could satisfy the longings of my soul. Last year, I decided to go on a 30-day discernment retreat. My community and our bishop respected my decision and allowed me to. The Holy Spirit really pushed me to the limits and fortunately, He gave me a good retreat director in the person of Rev. Fr. Nilo Labra, S.J. at the Jesuit retreat house in Malaybalay, Bukidnon. My journey during those 30 days was not that easy. My retreat director told me during the 1st week that I had a happy disposition in life as a Religious. Being a Jesuit priest, he had a vow of stability and he challenged me to be open to the Holy Spirit and to accept God’s will for me. In his own opinion, he wanted me to stay in my community. When we were going through the 2nd week, the “Discernment Week”, it seemed as though I was passing through a fire, a storm, a great earthquake, a war… the battle between the good and the evil spirit. Undoubtedly, the Holy Spirit really worked hard and my openness helped me and my retreat director to discern God’s will. It was indeed an unforgettable experience!
“My ways are not your ways, says the Lord; My thoughts are not your thoughts”… the discernment ended with the confirmation that God’s call to contemplative life was authentic. My director was so amazed and overwhelmed by the discovery of God’s greatness, that my desire to enter the monastery was indeed authentic. From the 3rd week until the end of my retreat, God continuously revealed the confirmation of the call. In my last contemplation, I was asked to contemplate the passage from the Gospel about the “Commissioning of the Eleven”, where Jesus sent His apostles to preach the Gospel to the whole world. In my contemplation, Jesus told me not to preach, but to “pray for the salvation of many souls.”
“Nothing is impossible for God if we put our trust in Him.” I felt so at peace and happy. Indeed, our good God gave me all the graces I needed… the strength and courage to finally answer His call in spite of so many hindrances. My mind, my heart and my soul were restless until the day I entered the monastery. Ah! This is really the LIFE I have longed for. Indeed, I finally found my REAL TREASURE, “ang aking TANGING YAMAN”. Every day, every moment of my life in the monastery is a LIFE OF GRACE. I couldn’t explain the peace and happiness within my soul. Jesus is enough for me! What more shall I ask for?
PEARL OF GREAT PRIZE
Once in our life we are searching for something invisible, the real happiness, not of this world. Only our hearts can perceive and understand.
Our journey is full of challenges. Every moment, we strive to be worthy till we find the real treasure that can satisfy our very soul.
Indeed, perseverance and great faith will keep us steadfast in our belief, That one day we will find the real treasure of our hearts.
When we discover the Kingdom of Heaven as the pearl of great prize, We are not to renounce what we have to obtain it, but joyfully give up everything… just to possess it.
Ah! This is really the “True Love”, Wanting to possess the “Real Lover” Willing to let go of everything Even to the point of having nothing.
You, my God, are the joy of my soul You are my everything! You are my All-sufficient All, The Pearl of great prize, my real Treasure.