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Turn to Jesus (Article)

My Life Is A Point in the Midst of Eternity
Vocational Testimony of Fr. Manuel María Salord, LC

Testimonio vocacional del P. Manuel Salord Bertrán L.C.
Fr. Manuel Salord Bertrán L.C.
A single point in the midst of eternity. That’s what all of our lives are; that’s my life. I heard it from Nuestro Padre our founder, and afterwards I read it in one of his writings. This phrase expressed so clearly the intuition, the restlessness that I had felt in my heart from a young age. It’s a brief phrase, a kind of spark that illuminates reality and sets everything on fire inside. Life… it’s so short! And the things of this world… so fleeting! Where can I rest my heart? Where can I cast the anchor of my existence? And an entire eternity depends on this small point. As for the things of this world with God’s extraordinary creations, many caught my attention, but in the final reckoning… where else could I go if “you alone, Lord, have the words of eternal life”?

Sensitivity to the Needs of Others
I was one youth more in the ‘70s, bombarded by images of the Vietnam War, student protests, the Cold War, Marxist unrest. I was deeply concerned about doing something for others. By the subtle grace that the religious formation instilled by my parents had left in my interior, I felt the need of giving something, of giving myself. I saw the hunger and the nakedness, the hatred and sickness, and I wanted to run out to console, to help, to be at the side of all of them, of those who suffer. Without violence, with the truth of the love that becomes donation to all people. Something that revived this fire was the unmistakable witness of the priests and consecrated souls who gave their lives for others without any self-interest at all, with a joy and happiness that are an invitation. Without empty charlatanism; with life.

I was captivated by these
Testimonio vocacional del P. Manuel Salord Bertrán L.C.
thoughts and by the witness of various aunts and uncles of mine, both priests and religious, siblings of my father. And so, at the age of 12 or 13, I had already raised my hand in class at school (Our Lady of the Marvels of Madrid) various times when the visiting brother asked us openly about our vocation to religious life and invited us to follow in the footsteps of St John Baptiste de la Salle, an extraordinary man whom I have always admired.

The Volcano Inside
With all of that, my heart, which was sensitive to the needs of others, was no less sensitive to emotions, youth’s ups and downs, and the attractiveness of girls. All of that seemed to eclipse, at least for a time, the deepest restlessness of the vocation. But at that time, I started going to one of the youth clubs of Regnum Christi. There, I was struck by the arresting freshness, festive joy, and sincerity with which the Legionaries of Christ live their self-giving. What an experience! I felt attended by them as if I were the only one who existed; they treated me with great solicitude, and with a sincere concern for my things, with the concern that the best of friends offers you. They spoke to me of Christ with such closeness, conviction, enthusiasm, and truth; they drew me close to the living Christ of the Gospels, to the one who captivates with his gaze and invites us to follow him. The idea of the vocation began to regain strength in my interior.

Years later, as a member of the Regnum Christi youth section, I got to know Father Alfredo Torres, L.C. He is the first Legionary religious after the founder. The first time I spoke to him, I was “knocked off my horse” from any plans other than giving everything in life and giving it with totality. Before this man of God, I saw clearly that I didn’t have to wait any longer to follow the call that he puts in our interior from all eternity: “It is not you who have chosen me, but I have chosen you” (Jn 15:16). Then the vocation arose inside like the awakening of a volcano.

At home, things were not so easy, since I am the second of five siblings and the oldest son. My mother had been widowed almost eight years ago, and had had to fight hard to bring us up, and now the oldest boy, who could have lent a hand with the younger ones, was leaving home. Those were moments of trial that were finally resolved only by the generosity of that great woman who in the end sought nothing but our greatest happiness.

The Path Begins
In the summer of 1976 in a summer convention in Argomilla de Cayón, Santander, four of us young men from the Madrid group were consecrated to God in Regnum Christi, including Miguel Paz and Jesús Quirce, who today are Legionary priests. Our founder Nuestro Padre was there. Those were unforgettable moments where we began to weave a life of self-giving to God, a path that we ardently hoped would end only with our death on the battlefield of the mission.

With the help of my spiritual director, I undertook the path of consecrated life in the Regnum Christi Movement—a way of life which was just starting. Those were 27 intense and happy years. During those years, I started to perceive a possible vocation to the priesthood. After a period of discernment, I entered the novitiate of the Legion of Christ.

There is a principle that has helped me very much in all these years of my life, and that has come in handy for practically everything, both for the spiritual life and for practical day-to-day matters: when you want to do something, go talk to a successful expert. It’s about trusting in the person who has successfully resolved the problem, or has faced the challenge, or has come out of the crossroads where you find yourself. That’s why I follow Christ, because no one has been able to answer the desire for happiness in man’s heart like he has, and because only he has conquered death, opening the gates of life to us.

I am deeply happy, and I thank God for having allowed me to respond with my life to the restlessness of my youth. This is a response that the Lord has kept fresh in my interior, and that I want to renew every day. In moments of trial or suffering, being able to offer my life for others continues to be the deep motivation that guides me and ignites my passion to keep on walking forward.

Father Manuel María Salord Bertrán got to know Regnum Christi when he was studying at Our Lady of the Marvels School run by the La Salle brothers of Madrid. From 1972 onward, he was part of ECYD. For 27 years, from 1976 to 2003, he was a consecrated lay man of Regnum Christi and worked in the Cumbres Institute in Mexico City, in Cotija de la Paz, at Anáhuac University campus in the north of Mexico City, and at Francisco de Vitoria University in Madrid. He has his licentiate in Law from the Autonomous Universities of Madrid and from Anáhuac University in Mexico. He received his doctorate in the History of Law from the Complutense University of Madrid, and broadened his studies at Connecticut State University in the United States, and he earned his master’s degree in philosophy from Francisco de Vitoria University in Madrid. He earned his bachelor’s degree in theology from the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical Athenaeum, where he helped found the European University of Rome. He is currently working apostolically with the youth in the Regnum Christi Movement in Madrid.



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