The Paradox of Falling In Love

“What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, whom you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.”

Who would have thought these the lines come, not from a romance novelist, but from a priest? Those are the words of Fr. Pedro Arrupe, SJ, Superior General of the Society, who talked not of falling in love, the way a man falls in love with a woman, but of his falling in love with God, and answering His special call.

That is, I suppose, the essence of vocation. Vocation is falling in love. It means having to leave one’s family and home, carving out your new life with your Beloved. It means having to change one’s lifestyle, adjusting your habits and ways for the sake of the one you love. Falling in love is difficult. It is tough work, but it gives a person great joy. For true love means that one can no longer live without his or her love, so much so he or she is willing to give up everything for the one he or she loves.

In this light, Jesus’ words never seemed so concrete. He says, “It It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you.” We read St. Paul saying, “I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” Or Jeremiah’s words, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you.”

Talk about romantic. Imagine it is the Lord Himself asking you to fall in love with Him. Not just “loving God”, which is asked of everyone, but “falling in love” with God — dedicating one’s entire life to Him. Priesthood and religious life are never easy; it entails willingness to be crucified with Christ Crucified, to be spurned with Christ spurned, to be poor with Christ who was poor. But despite the sacrifice, it is love — the deep love implanted into the heart by God Himself — that sustains us.

This is the same story of San Pedro Calungsod. He found joy in joining the Marianas mission, despite the bitterness of having to leave his loved ones behind, adjust to a different culture and language in the Marianas. Eventually, he had to die for this love, at the tender age of 17. He was a witness — a martyr in every sense of the word — not only for the faith, but also to the movement of the Spirit. It was the Holy Spirit that moved him to respond to the call of falling in love with the Lord.

Let us pray that the canonization of Saint Pedro Calungsod leads to more vocations to the priesthood and religious life in our country and in the whole world. May many young men and women also fall in love with God, discovering the Pearl of Great Price that our new saint found.

“Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.”

(Aaron James R. Veloso)