THE GRACE OF THE LATER YEARS

“The Grace of the Later Years” . . . This was the title of the formation talk that Fr. Phil Estrella, O.M.I. gave to the CPG Heads and their members last June 4, 2012 at Santuario de San Antonio. Arranged by Dedette Gamboa, head of CP Groups, the morning talk was compelling, with Fr. Phil explaining through a beautiful power point presentation the challenges, blessings and learnings of the later years in one’s life. After the very enlightening and inspiring talk, the Eucharist was celebrated. (For some reflections on the formation talk, go to Reflections Page click here.)

CENTERING PRAYER AND LECTIO DIVINA WORKSHOPS

June 1 Introduction to Centering Prayer

Mary the Queen Parish at Greenhills, San Juan

An Introductory Workshop on Centering Prayer was held on June 1, 2013 at Mary the Queen Parish at Greenhills, San Juan. The one-day workshop was organized and staffed by Miren Sun and her CPG in the same parish. Facilitators were Billie Trinidad and Rita Go. There were 24 attendees, among whom one CPG member, Jupiter Kalambakal, shared at the end of the workshop about his experience with CP and Lectio Divina. (Read his sharing in Reflections page click here.)

May 18 Introduction to Centering Prayer

Roozen Hall, St. John Bosco Parish, Makati

An Introductory Centering Prayer Workshop was held on May 18 at Roozen Hall, St. John Bosco Parish, Makati, sponsored by St. Raphael CPG (Centering Prayer Group). Facilitating the workshop which was attended by 34 participants were Billie Trinidad, Rita Go and Miren Sun.

The topics covered were “Prayer as a Relationship”, “Method of Centering Prayer”, “Lectio Divina” and “Fruits of Centering Prayer”. Two members of the sponsoring CPG, Amie Sy and Wev de Leon shared with the group the fruits of centering prayer in their lives. During the workshop the participants also had an opportunity to do a practicum on centering prayer and lectio divina.

March 16, Introduction to Centering Prayer

St.John Bosco Parish, Sta. Rosa, Laguna

Another Introduction to Centering Prayer Workshop was given on March 16 at St. John Bosco Parish in Sta. Rosa, Laguna, organized and staffed by Susan Rivera and her CPG in the same parish. The theme was “In the Year of Faith….Deepening our Relationship with God.” It was attended by 36 participants. Facilitating the workshop were Pixie Cuisia and Dedette Gamboa.

The following were some of the observations of the workshop participants:

‒ "The point that had the most impact on me today was when I was given a chance to spend time with God through Centering Prayer. And I am very grateful for the opportunity given to me". ‒ Sarah Jane Secretaria

‒ "The point that had the most impact on me today was Lectio Divina. It felt like I am personally talking to GOD face to face and I was telling Him all my concerns and troubles in life." ‒ Jerine Guiyab

‒ "Lectio Divina is another way of deepening my relationship with God, to learn and practice the virtues of humility and perseverance. Hope to attend your retreat one of these days". ‒ Ma. Magdalena Montano

‒ "In my current situation, taking care of my mom and the financial needs of my family, I felt God was at a distance. I think this is God's way of telling me I have to deepen my relationship with him through listening". ‒ Helen Sebutan

‒ "So thankful for the guidance on how to pray and deepen my relationship with God the right way. I've been wanting to deepen this relationship and thought of reading about TM, Buddism, Kaballah and the like. I don't have to get out of the Catholic/Christian, I just needed to go within (the God within), Thank you for this clarification! ‒ Arlyn Arquillano

April 27 Centering Prayer: Prayer as a Relationship

San Carlos Seminary, Guadalupe, EDSA

Upon the invitation by the Apostleship of Prayer (Archdiocese of Manila), represented by Ms. Baby Lim, Contemplative Outreach Phil. (COP) gave a talk on “Prayer as a Relationship” at San Carlos Seminary, on April 27, 2013. Presenters were Charit Montalban, Grace Padilla and Billie Trinidad.

 

May 15-17 Lectio Divina

Don Bosco Technical Institute, Makati

For the 3rd consecutive year, COP was again invited to give a Lectio Divina workshop at the annual John Paul II Catechetics and Youth Ministry Conference. Venue was Don Bosco Technical Institute in Makati, on May 15 – May 17, 2013. The theme for this year’s conference was “New Evangelization with the Young at Home and in Social Media”. The workshop with practicum for both Centering Prayer and Lectio Divina was given by Charit Montalban, Billie Trinidad and Rita Go.

Looking forward, COP will again be giving a talk on Lectio Divina for the same catechists/youth group, this time in Cebu in Oct. 2013. The response to last year’s presentation was very positive prompting the organizers to invite COP once again to be one of the conference presenters.

April 29 Introduction to Centering Prayer

Oasis of Prayer, Silang Cavite

Upon the request of the Institute of Catechetics of the Archdiocese of Manila, COP gave an Introduction to Centering Prayer Workshop at the Oasis of Prayer, Silang, Cavite on April 29, 2013. The one-day workshop was attended by 34 participants, most of them nuns and lay catechists. Facilitator was Charit Montalban who presented the topics of Centering Prayer, Human Condition and Lectio Divina. The group also had an opportunity to do a practicum on the 2 prayers practices. The sponsoring group was the BEC (Basic Ecclesial Community) Class 2012-2013. Staffing the retreat were Jean Sia and Beth Ngo.

