God's mercy and yours...
Yesterday, I received the habit of the Order of Preachers from the Prior Provincial, together with one other fellow novice, calling upon God for His mercy and that of my brothers and sisters in the Order. I have taken the religious name, Lawrence, in honour of St Lawrence Ruiz, protomartyr of the Philippines. As you may already know, the Dominican parish in Dagat-dagatan where I spent 12 unforgettable months was named after him. It will take some getting used to, being called 'Brother Lawrence' and signing off under this new name! This custom of adopting a religious name was invoked because my fellow novice and I share the same baptismal name, which may have caused some confusion...
I was asked recently how I feel, having spent one week here and I could say with spontaneity and sincerity, that I feel happy! I believe that God has lovingly brought me to a good place and I pray that I will flourish here and grow in His wisdom and grace. All my initial jitters of leaving the familiarity of Skipton and coming here have faded away. Indeed, last Saturday (in Skipton) after Confession and Mass, I left St Stephen's parish with a sense of peace and re-newed trust in God.
Quite co-incidentally, on that morning of 10th September, over 20 parishioners from St Paulinus, Dewsbury (where I spent my first year as a seminarian for the Leeds diocese) decided to come to Skipton for an outing. It was with great delight that I greeted their familiar faces and received their warm embraces - something I very much needed that morning; indeed, the good God reached out to me through them! Together with parishioners from Skipton, they were able to see me off to a my new home in Cambridge. "O give thanks to the Lord for He is good, for his love endures forever!" (Ps 135:1)
Incidentally, a passage from 1 Timothy 6:2c-12 in yesterday's Liturgy gave me cause to pause and reflect. I would like to share parts of it with you here: "We brought nothing into the world, just as we shall not be able to take anything out of it. If we have food and clothing, we shall be content with that. Those who want to be rich are falling into temptation and into a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires, which plunge them into ruin and destruction... But you man of God, avoid all this. Instead pursue righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience and gentleness. Compete well for the faith. Lay hold of eternal life, to which you were called when you made the noble confession in the presence of many witnesses."
There lies the programme for the pilgrimage of religious life on which I made a first step yesterday... I wish to thank you all for your prayers and support. Please continue to pray for me, for the grace of perseverance, that I may learn well to become a 'man of God'. Be assured too that you're all in my thoughts, prayers and fondest memories.
Signing off, God willing, until October: Bro Lawrence, O.P.!
May Our Lady of Guadalupe, St Dominic and San Lorenzo Ruiz pray for us!
The photos above (courtesy of Bro Angel Mendez, OP) are from yesterday's Clothing Ceremony (Vestition) and a photo taken afterwards in my room.