The pandemic has awakened in all of us a sense of sobriety. We look back at what happened in the past months since the lockdown and we can see how God is putting a new order to what used to be. He has allowed uncertainty to surface for us to set aside the non-essential and keep what ought to remain. We have set aside a lot more than what we kept, whether by circumstance or choice, but what we kept were far more important than what was set aside. The seminary quarantine emphasized this insight all the more.
I was very grateful when we were all asked to go back to the seminary this year despite the threat of Covid-19. Health protocols were in place and the compulsory 14-day quarantine upon return was put into effect. We were isolated once again and this year was truly a test of spirituality for all of us priests-in-process who had to face isolation and separation. Left with bare necessities, what essentials have remained? No “free afternoon”. No face-to-face classes. No seminary gatherings. Mandatory wearing of face masks and 6-foot social distancing were in place. With the new normal in seminary formation, we have forgone many things temporarily for health and safety but we have kept what ought to remain as a formand.
In my last year in seminary formation, the seminary quarantine emphasized what ought to remain now and in my future ministry – silence, providence, perseverance. It is only in silence when God get to speak and we get to listen. Only in the inner sanctuary of our hearts where God remains and our inmost self is invited to just be. Divine Providence assures us that God never abandons His people. Even in our most trying time in human history, God uses our miseries to mysteriously bring out the good. As He puts a new order in my life, He just asks me to be still and put my trust and confidence in His Divine Providence.
The pandemic is also a life lesson in perseverance. Our ministry is a ministry of interruptions. It is full of surprises. It is up to me if I accept it as a burden or as a gift. Seeing the hand of God in all things strengthens my perseverance in my commitment. The seminary quarantine stripped many things but it revealed what I ought to keep.
“Remain in me, as I in you.” (John 15:4) These words of Jesus gave me hope during the lockdown and they rang the loudest in my seminary quarantine. To remain in Him requires not much except the bare self. Being sent requires not much anyway except the entirety of self, learned in the school of silence, providence, and perseverance.
Sem. Gerald M. Moscardon is already in his sixth and last year in formation. Sem. Gerald is from the Diocese of Cubao. He is a graduate of Nursing prior to his entrance to Holy Apostles Senior Seminary.