Read the news from events, activities and other updates on the different communities here in the Philippines
The 3rd Discernment Course for Missionary Married Couples in the Philippines is now on its third month. On January 17, 2021 their Formation coincided with a triple celebration: the 58th Verbum Dei Foundation Anniversary, the 17th Wedding Anniversary of one of the couples Imelda and Manuel Manceli, and the Feast of the Sto. Niño. Indeed, it was a unique opportunity to give thanks for our history and heritage, and to celebrate our Verbum Dei family around the world today.
Formator Mae Paguia imparted Prayer Guidelines inspired by the calling of the prophet Samuel and the calling of the first disciples of Jesus. She emphasized that our Verbum Dei spirituality hinges on our mission to point those around us to God, to place them in contact with God and to teach them how to pray with the Word. And in our specific reality of marriage and family life, this mission begins at home in our “hidden life.” God is also saving us through the call and concerns of our spouse and children.
Cristian Alvarado shared, “I recall receiving the call to Christ in my youth in Costa Rica. In front of the Church was a plaza where we play football and had many distractions. Today, the distractions are much nearer to home. I am thankful that God bends down to answer our cry (Psalm 40:1). Jesus came down and today the Holy Spirit is with us. I put in the hands of God all my struggles.”
Recollecting her encounters with the first misioneras, formator Marisol Diaz fondly remembered their smiles, their joy and peace, even in the midst of pain and illness. She encouraged us to “find someone like Eli who helped Samuel to meet God. Be docile to those who preserve the voice of God. Ask Him to help you interpret His voice.”
The second part of the Formation centered on the means of the Verbum Dei spirituality, focusing on Conjugal Dialogue, Conjugal Prayer, Revision of Life and Marital Accompaniment. Formators Marisol and her husband Antonio Miralles facilitated an interactive session drawing on the experience and practice of all the couples.
“Marriage is truly a sign of the grace of God,” Cecilia Bautista reflected, “I pray that God teaches me to look at my spouse in that way, even in the thick of day to day demands and expectations. Marriage is a beautiful gift to take care of! I pray to be more purposeful and to take seriously the means made available to us.”
Formator Bimbo Abrio enthused, “God calls and re-calls. I am thankful for the dynamism of prayer in marriage. Your spouse is your automatic and captive audience. He or she can reinforce and confirm your prayer and help you to understand better and faster. Prayer shared is prayer assimilated. Someone is always helping and confirming your needs in prayer.”
“You are the proper help for your spouse,” were the final words of exhortation from Antonio. As we endeavor to grow and bear fruit as couples, may we have eyes to see God’s face, and ears to hear God’s voice. As we strive to practice the means of the Verbum Dei spirituality, we pray as Eli instructed to Samuel, “Speak LORD, for your servant is listening.”
With thanks to Resti Bautista and the WordNews team
TESTIMONY of EL-EL and ANN of Cebu, Philippines
Thirteen (13) Missionary Married Couples from the Philippines, Australia, Spain and Portugal together with James in England had an on-line Spiritual Exercises last Dec. 26-30, 2020. We are very grateful to the Holy Trinity and Mary through the self-giving of Antonio, Marisol, Miguel, Paula, Cookie, Bimbo and James. The 5 days of prayer has really fostered our being contemplative-active.
“Let us rejoice because we are his chosen one” as Marisol told, regarding the passage of Acts 6:4 “… and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the WORD.” The Lord invited us “to give everything to the mission with a full-heart rather than full-time” through Miguel, Antonio challenged us “to sell everything for the marriage project --- for marriage is God’s plan for His people”. In our prayer, the Holy Trinity gave us the light to see how essential unity is in marriage and in the journey of mission --- of forming apostles of Christ. “Learn to live for each other, co-exist with imperfection and hold its peace before the limitations of the loved one” as Antonio mentioned. Thus, Paula encouraged us to “value what each one has to give” – this message came through very strongly for us. The Lord lovingly told us to see the potential of others --- the contributions that they can offer and give to the Mystical Body of Christ.
Likewise, the Lord has inspired us through the sharing of Miguel and Paula on the challenge that being ecclesial brings. Moments come that you are not one in mind and heart but still ONE in the goal of imitating Jesus and forming apostles of Christ. We were invited to nourish our love from the source of love through the Holy Eucharist which brought us to Psalm 86:11 “Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.” God invited us through Marisol to go to the inner castle of our being where the Trinity dwells. So, we went to Mary and told her, teach us to put things that we do not understand in our heart --- in our inner castle like she did.
