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CSE Brother shares his perspective on religious life

bro andreas1. What aspect of religious life has brought you the most joy?

There are many moments of joy in religious life, but the one that stands out is the day when I was accepted into consecrated life formation, and the moment when I say ‘yes’ to live a consecrated life for the rest of my life in July 16, 2008.  My joy comes from having known the accompaniment of the mercy and faithfulness of God in my journey towards a decision for consecrated life.    In retrospect, the contemplative aspect of the CSE has great appeal for me and has given me much joy.  

2. Name an occasion you felt embarrassed or humbled?

There are many events or happenings that have humbled me but suffice for me to say that whenever they occur, I helped myself by recalling what Mother Mary went through.  She kept everything and pondered them in her heart.  By doing so, I too, like her, would find God’s purpose for past events.

3.  Name an occasion when you felt God was far away?

Whenever I distance myself from prayer, I distance myself  from God.  That is when I experience emptiness and a sense of God being far away.

4.  How has Religious Life changed you and helped you  to face challenges?

By being in a communal environment of daily devotion to prayer, abstinence, fasting, sacramentals, service, as well as being surrounded by the living examples of saints such as St John of the Cross, St Teresa Avila, St Therese of Lisieux, and the Blessed Virgin Mary, I would eventually become as one “by the power of the Holy Spirit to experience personally and to live the loving and saving presence of God in order to reach the transforming union of love with Him and to bring others to the same experience.” (As contained in our vision and mission.)

5.  What are the usual distractions that you have to face and what do you do about them?

Dryness, listlessness… Reading and deepening my spirituality through the writings of our Congregation Founder help to enrich and appreciate my call in consecrated life.  Besides prayer and the Carmel enrichment, throwing myself to wholehearted service together with the Puteri Carmel Sisters in running retreats, recollections, camps for youths, juveniles, and children, either in-house or outside the hermitage has given meaning and value to the call.

6.  Pope Francis calls for a church of the poor.  How do you live that within your vocation?

I am in total agreement with the Pope’s call for a church  of the poor because this is the Gospel truth.  As a consecrated person, we are called to practise the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience ‘in allegiance with Christ’.  However, poverty here does not mean devoid of properties or owning anything.  In fact the spirit of poverty enables us to genuinely respond to follow Jesus by not being attached to things, whether they be physical, intellectual or spiritual, and to live to share what we have with those in need.  To follow Jesus is to put our faith entirely on Him and trusting that He will not leave us orphaned.  Even if He should allow us to experience suffering because of poverty, we are to rejoice for in becoming poor we are able to appreciate the real meaning of poverty.

7. What do you do for recreation?

Our off-days and yearly recreational outings have been delightful and wholesome activities, which have contributed to the strenthening of the bonds of charity and compassion among the religious.

8. What do you do when you are with your biological family?

I spend time listening to them, catching up with them, as well as taking time to share faith experiences and living life in the Spirit.

9. How would you make vocations attractive to  youths today?

Through music.  Music is at the heart of young people.  Music attracts and affects them.  It fills the dryness and barrenness of the soul of the young.  We in Carmel Hermitage have a full band which serves as an effective tool to arouse the young.  We are telling the youth that a monastic life does not compose of prayer alone but that music and songs make up a large portion of it too.  St Augustine reminds us that “when we sing well, we have prayed twice…”   Music is one definite way to evangelize the young.

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