Read the news from events, activities and other updates on the different communities here in the Philippines
“Still Waiting for The Promise?”
To prepare us for Christmas, the birth of Jesus, who is the The Promise, Himself, we attended the Semi-silent Retreat conducted by the Verbum Dei Missionaries last December 7 & 8, 2019 at the VD Retreat House in Tagaytay.
The cold weather didn’t deter the retreatants from spending an overnight stay at the Verbum Dei Retreat House, likewise, braving the traffic brought about by the ongoing SEA Games in the vicinity and other areas of the metropolis at that time.
The semi-silent treat was facilitated by Sr. Amy Hernandez, Sr. Grace Gonzales and Sr. Pearl Angelie Rebusit, FMVDs. The retreatants were welcomed by Sr. Amy, who gave us the flow of the retreat and some insights on the virtues of waiting on the Lord, silence, and knowing whom we are waiting for during this Advent Season.
Among the many passages which were given to us to reflect on, the one of the Annunciation (Luke 1:26-38) touches me the most… The “yes” of the Blessed Mother to bear the Savior of the world, is the one thing we can emulate in our lives, although it is difficult to do and to follow in our world today. Perhaps we could be docile or humble like Mary, but to follow in her footsteps consistently could be daunting and truly a struggle. But because we have a God who is faithful and always with us, we need not be afraid. The Lord will never leave us nor abandon us to fend for ourselves. We simply need to be still and to listen to what the Lord is telling us.
Sr. Grace expounded on our God who speaks to us in the silence of our hearts; who patiently waits for us; who has not broken a promise to His people; who considers you and I as precious in His eyes. In Isaiah 54:10, the Lord says, “My love will never leave you nor my covenant of peace be shaken, says the Lord, who has mercy on you…” Truly, the Lord is a faithful God! He keeps His promises. But, oftentimes, we are the ones who are unfaithful, the ones who break His heart! Likewise, when we undergo trials and difficulties, there will be long periods and moments of waiting. Thus, we are being taught patience because in waiting, there is grace. In His own time, God answers our waiting. He is faithful, always.
The name of “The Promise” is Jesus, Sr. Amy said. So, are we still waiting for The Promise? He is already amongst us. He came more than 2000 years ago to be with us and to live with us. The question to ask is, how is Jesus, who is The Promise, being manifested in our own lives at the moment? Can Jesus be seen in the way we live our lives?
Another beautiful question we can ask is, how should we wait on the Lord? What can we do as we are waiting? Trust, as we wait on God; trust Him with all our hearts. Do not run ahead of God for He is faithful and He will come. In Psalm 27:14, it says, “Wait for the Lord, take courage; be stouthearted, wait for the Lord.” Also, “He who begun the good work in you will be faithful to the end” (Phil.1:6).
Finally, many are waiting on God, for His plans to unfold in our lives. Do not be afraid about God’s plan for you. Like Mary and Elizabeth, they waited to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Let us not be afraid to receive the Holy Spirit in our lives because He will lead and guide us as we journey in this life. God is Emmanuel, always with us and giving us the abundance of life through His Son, Jesus Christ, who is The Promise. Amen.
Here are some more photos from the event:
Gathering of Religious with the Papal Nuncio and Advent Recollection in Guiuan, Samar
The feast of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception, December 8, 2019 marked a very important event for the people of Guiuan Eastern Samar. This day was the town´s fiesta at the same time the re-dedication of the Church officiated by the Papal Nuncio – Archbishop Gabriele Caccia.
The Church is one of the oldest Church in Philippines built in 1595 and was destroyed by the super typhoon Yolanda in 2013 and after six years, it’s only now it was restored through the efforts of the National Museum.
A few days later, the Catechists from different barangays together with other church organizations like Catholic Women’s League and the members of the Confraternity of the Our Lady of Perpetual Help in the parish had their one day Advent Recollection facilitated by sisters Rita Rodríguez and Rachel Lumain. The participants were open and participative. It was a very fruitful experience as they discovered newness in praying with the Word of God. They all enjoyed and were renewed in their faith. We are also very grateful to their generous self-giving, and all their efforts and sacrifices that makes the faith alive in Guiuan as they put their part in whatever role they have as catechists and being active members of different organizations in the Church.
Here are more photos of the event:
The Word is made flesh in us (cf. John 1:14)
What does a recollection, a commitment and a party have in common? All three require an attendance of ‘flesh’.
