By By Rev. Fr. Rommel M. Arcilla
Lead me, Lord
posted 6-May-2019  ·  
349 views  ·   0 comments  ·  

Looking back to all that I've been through in my life, I can see that in every event that passed me by, the hand of God was always there to lead me. There were times when I decided otherwise and did it my own way, and there were times also when I just allowed Him to lead me where He wanted to. At this particular moment in my life, I am so happy to say that I am at peace with myself.

I had a turbulent but adventurous life and, with all honesty and humility, those were my sinful way of life. I was never a good priest and instead of living my priestly ideals, there were moments that I succumbed to the worldly temptations. I enjoyed being with powerful and rich friends when I should be living a life of simplicity and humility. There were times when I was allured by the glow of money and fame when I should be living in poverty and serve only my Lord who was born in a manger. I also enjoyed the company of women and enjoyed intimate relationships with some of them when I should uphold the vow of chastity for the sake of the Kingdom of God.

These are realizations that, somewhere in my journey called life, I was not able to perfectly obey the signs and symbols that will lead me to Him. I was a perennial traffic violator and it led me nowhere but to my own miserable situation. Those were the situations in my life when I really had to cry my heart our in deep regret. I know I should have not done all those things that will put my priesthood in question and those deeds which led me away from Him.

My vocation history started as an altar boy. I was introduced to the life of a priest by observing the life of those priests assigned at the Virac Cathedral, led by the late Monsignor Ping Molina. He was more of a friend than as a mentor and a pastor for me. He accepted me as I am, with all my childishness and crazy stunts as a young reckless driver. He accepted me even during those times when I will report to him drunk and unruly. He was a friend, a father and an idol and I will always cherish all the things I learned from him in my heart. I can almost imagine how sour his face would look like if only he’s still alive. But I was the only one who can face him even when his nose was smoking in anger. He was a friend to me, so, why be afraid? I know he loved me and I felt that love and care because he never abandoned me. The ultimate proof was that he still recommended me, as my parish priest, to be ordained as a priest.

Wherever you are Mons. Ping, Tang Joe, Hapipi… I miss you a lot and I will always pray for you.

When I entered the seminary, I made sure it will be a life of fun and adventure. I contented myself with grades just a little bit higher than the passing grade because I hated the idea of studying up until the wee hours in the morning just to be on top of the class. So, what if I’m on the lower part of the ranking? It didn’t matter to me and, even up until now, because the quality of food being served never changed for the bright and the dumb students! We ate the same food, we enjoyed the same hours of free time and playing our favorite sports, and so, I did not understand the need to make it on top when the actual situation would never change and we were just the same as seminarians and the real challenge is our there in the parishes as future priests. Well, for seminarians reading this, I am not inspiring you to do the same as I did. Always follow your heart and I hope you will be able to make the best out of your seminary formation because it will help you a lot even you end up as a priest or a layman.

My ordination was the greatest gift God has given me in my life. I may have had impure intentions to be a priest, but I believe that I will not be a priest if God did not lead me to where I am now. I just wanted to fulfill a dying wish of my father, that I continue and be a priest no matter what! That promise made helped me a bit and I really tried to tame my ‘wild’ and ‘free spirit’ attitude just to remain inside the seminary. I fell in love with a woman but decided to leave her behind just to fulfill my promise. There were other negative things which I did just to avoid being kicked out of the formation like when I needed to do some personal favors (which I didn’t like) to a formator because I knew that my fate was in his hands.

Now, as a priest for almost nineteen years, I was assigned to many places even abroad and in many different roles and capacities. For most, I was assigned in various parishes speaking different languages but I also had a chance to be a seminary formator when I was just a young priest. If you will ask me what is it that sustained me in my ministry, my singular answer is that I still enjoy the camaraderie and the brotherhood of priests! There were a lot of “trying times” and I am so glad to come out alive and still in possession of the principles in my life as a priest as taught to me by the late Mons. Ping.

I will never forget when I had a dialogue with him before I was ordained. He told me to uphold the priesthood and the brotherhood we share no matter what happens. He told me that if I really cannot be a good priest, with all the temptations in this world (and the fact that I was good-looking then), please avoid sins that are unforgivable for priests. He emphasized on the temptation to be rich. He told me: “Do not aspire for money and never use your priesthood just to enrich your bank account at the expense of the generous benefactors of the church. We are expected to live the priesthood of Christ and He did it humbly and poor.” Powerful words which serves as a guiding priciple for me to hold on to my priesthood up until this time. Jokingly I asked him, “What about women" And he answered me, jokingly also I guess: “Well, for as long as you don’t get entangled with a fellow man, that will not be hard to understand!” I am not using his words as my license in regards to my relationships but maybe it is my obligation to tell you that I still am keeping his words as of this writing! Homophobic? Maybe I am, but I don’t have any regrets!

My dear friends, my fellow servers in the vineyard of God, this is supposed to be a letter/sharing for my brothers in the ministry but I decided to have this one published so everyone will understand (hopefully) the life of a priest. We were not created as extraordinary creatures because of our ordination. We are just like anyone of you possessing all the strengths and also the weaknesses and limitations that are innate in every human being. I always loved the brotherhood of priests even if some among us ceased to be a brother but an enemy, even if some of us had been victims of worldly mentalities such as the race for power and money, even if there are some of us who betrayed the trust of the people entrusted to us by God. I still love you all and how I wish that we will continue to help one another to rise up once again especially those who are down, and inspire them to gaze of the cross of Christ, the cross of our priesthood… the same cross to where our ministry must end. O Jesus, the High Priest, lead us all to your loving embrace by way of your cross. Amen.

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