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In His Word
Silence can be action-packed! This was what we, members of the Christ the King Parish SOW, discovered when we attended a silent retreat from November 6 to 10 in Tagaytay. The retreat focused on only 11 lines from Luke 5. But the superb missionary team gave these few lines a full-on attack, giving us an experience of high adventure “in His Word.”
The first day focused on the themes of search and encounter. Fr James helped us pray about how Jesus searches untiringly for us all our lives. Fr. David, fresh from mission in Vietnam, helped us pray on Jesus getting into Peter’s boat, how it changed his life and the life of the church beyond imagining, and how Jesus wants to do this too in our daily lives. Fr. Ismael zeroed in on prayer as the way to put together faith and daily life, and called silence an “affective vacuum” that makes conversation with the Trinity possible.
On the second day, the big theme was prayer and trust. Fr James spoke about how important it is to develop a familiar dialogue with Jesus that will help us develop trust in Him. He also helped us see how much Jesus also trusts US. Sr. Grace told us her vocation story, inviting us to ask Jesus: “What do You want from me?” and to leave behind the shore of our security to discover the ocean of His dreams for us. Fr. David preached a passionate homily about Jesus trusting in us, and how the experience of His trust changes sinners into saints and weak people into people who change history. He also shared stories of mission: hardship posts where he had to learn to trust completely in the providence of God. Fr. Ismael gave the day a “perfect ending” by teaching us how to close each day well by making an exam or summary of the day in prayer with the Trinity.
The third day was all about “catching fish.” Fr. David spoke about how faith and mission go together, and how mission must be done in love. Fr James then spoke about how mission cannot be done by “lone rangers” but rather in humility and in partnership with others. He invited us to ask in prayer: “Where is the Lord calling you to cast your net?” Fr. Ismael capped the day by preaching a very helpful homily on how to evangelize in daily life.
The fourth day was devoted to gathering the fruits and the fish!
With great-hearted preaching that brought together passion and pedagogy, with daily mass, adoration and the rosary, with a community of SoWers eager to pray and to learn, the retreat made us encounter Jesus, larger than life: searching for us, getting into our boat and calling us all to “put out into the deep,” and seeing in all of us “fishers of people.”
Here are some photos of the event:
With thanks to Stella and Mario Deriquito and the WordNews team
In the Philippines and other countries worldwide, the celebration of All Souls day (2 Nov) is marked by a visit to the cemetery to remember loved ones and pray for them. In order to deepen on the reality of death, the Verbum Dei missionaries conducted a retreat for this purpose: to reflect on the brevity of this life, and to prepare our hearts and souls for death, which one day will come, and we hope not too soon.
It was held on 30 October 2019 in the Christ the King parish, with 65 participants. In the introduction, the letter of St Ignatius of Antioch was shared to us. Before being fed to the lions, he wrote “The time for my birth is close at hand” which seems at first unusual because he was about to die. However, he is actually reminding us that in death, life is changed, not ended. The first talk centered on a spirituality of death and dying. We were asked “What would you do if you only had 5 days left to live?” and more importantly “what is stopping you doing it?” “Choose now what you would wish to have chosen at life’s end” as St Anthony Mary Claret advised.
A formation was also given on Catholic church teaching on suffering, dying and eternal life. Points shared include why is there sickness and suffering as well as how to manage the care of dying loved ones. We were informed that “discontinuing medical procedures that are burdensome, dangerous, extraordinary, or disproportionate to the expected outcome can be legitimate; it is the refusal of "over-zealous" treatment. Here one does not will to cause death; one's inability to impede it is merely accepted.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2278). Such teaching is eminently practical and useful as one tendency is to overtreat out of guilty feelings.
The afternoon dynamic was “fun” and interesting - to design your own tombstone! A rosary was prayed together with concurrent confessions nearby. In this sacrament we really touch our “dust-iness” but we also experience God’s eternal mercy. The day closed with a Eucharist, celebrated by Fr Bong Guinoo, and Fr Ismael Barros, the General responsible of the male missionaries, along with Fr James. In the homily we were reminded that love is eternal, and that we have passed from death to life when we love others (see 1 John 3:14).
By considering our end in this way, we can hope to arrive there without too may regrets because we already lived. As we heard in the movie Braveheart “All men die, but not all men truly live.”
Here are some photos of the event:
"Into the desert with Jesus"
Around 85 people, many new, joined the Verbum Dei one day Lenten recollection in Christ the King Parish, Greenmeadows on 20 March 2019. The opening dynamic helped us deepen the Lenten means of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. The 1st guidelines by Fr James focused on the Lenten message of Pope Francis where we were invited to enter into the desert with Jesus to allow Him to transform the barren land into a fruitful garden - Isaiah 51:3 “Her deserts he shall make like Eden, her wasteland like the garden of the LORD; Joy and gladness shall be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of song.”
The participants were also invited to enhance the perspective of their Lenten journey and transformation in line with the invite of Pope Francis: “by concretely welcoming Christ’s victory over sin and death into our lives, we will also radiate its transforming power to all of creation.” (Pope Francis, Lenten message 2019).
In the afternoon, Stella Deriquito, a Verbum Dei apostle gave a beautiful talk on the effects of sin. We were invited to see our sins not as a LIST but as a LOSS – where we lose out on our relationship with God, with others, with self and with the whole cosmos. We were reminded that our prayer during this time is not to close ourselves off in a purely private world. “To pray is not to step outside history and withdraw to our own private corner of happiness. When we pray properly we undergo a process of inner purification which opens us up to God and thus to our fellow human beings as well.” (Pope emeritus Benedict XVI).
The closing homily centered on the importance of the mission of the Church and that the whole of creation is waiting with “eager expectation” (Romans 8:19) to learn how to pray. “Let us not allow this season of grace to pass in vain! Let us ask God to help us set out on a path of true conversion. Let us leave behind our selfishness and self-absorption, and turn to Jesus’ Pasch” (Pope Francis, Lenten message 2019).
Happy onward Lenten journey!
With thanks to the WordNews team
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