" When it comes to the will of God, every other will has to give way. " - Melchoir De Marion Bresillac
Testimony of Angelee A. Abrenica, Lay Vocation Promotor for the SMA district of Philippines.
Last December 28, 2016 to January 1, 2017 I, with my cousin Faith, went to Italy to participate in the SMA International Laity Convention. It was a truly enriching event. I thought that I was there just to participate and to represent the Laity of SMA Philippines. What I did not know is that God willed me to be there to restore me back to His love.
There comes a time when every person called by the Lord to serve will reach a burning point. With all the stress, trials and temptations that comes with service we will always reach that burning point. It is that point despite all our efforts to push ourselves to continue we always feel to be in the dead end and all we want to do is to let go. I am at that point days before I came to Italy.
As a background, I grew up in a Roman Catholic Family and in a country, which is 86% Catholic. Ever sine I was young I was taught that serving the Lord is our ultimate goal in life. This was the reason why taking up so many service from my church Good Shepherd Parish in Las Pinas City, from my charismatic community Ang Ligaya ng Panginoon (Joy of the Lord), and my SMA PhDF Community was so easy.
I can say I am in my ultimate high in my service. In church I am a lector. In my charismatic community I serve with the youth and in the liturgy. For SMA I am a lay vocation promoter. I know that with every kind of service comes challenges. But I never thought that with all my service I will develop this selfish sense of entitlement of God's favor, which lead me to my burning point and darkness.
Towards the end of 2016 my family had to battle serious health issues of my parents. For the months of October and November 2016 both my parents were hospitalized. On the part of my dad it was life threatening. He was in the hospital for twenty-one (21) days. Five (5) days of which he was in a coma. The remaining days he was on dialysis. He had multipile organ malfunction due to infection.
My world stopped due to this. I could not go to work. I could not continue any of my service. I knew and I decided I will not be going to Italy.
It was at this point that I really felt being burned out. I felt betrayed by the Lord because He allowed me to experience this kind of trauma and pain despite of all my service for Him. In short I felt entitled of God's favor. I wanted to let go of everything. I actually decided to let go of all service and just focus on work and family. But that was not God's plan.
My Italy trip was unexpected. Considering what my family went through I decided not to go because I know I did not have the capacity to travel. But God's will is stronger than mine that He paved the way for me to travel through the help of the SMA Fathers in the Philippines, particularly Fr. Alan De Guzman.
In Italy I experienced concretely God's tremendous love for me. The care and hospitality of the SMA Fathers and the laity in Feriole was overwhelming. The warmth of the smiles, laughter, and love of the SMA laity from other countries was stronger than the cold temperature of Feriole. We did not know each other and yet we were cared for as if we were of their own.
What was really striking for me in this trip is the high level of acceptance that I felt from the SMA Fathers in Italy. The tenderness of the love and acceptance of the SMA Fathers and the SMA community in Rome was very inspiring. I never really thought that they were open to the idea of a girl working for the vocation of SMA in the Philippines.
Before I came to Italy, I had all the intention of letting go of all my service. The Italy trip was supposed to be the last horah for me. But the Lord had a different plan and will for me. He did not mean for me to be stuck with my own bitterness but for me to let go of my selfishness. The Lord willed for me to be in Italy at that particular point in time and to experience His tender love for me through the SMA because He wants to restore me back to His Love.
Serving the Lord will never be without any trials and pain. We might be bruised and hurt even burned out to the point of letting go. But God will never let us go and He will find a way to bring us back to His love. We just need to allow Him too. We must be always ready to let go of our own wills and let His Will come into play. We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Romans 5: 3-5)
I am forever grateful to God for bring me back to His loving embrace and to the SMA Fathers and Communties for being instrumental for me to be restored to God's love. I now move forward with hope to the God that I serve.
By: Angelee Marree A. Abrenica
SMA Philippine-District-In- Formation
Lay Vocation Promoter