Thursday, January 28, 2010
Where am I? This is not Taikia, South Shandong and certainly this is not heaven. I guess, I am somewhere in Asia and not in my native South Tyrol in Germany, the country I left for more than fifty years. Over there, I see bamboo and banana trees. Where on earth I am? Those men at the gate are wearing funny looking white and blue clothes with wooden and rounded swords hanging on their waists. The place is crowded with students of various age. There are chariots attached to motorized horses that conveyed people coming out of the area. Behind me are vendors selling multi-colored water and foods, writing materials and other things that I am not familiar with.
Oh Lord, am I alive again or my spirit simply sent back to earth? All I can remember about my mortal life was, like many others in China, I fell victim to a typhus epidemic. It was the cause of my death and I died January 28, 1908. I was 55 then and it is my 102nd death anniversary today. In my previous life, I was not an obvious leader. I did not found a religious order and I never became a bishop. I did not write a significant theological treatise, nor did I develop any new mission methods. I was an ordinary priest. But I am a saint now, they say.
It's almost noon and I am still in this crowded street fronting an arch sign which reads : “Divine Word College of San Jose”. Its name coincides with the official name of our missionary order, the ‘Society of the Divine Word’ or perhaps this is one of our own and run by my brothers and sisters. Thanks God, I’m home, somehow. Surely, if this is our learning institution, majority of the students here do the daily spiritual reading and are trying to imitate Christ and reject everything that is against God’s will. People who are responding to a call to mission, especially in foreign land like what I, together with John Anzer did in March 1879 when we both go out from Steyl.
But wait, people cannot see me. I cannot touch them too. They cannot hear me no matter how I scream or shout, just like what I’ve tried a while ago. I’ll follow them wherever they go and see how they fare beyond the campus. I will also go to their homes and hang-outs and I am more than excited to see if the ladies and gentlemen, the college students of this,.. I mean our, school named after our order are worthy calling themselves Christians,- specially in off campus activities, like what I feel when I wrote my piece, “The Missionary’s Joy” : “If ever there was a great work on earth, great because of its sublime goal, admirable because of the quantity and quality of its means and successes, it is the religion of the Crucified and the apostolate inseparably connected with it… In this light everything takes on a new, quite unique hue; what is small and unimportant becomes singularly attractive, what is bitter gains a peculiar sweetness.” Here I am taking now a closer look how the students care for their community and the society as a whole!
Our spirit visitor stayed in the outskirts of San Jose for more than a week observing how the DWCSJ students live outside of their home and school. How they intermingle with their relatives and friends, the marginalized and the needy of society. How they fare in their academic and spiritual quest.
Catholic schools have a long tradition of fostering character through service. Service begins in the school and then extends outward to the Church and to the whole human family. In order to have an effect on students' personal character, service ideally should involve students in face-to-face helping relationships so they can experience the fulfillment of touching another's life.
To our spirit visitor, every single second of his vocation was very important. When he was still alive, he explained to his confreres the purpose of his one month temporary stay to the new central house in Takia : “Our life is too short, our time too precious to lose even a tiny second of it! This month, too, belongs to God, and God will place each of its 720 hours, each of its 43,200 minutes, each of its 2,595,000 seconds on the scale of his justice, and demand an accounting from us.” Are we dedicating the important moments of our lives to God like our heavenly visitor especially now that the year 2010 mark the DWCSJ's 50th founding anniversary? It was May 1960 when the Society of the Divine Word (SVD) bought the DWCSJ (formely Southern Mindoro Academy or SMA) from its former owners, remember? There will also be a grand alumni homecoming next month.
But nothing was heard of from our spirit visitor up to the moment that he was sent back to heaven the other day. I just presume that he wrote such a wonderful memoir about the young people who, in one way of another, bear the name of his' and St. Arnold's congregation. A journal of sort where words of wisdom for young Christians can be found.
A memoir where long laid words of wisdom are written but very difficult for us,- humans, to comprehend and thus to follow …
(Photo from wikipdedia and reference from http://www.nlvn.net)