Indeed, last December 8, quite a number of Verbum Dei disciples from Cagayan de Oro and Bukidnon spent an entire day of recollection preceding their promise of commitment to the Verbum Dei charism. It was a day confirming the invitation of silence and listening to the Word, spending time and allowing the flavor of the Word of God to soak into our lives.
The highlight of the recollection explained the four reasons of why the Word became flesh – to save all of humanity, to show the reality of God’s love, to become a model to show us the way, and to make us partakers of the divine nature. For these reasons, it is also essential of us to become Christ-like in the world of today.
James McTavish, FMVD, celebrated the mass to conclude the recollection, and then witnessed the installation and acceptance of a number of new disciples into the charism. Other disciples also had their renewal of promises both in stable and in time-based commitments. A simple Christmas celebration proceeded after the mass and ceremony and so everyone left the venue with full stomach and hearts and souls filled with Christ’s presence.
Wishing all a Merry Christmas and a meaningful celebration… from your Verbum Dei Missionary Family in Mindanao!
With thanks to Rey, Flor and the WordNews team
Advent... Coming of the King
The celebration of the feast of the birth of our Lord on December 25 calls for a preparation. Filipinos by tradition, prepare for Christmas even months before December which is quite obvious in the decorations put up in malls, streets paraded with all kinds of lights and decorated with some recycled from several Christmases past. Cities and municipalities compete with which draws the most crowd with their extravagant display of Christmas lights and decorations.
People in the offices are busy planning for their parties. Families are also redecorating their homes to enhance the flavor of the season. And who can forget the menu planning that stretches for a week from the eve of Christmas until New Year morning of which Filipinos undoubtedly puts ‘heavy’ plans on. Indeed, a lot of external preparations going around keeping everyone on their toes. Nothing wrong with all these but oftentimes, we are inclined to forget to prepare ourselves interiorly.
Last December 6, after the celebration of the mass, James McTavish, FMVD, gave the local community of Verbum Dei disciples in Cagayan de Oro, a formation on what Advent really is, supported by the theme “Prepare the Way” (Mk 1,3). Those present were encouraged to ask help from the Holy Spirit on how to prepare for Christmas celebration. The attitudes needed more than the external outputs, are to appreciate and practice silence and listening in this moment of preparing and waiting.
“Advent is to pause in front of a Presence who is present today”, one of the numerous spotlights given by James, which resonates in our hearts and minds until now.
With thanks to Rey, Flor and the WordNews team
Youth of the Verbum Dei Missionary Family spent a meaningful day last December 18, 2019 to celebrate the spirit of Christmas at the Pasig Apostolic Center. The day started with formation entitled “Konsensiya mo, Konsensiya ko” given by Fr James McTavish. He talked about the importance of the conscience and how a well formed conscience can positively impact their daily living. This was followed by a small workshop where the youth divided into groups and applied and creatively presented what they learned in challenging case studies.
After recharging with lunch, the youth travelled to a nearby urban poor neighbourhood to spend some time with the children there. The youth sang and danced to Christmas carols, played games together, and shared a simple afternoon snack with the children. There was even a simple sharing by Shahani, a youth from the Pansol community, where she talked about her life and how she experienced blessings even amidst hardships. It was truly a beautiful afternoon of living out the spirit of giving.
With thanks to Abel Paune and the WordNews team
As part of Verbum Dei’s commitment to work with the universal church, each local community is asked to regularly update the Bishop of their corresponding Diocese. Recently, Cookie and Bimbo Abrio, the Local Coordinators of the VDMFa in Mindanao, accompanied by some disciples, made a fruitful visit to Bishop Jo Cabantan of the Diocese of Malaybalay and Archbishop Antonio Ledesma of the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro last Dec. 7 and 8, 2019 respectively. One of the main purposes of the visit was to extend our gratitude for their unwavering support to Verum Dei’s existing apostolic works through the different Parish priests in the areas where we are working such as: Nazareno, the Cathedral, Barra in CDO, Musuan, Malaybalay, Aglayan, Kitam-is and Alae in Bukidnon.
The team also gave an update on the different activities/topics and the people who are locally coordinating and attending the regular activities. Both Bishops were very glad of the continuing efforts of Verbum Dei to spread the word of God and even asked for more help as both also expressed the different needs of their diocese specially in terms of Catechism, Bible apostolate and working with the families. At the end of the meeting the VDMFa gave some autographed books written by Fr. James (the current Zone responsible), who also accompanied the visit to the Bishops, as a sign of appreciation, and also a way for them to get to know the community more. We really enjoyed our “Bishop hopping” and continue to pray for them in their ministry of shepherding.
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