FORMATION

This year's formation class focused on the Mysteries of Christ as celebrated throughout the year in preparation for the Liturgical seasons. Grace Padilla, in charge of Formation demonstrated Lectio Divina to standardize the teaching of the prayer and to highlight its relational aspect with the Word of God. The Spiritual Journey Part 5, "Divine Love: The Heart of the Spiritual Journey" was also completed in 5 succeeding Tuesdays. For the coming formation classes, we have invited different speakers, among them Father Manny Domingo, SDB and Bishop Raul Martirez, COP spiritual advisers.

CPG HEADS QUARTERLY MEETING

The first quarterly meeting this year for Centering Prayer Group Heads was held at Santuario de San Antonio Parish, Forbes Park, on March 2, 2013. Dedette Gamboa, member of the COP Circle of Service (COS) and in charge of CPG heads facilitated the meeting which was attended by 25 CPG heads from different areas of Metro Manila and as far as Sta. Rosa, Laguna.

There was an animated sharing by the group about their experiences in their respective CPG’s. At the end of the meeting, everyone felt supported, affirmed and encouraged to continue with their ministry of facilitating the weekly meetings, practicing centering prayer and lectio divina with the group, as well as studying further the spiritual journey program of Fr. Thomas Keating.

LAY COMMUNITY IN CONTEMPLATIVE LIVING

by Tess Colayco

On March 19, 2013, eight members of the Holy Rosary Centering Prayer Group had their LCCL (Lay Community in Contemplative Living) Day. Venue was the beautiful home of Nenne Bartolome, one of the members. It was a grace-filled day spent in prayer, bonding, and deepening one’s experience in contemplative living.

Tina Quiros, our CPG (Centering Prayer Group) head volunteered to be the main sharer of the day, sharing about a book on compassion by Henry Nouwen, and also about her spiritual journey thru the years. It was heartwarming and inspiring listening to Tina’s recounting of her journey of self-knowledge and of her encounter with God every step of the way.

One common theme that the group shared out of their lectio practice that day was the idea of aligning one’s will with God’s. Each one spoke about her desire to consent more and more to God, affirming the main intention in centering prayer which is to consent to God’s presence and action in one’s daily life.

There were compelling words spoken about the fact that indeed one can be alone yet happy; about experiencing shifts in one’s perspective leading to more peacefulness in one’s being; about trusting God enough so that one becomes less anxious and fearful about life; about loving the silence and acting from that space so that one is less confrontational in one’s relationships; about wanting to live a more meaningful life and finding it thru service; about finding the weekly support group a big help in being faithful to one’s practice of centering prayer.

The day of prayer and recollection was made even more special with the delicious pot luck lunch and merienda that we had. Truly a feast! After such a beautiful experience, one that fed the mind, body and spirit to fullness, it was decided that we shall have another LCCL Day sometime before the year is over.

The members of the Holy Rosary CPG are Tina Quiros, Nenne Bartolome, Carmel Dael, Ditas Lerma, Dolly Galang, Violet de Borja, Tess Colayco, Josie Valderrama, Juda Liu and Chuchi Segovia.

GUIMARAS

by Anna Marie Llanos

I was at the Trappist Monastery in Guimaras, Iloilo last month. (What a coincidence that my maiden name, "Monasterio" means Monastery!) Five members of my Centering Prayer Group and I decided to experience how the monks pray since our faith community, Contemplative Outreach Philippines was founded by Fr. Thomas Keating, O.C.S.O, a Trappist monk.

We left on Apr. 18, Thursday, landed in Iloilo International Airport, and after a nice lunch of pancit molo soup we took a “RORO” (Roll on, Roll off) ferry for Guimaras Island. Thirty minutes later we arrived at the pier, and transferred to a vehicle for the 45-minute land trip to the Trappist Monastery.

Our rooms though very sparse and very hot due to the extremely high summer temperature did not keep me from sleeping well. It was such a blessing though that the following day, Bro. Moises offered to let us use 2 rooms with air conditioning that had become available. Heavenly! We enjoyed 3 nights of sound, cool sleep.

We joined in the Liturgy of the Hours at 2:30AM and the rest of the day, praying as a community every 3 hours. We ended the day with Compline at 6:45pm.

On Saturday, while resting in the retreat house, I met a lady who had come to the Monastery for a workshop that been cancelled, much to her surprise. Since she had come from Iloilo and considering the trouble and expense she went through, I felt sorry for her. So I decided to take the opportunity to tell her about Centering Prayer. Susan Rivera who’s training to be a CP Workshop Presenter helped me give Elsie a mini workshop. She was so happy and grateful, teary-eyed with joy.

Later in the day, I met a group of 7 people from Aklan who told me that they go regularly to the Trappist Monastery once a month for spiritual nourishment. One of the monks, Fr. Bruno, is their Spiritual Director. They showed interest in centering prayer when I told them about it. So did another lady whom we met in Iloilo. Amazing how God worked and enabled us to share our “pearl of great price”.

