Chris Pamilaga, author of the article "From dawn to dusk".

The Augustinian Recollect Chris Pamilaga (28 years old) resides in the Formation House of the Augustinian Recollects of Mira-Nila (Quezon City, Philippines), and has published this article in The Philippine Daily Inquirer. After celbratin our Vocation Week, we offer you this vision of how a religious in initial formation lives his day.

The Recoletos School of Theology is located in Quezon City, 17 kilometers northwest of the historic center of Manila (Philippines). This community was founded in 1985 in the then Vicariate of the Philippines of the Province of Saint Nicholas of Tolentine for young Filipino religious to prepare for the priesthood in the last stage of their initial formation.

In the Mira Nila complex is the residence of these young religious, the Recollect Museum of the Philippines, the Parish of Our Lady of Consolation and the building of the Theology faculty, open to non-Recollect students. Not far away, just three kilometers away, is the seat of the provincial government of the Province of Saint Ezekiel Moreno.

Once this Vicariate became a Province, it has continued with its function, updated at the Recoletos School of Theology (RST), a center affiliated with the Royal and Pontifical University of Santo Tomás in Manila, run by the Dominicans.

In addition to the Bachelor of Arts degree in Sacred Theology with Pontifical rights, the RST offers studies of Systematic Theology, Church History, Augustinian Studies and Spirituality, Moral Theology, Biblical Catechesis, New Testament Translation to Mother Tongue and Old Testament Translation to Mother Tongue..

The current rector is the Augustinian Recollect Mark Rochelle F. Renacia, who has resided until July 2022 in the community of the Parish of Santa Rita in Madrid (Spain) to obtain his doctorate in Dogmatic Theology at the Comillas Pontifical University.

“We are a friendly community searching for truth and we boast of a pool of professors from different religious congregations and dioceses, added to our regular team of Recollect professors. We constantly work for innovation in our curriculum program and communication technology to make RST a comprehensive ecclesiastical and a civil institution of higher learning”, indicates the rector.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper, one of the newspapers with the largest circulation on paper and the first in digital readers, recently published the article “From Dawn to Dusk” in its “Youngblood Columnists” section, written by the professed Recollect Chris Pamilaga, of the community of Mira Nila. This is how he describes a day in the life of this house of formation.

From dawn to dusk

Amidst the cacophony of the world outside, a sanctuary of serenity and harmony lies hidden within the timeless walls of the Clausura. In the soft light of dawn, the old walls of the seminary come alive as the friars are awakened to the harmonious call of devotion. Everyone rises with the sun as the first words are whispered reverently, “Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall declare Your praise” (Psalm 51:15). Even the patter of footsteps from the silent halls down to the chapel seems to form a symphony of prayer and praise like incense, filling the ambiance with grace.

At the break of dawn, the friars gather for the Office of Reading taken from individual Breviary; the hearts resonate with the theme that binds everyone together: “All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had” (Acts 4:32-35). In spirit, everyone proceeds to Lauds, where the morning prayer reverberates through the tone of those ancient hymns, followed by nearly half an hour of quiet meditation, where the old try to gather their fresh thoughts and the young struggle still to resist the slumber’s spell.

Shortly after being bound by silence, the congregation hearkens to the Eucharistic celebration, each a vital thread in the intricate tapestry of communal worship. As everyone partakes in this sacred mystery, the echoes of centuries past intermingle with the present, transcending the bounds of time for yes, just as Christ did suffer once and for all.

Morning’s glow gives way to the noontide sun, illuminating the halls of learning, where the friar and nonfriar students alike delve into the depths of knowledge while others attend to the tasks given to their respective offices. The library, a treasure trove of wisdom, serves as the crucible where thoughts are forged and ignorance takes flight.

In the heart of the day, everyone pauses to lift their voices in the Midday Prayer, a chorus of faith that punctuates the passage of time. Lunch in the refectory at noon serves as one of the reminders of commitment to shared possessions and unity. In this hall, conversations rise and fall in a gentle ebb as brothers share their meal. The Recreation Hall beckons afterward, offering a brief respite from the rigors of monastic life. In this simple haven, everyone finds relief in movies, indoor games, or simply enjoys each other’s presence; laughter is a testament to the bond that unites the community.

When afternoon shadows lengthen, everyone takes a moment for siesta, recharging minds and bodies before embarking on the afternoon’s tasks, wherein some friars return to their studies while others labor to continue over their theses in pursuit of scholarly endeavors.

As the day advances, the friars engage in Manualia, an act of house cleaning that symbolizes humility and devotion to manual work. The seminary’s age-old walls witness the diligence of successive generations as the past and the present care for this sacred home.In the final hours of the daytime, everyone immerses themselves in physical exercise and sports, finding a balance between the demands of the spirit and the needs of the body as rightly says, “Mens sana in corpore sano.”

As the sun slowly prepares to rest on the horizon, where the golden rays filter through the windows, casting amber hues upon the hallowed halls, marking the beginning of the evening journey, the friars cleanse their bodies and souls as water washes away the day’s toil and strife.

As whispers of the daytime finally leave to bask in the soft glow of twilight, the timeless walls of the Clausura move in harmony with the rhythm of monastic life, each day an unfolding mystery that brings everyone ever closer to the divine. At 6 o’clock, the atmosphere shifts to quiet introspection as everyone engages in individual Lectio Divina for almost two score minutes. Like bees in search of nectar, the young friars delve into the sacred texts from St. Augustine, seeking spiritual nourishment. The bell tolls at 6:40 p.m., calling the friars to gather in prayer. Amid the gentle flicker of candlelight on the altar, everyone recites the Rosary with voices harmonizing in a symphony of faith. Vespers follow as the evening hymns ascend upward as if mingling with the dusk’s first stars. The compline, a prayer of the final embrace of the day, seals the devotion with a gentle lullaby as the darkness envelopes like a cloak of tranquility.

The brothers share their meal in the evening as hunger stirs within the walls. Once filled with silence, the refectory now bursts with life and laughter. The scent of the simple yet nourishing meal permeates the air, a testament to shared bounty. Everyone engages in lively conversations, the joyous echoes of camaraderie in every word.

As the night deepens, the bell tolls at 9:30 p.m., signaling the Clausuras to become, once again, a sanctuary of wisdom, shedding the great value of silence. The friars retire to their rooms like wearied souls, seeking refuge in the arms of Silentium Magnum, the great silence.