I became more Dominican by being a Varsitarian

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“TRUTH,” according to that strange Dominican mystic Meister Eckhart, “is something so noble that if God could turn aside from it, I could keep to the truth and let God go.” My brief stay in the Varsitarian can be likened to the story of a man who undertook a crazy love affair, only to find out that the woman he liked was in fact his wife in disguise, testing him whether he would remain faithful.

But unlike the adulterous man, I could honestly say that I never left my Order, nor had I the intention of being unfaithful to the vows which I professed. In fact, truth be told, I was able to appreciate my vocation in a much deeper way, since it enabled me to have a glimpse of the religious life from the perspective of goodhearted and honest lay men and women.

I am sure that some of the staff are somewhat unsatisfied with how I managed the publication. But if it is any consolation to them, some of my brethren were not all that satisfied either. Initially, I imagined that it would be easier for me to contact sources and gather information given my status as a friar. In reality, to my chagrin, it became much harder for me to approach some brothers who turned out to be even more aloof and tactful in giving interviews upon knowing my affiliation with the staff.

Striking the balance between my task as the editor in chief and my identity as a Dominican gave me countless headaches and literally drenched my pillow with tears. But it has also kept me on the right track, reminding me that my business in V was not to please any particular group, but to be in the service of truth. My brethren kept on reminding me: “Veritas.” And however cliché that may sound, truth, as Eckhart again insists, cannot be found without committing a hundred errors along the way.

Keeping this in mind, I eventually found pleasure in being the occasional source of annoyance to both parties. It assured me, in a way, that I was doing the right job; that with every mistake and mess I am getting myself into, truth becomes more and more brought to light. For what is truth if not that which moves us and unsettles us from our cozy encumberments and conveniences. It is messy and disconcerting, but it is also meaningful and liberating, just as Jesus used spittle and mud to make the blind man see.

I am in no way undermining the seriousness and discipline required in searching for the truth. Just as the journalist is only as good as the information he or she acquires, the preacher is only as effective as the knowledge he gains from assiduous study and wisdom learned from the crucible of experience Like Jacob wrestling with the angel of God, we must be prepared to wrestle with the truth, to argue about it in conversations, to let our convictions be exposed to criticism, allowing ourselves to ask the difficult questions we usually avoid or fail to see. Only then can we ask for truth’s blessing.

And this can only happen if we admit our insufficiency and allow others to help us in seeking and speaking the truth. In my community, we usually have those dreadful long meetings wherein we discuss practically everything related to our way of life. It takes a long time for us to discuss, argue, and more so, to resolve things and reconcile our different perspectives. But in doing so, we are reminded that searching for the truth is essentially a communal endeavor. However sure we are of our own opinions, there might be something that the other is saying which we do not know and which we ought to hear. For no individual, however brilliant and experienced, is self-sufficient in looking for answers.

Thus, my brief detour ends with the realization that my Dominican and Christian vocation has been enriched by letting it be tested in the fiery furnace that is the Varsitarian. It made me more conscientious regarding the things that are taking place in society. It has improved me spiritually, becoming aware of my ultimate dependence on God and on my brethren. It has disturbed me, allowing me to confront my doubts and overcome my fears. It has also widened my mind to learn things by listening to different opinions, affirming my faith along the way by the simple fact that it is something I can share. Truth is indeed so noble, that if one tries to keep it and let God go, he will discover that God never left him.

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