We shall never forget our Guimaras experience as it was there where l saw God accompanying people in their ordinary daily lives…and that included the six of us. Deo gratias!

TELECONFERENCE ABOUT CONTEMPLATION

by Tess Colayco

“Community Oneness in Contemplation” ‒ This was the theme of the CO (Contemplative Outreach) teleconference last March 21, 2013. It was “an experiment in creating a virtual global community”, in the words of Pamela Begeman of CO Ltd. (Contemplative Outreach Ltd.) Connecting thru the Internet, it was possible to participate in the teleconference in real time. Sharing their reflections on the fruits of contemplation, were Fr. Carl Arico, Gail Fitzpatrick Hopler and some of the members of Contemplative Outreach calling in from different parts of the U.S.

For those who were unable to join the live teleconference, an MP3 download was possible a few days after the event. Suggested donation was $5.00 to $10.00. Through the teleconference, Pamela Begeman mentioned some interesting facts re Contemplative Outreach. For example, currently there are 24 international chapters 3,000 “members” of Facebook and Twitter, 1000 members of online centering prayer groups, and 179,000 visitors in the CO website. When Fr. Thomas Keating gave an online retreat about centering prayer during Lent this year, 800 people signed up for it. Four of those who signed up were from Contemplative Outreach Phil.: Billie Trinidad, Polly Garilao, Tess Colayco, and Sr. Victoria.

Like the Vatican that has joined the worldwide web, CO Ltd. is making use of the Internet to spread the good news of Centering Prayer and the contemplative lifestyle to the global community.

In the Philippines we have our own website. We invite you to visit us at www.cophil.org

ST. JOHN BOSCO PARISH CHILDREN AND YOUTH HONOR THE BLESSED MOTHER

by Vi Hernandez

On the feast of its beloved patroness, Mary Help of Christians, St. John Bosco Parish pays tribute to the Blessed Virgin Mary in the "Mary" month of May.

This year, the tribute became a “little” more special with the participation of more than a hundred Parish children and youth, and the debut of the “Ineng Maria’s”.

Ineng Maria (Ineng – Filipino for "little girl"), are young girls from the Parish dressed as the Blessed Mother in her varied manifestations, and as she is revered with her many titles across the world throughout the centuries.

Coined from Inang Maria (Inang – Filipino for Mother), Ineng (neneng or nene) speaks to the Filipino soul of fragile, transient innocence and beauty. “Ineng” evokes kind images, stirs fond memories and elicits goodwill – responses which are as difficult to suppress as the smiles which greeted the 24 little Mary’s wherever they went.

In the afternoon of May 24, the feast of Mary Help of Christians, the children and youth of St. John Bosco Parish held a rosary procession along the shady, verdant walkways surrounding one of the most famous chapels within the Parish, if not in the Philippines, Sto. Nino de Paz Chapel, (a.k.a. Greenbelt Chapel) in Greenbelt Park. An overcast sky, with its empty threat of rain, provided blessed shade to the young participants, which included the children attending Catechism classes dressed in Filipiniana: the SJB Children's Choir, the Youth Rondalla, the Knights of the Altar, members of the Youth Ministry, Don Bosco Youth Center (DBYC) "denizens" and visitors, most of whom were holding up small posters with an image of a Madonna and Child bearing the “no frills” yet powerful message “CHOOSE LIFE”.

Members of the Organizing Committee from the six Parish praesidia of the Legion of Mary, YUPPEACE and the Confraternity of Mary Mediatrix and Fr. Dennis Paez (Youth Ministry Salesian in charge), the lyre and drum band from Pio Del Pilar High School and a small army of parents and inevitable “alalays” accompanied the festive procession as it wound its way around and into the white-domed chapel.

On that Friday afternoon, Greenbelt Chapel was filled almost to Sunday Mass capacity, with its predominantly young visitors from St. John Bosco Parish. Fr. Ernie Cruz, SDB, and Fr. Ting Miciano, SDB, SJB Rector and Parish Priest, respectively, arrived in time for the visit. The visitors offered prayers, sang songs and listened to Fr. Dennis’ short talk on the Blessed Mother, which highlighted her choice and those of other mothers’ to sustain life. Fr. Ernie then blessed the participants. The short visit ended, with the 24 Ineng Maria's offering flowers on behalf of the Parish to Nuestra Señora de Guia of Ermita Church, whose image was also visiting Greenbelt Chapel. All then headed back to the Parish Church in time for the Children's Marian Mass with Fr. Ernie as main celebrant, and Fr. Dennis concelebrating.

RECOMMITMENT DAY

by Tess Colayco

On Jan. 26, 2013, the annual COP Recommitment Day was held at Santuario de San Antonio Parish. Attended by almost 100 members, the important event started with a contemplative Mass celebrated by COP Spiritual Adviser, Bishop Raul Martirez, DD. Instead of the regular homily after the Gospel, COP Adviser, Grace Padilla, gave a beautiful reflection on the Gospel reading. (Pls. click here to read the full lectio.)

