Baguio City — Fr. Jason Laguerta’s vocation story began with his favorite spaghetti and fried chicken.
Fr. Laguerta of the Archdiocese of Manila said back then, he could only eat his favorite food on his birthdays. And yet his mom would prepare them every Sunday for the priest who would be saying mass in the nearby chapel where she was the gatekeeper.
“E mana ako sa mama ko na matalino, kaya inutakan ko na siya. Nagsakristan ako kay Monsignor para makakain din ng paborito kong spaghetti at fried chicken,” he told the amused Recollect Augustinian Youth (RAY) delegates.
Fr. Laguerta, parish priest of Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Sta. Mesa, Manila, was the speaker on the topic of “discernment” on the third day of the 13th RAY National Summit held at Casiciaco Recoletos Seminary in this city from January 20 to 24, 2020.
A professor at the San Carlos Seminary in Makati, he said etymologically, “discernment” comes from the Latin “disco”, “discere”, which means “to know or to learn”.
“But discernment is not just about knowing what you want to do in life, but rather, discovering the will of God in your life,” he told the seminarians and 159 RAY delegates coming from twenty Recollect communities from all over the country.
He said as an act, discernment is always an “act of faith”. The Filipino word for faith — pananampalataya — he said can be divided into two words: “pananam”, meaning “to taste”; and “palataya”, meaning “to put a wager on”.
He said discernment is like that. One should put a wager on God’s will for one’s life. “The problem with us,” he said, “is that we all want to choose something that is already certain. Life does not work like that.”
Practical tips on discernment
Luckily for the delegates, Fr. Laguerta gave practical tips on how to discern. He said the youth can make well-discerned decisions in life by looking for at least three elements of discernment, namely: the call, the gifts, and the needs.
“If this is your vocation, your heart would have a natural desire for it because it was God who planted it in your hearts when he created you, as the holy bishop St. Augustine would put it,” Fr. Laguerta said.
“And if this is really your calling, you would also receive gifts that would help you respond to the call. Lastly, if this is your calling and you can see that you have what it takes — the gifts — to respond to the call, you would also notice that in the Church and in the world, there are needs that your gifts could address.”
Discernment, therefore, is being attentive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, for eventually, “it is not our own will that we seek, but God’s.”
“Discernment is the gradual process of knowing God’s will in our lives,” he said.
In every discernment, he added, it is important to seek accompaniment from someone you respect, like a spiritual director. And all throughout the process, always find time to be in silence and pray.
“Know that God has a plan for each one of us, and with faith, we commit ourselves to our decision. If you are at peace with your decision, no matter how hard or demanding your choice may be, you can be assured that you have made a well-discerned decision,” he said.
Fr. Jason Laguerta’s vocation story may just have started with his favorite spaghetti and fried chicken, but it certainly did not stop there. He underwent a long process of discernment in order to be what he is today: a priest of Jesus Christ serving in different capacities in the Archdiocese of Manila, such as director of the Office for the Promotion of New Evangelization (OPNE) and the Archdiocesan Institute for Research and Development, addressing different needs with his varied gifts.