A Different Kind of Love Story 4/14/2008 02:00:00 AM

I used to write love stories way back in high school and college. Those friends of mine from way back then can attest to the fact that they were pretty idealistic and full of the "kilig" factor rather than the substance of what true love really was. That's the sort of thing one can expect from a girl who had never been in a relationship before. I sort of expected that something of the sort would happen to me. Boy, was I in for a surprise when my own love story unfolded a little over seven years ago.
It started with mosquitoes. (Yes, I have a pest to thank for everything!) One summer break, after taking up an Entomology subject, a few classmates and I thought of volunteering to help out a faculty member at our university's biology department to do research on Aedes aegypti, those carriers of the dreaded Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever Virus. Turns out, she happened to be a numerary member of Opus Dei.
My friends and I got invited to attend the activities at the Center, and we felt right at home. The activities were fun as well as formative and we made a lot of new friends who were members of the Work as well as other young students our age who attended the activities. Eventually, we started attending the Circle given by the Center's director and someone else, who happened to be a doctor by profession, talked with me regularly to help me improve in my spiritual life. The Center's chaplain then was a very holy Spanish priest (who looks like Rowan Atkinson of Mr. Bean fame -> as initially described by the biologist!; may he rest in peace + ) who patiently listened to my difficulties and slowly helped me grow in my relationship with our Lord.
A few months short of graduating with a biology degree, I knew that I was called to be in Opus Dei as well. The decision was not coerced at all, as some detractors of the Work might think, with all that brainwash nonsense. It was a decision I made with the help of the lay person who helped me with my spiritual life. I did not want to join yet though until I could know for certain whether my circumstances allowed me to be a numerary member or a supernumerary member.
Then, everything became clear to me at an instance when I was asked by the lay person helping me out: "Do you see yourself as G., as M., or as D.?" (referring two three people in the Work then whom I knew who were supernumerary, numerary and associate respectively)
My immediate answer, which caught me by surpise as well, was : "I see myself like D."
I knew that I finally figured out the way I was to live as a member of Opus Dei when she said, "You know, we see the same thing."
Shortly afterwards, I talked to the local director, and things were explained to me. The thing I would never forget was when she said, "It's like getting married at twenty." I was definitely ready to get married at twenty. I started a novena to Blessed Josemaria Escriva (now a canonized saint) for me to be allowed to join, and on his 99th birth anniversary (2 or 3 days short of finishing my novena), I wrote the letter to the Prelate to petition for admission (that is, to "whistle") as an associate of Opus Dei (a celibate vocation who usually lives with family or elsewhere - not in a Center of Opus Dei - due to a difference in personal circumstances from a numerary).
I would be lying if I would say that it has been easy, with attending the different means of formation, and giving it as well to my friends while at the same time helping out in the apostolic initiatives while taking care of family obligations, going through medical school with a pioneering curriculum, and right now doing my residency. Commitment does entail sacrifice. But, I would also be lying if I would say that for a moment, I never felt God's love through the other members of the Work, my friends and family. Commitment also promises that you will have joy if you live it well.
This is my love story. Everyday of my life though, I hope that I continue to live it faithfully.

Note: This is my contribution to the May 2009 blog rounds edition hosted by Doc Harry