أخبار عاجلة
الرئيسية / اخر الاخبار / Transcribed from a video recorded by Atkin Oshana **

Transcribed from a video recorded by Atkin Oshana **

Transcribed from a video recorded by Atkin Oshana **

Interview with the Spanish Deacon Jose M. Martinez
prior to his ordination as a Chaldean priest

 

Msgr. Noel Farman El-Sanaty

This interview happened spontaneously on October 17th, 2022, after a few days spent in the Chaldean Patriarchal edifice in Baghdad, where I met Deacon Jose Martinez. I had read about Deacon Jose on the Chaldean Patriarchal website; however, I was truly drawn to getting to know him after I heard him during the morning and evening prayers (Sapra and Ramsha). Deacon Jose’s Arabic and Chaldean participation during the liturgies and his especially good chanting of the petitions “Let us stand well” (N’qoum Shappir) led me to ask: Who is this Spanish person who wants to serve the Chaldean Church? What kind of family does he come from? What has his life been like? As a journalist, I wanted to explore what had drawn a mature Spanish speaking man to be ordained a Chaldean priest this December 18th, 2022. I wondered also how his answers could inspire people today.

– I am Deacon Jose Manuel Martinez Gomez. I am 53 years old. We are 6 siblings in the family: 3 brothers and 3 sisters. My mother passed away two years ago. I was raised in Spain. In 1996, I graduated from Madrid University with a degree in Arabic language literature. This led me to visit Arab countries such as Syria (2 years), Jerusalem and Lebanon. The last time I was in Beirut was in 2018. There, in St. Joseph Jesuit College, I continued studying Arabic, lest I forget it!  I had to improve and practice! Until now however, I still have difficulty speaking in this language, but I will try “little by little.”

* After studying Arabic, deacon Jose explained how he found Arabic Speaking Christians, and how he became acquainted with their Eastern rituals. With this modest knowledge about Arabic countries, I asked him if this was related to his teachers and where they were from. He said:

– The teachers were Spanish, one of them was Palestinian, and the other was from Morocco. So, I was thinking -as I think it is the case with people in Europe- that whoever is an Arab, would be a Muslim. When in the Middle East, I saw the churches. I thought that they belonged to the missionaries and the foreign communities. Then to my surprise, I found out, they are Original Eastern churches, such as the Maronites, the Chaldeans, the Melkite Byzantines, and others. As for the Chaldean rite, the first time I attended a celebration was here in Iraq. In fact, over a period of three years every time I entered the eastern churches in the region for masses and oriental hymns, an inner feeling came to me: ‘’This is what I want’’.

Between study and work

Between Christian faith and priestly vocation

* I asked deacon Jose, how he had spent the previous decades of his life, to be today a deacon prepared to receive priestly ordination. He told me that his life was, first, divided between work and studies. At first, he assisted his father, a doctor, in the fields of programming and computers. He also was in public works to pay his studies and living expenses. I understood that he did not have the opportunity to work his knowledge of the Arabic language, so the question arose as to why he chose to study Arabic. He said:

– I had to choose what to study, and my choice was inspired when I sorted out the major topics that I did not want to study, such as: law, commerce, economics… On the other hand, I saw Arabic language in university programs; it was my choice. However, till the third year, it was not within what I liked because we only studied manuscripts and Andalusian history in Spain. So, when I finished college, I was unable to speak. I had only learned something theoretical. Therefore, when I discovered the Middle East, I was able to talk to people. I was amazed and told myself: this is a language that you can speak with people. On school benches, I had learned the language theoretically.

Q: How was the path of your Christian life in your original environment?

– We lived as a Christian family. With my grandmother, we prayed the Rosary, and went to Mass. We studied in a Christian school, but the first time I felt the call was in High School. But I did not know how. I tried to be with the monks in Spain, but I did not find that this was my way. I didn’t have the idea of forming a family, and I didn’t have a relationship that would lead me to that. Although I did not have a specific and clear idea in the vocation, but I thought that God will show me the way. Within this intention, I studied theology.

Q: What were the steps you took on this path?

– I cared and served my mother who was sick for many years. After she passed, I felt released. I was personally and financially independent from the rest of my family and my siblings encouraged me to follow my own path saying that they would care for our father.

So, I visited Jerusalem and felt called to serve in the Arab world. When I contacted the Franciscans, they asked me to work with them as a translator, and to become the director of the Spanish-language magazine “The Holy Land”. During this period, I was already studying philosophy and theology.

Q: How did you end up becoming deacon?

– I spoke with my spiritual guide. He gave me two months to find a suitable place. The deadline was January 6 of 2022 so I contacted several churches such as the Melkites, the Copts, the Latins. I wrote to Mgr Sako, the cardinal of the Chaldean Patriarch. His answer was clear: Come here, we will talk, and see what we can do… I arrived in Bagdad by plane April 10th, 2022, the same day of Psalm Sunday, Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. When I received the e-mail from His Beatitude, I said to myself: Perhaps I will need a year or more to practice the language and learn about the rite and the people. Cardinal Sako, however wanted me to walk directly into the matter; thus, I was ordained deacon according to the Chaldean Rite.

