By Thaddeus Tan, SMU Fides
Before entering university and re-encountering the Lord and my faith, I was a very lukewarm Catholic. While I performed acts of service and performed religious obligations, things were often done on autopilot, and I simply lived one day to the next. My life was very much driven by self-centered desires and aspirations, where I wanted to go or where society tells me I should be. While life was not at all bad, I knew in my heart of hearts that something was missing. As St Augustine said, “My heart is restless until it rests in you”.
Shortly before starting university, I was prompted to attend Kickstart, OYP’s university freshmen orientation retreat, and it was there that I re-encountered the Lord. I spent the first half of the retreat feeling completely out of my depths when I saw so many youths on fire for Christ. Within those feelings of anxiety from being in an unfamiliar environment with unfamiliar people, I wrestled with God, refusing to allow Him in to change my world. However, the Lord is as patient as He is faithful, and He continued to prompt me despite my reluctance. In the end, He did not come to me in the loud worship sessions nor in the challenging sharing sessions, but He came in the silence of adoration. I remember sitting in the room and just wondering how life could be different if I let God take the reins in my life, how life would be different if I sat at the feet of Jesus and listened to Him. In that moment I gave the Lord my yes to try life differently, and it was in that moment I felt a wave of peace come over me. The only way I can describe that feeling is that I felt like I was in the right place, at the right time, doing the right thing. As I opened my eyes from prayer, I realized that I had been sitting right in the middle of the room at the foot of the Blessed Sacrament all that time and I have not looked back since. The invitation was to “come and see” and having seen, I have claimed my identity as a child of God who is loved dearly by Him, remaining rooted in my sonship.
Thaddeus (rightmost), together with brothers whom he journeys with
Having finished two years in university, I will be the first to admit that leading a Christ-centred life is not a bed of roses. This is especially so when campus is located in the heart of town and the buzz of work never ceases. Pressure each semester mounts internally and externally very quickly, and we are constantly reminded of the scarcity of success and the need to excel to be happy. Despite all of this, I thank God for a community that continues to support me and remind me of my identity when I feel lost and when I am tempted by lures of this world. God continues to work through each and every member of community to build His kingdom even in the most worldly of places. Having served in community for a year and having journeyed with several brothers, I am continuously reminded that we are made for more, that while we are in this world we are not made of this world. I also continue to be awe-struck by how the Lord can move and grow powerfully in each of us in ways and at times we least expect. Truly the Lord calls us to service not just to serve others but more often than not, to save us.
Most importantly, as I am writing this testimony, I am reminded of the immensity of God who rises above my humanity and brokenness. The Lord continues to fashion and mould me as a potter does the clay and He continues to perfect me in my weakness. Even in my regular struggles that seem like the end of the world, the Lord’s plan is to prosper and not to harm, He continues to be present even when I don’t know or feel it much like He was present with the disciples on the road to Emmaus. While I may not understand everything He has planned for me right now, faith arises where partial knowledge ceases and I continue to desire to pick up my cross and follow Him – the Way, the Truth and the Life.
Therefore, brothers and sisters, if your hearts are restless as was mine, Jesus invites us to “Come, follow me”. May we bravely answer the call and enter His loving embrace.