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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 …”
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