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Turn to Jesus (Article)

Either This Year or Never
Father Bernardo Torres Morales, LC (Mexico)

P. Bernardo Torres Morales , L.C.
Fr. Bernardo Torres Morales , LC

I was born on November 10th 1976, in Mexico City. I attended the CEYCA School during the first years of my education. The CEYCA is a school directed by the Legionaries of Christ. From 3rd till 9th grade I attended the Cedros School, which is directed by the Opus Dei. Finally I attended CUM High School, which is directed by the Marist Brothers.

While I was in elementary school, the idea of becoming a priest crossed my mind, but as soon as I entered high school, everything changed. It was as if new horizons were opened before me and I began to discover the existence of many new realities: parties, girlfriends, new friends, and travels. The idea of becoming a priest almost disappeared completely.

 First Tracks on My Spiritual Life
As a family we went together to Sunday Mass. Sometimes we prayed the Rosary together with my grandmother and some of my cousins; later on I used to pray it with my sister. I learned to pray as my mother prepared me for first Communion. She directed some prayers before the classes began, and also after receiving Communion she quietly directed a prayer of thanksgiving for my sister and me. This experience taught me to dialogue with Christ and go beyond the typical prayer of petition.

The Holy Spirit Prepares the Encounter
When I was in 9th grade, an idea remained very much fixed in my mind: I wanted to do something transcendent with my life, in order to make it worth living. I was looking for something that would give meaning to my life, my acts, and my future: like going to school, to Mass, getting up every morning even if I didn’t want to, helping others… I couldn’t accept the idea that life would only pass by and be consumed the life of a flower or an animal.

One day a priest came to our classroom to give us a talk on life’s choices. Thanks to this I began to reflect upon what God’s plan for my life would be.

I only remember one of the questions we had to answer was about whether we would like to do something for others? “Of course,” I thought, “this is will help me to live my life transcendently.”

So I met the priest that would help me to find what I was looking for without realizing it. Father invited me to go to the Novitiate of the Legionaries of Christ in Monterrey, just to get to know it. But on that occasion my brother, some friends, and I had planned to go scuba diving in Cozumel. Finally, during Holy Week I attended a Test Your Call retreat that left me unsatisfied. As I arrived home -I remember perfectly- and took a seat in the kitchen, my mother asked about the TYC retreat. I answered: “The only thing I’m sure of is that I have nothing to do with the Legionaries.”

But at that same moment, a thought hit me like lighting, “No, one thing
P. Bernardo Torres Morales , L.C.
is that you didn’t like it, but it is another not to have anything to do with them.” Here a very important battle began and I had to distinguish between what God wanted and what I wanted or liked. After the answer I gave to my mom, I preferred to be quiet about the matter.

That same year when I got home after a party and a drink with my friends, I reflected on my bed: “Yeah, I have been happy, I have done this and that, but now what? This can’t be all that life has to offer.” Everything was gone and I felt empty. Today when I look back, I can explain this situation very clearly using the passage of the Samaritan woman: drinking water but always thirsting again (cf. Jn. 4). Yes, I was satisfied but I wasn’t fully happy; and the woman asks our Lord to give her some of that living water so that she wouldn’t have to come back to the well any longer. The Samaritan woman’s search was also mine.

After the Holy Week TYC, Father asked me if that experience had helped me to see what God wanted of me. I told him that it didn’t, and Father invited me to come back in the summer in order to have a longer experience of the novitiate in Monterrey.

There were many things at risk before making a decision. I had to leave behind important things like my family, college (I was studying International Business at the Pan-American University), my dearest and best friends, my girlfriend, soccer, money, my apartment, my car… but, I wasn’t thinking about the toughest thing to leave aside: myself.

In midst of all these small intermittent battles (because I didn’t experience them at every moment), I thought, “Well, now I could get married or be a priest, but once married I can’t come back; and what if I really had a vocation to the priesthood and saw it after I had married? It would be too late to answer, and I would have other responsibilities already. I didn’t want to wake up one day with my wife beside me and my face in my hands, thinking, “What if God had been calling me?” I had to be sure of God’s will before marrying a woman.

Getting ready for the candidacy
This wasn’t the only way God wanted to help me; it was just the beginning. Having prepared everything for the summer, one idea motivated me: I’m the owner of my life and nobody is forcing me to stay if I don’t want to. I’ll see what God asking me to do and then I’ll decide. I arrived to Monterrey on June 20th 1995. Everything was new for me, and there were the novices, the priests, and my companions who, like me, wanted to discover God’s will for their lives.

That same night I went to talk to Father and told him, “Father, I just want to let you know that I want to go back home already, but I will not do it until I am sure of what God wants for me.”

Then he told me, “Well, calm down. If you want, you can wait another year and come back next summer.”

I answered him, “I know that it’s either this year or never. I’ll stay until I know something more.” I couldn’t cheat myself because I knew that if I went back home, the atmosphere would carry me very far from the vocation. At that same moment I experienced great peace and security. I thought: “Father doesn’t have any other interest than to help us to make a vocational decision.”

Mary in my Life
This serenity allowed me to find my path more easily. From the very beginning, Our Lady has occupied a fundamental place in my vocation. She has been next to me at every moment, in moments of doubt, difficulty, and selfishness. From the very beginning I offered my life to her, and placed in her hands my family, friendships, worries and fears, “Mother, I believe God is calling me to the priesthood, this is a step of faith for me. If I am mistaken, I prefer having been generous with your Son and not because I am selfish. I want to focus on your interests and know that will you take care of mine.

At 32 years of age and after 13 years in the Legion, difficult moments have not been lacking, but neither have moments of deep happiness and an intimate experience of Christ. Our Lady has always been there as a loving mother. I’m able to say that what I have lived up to this very day has been worth living. If I had the chance to choose again, I would still choose to follow Christ. I want to arrive at the end of my life as a faithful Legionary priest at the service of the Church.

My Superiors
In addition to Our Lady and an ever deeper encounter with Christ, the company of exemplary priests to whom my formation was entrusted has been of great importance to arrive to this very moment. I not only found in them a formation instructor, but a teacher, a father, a friend and a companion, sharing my triumphs, difficulties and failures. By their example I have been able to clearly see my path to holiness. I’m very grateful to them.

Father Bernardo Torres was born on November 10th 1976 in Mexico City. He attended CEYCA School, Cedros School and CUM High School. He joined the Novitiate of the Legion of Christ in Monterrey in the summer of 1995. For one year he studied liberal arts in Salamanca (Spain), and worked in youth ministry and vocational promotion in Avila (Spain). He did his philosophical and theological studies at the Pontifical Regina Apostolorum College in Rome. He was formation instructor at the Cumbres Institute in Medellín (Colombia). Presently he works in youth ministry in León (México).

Translation of the vocation story published in the book "Vivir para Cristo"



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