Et introibo ad altare Dei: ad Deum qui laetificat juventutem meam.
And I will go to the altar of God: to God who gives the joy of my youth.
“Ask yourselves, young people, about the love of Christ. Acknowledge His voice resounding in the temple of your heart. Return His bright and penetrating glance which opens the paths of your life to the horizons of the Church’s mission. It is a taxing mission, today more than ever, to teach men the truth about themselves, about their end, their destiny, and to show faithful souls the unspeakable riches of the love of Christ. Do not be afraid of the radicalness of His demands, because Jesus, who loved us first, is prepared to give Himself to you, as well as asking of you. If He asks much of you, it is because He knows you can give much.” (Pope John Paul II, The Meaning of Vocation)
“It is Jesus who stirs in you the desire to do something great with your lives, the will to follow an ideal, the refusal to allow yourselves to be ground down by mediocrity, the courage to commit yourselves humbly and patiently to improving yourselves and society, making the world more human and more fraternal.” (Pope John Paul II)
“Do not be afraid! Open wide the doors for Christ! If we let Christ into our lives, we lose nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing of what makes life free, beautiful and great. No! Only in this friendship are the doors of life opened wide. Only in this friendship is the great potential of human existence truly revealed… Dear young people: do not be afraid of Christ! He takes nothing away and he gives you everything. When we give ourselves to him, we receive a hundredfold in return. Yes, open, open wide the doors to Christ - and you will find true life.” (Benedict XVI, Verbum Domini, n. 104)
We want you to read these testimonies of our young monks who were not afraid to open their doors wide to Jesus, to make a move and to start to respond to His invitation. Just see how they were called. Perhaps God might be calling you just the way he called these young men to become monks.
Kanishka Perera OSB
The story of my monastic journey……..
In the numerous pages of the Holy Bible are recorded many stories of imperfect people being called by God for various tasks. In these beautiful stories God never asked for the ability of the individuals called, simply for their availability. In most of those stories the immediate response of the called was ‘NO’. For some, the reason was their family and relationships, for others it was their physical weaknesses, and yet others their wealth and inheritance.
It was no different in my life’s case. Saying ‘YES’ for good isn’t as easy as it appears to us. In fact that is one of the most common problems young people undergo today particularly in discerning their life’s destiny.
I was born to this world as the second and last child of my family, eighteen years after of my sister’s birth. According to my mother it was really a God experience for them. Ever since I was born, I was lucky enough to receive the love and care of almost all my family members and relatives. It was in this supportive environment I grew to be a young adult. I was also privileged to receive a fairly good education under Christian Brothers in a reputable Catholic educational institute. It was during these days I began to think seriously about my future. I had many options to consider. I could easily continue on to higher education, so also was the opportunity to begin a career. But there was something within me that said otherwise.
Initially it was shocking for my parents to learn that I, their only son, wanted to become a priest. It was so shocking that they ignored my request for some time. At the same time, being the only boy-child, I began to think twice of my own responsibility to shoulder the burdens of the family in the future. Even with these worries and problems God still had a way for me. Just as it was in the aforementioned stories God’s call to service prevailed. It was in the latter part of my A/L studies I came across the Directory of CMRS in the college library. In it were short descriptions of each religious congregation in the country, together with their vision, mission and Charism. It was then that I discovered the Order of Saint Benedict. By going through the pages I was able to find the closest mission station in hopes of approaching someone to get more information. On one fine spring day I went to the mission station with one of my cousins. My cousin introduced me to the monks of the mission. For some reason all the junior monks were there that day, this was very uncommon. It was then that I found my vocation director, who was at that time a junior monk. His mannerisms and his friendly attitude warmed my spirit.
From that moment forward we remained in contact via Facebook and E-Mail. It was at his invitation I went to the mother house of the Benedictines in Ampitiya to spend a couple of days in the first week of October, 2011. During that short stay I was able to speak to the monks and was able to acquire a comprehensive knowledge about the monastic life. Of the monks I met was the then Prior, late Very Rev. Fr. Leonard who shed light on the various aspects of life in the monastery. After going through a long process of discernment I finally decided to pursue this monastic way of life, keeping in mind the famous statement of St. Philip Neri; “ Preferisco il paradiso”.
