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.
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.