The Prayers of the Saints
Yesterday, after 48 tense hours of waiting and fervent prayers, I was relieved to finally receive an email from fr Allan White, OP. He wrote, accepting me as a candidate for the Novitiate in the English Province of the Order of Preachers, which begins in September in Cambridge. I was over-joyed and my eyes filled with tears and my heart with gratitude! For the one thing I have realised in the past months is that this has happened not for any merit or worthiness on my part. Only by the grace of God has this vocation been given to me and only by His grace will I proceed. Ultimately, the glory, honour, praise, thanksgiving and recognition goes to the Triune God - Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
I thank the Lord for the many people who have been witnesses to His love and care for me. This blog has been an unexpected blessing. Looking at my Statcounter, the peak numbers of visitors to this blog have certainly been on those days when important decisions were being made... clearly concerned readers do check in for the latest news on my vocation and my faith journey. I am truly humbled by this. I am also very touched whenever a stranger, someone who has dropped in on my blog by chance, emails or comments that he or she will pray for me. I am thankful also for the prayers of Dominicans around the blogosphere. Such acts are a revelation of God's love to me.
Over and above this, the constant love, support and prayers of my friends and family have been an unfailing source of strength. In the 'real', non-virtual world, there are countless parishioners here in Skipton who have been praying for me, asking me frequently for news. It was frustrating when I had none to give them, but their loving concern was much appreciated. In a special way, I give thanks for and to Fr Peter Dawber, my parish priest who has stood by me and with me for years now - a true friend and pastor. My friends and former colleagues in the seminary have also been praying for me, asking me to keep them informed. They may not write or email much but I know that they have been waiting and praying with me. There has also been my friends in the Philippines and Singapore who have been praying for me earnestly. In particular, I am thinking of the Dominican family in Manila. There is the home of my vocation, the seed-bed where I grew to love the Order for its people and began to see in them a joyous family which I wanted to be part of too. They have been waiting on the edge with me, praying for me, offering Masses and sending me lovely text messages and emails. In my hardest moments, they have been a beacon of hope, love and faith. And like a solid foundation, one that is hardly noticed, but always there, my family in Malaysia, the USA and Singapore have been praying too, assuring me of their support. Without any of you, but especially without the love and understanding of my family, I would not be here today.
These people with whom I am connected by the bond of love and faith in the One God are all manifestations of God's love and care. Every time I felt I needed some encouragement, and another email or telephone call came, just at the right time, I knew God was saying, through them: "I love you".
But the communion of saints is much more than just the Church Militant; it is also the Church Triumphant, the saints in heaven. In these past days, I have prayed the Dominican Litany of Saints, I have said a Novena to St Dominic and to Our Lady of Guadalupe. To Our Blessed Lady, I offer praise and thanks and continue to entrust myself to her motherly protection and guidance. I recount all this not because I think I am saved by my works, nor do I want you to think I am boasting of how hard I prayed. No, I wish to recall my indebtedness to the saints in heaven and glorify God in my thanksgiving to them for their heavenly aid. It is fitting and wonderful that this grace has come to me on the great feast of St Peter and St Paul, my beloved patrons. Their lives are a constant source of inspiration and hope, as I mentioned in yesterday's post. I have also implored the help of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta and the Servant of God, John Paul II and received their aid and comfort in prayer. To these holy saints, and also to you, readers, friends, benefactors, I wish to offer my thanks and gratitude.
Together, we have journeyed this far, and with so great a company around me, I am confident that with your prayers and support, the grace of God and the intercession of Our Lady, St Dominic, Ss Peter & Paul and all the saints, I shall find the strength and courage to begin the work of Preaching and the Salvation of Souls with my Dominican brothers and sisters. With humility and hope, some fear and much joy, I set out on this stage of my pilgrimage of faith. I place all my trust in God:
You, O God alone are the source of every goodness and blessing; You are the
fulfillment of the saints, the joy of the righteous. You, dearest and Most High
God, are the hope and strength of mankind in every age, the One from Whom all
good things come, full of compassion and mercy. You have begun this good work in
me; may You O Lord bring it to fulfillment, perfection and completion! Amen.
The photo above was taken in San Lorenzo Ruiz church in Dagat-dagatan, the Philippines with a new statue of St Dominic, a gift to the parish. I am dressed in a barong Tagalog, the national shirt of the Filipino people on the occasion of the graduation of my students. Lovely statue of Sto Domingo... pity about that bloke in the way!!