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“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:
Pushing our boat further in Olango!
Last November 9 and 10, members of the Verbum Dei Family of Cebu facilitated a silent retreat with the students of Nemesio-Epifania Taneo Memorial High School in Tingo, Olango Island, Cebu. This was the first retreat in the island, in partnership with their Campus Ministry, which we have been working with since February of this year.
Tweny-seven young retreatants from Olango, and three from Cebu City joined us for the two days, where we had four guidelines, longer times of silent prayer with the Word of God, creative/working prayer, shared meals and snacks, and afternoon icebreakers. It was beautiful seeing these young people discover Jesus so alive in the Word of God, and writing their prayers. At the end of the two days, where we deepened on Luke 5:1-11, we gave the retreatants a necklace with the cross, as a symbol of their newfound friendship with Jesus who is our greatest friend.
One of the young retreatants, Rgeane, shares her experience of the retreat:
"Sometimes in life, we feel an emptiness within us. We feel that we are alone in the four corners of the room engulfed by total darkness, but the truth is we're not. Our boat is full that is why God can't enter. Our life is more focused on earthly things that is why we can't entertain Him. ‘He allows us to feel our downs so that we can have a space for Him.’ He allows every obstacle for us to learn that he is just on our side, even if we don't notice his existence, and even if we are not willing to be his minister.
Have you gone in front of the mirror and asked yourself, "Who am I?" No one can tell us who we are. Our circle of friends, teachers, family, social media accounts, and even ourselves can't. There is only one person who knows us beyond what we know of ourselves. It is God, only God. We can talk to him without any hesitation. We can talk to him without any doubt that he might judge us. Talking to him is just like having a long, heart-to-heart conversation with an old yet unforgettable friend. ‘The more you know God, the more you know yourself.’ With him we are more than real and more capable to do things.
We think that every day is a normal day. We wake up, go to school or work, eat and sleep. ‘We don't recognize that the small things are miracles or a blessings in disguise. Being able to see the beauty of the world, to breathe, to talk and listen is a miracle.’ It's a chance that is given to us. We should appreciate the value of small things because not all of us have the opportunity to always recognize that value.
I am not an expert singer but I will sing about his greatness. I am not a good dancer but I will dance just to show to the world that he is flexible enough to cater to a lot of people, good or bad. I am not a talented person but I can shine because I have my light - God! I made and will make mistakes but now I am with God. I'm not so fully equipped with wisdom, knowledge, and experience to defend him, but I can be a living testament that he is not dead; he is surely alive and he is writing my story. I am a stone in the shore, not that important and precious, but God offers his hand to lift me. I am a solitary bird on a flight to nowhere but now I am home because I am with him. I was once lost but now I am found."
Here are some photos of the event:
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
Verbum Dei Cebu Singles Reality organized an overnight recotreat (recollection/retreat) last September 28~29 in St. Francis Seraph Retreat House in Talisay City, Cebu with the theme "Born for Love".
The recotreat aimed to make the participants realize and experience that Christ's love is the only Love that can fully satisfy the human search for true love and happiness.
Although the recotreat was meant for single people, the whole VD Family collaborated in giving the talks/guidelines, testimonies and dynamics. Adriana from the misioneras, Ate Mau and Kuya Jess from the couples and Jay Anne and Jane from the singles reality inspired and make the participants question what they are searching for in life through the talks and testimonies they have given.
Through the activities which consisted of talks, guidelines, testimonies, dynamics and a film showing, the participants were able to discover that it is only God who can truly satisfy the longings and void one feels inside. Material wealth, fame and success, human relationships can bring happiness in one's life but nothing compares to the happiness and fulfillment one can have when they have Christ in his/her life.
"My first recotreat experience. It was a wonderful and an unforgettable experience. The VD members were kind and approachable. The talks were inspiring and it helped me examine myself and life." - said one of the participants afterwards.
“I had an amazing encounter with Jesus during our Recotreat last week and this is my remarkable experience this 2019. I had peace of mind and was able to receive the grace of Jesus and I am so grateful about it. I realized in the recotreat that I have to put Jesus in everything that I do every day and be a living well to others.” - from Anna, another participant.
See some photos of the event:
“Everything I have is yours” (Luke 15:31)
Discernment retreat for Verbum Dei missionary couples
Sometimes people are surprised to hear that we have married couple missionaries in Verbum Dei. When they think of missionaries, they might only think of priests and nuns. Actually, there is a call to holiness for all, and Pope Francis reminds us that we are all missionary disciples. For this reasons, Verbum Dei has 3 branches - the consecrated women (misioneras), the priests and brothers (misioneros) and the missionary married couples.
The married couples branch of Verbum Dei is headed by Poncho and Adriana, a missionary couple from Mexico. They were guiding a retreat to 9 Verbum Dei couples who are coming to the end of their 2-year formation course. The couples are currently based in Cebu, Cagayan de Oro, Sydney and Brisbane, Australia.
The discernment retreat was held in Cebu to pray about the next step for each couple. The retreat (or “Spiritual exercises”) was for one week, with the theme of “Everything I have is yours” (from Luke 15:31). The reflections were based on two talks from the Verbum Dei theme set (temario) called “Mercy” and “Call to Love.” The mercy of God can really change and transform us. “From a sinner he draws out a marvelous Saint and, maybe, more grateful than others, who loves more because he has been forgiven more. Seeing that he has been forgiven so much, he loves madly” Fr Jaime Bonet, Verbum Dei founder. In prayer we can experience this mercy. Pope Francis wrote “In order to be capable of mercy, therefore, we must first of all dispose ourselves to listen to the Word of God. This means rediscovering the value of silence in order to meditate on the Word that comes to us.” (Misericordiae vultus, no. 13)
Rey Bagares, one of the couples on retreat said, “If I was to summarize my prayer during the silent retreat in Cebu, attended by fellow couples in formation, it would be with Luke 24,32. They asked each other, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?" The charcoal fire that Jesus started in my heart can only carry on through my faithfulness in prayer with the Word of God, so that I too can heat up cold hearts - hearts that have stopped caring about God and others.”
We continue to pray for all the married couples. May they be faithful to their baptismal consecration and to their calling! So to all the married couples out there, perhaps the Lord is calling you to participate in the mission. What are you waiting for? Come and discover the joy of working together to build up the Kingdom.
With thanks to the WordNews team
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