Message from our Spiritual Director
“Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation.”
Brothers and Sisters,
Welcome to the online presence of the Bukas-Loob sa Diyos Catholic Charismatic Community – District of Manila.
Community is born and grows by communication. And communication deepens communion. May this website promote communication within our District, with the global BLD Community, with the Church, and with the whole world.
The Lord calls us to be bukas-loob, to be generous, and to be open in Spirit, open-hearted. He missions us to communicate the Word of God in our thoughts, words and deeds. New technology and social media have ushered in new ways for us within the Church and our Covenant Community to spread the Good News. The internet, in particular, has been both a challenge and a blessing to the work of evangelization.
The speed of communication and the ever-increasing bytes of online space have allowed the spread of false witness, deliberate misinformation, half-truths, deceitful propaganda. On the other hand, the same online speed and space are a blessing, because they also provide us an opportunity to speak for the truth, and charity, and justice when we allow the Holy Spirit to breathe and flow through the new media of the internet.
Called to spread the Good News to the ends of the earth, we should fully take advantage of new technology to respond to the call for “New Evangelization.”
I thank all who have worked on the construction of this websitefor helping BLD’s Evangelization efforts to a whole new level by the online connectivity that this website affords. May we spread Christ’s salvation like wildfire as we invoke the Spirit to guide us in this new phase of Evangelization and Mission work.
Yours truly in Christ,
VICTOR C. DE JESUS, S.J.
Ateneo de Manila University
I SAID A LITTLE PRAYER : THE VOCATION STORY OF FR. VICTOR “VIC” DE JESUS, SJ
It was Christmas Eve. Fr. Vic’s mother and teenage brother had a fight. They shouted and hurled unpleasant words at each other. His mom was so upset with something his brother did. Fr. Vic who was around seven years old then was emotionally affected. As he was crying, something came to his heart: “O Lord, I’d like to become a priest to teach people how to be a little more loving of each other.”
Was it just a spur of the moment kind of prayer to console his young aching heart? I don’t believe so. God must have put that desire – or burden as some may call it – in his heart, which would shape his vocation many years after. And this unforgettable event in Fr. Vic’s life was for him one of the strongest confirmations of his calling.
An Early Call
As early as four years old, Fr. Vic was already attracted to the priesthood. He liked joining in prayers, the block rosary, processions, lighting candles, and other devotional practices. It was one of his early childhood ambitions to be a priest besides being a doctor, scientist, teacher, or astronaut. His childhood feelings of being drawn to the celebration of the sacraments led him sometimes to use those sweet red haw flakes for pretending to give communion to his playmates.
Father Vic was in grade 7 when he expressed his intention to enter the minor seminary but his parents dissuaded him. He didn’t push the issue for he was also curious about what high school life would be outside. He had the opportunity to study in Philippine Science High School for he already passed the grueling competitive exams but he gave up the chance for one reason: there was no religion class there. He benefited much from studying in Ateneo de Manila for he was blessed with teachers who not only taught him how to value the Mass, the rosary, the other sacraments, etc. but were also good Christian role models. There was also the value of service promoted in school. His experience in catechetical work as a member of the Ateneo Catechetical Instruction League (ACIL) and his involvement with the Tulong Dunong outreach program plus the value placed on prayer at home were, he believes, God’s way of confirming his early inklings of His desire for him to be His priest.
By third year high school, he attended the Jesuit Vocation Seminar and by fourth year, the call became very strong. After high school, he attended a vocation seminary workshop and a retreat. It then became clear to him that he was called to do either of two things – to be a doctor or become a priest. But in the end he said no. “I think the Lord is calling me to become a priest and to enter now.” His parents tried to convince him to pursue medicine first but Fr. Vic was sure of what he really wanted and entered the seminary. He made his first vows – simple but perpetual – on May 31, 1982. On April 20, 1991, he was ordained a priest at the age of 31.
Struggles and Difficulties
Fr. Vic considers his Jesuit life as generally happy and a life without major difficulty. But just like any other vowed religious, he also experienced struggles and challenges in his priestly journey. The long periods of study and sometimes community life were some of his biggest difficulties. His former job as Rector of San Jose Diocesan Seminary was one great challenge for him. “Part of my job is to tell somebody that ‘I don’t think this is working out; it seems the priesthood is not suitable for you.’ That’s very hard for me to have to say to someone.’” There were also physical challenges like when he was assigned in Ipil (now the capital of Zamboanga Sibugay) as Assistant Parish Priest. He would go up the hills in his motorcycle to say Mass for the many barrio chapels there. The most difficult was when it rained hard. Sometimes he had to walk and push his motorcycle because the mud was too deep to steer the motorcycle safely.
But his greatest struggle was his sleepiness, which was an existing problem since he was twelve years old. He was always sleepy and often unable to take down adequate notes in class even if he had eight hours of sleep. But still, he was able to excel in his studies and graduate with flying colors. And how was that possible? He shares that sometimes he borrowed the notes of his classmates and consolidated them, thus having better notes than some of them.