It led us to Matthew 2:12 “And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.” Mary told us to take a new route --- live a new life in communion and serving the Trinity. Pondering on what Miguel said “serving God is not a part-time job, it is our work.” We believe that this “communion with the Trinity will bear fruit which is the mission” as James announced. Thus, we bring to continued prayer Matthew 28:19 “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit …”
A webinar on funds and fund raising
The Verbum Dei Catholic Missionary Family in Cebu organized a webinar on Funds and Fund Raising and was realized last Sunday, November 28, 2020. The activity was well-attended, and thanks to stable internet signals, it was just like having a good weather that the attendees held on to listen until the last cast had spoken. The topics and the resource speakers were up to their billing. Though not to be outdone were the organizers who kept the audience lively and accorded contributors with generous remarks and certificates of appreciation.
The talk about Financial Stewardship given by Bro. Ric Martinez must have raised the eyebrows of the attendees when he went on to tell the secrets of the billionaires. The Christian financial equation that incorporates biblical component in it, tithes and offerings to please the Lord.
The topic Spirituality of Fundraising and Stories of Giving was well-articulated by Sister Mirasol Abala and Bro. Mario Deriquito. We were enlightened that such activity (fundraising) was essential in a mission, and that it is a necessary component ministry in a religious organization. Similarly, a creative means to raise funds provides an avenue for a cheerful giver to express his or her intent for charity.
Then Bro. Yoyoy finally captured the heart of the digital audience with his emotional discourse on the topic of Tithing. It then elicited a lively interaction from the enthusiastic crowd.
The webinar ended with a lot of rich lessons for spiritual reflections. Kudos to the organizers and thanks be to God above all.
With thanks to Vic Gocela and the WordNews team
Verbum Dei Tagaytay organized an Advent Retreat last 28-29 November at our Center. Here is the sharing of one of the participants.
Sun and moon, day and night, light and dark are the realities that we have to be thankful for, the same as with joy and sorrow. Cling unto God. Everything will be alright.
"The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light" Isaiah 9:1
"God never leaves us alone. He is always watching over us, even in the darkest moments of our lives," I whispered to myself. The theme seriously touched my heart. I first asked, how is my heart at this moment? And I found a lot of questions inside it. Thinking and asking, all the retreatants here also have their challenges?
As I was listening to the missionaries speaking in front of me while in the retreat, I was amazed at what God can do for us, in ways that will uplift our spirituality.
Trust in God opens my heart to accept the difficulties that are given by this challenging world. I look at that everything is normal. Struggles in different forms ordinarily happen. So why do I need to dwell in that situation knowing that it will make me weary every time? God is patient. I realized that God is waiting for us to find Him. He will accompany us while walking in the dark, even in the darkest. Find time talking to God, tell Him everything. He will listen. Holding His hand from time to time will lead us the way to find the light...
As the two-day retreat ended, I found a new me. I can now answer my hanging question. How is my heart? At this moment, my heart is full of hope, hope that I will bring as I go home that everything will be fine, will be ok as long as we are with Him. I am also very thankful for the challenges that I have met. God made me stronger. Just take struggles positively and confidently tell yourself, I am with God. I am with Him. I can walk in the dark, even in the darkest, I make sure that I'll make it fast to see the great light!
Thank you, Verbum Dei Tagaytay,
With thanks to Letlet and the WordNews team
School of Apostles Manila-Pasig
Scientists would call it the web of life, internet users would call it Facebook. Yes, we are all connected to one another but it is more than just physically or digitally. In our spirits and our souls, we are connected in one Mystical Body of Christ. For the past three months we have been going deeper in contemplating the reality of the Mystical Body and we have received many fruits from this, some of which we capture in this short reflection.
Just as the body has many parts each fulfilling a different function, so too are we members of this body. We all have our parts to play in keeping the Body whole and healthy for the Kingdom of God. All our thoughts, words and actions affect other members of the Body and therefore, we must commit to only giving and sharing life to others. Because if we act out of pride, selfishness and sin, then we are harming ourselves, and other members of the Body.