Opening the program after the celebration of the Eucharist, Grace spoke briefly about the reason behind our Recommitment Day. Essentially it is to review what the past year was like for COP, and to renew our commitment to live the contemplative dimension of the Gospel, being faithful to our daily centering prayer and lectio. She emphasized three words: Consent, Commit and Celebrate. We consent to God’s presence within us and to His transformative action in our lives. We commit to stay the course no matter what. Finally we celebrate “the wonder of our being and the risen life of Christ in us.” (Pls. click here for the full Recommitment Day Message by Grace.)

More words of wisdom, this time from a very unexpected “old soul” came with the magnificent piece of poetry written by Grace’ 10-year old grandson, James Padilla Porter. He entitled it “Recommitment”. (Pls. click here for poem.) Thank you, James, for the sage advice and inspiring words. Truly, “out of the mouth of babes” flows God’s wisdom.

A report re the past year’s activities, by the different members of the Circle of Service (COS) as well as their plans for the coming year for the community was presented, thru well-prepared power point slides done by Susan Rivera of the COS. Terly Chikiamco, Convenor, and her alternate, Miren Sun, explained the presentation for the general information of the members, updating them on COP’s activities and plans, and encouraging the group to serve the ministry thru the different committees.

The last activity was an individual /group reflection on how COP has helped each one in his/her life and how we can live our theme for the year ‒ “COP In The Year of the Faith: Strengthening Partnerships in Spreading the Prayer.”

GOSPEL REFLECTION

by Grace Padilla

“The Lord appointed seventy-two other disciples and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place, where he himself was to go. And he said to them. “The harvest is rich but the workers are few. So you must ask the Lord of the harvest to send workers to his harvest. Courage! I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Set off without purse or bag or sandals; and do not stop at the homes of those you know.

“Whatever house you enter, first bless them saying: “Peace to this house.” If a person of peace lives there, the peace shall rest upon that person. But if not, the blessing will return to you. Stay in that house eating and drinking at their table, for the worker deserves to be paid. Do not move from house to house. When they welcome you in any town, eat what they offer you. Heal the sick who are there and say to them: The kingdom of God has drawn near to you.” Luke 10:1-9

He sent them two by two: Jesus wanted to convey a fundamental Gospel message: Christian faith is to be no solo affair, but a collective act. Christian worship and practice are to be exercised in, with, and through the community. No one works alone for the Gospel. Perhaps it is easier and far more convenient to be a solo Christian for it is often difficult to work with others, especially when their idiosyncrasies, differences of opinions, and attitudes conflict with ours. Jesus had his frustrating moments with his disciples but he chose to work with them and through them. In dealing with such difficult moments in community, we learn to be an authentic community. How willing are you to exercise your ministry in shared mission?

“Courage ‒ do not be afraid…I am with you. . . Set off without purse or bag or sandals”. . . Do not be cluttered with material things. “I am with you”. . . . That alone suffices.

“Do not stop at homes of those you know.”. . . The spiritual journey is a journey in faith and trust, total dependence on God.
(Mk. 3:20-21… Jesus came home. Again the crowd gathered making it impossible for them to eat. When his relatives heard of this they set out to seize him, for they said, “He must be out of his mind.” Sometimes it is not easy to work in your ministry when even our own relatives do not understand, even going so far sometimes as to regard us as fools. (Ex. Francis of Assissi who’s own father regarded him as fool.) But the foolishness of God is wiser than that of men.

Are you willing to be considered a fool for Christ? If we are for Christ, who can be against us?

RECOMMITMENT DAY MESSAGE

by Grace Padilla

Once again we set aside this very important day to pause, to review the year that has passed ‒ what we have accomplished, our weaknesses and our strengths. And in gratitude and thanksgiving for every experience we have encountered ‒ our successes and trials ‒ we forge onward with greater resolve.

This is a day, too when we, collectively and individually, renew our dedication, our fidelity to the prayer and commit once again to deepening our prayer life, recommitting ourselves to the contemplative dimension of the gospel highlighted by our theme for 2013: “COP In The Year of Faith: Strengthening Partnerships in Spreading the Prayer.”

This is most definitely in line with Pope Benedict's recent apostolic letter, Porta Fidei, where he expressed his strong desire to awaken the people towards conversion to rediscover their faith. This being the Year of Faith, I would like to touch briefly on how FAITH impacts our prayer life. It is the weave and the woof of our prayer life, indeed of Life itself, for ours, strictly speaking, is a life of faith.

To highlight the importance of faith in our lives, Pope Benedict XVI requested us to reflect on the three terms taken from Paul in his letter to the Colossians 2:7. “Planted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the faith.” I will elaborate further on this in one of our Formation classes. Let me just give you these words of Paul to the Colossians. I invite you to ponder on these when you do your Lectio Divina, allowing the light of faith to shine through that we may experience them further in the silence of centering prayer.

As I have already mentioned in the past, both Blessed John Paul II and Benedict XVI continually underlined, in their important documents, the actuality and relevance of Lectio in the life of the Christian, and the power of the living Word to transform our lives, our society and our world. It is in this relationship with Jesus Christ that allows Him, through the Word, to question, direct and shape our lives. Isn't this what COP is all about?

