Prophetic nursing

Homily by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II at the Second Capping and Pinning Ceremony
Our Lady of Fatima University-San Fernando, Pampanga, 20 July 2022
Jeremiah 1:1, 4-10   ><}}}*> + ><}}}*> + ><}}}*>   Matthew 13:1-9
Photo by author, 16 July 2022, Our Lady of Fatima University-Cabanatuan City.

This is my fourth capping and pinning ceremony of our nursing students in five weeks. And now more than ever, I am so convinced that nursing is like the priesthood – a vocation, a call from God to serve his people.

That is why our first reading on the call of the prophet Jeremiah is so perfect for our Second Capping and Pinning Ceremony of the College of Nursing here at our San Fernando Campus. As a vocation, nursing is a call to prophetic witnessing of Christ’s gospel especially in this age when life and dignity of every person is taken for granted.

Photo by author, 16 July 2022, Our Lady of Fatima University, Cabanatuan City.

Maybe there are some of you who are here had no plans of becoming a nurse before but one thing led to another and here you are, about to take the first major step in becoming a nurse. And despite that reality, maybe by this time you have come to love nursing already that you are feeling nervous for this momentous ceremony that was pout on hold for two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Yes, thanks too to COVID-19 for it had made it clearer to you that it was God who really called you to become future nurses!

The word of the Lord came to thus: Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you… See, I place my words in your mouth! This day I set you over nations and over kingdoms, to root up and to tear, to destroy and to demolish, to build and to plant.”

Jeremiah 1: 4-5, 9-10

How beautiful it is to hear God telling each one of you today, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a NURSE to the nations I appointed you.”

That’s the meaning of your cap.

Photo by author, 10 July 2022 at the RISE Tower, Our Lady of Fatima University, Valenzuela City.

You must have heard that expression we have “to wear different hats” in life – when you are at home, you wear the hat of an Ate or Kuya, when you are in the classroom you wear the hat of a student before your professors and mentors, when you are out with your barkada, you wear a different hat as a friend.

God is giving you another hat – or cap – to wear in life beginning today.

It is something so distinct and special not everyone can wear. Only a selected few are called and chosen to wear that cap our model Florence of Nightingale wore with pride, honor and dignity when she elevated the status of Nursing as we know and so value today.

In the Jewish culture, the wearing of a hat means to recognize somebody higher or above us – and that is God. That is why men and children wear those tiny “skull caps” called zucchetto when they are inside the ruins of the temple of Jerusalem. Our Pope and Bishops also wear that skull cap to signify God is above them whom they must serve and obey.

Photo by author, 10 July 2022 at the RISE Tower, Our Lady of Fatima University, Valenzuela City.

My dear nursing students, to be a nurse is to be a servant of God, a prophet or a “prophetic nurse” who witnesses the gospel of Jesus Christ to our patients, especially to the poor and disadvantaged.

Witnessing the gospel of Christ is to speak and act on the word of God. That is why when you take your pledge of Florence Nightingale later, you invoke the name of God “to pass my life in purity and practice my profession faithfully.”

As you have invited God into your lives today as you take this major step in your formation as future nurses, make God a part of your life everyday. Handle your life with prayer. Moreover, as I would remind our students during Baccalaureate Mass, “study hard, work harder, and pray hardest”.

Be open to God.

I assure you, nursing is a very demanding and difficult profession. You have seen it these past two years of pandemic.

From Facebook, November 2020.

Baka mamaya aayaw kayong bigla katulad ng mga butil nahulog sa daanan na tinuka ng mga ibon. HIndi kayo yayaman, hindi kayo magiging milyunaryo o milyunarya sa nursing. Kung yun ang pakay ninyo, mali napuntahan ninyo. Magpulitiko kayo, baka sakali…

Baka naman ngayon, very enthusiastic kayo with all the glamor and attention you get as nursing students, lalo na kapag naging RN na kayo and you start wearing those scrubs with all the gadgets for monitoring patients na talaga naman pogi points – then after a few months, you get burned out like the seeds that fell on rocky ground with little soil.

Pwede rin naman makita ninyo maraming opportunities sa nursing para yumaman o sumikat o maging notorious gaya ng mga nababalitaan natin lalo na sa abroad but, remember to be credible, to elevate the standards of nursing, to never administer harmful drugs for shameful profits like those seeds that sprouted but choked by thorns.

Be like the rich soil in the parable of the sower, listen and act on the word of God so that you mature and bear fruit as nurses.

St. Augustine said “grace builds on nature”; that means, the grace of God will always be there for you to become a good nurse but you have to dispose yourself properly by cultivating habits and virtues through discipline. One of these is punctuality, being on time. Another is obedience which is actually listening attentively to instructions. Of course, do not forget charity and kindness. And many others so that you reflect the goodness of God.

Photo by author, 10 July 2022 at the RISE Tower, Our Lady of Fatima University, Valenzuela City.

You do not become a good nurse tomorrow or when you graduate or when you pass the board exam nor when you get employed as a nurse.

You become a good nurse today. Now na!

St. Paul said “God’s gift and call are permanent and irrevocable” (Rom. 11:29) tinawag kayo ng Diyos upang maging mahuhusay na nurse at hindi niya iyon babawiin… ibibigay niya ang lahat para sa inyo kung ibibigay din ninyo ang inyong sarili sa kanya sa paglilingkod sa kapwa. At ang iba pa ay susunod na kalakip ang maraming biyaya, “siksik, liglig at umaapaw” (Lk. 6:38).

God bless you, BS Nursing Students of Our Lady of Fatima-Pampanga.

God bless all nurses of the world, especially our very own, Filipino nurses serving everywhere!

Photo by author, 16 July 2022, Our Lady of Fatima University-Cabanatuan City.

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