"Remember, I am with you always to the end of the age" (Mt 28:20)

"Duc In Altum" [Put Out Into The Deep]

y theme for my sharing today is on vocation, how it usually begins and there are three points. First point. I can still vividly remember the moment when I eventually decided to enter the religious life. It happened during a vocation discernment retreat. October 2000 in Canossa Retreat House in Tagaytay City. I was only twenty-one years old, a fresh graduate in college. When the retreat master, Fr Ruben Tanseco SJ of happy memory, invited each of us to review and count the blessings received, in a kind of contemplation and meditation, of all the blessings that the Lord has given to us as tangible expressions of His love, there was just that spontaneous response—a deep sense of gratitude—to a God who first loved right from the very beginning.

Although we often say, we entered the religious life ambitioning to serve God and offer our lives to Him. It sounds noble but it is still considered impure a motivation to "do" great things for God as if God needed it. The retreat brought be back to my senses and realized that before I could "do" a single thing for God, I must acknowledge how God has already done so much. This is the first thing many of us have difficulty in seeing, like the proverbial elephant in the room, God is like an elephant in our tiny sacred spaces, but this elephant just keeps on being ignored—astounding! In my first silent retreat experience, I could not ignore anymore the elephant in the prayer room. And the best part is that this God is so gentle, tender and kind. God gave you and me gifts of His love even if we did not have yet the capacity to acknowledge or return His love. That is another mistaken view that we have of God thinking He wanted back what He gave. So I would like to categorically state that this is how any serious discernment of a vocation begins or not at all. It starts from a deep realization of one’s giftedness, blessedness with a view that every gift and blessing is a concrete expression of God’s infinite and gratuitous love—freely given with no conditions.

Second point. We now go into the calling of the first disciples. Among all gospel accounts, my favourite is this narrative from Luke. Why? Because, the call happens not instantaneously, there were a lot of events that happened prior. The best way to pray this is to do an Ignatian contemplation and compose the place being one among the crowds or the disciples.

It even happened as if Jesus had no intention at first to recruit. What did Jesus do first? He preached to the crowds, there were so many that he needed a boat as a podium so everybody could hear. He borrowed the boat that belonged to Simon. What were Simon and his colleagues feeling? They were in a bad mood. Jesus the true fisher of men threw the divine net so deep that he caught Simon. In the deep he was found. When a child gets lost he or she can only be found by somebody familiar to him or her. When somebody follows a person, we must first know who that person is before we can pledge to follow him or her. The first disciples came to know who Jesus is first. They were not idiots. In fact, this is not the first time for Simon to encounter Jesus. Remember in the previous chapter (Lk 4:38-39), Jesus healed Simon's mother-in-law. That was the first amazing thing that he saw Jesus doing. This time he is on his boat, in the middle of their busyness, and hears the famous line from Jesus "duc in altum," Latin for "put out into the deep." Jesus caught Simon's eye sinking into the deep. And Jesus, as if clueless about the fishermen's lot, to him to go further into deep water and lower the nets for a catch. Pay close attention to the direct object of the Duc in altum (Lk 5:4) command. It is Simon who is being asked to go into deep water and when he is there he lowers his net for a catch. Then the miracle happens which transforms Simon. How? He is called by a different name all of a sudden. He is not just Simon, he is called Simon Peter—the earliest occurrence in the gospels when he is called by that name. It is his given name, he receives it from Jesus. What happens next? He falls down on his knees because he could not take it anymore, he is deeply overwhelmed.

This is my last point. When they brought their boats to the shore, they left everything and followed him. But when we come to this last line let us take our time taking the length of a boat ride from the deep sea back into the shore. Do not rush in the contemplation. What were they feeling as they were with Jesus? I like to believe they were so mesmerized that they start to get so attracted to Jesus, they start to love him. They could not wait any longer to touch ground. Their encounter with Jesus had such a great impact on them they started to move with a spring in their steps—a foretaste of Pentecost. When Jesus reassured them, "Do not be afraid" an avalanche of joy rushed in, their hearts were burning. Such a joy is so full of zeal they can leave behind even their own families, friends and livelihood just to follow Jesus whom they have come to know more intimately. This kind of knowledge radiates in joy and in love for Jesus. When they reached the shore, they evangelized with joy. That is why the first line of Pope Francis's first Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium says "The joy of the gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus." I think this is the major part of a Jesuit or every religious and seminary formation process. Before we can evangelize, our hearts must first be filled with the joy of the gospel who is Jesus Himself. Our God is a God of consolation which is the first message that every Christian brings with him or her to all places. No wonder, in the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius of Loyola, it is considered a pivotal grace to beg for: An intimate knowledge and the graces, to know Jesus more clearly, to love him more dearly and to follow him more nearly. Amen, Fr JM Manzano SJ


  1. Thanks for this sharing, Fr. JM... This is one of my favorite passages, "Duc in altum". Until now, this inspires me to go forward in my vocation much more when I am experiencing difficulties and challenges. I am taking it this way; I was in the boat in the middle of the sea, actually, with no nets. (In the dark of night, when the moon seemed to wane forever) And hearing that voice telling me to "put out into the deep", as if telling me to jump into the depths of the ocean. It seemed to be dark and cold. Uncertain. Yet that same voice assured me of not to be afraid and to TRUST fully in Him. Nets can gather all the graces that we need but plunging ourselves in those graces (underwater) will teach us to swim even in the strongest current of the different situations we are facing in life. God bless you po Fr. JM. Thanks much! :')

    1. The late Superior General of the Jesuits Adolfo Nicolas said "if the heart is right, you can throw it in the dark, and it will find its way." Thanks so much for your wonderful testament to the "duc in altum" moment between Jesus and Peter! Let us keep following our Lord especially with each other's prayers! GBU!

  2. Wow! So beautiful... Thank you very much po, Fr. JM... So encouraging... I'll keep that in ❤️... And will be the partner of my "Duc in altum"...

    I do always keep you in my prayers...
    Thanks for your prayers too...
    God bless you... TC


  3. Happy Birthday Fr. JM! Wish you all the best! TC

    1. Thank you for remembering me especially in your prayers! GBU!

  4. Hello po, Fr. JM... I was watching awhile ago the LOTR: the Rings Power.... Then these words caught my attention;

    "When there is love, it is never truly dark."

    I suddenly remembered the words of Fr. Adolfo which you shared on your response...

    "If the heart is right, you can throw it in the dark, and it will find its way."

    Then, I just realized that,

    It is love that which gives light in the darkest way of our life.. Only love can always finds the way back whenever we got lost in the dark...

    Thanks much!

    1. Thanks so much for sharing this powerful quote from LOTR! It is also my favorite movie of all time! You have said the perfect thing about love. In scriptures it is said "... the greatest of these is love" (1 Cor 13:13). GBU!

    2. :')

      The LOTR is indeed a very beautiful movie series... I first watched it when I was still in college and I really fell in love with the it... Yet only then when I watched it again with my community as a religious I came to appreciate it more and more, the depths and and meaning of it... Especialy the battle of good and evil inside of us... I put it as the two standard... And as well as how greed destroys the beauty of the creation... Actually a very good movie to reflect upon hand in hand with Laudato Si'...

      These new series of LOTR (the Rings power) we are watching at the moment are the fellowship of the ring and so on...

      Have you also watched another prequel "Born of Hope"? It is also very beautiful...


    3. Thanks for your sharing! I watched "Born of Hope" upon your suggestion. Thanks so much for showing me to the birth of hope in Aragorn! GBU!


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