It is fitting and appropriate that our thrust for this year, “Strengthening Partnerships in Spreading the Prayer” is the thrust pertinent to our centering prayer groups. It is in sharing the prayer that you communicate faith. Faith grows as your relationship deepens. I trust that this is what you will reflect on, discuss and try to draw your plans of action for the future, when you break into groups this morning.

Having said that, there are words I would like you to mull over and apply to your life of faith, your life of prayer. As members of Contemplative Outreach Philippines (COP), ours is a life of consent, commitment, and celebration.

We consent to His presence and action in our lives, to the times He consoles us with His presence and teaches us thru what we perceive as absence. More pertinent in our state of life, we consent to the diminution of self in whatever form, and to His healing action. Finally we consent to the transformative process, the dying to the false self. These consents would not be possible without the daily consent we give to His presence and action in centering prayer.

There are times our consent will waver and we go through the process with mixed emotions, our resolve faltering, our discipline waning. And because this is not always easy, we commit ourselves to a life of prayer, to continually start over and over again, to stay the course amid the cacophony of noises of our wants and our desires. We need commitment to learn from our mistakes, knowing it will not make us perfect, but it will make us better each day. Commitment is the key to self-discipline and ultimately, it is the power to make a difference, to be a force of good in this world. Finally, commitment is the power to build love in our hearts in the pursuit of concrete plans instead of vain hopes and broken promises.

As consent and commitment flow in ‒ to our life, our goals, and our ministry ‒ there is an outburst of energy in celebration. Life becomes a celebration! We celebrate the wonder of our being, a life transformed as we penetrate the mystery of God's infinite love, replacing rigidity with receptivity, clutter with simplicity, diversity with unity. We celebrate the risen life of Christ in us!

Today we consent ‒ commit – celebrate!

RECOMMITMENT

by James Padilla Porter

Though it might be hard,
It’ll never be impossible.

Though it’s scary on the outside,
It has so much to offer.

Though it might be a risk,
It’s a chance worth taking.

And though it might not seem the time,
It’s better sooner than later.

Recommitment.

Though it might seem complicated,
All it takes is dedication.

Though it might take long,
Is it not better in the long run?

Though it takes effort,
So will everything else in life.

And though it’ll test patience,
It only offers advancement.

Recommitment.

To your environment.
To your spirit.
To your goals.
To your life.

Recommitment.

What will you dedicate yourself to?

 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY FR. THOMAS KEATING!

by Tess Colayco

It was Fr. Thomas Keating’s 90th birthday last Mar. 7. With much love and gratefulness for the gift that Fr. Thomas is to the worldwide centering prayer community, many members of Contemplative Outreach Ltd. did a silent prayer brigade for him. As in past years, thru email Billie Trinidad took the lead in organizing the 24-hour prayer brigade, with everyone signing up at different time slots to do centering prayer for Fr. Keating. All the continents were represented, a testament to the breadth of the centering prayer movement. From the handful that started close to 30 years ago in the United States, it has grown and taken root all over the world.

Thank you, Fr. Thomas, for the gift of centering prayer that has changed our lives! Thank you too for being our wise mentor, dear friend and inspiring companion in the contemplative journey. May you receive blessing upon blessing upon blessing as you continue your journey into God.

RETREATS, WORKSHOPS AND GATHERINGS

An Introductory Retreat in Centering Prayer was held on Mar. 1 to Mar. 3, 2013 at St. Joseph Marello Retreat House, Tagaytay City. It was facilitated by Pixie Cuisia and Dedette Gamboa. Anna Marie Llanos staffed the retreat, selling books, taking care of registration and looking after the needs of the 23 retreatants.

There was a CP Introductory Workshop at Roozen Hall, St. John Bosco Parish, on Feb. 16, 2013. Facilitated by Pixie Cuisia, and sponsored by San Antonio Centering Prayer Group, it was attended by 23 people. During the workshop, the participants learned and practiced centering prayer and lectio divina, 2 beautiful prayers based on the Word of God and practiced by the early Church. The attendees also learned about deepening one’s relationship with God thru silence and consenting to God’s presence and action in one’s life, the main intention in centering prayer.

An Intensive Retreat was held at Karis Retreat Center, Tagaytay, on Feb. 8 to Feb. 10, 2013. (See separate articles by Rachelle Rule and Marite Dichoso). Eighteen men and women attended the retreat which was marked by more periods of silence and centering prayer than in an Introductory workshop. The retreat was staffed by Anna Marie Llanos (head of retreats and workshops), Billie Trinidad, Minda Villamayor and Nanis Icasas.

A Post-Intensive retreat for long-time practitioners of CP is planned for July this year. Announcements will be made prior to the retreat. It will be at a retreat center in Tagaytay and will last for one week. It will be an all-silent retreat.

Lita Salinas gave a Lectio Divina talk to the Catholic Womens Club (CWC) last Jan. 25, 2013 at the Missionaries of Jesus Center in Makati. This was in line with the organization’s desire to revisit their vision/mission, as well as to deepen their spirituality. Maritess Pineda, the new President of Catholic Women’s Club, and also a servant-leader of Contemplative Outreach Phil. (COP), organized the event which was attended by a good number of CWC members and some COP members, the latter doing Lectio Divina as a daily practice. More talks on spirituality may be given in the future with CWC partnering with COP to make this plan come to fruition.