More so, since Christ is the Head of the Body, He feels the effects of our thoughts, words and actions. He says to us now, just as He did on the cross, “I thirst.” For there are many evils abroad in our world, and every sin wounds Him just as the nails and the crown of thorns did. He thirsts because there are members of the Body who thirst and are suffering, especially the poor. They are the neglected and long-suffering members of the Body and we who are able should practice what our mother Church calls the “preferential option for the poor” so that our words, thoughts and actions can help alleviate their suffering and make the Body of Christ stronger, healthier and more life-giving.
With thanks to George Wang and the WordNews team
An Advent recollection to a shelter for girls
An Advent recollection was held for the girls of a shelter. The theme of the recollection was “The Light shines in the darkness” (John 1:5). The team was led by Sr Rachel from Tagaytay community, with 3 missionary disciples - Joy, Grace and Joyce - and 2 misioneros, James and Bong. There was a welcome talk and testimony given by the disciples, as well as dynamics, a catechesis by Sr Rachel, the Holy Eucharist and a workshop.
The activity wrapped up with a very fruitily sharing of fruits! The girls did not want to stop sharing!
One girl shared she is an orphan and does not have a family that she can look forward to go home to. She experienced from the recollection that she is not alone because Jesus is with her always.
Another one shared she had a lot of struggles in this time of pandemic that many times she wanted already to give up but she discovered light. There is light on her darkness. It gave her courage to continue and not to give up.
The fruit for Joyce was to be thankful for our life and to share our light to others. For Joy it was spending time and giving the word of God to those children was very fulfilling. It shows how God is strongly and really moving in our life. That even, when we are at our worst moment of life, there is someone who will light our way and will lead us to the real light which is Jesus. Hearing their situations give me the boost to continue bringing light to others.
Let us pray for our mission, and ask for the grace this Christmas to continue to bring comfort to the world of today.
With thanks to Friends of Verbum Dei for supporting this advocacy work
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…
Ask any child what Christmas is about and undeniably, for each child, it is all about the gifts they are so eager to receive. People often say that Christmas is just for children. Do you agree? Well, I tend to agree on that point, in fact. Christmas is definitely a time for the children of God to await for that wonderful gift of our Lord. But as God’s children, we don’t just wait like everyone else, we prepare ourselves for the Savior’s coming in advent and with hopeful expectation! What better way then to start this season of Advent than seek the help of St Joseph?
Fr. James McTavish took us on a Christmas Journey with St Joseph which proved to be such a wonderful ADVENTure… haha. For many, it was quite an eye opener on the pivotal role of St Joseph in salvation history. For others who already had a true devotion and even did their consecration to him, they found this recollection an opportunity to deepen further on this spirituality. The brand-new song “Go To Joseph” with lyrics written by Fr James and music composed by Jay-ann Desabelle set the scene of the journey. The tune was not only catchy but the words themselves caught everyone’s attention as the song embodied the very nature of Joseph. The invite of famous saints, St John of the Cross and St Teresa de Avila, also left the participants the desire to personally know St. Joseph more. Learning the significance of how Joseph was a “just” man in following the will of God and the intimate connection of this silence was with inner peace was a “eureka” moment for some.
Bimbo Abrio, a Verbum Dei missionary couple with wife Cookie from Cagayan de Oro, continued the journey for us. He gave us quite an insightful talk which was touching yet with some elements of humor. He effectively highlighted three key virtues of St Joseph - Prayerfulness, Selflessness and Responsiveness. He was able to impart these attributes and related how these have shaped his role as a spouse and father to his four children. Joseph’s quick and positive response to action was definitely something for all of us to emulate. There was no account of any spoken word by our dear St Joseph but his actions definitely spoke for themselves.
As we bring 2020 to a close, let us “Go to Joseph” and ask him to teach us to respond to God’s call, so we too, from our slumber can “get up” each day given to us from whatever reality we are in and bring Jesus and His mother Mary everywhere we go in this journey of life.
With thanks to Emy Abaya and the WordNews team
On-line Advent recollection
The Verbum Dei missionaries of Manila-Pasig recently held a half-day Advent recollection. Here is the sharing of Regina, one of the participants.
