Yellow Roses Guiding my Steps

By Br. Michael, MIC

From an early age, relatives and family friends would jokingly call me "Fr. Mike," because I was always chosen to lead the
Rosary at family gatherings. Since then, the Rosary, Our Lady, and heavenly signs marked by flowers (especially yellow flowers) have been guiding the steps of my vocation.

I grew up in San Diego, California, surrounded by Catholicism. My family, rooted in our Filipino heritage, has been Catholic for generations. But it wasn't until I was about 25 that I experienced the love of Our Lady and our Lord in a very real way on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. On that pilgrimage, I felt that they were asking me to do more for them and the Church.

I first felt the call to the priesthood when I happened to attend an anniversary Mass of a priest in our diocese. As I sat in the pew listening to his homily, he spoke of his own call to the priesthood. This priest shared how he felt that Our Lady and our Lord were asking him to do more for the Church, too. But no matter what he did, what ministries he joined, what religious activities he participated in, he felt he was still not fulfilling his call. It was not until he began discerning the priesthood that he found peace. This is exactly what I felt like I was going through. I broke down in tears that day. I was the only person crying in the whole Church. I will never be able to fully explain what came over me, but I believe it was an invitation from the Holy Spirit and Our Lady to take the next step in my vocation.

From that point, the Lord and the Blessed Mother led me to the Marians, whom I discovered through the books of Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC. In addition to his autobiography, No Turning Back, I read Under the Mantle, which truly opened my heart and mind to how important Mary is in my spiritual life.

I first received my call to the Marians upon returning back to San Diego after a "come and see" retreat in Steubenville, Ohio, with Fr. Donald. On Feb. 10, 2017, my mom asked me to buy some flowers for our Marian shrine at home since the next day was the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. Since I remembered that Our Lady appeared in Lourdes with yellow roses
on each of her feet, I somewhat jokingly asked Mary in prayer, "If you want me to apply to the Marians, please show me an abundance of yellow flowers."

Of course, Our Lady pulled through. When I arrived at the grocery store, there was a big sign that read, "Yellow flowers on sale." This was a few days before Valentine's Day, so I would think that pink or red flowers would be more prevalent. But yellow flowers were everywhere! At first, I thought this was just a funny coincidence. But I was wrong. Each time I visited a church the next several days, the altar or the shrines dedicated to Our Lady were decorated with only yellow flowers. I saw this as a confirmation from our Lord and Our Lady that they wanted me to trust in their plan and join this religious community named after the Immaculate Conception, the title Mary herself proclaimed in Lourdes.

After speaking with my spiritual director at the time about this sign, he told me to trust in the "green lights" that the Lord kept sending me. Up to this day, yellow flowers seem to pop up whenever I doubt my vocation. I thank Our Lady for this very simple, but beautiful reminder that she has guided and continues to guide my steps.

Brother Michael, MIC, is finishing his first year of philosophy studies in Steubenville, Ohio, at the Franciscan University of Steubenville.

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