Who Has Time For The Young?
By Sr. Eva N. Calingo, CM
I Miss my Previous Work
Never had I thought of being sent her to Salamanca, Spain. For some months now I sit down day after day learning the Spanish language. I miss the active apostolate that I was involved in before: the soul-searching and far reaching questions and life testimonies of the prisoners where I worked; the joy and laughter, and the simple but difficult-to-answer question in the school; the hopeful but pain-filled look in the eyes of the street children; and the seemingly monotonous but very challenging work in the handicrafts center. But then life here in Spain opened to me the door that leads to yet another world I did not expect to experience –the world of some young people from all over Europe and a few from Japan – that of my classmates in the intensive language courses.
“What are you studying the language for? What will you do after studying? What are you doing?” These are questions which I have to answer month after month, as each month we have different group. Only very few stay for more than three months. The young, curious hearts and minds are simply asking: What is the religious life? Even the young men in my class were asking me the whys and the hows of my life as a religious. For them it is unimaginable that I left my job, my own circle of friends and my family and live in a convent, and now leave my own country to stay in Spain and Rome for a number of years.
Criticisms of the Church
What criticism they voice about the “church” which for most of them means the Pope, the priest, and the religious! Rarely have I was bombarded with questions. I just would not sit down there and listen, they was even a time when our teacher and I helped each other in answering them. How uniformed and misinformed they were! Some would approach me during our break, repeating the same set of questions.
The Enigma of Retreats
They are particularly curious about the idea of retreat. A day of silence, prayer and reflection – they would ask: “Do you like it?” The annual eight day retreat – without talking!” And the 30 –day retreat – they just shake their heads. It is an enigma for them. A part of their being cries for silence, for a firm belief in Somebody Absolute. But the pressure and the forces of the society they are living in are too strong for them to overcome or resist. They would lie to talk about their restlessness, their hopes, their dreams, their struggles. Is there somebody willing to listen to them? Is there somebody willing to give their very precious time to clarify their doubts or affirm the steps they have taken towards this untrodden paths of their own self? You, do you have time?
Silence as a Friend
I happen to be friends with a young lady from Germany, Andrea. At first, it was simply out of curiosity about the Philippines that she made an appointment to see me at the Colegio Mayor ‘El Carmelo’ where I am studying with our Sisters, The Carmelite Missionaries. She travels a lot but has never been to Asia. This continent held little attraction for her. Well, until we became classmates. Young, full of life, confident and of lively strength, she has a sensibility that goes beyond what is material. Her beautiful smile reflects her good heart. She faces file as it comes, thus enjoying the present moment deeply, fully. At times we would walk around the city, sit down in parks, take coffee and talk about many things. She has her questions too about the faith, and one main doubt. But what I admire in her is that she is. She has her “life of prayer” and to her, silence is a friend.
Time to Talk
A young lady from France, Delphine, told me one time that she would like to know also about things such as religious congregation and retreats. All people need time to be silent and to reflect, she said. The she asked me: “Do you have time? I’d like to talk...” And the story goes on and on. May the ANDREA’s and DELPHINE’s of this world find the message of Hope and Love alive in our very own lives, messengers o f the Good News