“The Lord has looked with favour on His lowly servant.” – Luke 1:48
My fellow Postulants and I chose these words from Scripture for the theme of our initiation into Postulancy. These are the words of Mother Mary in her song of praise to God for looking upon her with favour despite her anonymity and lowliness. We felt similar sentiments – God chose us to follow Him as future religious despite our weaknesses and frailties. Certainly, His favour is not exclusive to Mary or “saintly” people. God looks with favour on each of us in a very personal way!
Interestingly, I have come to realise during my formation that I struggle with being ‘favoured’. Each time I am praised or singled out positively in front of a crowd, a feeling of aversion surges in my heart. Where did this come from? A childhood dislike for “teachers’ pets”? A desire to avoid being seen or treated negatively for being preferred?
The problem of not being able to accept that I am favoured extends beyond my human interactions to my relationship with God. While I am certain of God’s favour on me from a theological, intellectual perspective, I find it difficult to fully accept and embrace this truth in my heart.
A recent experience helped me to make some baby steps towards accepting my being “favoured”. My parents colluded with the Sisters to surprise me with a visit on my birthday. It came out of the blue and their sudden appearance caused a little uproar, bringing an air of excitement in the house. Reflecting on those days, I was overwhelmed with the feeling of being FAVOURED.
- Favoured by mum and dad…as their child, their only daughter, their pride and joy.
- Favoured by my superior, Sr. Lanie, who made many arrangements for this birthday surprise.
- Favoured by the Sisters in my community’s who so lovingly sacrificed their sleep, energies and time to make things special for me.
- Favoured by my fellow formands who love me, are joyful together with me and welcome mum and dad like their own family.
- Favoured by Mary who handpicked me to be here in the Aspirantate – the house of the love of God.
- Favoured by God who created me special and continues to mould me into my being everyday.
On my birthday, God gave me a taste of what it meant to be favoured and it led me to recognise a “simple” truth: I am favoured, and my being favoured does not make anyone else any less or less favoured because of me. My being favoured does not take away anything from anyone. Others can also find joy in the favours which I enjoy; it is not a zero-sum game. The greatest joy I felt that day did not just come from my being favoured. It also came from having a community of sisters who shared in my joy and who were joyful with and for me.
May this reflection be a blessing to you because you too, are favoured and beloved in your own unique way.
Charlene is a Postulant with the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, also known as the Salesian Sisters of St. John Bosco. Born and bred in Singapore, she is currently undergoing religious formation in the Philippines after (finally) taking her first steps to discern God’s call.