In the novitiate, he had difficulty getting up in the morning and staying awake during morning prayers. Fortunately, he had a chance to pray also later in the day, when he was much more alert. His being a sleepyhead was a mystery to him then. Was this just plain laziness, he wondered. He was already 40 years old when he found out that he had sleep apnea, a sleep disorder such that he would stop breathing for several seconds many times every hour and this seriously affected the quality of his sleep. He also had some embarrassing moments because of his sleep problem. There were times while Fr. Vic was concelebrating at some Masses, he would fall asleep. “I have been up front as a main concelebrant, sitting beside a main presider and soon, I would be nodding off. After the Mass, people would tell me,” he shared. And sometimes while listening to oral exams in their school of theology, he couldn’t stifle his yawns. “My poor students must sometimes have been demoralized so I had to apologize and tell them, ‘I’m not bored by your answers; it’s just that I have some sleep deficit,’” he said.
Rewards of the Job
I believe that every vocation has its own rewards. In Fr. Vic’s case, the feeling of fulfillment in his apostolates – sacramental ministry, teaching, the formation of seminarians, Marriage Encounter, working with Catholic Charismatic covenant communities, etc., brings a breath of fresh air to what may be a demanding and tiring job. In these activities he experiences God’s love and is able to help people to love one another.
Aside from the celebration of the Mass, he is most fulfilled with the Sacrament of Reconciliation. “You get up close and private with the individual and you get to see God dealing with the soul. These are people going back to God and it’s so beautiful,” he said. His ministry of teaching – as an instructor in Loyola School of Theology for ten years and counting – also fulfills him especially when he sees the students are really growing in their understanding of the faith, and they’re very interested and motivated.
He feels privileged to have his Jesuit community of friends in the Lord. “Community life is sometimes challenging, but almost all of the time, it is a blessing and a joy,” he said. He is also very happy about his contribution as a Rector of San Jose Diocesan Seminary for six years. “Talk about ‘multiplier’ effect! If I was able to help form seminarians from almost 30 dioceses into, at least, not ‘bad priests’, I feel that’s a very big thing,” he said. Currently, he is part of the formation team of the Loyola House of Studies (the Jesuit Scholasticate) and Vice-Superior of Alingal House, a “satellite” community of Loyola House.
Fr. Vic never had any serious doubts about his vocation. It was only once in his 30 years as a Jesuit that he briefly felt like giving up and leaving. “I was angry about a decision of one of the Superiors regarding a particular case. But having been a Superior myself, I realized things are complicated and you can’t always find a solution that will please everyone. So, after three and a half seconds, I gave the Superior the benefit of the doubt,” he said.
Grace to Love in Return
After about 27 years as a Jesuit, Fr. Vic underwent a 30-day tertianship retreat. While he prayed the story of the Prodigal Son, he saw himself as the envious Elder Son, the one who was faithful and felt under-appreciated and unrewarded by the Father. There were times that he would see certain people who seemed to be “having their cake and eating it too” i.e., people who did not seem to be taking their religious vows very seriously and yet, seemed to have been blessed anyway. So sometimes, he would share with his closest Jesuit friends that like the Elder Son, he sometimes felt he had “missed out” on certain things. “I have sometimes been very tempted to ‘leave home’ too like the younger son… but I decided, no, ako ang taong bahay,” he said. Later in the retreat, he felt the Lord impressed upon his heart: Trust me, you didn’t miss out — you have been with Me; you have not been left out. All I have is yours. And looking back with gratefulness at God’s many graces in his life, Fr. Vic could only agree.
At the end of his long retreat, as he prayed the Sume et suscipe (Take and Receive), he found himself telling the Father, “Omnia mea Tua sunt. All I have is Yours. I am all Yours.” In his speech during his final profession of vows on June 20, 2009, the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, he said, “At the point in the Ignatian Retreat that this prayer is prayed, and should I say, at this point in my Jesuit life, one no longer asks for God to show His love; it has been given again and again and continuously. The point now is to pray for the grace to love in return, for that is our greatest joy.” The card (stampita), which he gave to his guests during his final vows sums it up: “Grant me the grace to love You, for that is enough for me.”
The Final Chapter
The simple prayer of young Vic on that memorable Christmas Eve has come to pass. His whole vocation story, as he puts it, is “a story of being called to carry the cross of loving and helping lead others to greater love of God and neighbor and to rejoice in carrying that cross with Jesus.” He adds, “My vocation is to love and assist others in loving, precisely as a Jesuit priest in a Jesuit community and engaged in Jesuit apostolates. The cross is a part of all this — but through the years, I have found that embracing the Cross, that is, embracing the suffering involved in fulfilling God’s will leads to a foretaste, even now, of the joy of Christ’s Resurrection.”
As a vowed Jesuit for 30 years and 19 years as a priest, he believes that God is not finished with him yet. Like clay in the potter’s hands, he allows God to mold him and transform him to be the man God wants him to be. As Fr. Vic continues to serve in God’s vineyard and opens himself to the Lord’s disposal, new chapters of his life are opened and created. And when the final chapter of his story is finally written, with him, we pray that he will hear the Father tell him: “Well done my humble and faithful child with whom I am well pleased.”