The priestly vocation… its fields, talents, and expectations

Q: Is there a model, a charisma in one of the saints or contemporary witnesses of faith, who caught your attention and you thought: I’d like to be like this?

– This question is important, because all my life I have been asking myself, with whom do I live this charisma, talent? I would also say: everyone has his own charisma- talent. Here I would add something about my Spanish compatriots, to whom I spoke about my vocation, when I went back to them after my diaconal ordination. In one of the parishes, they asked me: Why did you go to Iraq, because here in Spain we need priests? My answer was that if I am ordained a priest here, I will not be able to go to Iraq. And I added: There is a devoted relationship to work in a country, where you feel yourself comfortable.

As for charisma, what kind do I have? My answer is: I did not take this path to ask Jesus for anything for myself. I just intended to: not to say no. Whatever, my hierarchy requires of me, like our Patriarch, I am ready to do.

Chosen among those who are called

Q: We have already seen here in Iraq people who came from the West, attracted by the light of the East, such as Father Mansour al-Mukhalisi, and French Dominican fathers who lived here for years. What about you, is there any specific factor that attracted you to the East?

– The first thing I think is that when the Lord selects one of those who are called, they are “chosen”. So, when the “chosen one” would like to change something from himself, God says to him, “I want this path for you”. This leads us to discern that God wants for us whatever is good. I do not have any personal agenda about the future. Wherever the Hierarchy would want me to be, in this parish or that, I will respond to live this call in the parish, but as a servant.

Q: In your discussion with your spiritual director, did you find any motivation to respond to the vocation? Inspiring you to say: Yes, this is what I want?

– In reading something about what St. Teresa of the Child Jesus, wrote I found a sentence that inspired me: “God puts in your heart all that He wants to give you”. This could be then a part of our intention. This is what brought me to the East.

Q: Also, St. Teresa of Calcutta, Mother Teresa, had a principle, when examining the vocation, to say: The criteria for testing my vocation is fascination, amazement, and rejoicing in it. Did you feel something in the way of testing your vocation? What did you feel?

– Yes, when I attended masses and oriental rites, the Chaldean mass, I felt like someone in a dream, in heaven.

Q: So, you tasted the Chaldean liturgy, and in fact, for my part, I was amazed at how, in such a short period of time, you became familiar with the reading of Chaldean …

– Laughing gleefully, Deacon Jose replies: Yes, and it is possible, that, for this reason, I could focus and understand in studying quickly. All this also came with the help of God and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

Late Vocation – Parable of Jesus on: Latter Hour Workers
Jose Martinez: The time of God is different from the time of man

Q: Jesus, through his teaching, came up with the parable of the workers of the last hour…

– With an enthusiastic smile, Deacon Jose says: Yes, I’m from the last hour group…

Q: How do you describe the time you spent before reaching this call, at this age, in comparison to the parable “workers of the last hours”? Where were you in those hours (years)?

– All my life I’ve thought about it. My years were passing by, and I did not find the right place, but now that I look back, I say everything that I lived in the past is what led me to this day.

* Thank you, this is wonderful! So those years prepared you for this moment, until the will of God’s providence came at the appointed time.

– Yes, the time of God is different from the time of man.

Each vocation has its own type

Q: Is there a specific goal, that you aspire to achieve during your priestly service?

– Yes. Deepening in spirituality, in prayer, the Divine Liturgy, the sacraments… keeping this in mind: There is nothing of my own that I insist on achieving; for I do not want to do my will, but the will of the Lord, through the superiors; doing it with joy and peace in the heart.

The message to the various seekers of the vocation in their lives

Q: Aside from the call for consecrated life, what is your direct message to young people, about a vocation, in their Christian lives?

– I would tell them: The basis of everything is the personal relationship with the Lord. If I feel something inside me, I don’t choose, from myself, my own path, but I rather ask the advice from a spiritual guide. The most important thing is the spiritual life, prayer and as I said, the sacraments. I would add also: walk and walk, don’t get bored, because we are all in the hands of God. He knows us better. We don’t know like Him. Even in the case of last hour workers… to keep waiting, for the Lord has a project for each one of us. We are called: the doctor, the policeman etc. Beside those called for a religious life, or a priestly vocation, all of us, as believers, are called to our basic vocation ‘the relationship with God’. And so, we are all called to holiness; for as we know, there are many who became saints and they were neither monks nor priests, they were secular.

– Thank you very much, Deacon Jose Manuel.

________________________________________________________

** Atkin Youssef Oshana, a young man who is quadriplegic and mostly non-verbal since childhood, lives with his family in Michigan, USA. He is the founder and director of the Facebook channel: The Immaculate Maryam Brotherhood, with 1208 followers and 4951friends. He runs the Brotherhood’s YouTube page, along with other pages for religious hymns and Bible readings and produces video clips with Bible readings that include illustrations against the background of the text in Arabic, English or

          French. He was described in a press interview as the owner of talking feet.

 

عن Maher

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