Well, on my way here I neither had a so-called “Damascus road” experience nor a miraculous game changing event. It was only a long awaited search for some wider reality. Now, God in His great mercies has planted me in this beautiful garden of Sylvestro Benedictines, not merely to grow but to yield fruits and nourish His people one day. Therefore my only wish is that I be pruned and shaped in his design so that I can nourish those people who seek Him.
Dom. Kanishka Perera OSB
06th October, 2014.
Joseph Michael OSB
Testimony of My Monastic Vocation
I Joseph Michael O.S.B., from the parish of Nanu-oya, am the elder son of two in my family. It was at the “Come and See” program that was held on the 20th of August 2006, that I first told Rev. Fr. Clement that I was hoping to become a priest. I consider that day as my birthday in heaven.
I had no intention to become a priest in my younger days, but at the “Come and See” program I was very much drawn by the Benedictine way of life, as their motto goes “ora et labora” (Prayer, Meditation, Hospitality and Dedication). Seeing this made me want to become a priest in the order of St. Benedict.
As soon as I returned home I gladly told my parents that I was hoping to become a priest. At first they were a little hesitant to support my wishes. They told me “just try and see”, hoping that I might change my mind after experiencing the harsh formation (constant prayer and work) that priests undergo.
I was planning to join the Juniorate (Junior seminary) in January 2007. Unfortunately I had some difficulty collecting the necessary documents for enrollment. Consequently I felt that I was not destined to become a priest after all. To my surprise, my parents, who had initially rejected my calling, had taken the initiative to collect all the documents I needed. Still I was thinking and praying about whether I had a vocation to priesthood. Initially I questioned my calling, but I felt that God was surely calling me through the acts of his assistance.
My parents were praying for me constantly. As always, God was beside me, helping and encouraging me through my parents and colleagues. Finally after three months of waiting, I was asked to come to the Juniorate by the director, Rev. Fr. Clement. I was thrilled at the invitation, and my parents were very supportive. I still remember the words of my father in Tamil “mun waitha kalai pin waikka kudadu” that is to say “He who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is not fit for the kingdom.”
Even though I hadn’t attended the first three months of classes, I was able to pass all my exams. I obtained adequate results in my ordinary examination as well as in the advanced level examination. I give all credit to God for my success in school.
It was in 2012 that I was promoted as an aspirant and postulant to the congregation. During this time I was able to learn a lot about the congregation and the members of this unique community. All of the Fathers and Brothers of Monte Fano were very supportive of me. After spending nearly six and a half months in preparation, I was promoted to the novitiate house, Adisham.
The novitiate is a period of discernment, during which I began to discern whether I had received a true call from God. I was given a lot of time to pray and meditate on the wonders that God had been doing in my life. Our novitiate house is a beautiful place surrounded by the salubrious mountains and majestic flower gardens. I, together with my companions, enjoyed one year in the formation house. During that time I discovered that priesthood is my true calling, and that God is expecting me to serve his people in the manner of the Sylvestro-Benedictines.
On the 20th of July 2013 I was professed and received the monastic habit. I, together with my family, was overjoyed on that glorious day. My parents felt very proud of me. To them I became a sanctified man, but within myself I felt a desire to embody Christ’s humility.
Today I feel very happy and immensely comfortable in this way of life. I realize now that God has called me to the right place. Though I didn’t know about the congregation earlier on, I’m convinced that I’m in the correct place to be a follower of Christ under the patronage of Saints Benedict and Sylvester. Ultimately, my dear readers, after reading my testimony, I hope that you will be able to better recognize the seed that God has sown in you. As the late Steve Jobs said “the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on.”
Dom. Joseph Michael OSB
06th October, 2014.