On Jan. 19, 2013, a CP Introductory Workshop was held at Don Bosco parish, Sta. Rosa, attended by 20 participants. The workshop was facilitated by Charit Montalban and staffed by Susan Rivera, Don Bosco (Sta. Rosa) CPG head and her members. Based on the evaluation sheets, it was clear that the workshop was received very well, eliciting positive responses from the attendees such as the ff:

“The workshop was one of the best I have attended.”

“The workshop taught me how to pray and communicate with God, anytime, anywhere.”

“It was a different experience for me attending the seminar being a busy man…the seminar made me realize how shallow my faith and prayer was. It also taught me ways how I can have a better relationship with God thru CP. It taught me how I can break apart from my ‘false self’ to ‘true self’.

“Natutunan ko ang pa-amin sa katotohanan at pagdadasal na simple pero taimtin. (I learned to accept the truth and to pray in a simple but deep way.”)

"Mahirap magpaka-banal pero tumibay ang pananampalataya at pakikipag-ugnay ko sa Diyos dahil sa seminar. (It’s difficult being holy but my faith and my relationship with God were strengthened by the seminar.”

“In the beginning I was bored and sleepy…But as the workshop went on, it got very interesting. And I started enjoying it. I liked what she talked about false self and true self. Also how feelings don’t necessarily determine reality.”

“The workshop was an eye opener for me.”

An added benefit to the workshop is the possibility of conducting future workshops in a drug recovery center, a school, and a parish in the Sta. Rosa area.

On Dec. 28, 2012, a happy little group of COP “oldtimers” had a pot luck get-together lunch with Lita Salinas, back in Manila from Madrid for the Christmas holidays. In her gazebo, COP unofficial “clubhouse”, Lita gave us an inspirational talk about what it means to be “stretched spiritually” in our ongoing relationship with God, giving examples of her own experience of living in love, practically beyond one’s limits.

Gracious as ever, Lita added to the joy that everyone felt by holding a “raffle” after lunch where everyone “won” a prize”, much to the delight of all. “Muchas gracias y hasta la vista, Lita!”

MY INTENSIVE RETREAT

by Marite Dichoso

Contemplative Outreach Philippines (COP) organizes an Intensive Centering Prayer Retreat once a year. This retreat, one held in complete silence, for the most part, is for those who have been doing Centering Prayer for at least one year. The only input during the retreat is Fr. Keating’s audio tapes and videos.

The intensive retreat last February 8-10, 2013 was held at the beautiful Karis Retreat House in Tagaytay City. I have been with COP since June 2005 but this was the first time that I attended an Intensive Retreat.

Observing silence for 3 days gave me that rare and special opportunity to listen, feel, and just be present to myself and to God within. Among my ah ha! moments was realizing how fearful I am with so many things, these fears hindering me from fulfilling my dreams. With my new level of awareness, my resolve to work towards my goals became clearer.

The Intensive Retreat also created in me a deeper understanding and appreciation for suffering. After watching the video of Fr. Keating, I realized that suffering should be seen more as a blessing, an opportunity to transcend oneself, without which personal growth is not possible.

My reflection about Jesus embracing the cross led me to think that Jesus was not being a masochist when He chose to embrace it during His Passion. He did it out of His immense love for me, also probably to make my suffering holy, and to bless my happiness in the midst of suffering.

May the grace of silence be upon all of us always. Have a holy and blessed Lenten season.

 

THE GIFT OF SILENCE

by Rachelle Rule

It took all of four years of waiting. But somehow I knew that there would come a time when He would have me all to Himself and I that I would discover something new about Him. That time became a reality last February 8-10, 2013 when I joined 19 other like-minded individuals in an Intensive Retreat.

We were all searching for a new view of Him, in a time unsullied by the distractions of work, family and the everyday pressure of living. I very nearly did not come to join this Retreat. Because of the fragility of my medical condition (I have a heart disease and landed more than once in a hospital ER), I had to take extra measures before going on the journey of silence to Tagaytay. It included a pre-departure medical checkup, provision for extra medicines, and even food specific to my strict food diet.

But while understandably there were a couple of first time jitters (i.e., Will I have a high BP attack during the retreat? Will I undergo unloading?) - all seemed to melt away in the distance as we drove up to Tagaytay where we were to spend our three days of silence and solitude.

Home for the next few days was the Karis Retreat House. Once ensconced in the beautiful “sanctuary’, and after the reading of house rules and reminders, the Rule of Grand Silence began. It can be very eerie to people used to regular retreats. Imagine a roomful of people intently watching a formation video together but not speaking to each other. Or taking their meals together but gesturing to indicate things like “please pass the vinegar, please pass the sugar”. Or even walking together in a large circle, but not speaking or even looking at each other.

Yet that silence had a purpose. By focusing less on the activity of socializing and talking with one’s companions, silence allows one to communicate better with God; to focus more on God and the things that matter to God.