I was able to enjoy the time of reflection especially which emphasized that the Promise is a Person. Jesus has been reminding me of my wellness and insisting to ‘waste’ time with Him. He knows very well how many concerns I have been handling the past months. He confronted me of the many “excuse letters” I sent to Him begging off to what used to be our exclusive bonding time of prayer just to attend to the youth in need of guidance, the tons of messages to answer, co-teachers in need of a listener, and the very demanding on-line platform I now use in teaching.
Praying with Jesus, it helped me to deepen on the points shared on “health” because it is already a constant topic in my conversations with Him. He said, “would you like to prepare for another phase, a version 2.0 of our adventure? Then, take care of My life in you ... take care of your well being too. How is your sleep? What do you eat? Do you still take relaxation walks and pause to watch the branches sway and the flowers blossom? Be well, so that you can prepare well and give Me well to others in a version 2.0 way.”
And what sealed this day is the LOVE shared by Jesus to me, and to Judith whom I invited for the recollection. I am moved by the ways He connected both of us in a shared virtual sacred space.
This day of recollection, I met the promise and He asks me to prepare well and be well, to be able to give Him well.
Regina Flor O. Peña
Zechariah, Elizabeth and Mary are three characters we are so familiar with; all three commonly exemplify the message of the first Sunday of Advent – HOPE. The three who were all present in the Gospel reading of St Luke in Chapter 1, translating fear to hope.
“Rejoice in HOPE’ (Rom. 12,12) was the theme of this year’s Advent Retreat, held last Sunday, November 29, initiated by the Verbum Dei Missionary Family in Mindanao. It was modified to observe existing health protocols, and done online via Zoom.
The retreat was a one-day event with three Guidelines, a pair of poignant testimonies and with more time of prayer; the event spotlighted HOPE, notably to entice the participants to make a decision to persevere in prayer. To be patient in tribulation, that regardless of the present-day challenges and affliction, we remain hopeful, rejoicing even in sickness, even we are weary or tired from the demands of work and school, we keep in mind that we are not alone, we are never alone - God is with us! Emmanuel! The afternoon prayer guideline ended with the invitation, a challenge to give hope to through the sharing of the Word of God; to create ripples of hope to break free from the dangers of despondency & spiritual death.
This year’s Advent retreat was a great occasion of conceding that what truly gives us the courage to be joyful always is the HOPE of THE LIFE to come, Jesus Christ.
The retreat ended with a Mass officiated by Fr. Bong Guinoo, FMVD.
Let us keep our spirits high this Advent by rejoicing in Hope!
In the last 6 weeks, I have been sharing my prayer and my own experience with the gospel as well as listening to the experience of others in the audio reflections called “Daily Shots”. I heard about the struggles, the funny movements and most importantly, how the gospel and the words of Jesus through our life experience have impacted others in their lives.
I found it incredible how relevant and relatable our day-to-day lives can be with the words in the bible and how amazing the Word of God is for my own life.
The experience of “Daily Shots” preachers as well as those who listened, I believe has really expressed the reality that when we take time to listen and pray with the Word of God, we can learn so much for our own personal thought and growth. By so doing, we allow God to be real in our daily lives and make us grow closer to him.
Deeply rooted in who we are and how we live, we find that it is how we can hear and speak to God. God can really speak to us through our daily realities. Nothing in our lives is too far from the reach of God’s word.
The amazing thing is that this experience of “Daily Shots” in our lives has even conquered our seemingly biggest enemy – time! The time we never have, the time that we are always running after. Even “Daily Shots” preachers expressed this gratitude and grace to realize and see that when we do make time for God and His word, no matter how little, there’s a lot more we can gain from it. Even in the midst the busyness of life, that time as little as it is, when spent with the Word of God, is worth more to us in our lives than we can ever imagine. It can even be the answer to what we are always chasing after.
All in all, this experience with “Daily Shots” has been exactly that - a daily shot, a shot of life and reflection that I needed to make a difference in my current realities. The impact of listening to God through the experience of the Word and these “Daily Shots” have changed the way I relate to reading the bible. These have really proven to be one of the most effective ‘shots’ I’ve ever received. ‘Shots’ of real wisdom and grace for my life that in all honesty, I have not found anywhere else.
I really praise and thank God for giving us this experience of this daily dose of the Word of God in my life.
Amanda Silva, Daily Shots contributor
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