God calls at the opportune time! He comes along at an unexpected time like a hero just on time to snatch away a beloved from a seeming danger or to bring her along to an untrodden path.
I thought I was already at the peak of my career; coming to age and my time to settle down. The family could already manage somehow to be independent from one who couldn’t give so much anyway. Just as the next in line among my siblings had already finished his course could have a job soon and my other two brothers graduating in a few years time. My parents don’t have jobs anymore with my father getting paralyzed after his stroke. Since we live along with my mom’s ancestral home with my grandfather and three unmarried aunts, they could manage to live simply and survive.
Thinking of marriage, the prince charming has come along and ready to take my hand and sweep me on my feet, promising the moon and everything. At such a moment, everything seems rosy. The knights in their shining armor seemed so gallant, handsome and charismatic presenting very bright future. But God has His ways of calling like the gentle breeze with a firm urgent voice of a beloved. Are you coming with me or not?
After that horrible fire that razed our residences, fourteen in a row in our town that fateful 1973, we have to start from scratch like rebuilding the house. Two of those burned down were ours: a new 2-storey house built by my aunt supposedly for a favorite niece because she’s single anyway. The other was the ancestral home owned by my grandfather. We were the last generation among his family members who would inherit such an antique Spanish style house. It’s gone, too.
After that, I was in search for something. Not something which the moth can eat up. Not something temporary as it can decay, get destroyed or be devastated but something that can last; must be everlasting! Earlier, this came in a dream. Vividly, it figured out a burned tree; the trunk is dark but in one of its branches is a budding stem …greening. It signaled an awakened dream. "Why do I work for something temporary for the Lord?" I revisited my long lost dreams. A paradigm shift happened within me. I went to a congregation whose sister works as a nurse I met in the hospital when my aunt had broken her arm. There, the sister invited me in their search –ins. I had an overnight stay in prayer with them. This was when that dream happened. And the fire occurred after this dream
I was offered work temporarily and an additional teaching load in the university. It was there where I met a fellow Sierva who invited me in one of the first professions of the two SSJ sisters. The invitation was last minute. The call was too late in the evening. I was already in bed when the telephone rang. The invitation was to attend the mass. After the mass, the lady guests were invited to a post “ kwentuhan” (sharing of stories) to know what and where one’s direction is and to find it out who are interested in the popular missions with the Vincentians in one of the barrios near our pastoral assistance centers. It happened so fast. The one month kind of seminar –popular mission set up happened at summer time. And the vacation with the Lord has ended.
It was time to decide, “It’s now or never.” Everything suited in place. We had an experimental journeying that time. We were six who initially responded to the call. The four made it to the first profession at the same time until perpetual profession. Two left in the postulancy period but the other one came back after four years due to family pressure. The other one was really undecided; hasn’t made it. In God, nothing is impossible. I thought it was too late for me. I was already over aged, I thought. I am already enjoying my career as a Master Teacher II. I am still having a scholarship grant at UST. I should have entered earlier but with Him, it’s never too late. He chose me not me choosing to enter. I was choosing other congregations; God didn’t allow it to happen.
On my 30th year as a consecrated person, as a Sierva de San Jose, so many things happened without my choosing how it should be. I was a teacher by profession; I came in with 13 years of service to my credit. My family thought I gave up something even my retirement pay but here am I still in the service of education and formation in the school. My friends thought I gave up my dream of travelling. I did have my share of going out of the country and being in the missions. Our houses have gone to ashes but now, I have as many houses where I could be assigned.” I am the only girl in the family, now I have as many sisters I can count.
“If you hear His voice, harden not your hearts.” LISTEN! He may be calling you, get ready, get in touch with your deeper feelings and in the Spirit. GET CONNECTED! BE A SIERVA DE SAN JOSE! Who knows?
Lovingly yours with Jesus in Nazareth,
FELICISIMA “felma” M. RAMONES,SSJ