Silence sharpens the senses. Not only our physical senses, but also our spiritual sense. Furthermore, I have to admit, for those looking for a suitable penance for Lent, silence is one good sacrifice. If you are a chatterbox like I am, keeping your mouth shut can be a way of showing God of my intention to empty myself of that which is me so He can fill that emptiness with that which is Him. It also draws one to reflect on that which is important and that which is not.

Don’t get me wrong – there were times when we had to speak and the Rule of Grand Silence was relaxed. That was during Confession. Our confessor was a fellow retreatant – Fr. Benny Enano, a Vicentian Priest from Igbaras, Iloilo who had just recently returned from missionary work in Thailand. He joined the retreat, knowing that the silence, solitude and prayer during the 3 days would rejuvenate and refresh and prepare him for his next missionary assignment.

Coming down from Karis at the end of the Retreat, it was easy to understand how the 3 apostles – Peter, James and John ‒ must have felt after seeing Christ transfigured on Mt. Tabor. There was this feeling of “Awww, did it really have to end?” and “Was that really You Lord I saw on the mountain?”

I knew I was carrying back with me a small discovery and I was elated over that discovery. Somehow I knew that I was bringing back to my everyday life a new perspective of who God really is to me; a facet of God like no other that I had known before. I was euphoric, yet, at the same, humbled.

Who knows? Maybe same time, next year I will encounter God again and it will be another transforming epiphany.

A MOMENT OF MIRTH, A MOMENT OF BE-ING . . . CHRISTMAS FELLOWSHIP, 2012

by Rachelle Rule

Heads bowed in silent contemplation….Barely a muscle moved. Outside the Roozen Hall, the din of the traffic passing Arnaiz Avenue hardly made an impression on the hundred or so souls quietly gathered inside the spacious room, huddled near a temporary altar where Monsignor Atillano Oracion presided over a contemplative Mass. A Mass made even holier by the intense focus palpable amidst the silence. Then as the Mass was ended, the group members slowly stood to carry their chairs back to their tables, where there, the sounds began to pick up. Sounds of laughter, mirth, jokes, greetings and blessings. Blessings? Why blessings?

Because it was the annual Christmas Party of Contemplative Outreach Philippines, held last December 1, 2012 at Roozen Hall of St. John Bosco Parish in Makati. For over three hours, members from the different centering prayer groups found all over Metro Manila and all the way in Sta. Rosa, Laguna, danced, sung, prayed, pantomimed, chattered and just let their hair down in childlike spontaneity and joy! Different dance presentations enlivened the gaps between meal and talk. Song numbers bore testimony of musical skills honed for this occasion.

The following were some of the observations and comments of those who attended the fellowship: “It was so much fun! . . . ”The organizers really did a great job planning the celebration and executing it –i.e., the delicious lunch, the very entertaining program, the photo booth bonded us even more.” . . . “The contemplative Mass was a wonderful experience! I was deeply touched . . .” . . . “It was so good to be with my spiritual family, both old and new members of COP . . .”

Susan Rivera who headed the Socials Committee that worked very hard for the success of the Christmas fellowship had this to say: “It was truly heartwarming to have a second family in COP and in celebration of our faith journey at that! Indeed, being contemplatives in action, we bring the energy and love to everything we do, as witnessed in our fellowship, solidarity and camaraderie. The preparation process was equally a most engaging one, silence and solitude finding expression in service with great fun! Thanks to my COP family!”

To cap this happy event, an inspirational Christmas message was delivered by COP Adviser, Grace Padilla, where she spoke of the need to change, to hope, to prepare and to start anew in this season of Advent. Indeed each and everyone of us, “contemplatives in action” is invited to go forth into the world to share with others God’s light, life and love that we have experienced ourselves thru the gift of contemplative prayer.

Click here to view the COP Christmas Fellowship 2012 video prepared and uploaded by Rachelle Rule.

CHRISTMAS MESSAGE 2012

by Grace Padilla, Adviser, COP

My dear, dear brothers and sisters in Contemplative Outreach, Philippines,

Today was truly such a fun, fun time! I was carried away by the wonderful spirit of camaraderie, the spontaneity of Christmas cheers, and the eager participation of each one of you. Please join hands for a round of applause for the organizers of our Christmas fellowship headed by Susan, together with Miren, Meny, Anna Marie, Doris etc. I marvel at such meticulous planning! And just reading Susan’s several advisories, I felt such anticipative joy. I must confess that I am usually more of a spectator than a participant. Nonetheless it does not lessen the spirit of involvement and participation within me. A round of applause too for each one of you for you whole heartedly gave your all in making this truly a celebration of love and cheers.

I would like to touch a little bit on the reason for this celebration during the Advent season we are entering. Tomorrow is the first Sunday of Advent. Advent, as you already know, is a time of waiting, a time of preparing, for that initial burst of Light that broke the darkness in the world, the darkness in our journey through life. The Light that is the foundation of our faith, the source of our hope and the Love that gives significance and meaning to everything that is, to who we are. And this Light that was first seen as a hapless babe on that first Christmas morn, now asks each of us a plaintive question: “I have heard my people’s cry….who will bring my light to them. Whom will I send?”

I pray that as we go about preparing for this holiday season, decorating our gardens in a kaleidoscope of colors, hanging lanterns dazzling in every size and form, lighting candles in every nook and corner of the house, we don’t lose sight of the real significance of the feast we are celebrating – Jesus the Light who conquered the darkness, Jesus the Son of God who became man so that we may share in his divinity, Jesus who calls us to be “the light for his people to set their hearts free.
However, the real message I would like to share with you, of course comes from Fr. Keating himself which is so fitting as we prepare for the start of this Liturgical Season. I like beginnings…it is a chance to start anew, to change, a chance to hope.

To quote Fr. Keating: “Life is a process of starting over again. Everyday marks moments for new beginnings and hopes. The comfort of a dynamic faith is that it allows one to let go of disappointments and missed opportunities. It teaches us that no moment is wasted and that if we think we have failed in our promise, the seeds of opportunity for growth and fulfillment never fail.” End of quote.

This reminds me of one of my favorite songs sung by Barbra Streisand: “There are no mistakes…just lessons, lessons to be learned.” We start anew, we forge ahead, undaunted in faith, fortified with hope, and confident in love.

May the Spirit of Christmas – peace, joy, and love, be yours in abundance throughout the New Year. And may the Light of this wondrous star guide you always as we journey through life …waiting, longing, yearning, hoping….with full confidence that life is worth living.

A Blessed Christmas to all.

SJB PARISH LAUNCHES THE YEAR OF FAITH

by Mon Angeles

The Year of Faith, which was opened by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI on 11 October 2012, was formally launched in the Parish last 24 October by our Parish Priest, Fr. Ting Miciano. The Parish launch was attended by the various Parish Ministries and Organizations, as well as some parishioners.

Fr. Ting provided a brief background on the Year of Faith, its significance and why the Holy Father saw the need to declare it. Briefly, it will be a year for Catholics worldwide to know, celebrate, live and transmit the Catholic Faith, and thus deepen and strengthen their relationship with the Lord.

He also discussed the planned activities that the Parish will undertake to coincide with the year-long activities laid out by the Archdiocese of Manila. The Year of Faith will close on 23 November 2013, the Feast of Christ the King.

AN ORIENTATION TO THE YEAR OF FAITH

by Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal G. Tagle

(Excerpts from the talk delivered by Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio G. Tagle during the general assembly for the orientation to the Year of Faith and its celebration in the Archdiocese of Manila, on 24 September 2012 at the Layforce Chapel.)

We prepare to welcome the Year of Faith with this general orientation towards its celebration, the first among year-long activities which Bishop Pabillo and his team have prepared for the Archdiocese of Manila.

In his apostolic letter, whose opening words are Porta Fidei, the door of faith, Pope Benedict XVI announced to the whole world, the celebration of a Year of Faith. It will be opened on the 11th of October, will run for even more than a year and will close on the 24 November 2013 on the Solemnity of Christ the King. And he invites all of us, the whole Church, in Porta Fidei to celebrate the precious gift of faith.

Just like any other living gift, faith must be received over and over again. And we don’t only celebrate the gift, we don’t only receive it again, we also commit ourselves to the joyful transmission of the faith. The gift that is given to us should not be kept, it is truly a gift and it must continue being a gift through our sharing and through our transmission of the gift.

FIFTY YEARS AFTER VATICAN II

The reason for declaring the Year of Faith can be determined from the carefully chosen date of its opening. 11 October 2012 is the 50th anniversary of Vatican II as well as the 20th anniversary of the 1992 promulgation of one of Vatican II’s gifts “The Catechism of the Catholic Church”.

The Year of Faith wants to celebrate Vatican II as a great moment of renewal in faith, still unmatched in recent history.

Blessed Pope John XXIII, the good pope who convened Vatican II, desired that through the Council, the Church will rediscover its spiritual heritage – Faith – and be renewed, reinvigorated from the energies that come from that Faith.

CORRECTING MISCONCEPTIONS

Pope Benedict XVI emphasized the need to correct two major misconceptions about Vatican II and its relationship to the Church and to the Faith. Some people believe that everything good came out only with Vatican II which corrected everything that went before. On the other hand, other people don’t see anything good in Vatican II and believe it is filled with dangers, and so they want to eliminate Vatican II and return to an idealized past as though the Church is static, unchanging.

Claiming that Vatican II did not derive anything good from the past implies that the Council invented a new Church and a new Faith, which it did not. In turn, claiming that Vatican II is not rooted in the past implies it is unfaithful to tradition, which it is also not. Both these misconceptions are corrected by observing that the Vatican II documents draw heavily from past references e.g., the Bible, Councils of Trent and Vatican I, quotes from saints, popes, etc.

ONE CHURCH, ONE FAITH, CHANGING REALITIES

Throughout the Church’s history, from the beginning of Christianity when it was outlawed, to the establishment of basilicas, monasteries, seminaries, the reformation and the counter-reformation, all the way to Vatican II, until the present, we see the Church going through different renewals. So before and after Vatican II, and now, 50 years after, it is the same Faith, the same Church, in continuity through the ages, but looking for renewal and expression of this Faith in a changing world.

By calling on the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization and the Transmission of the Faith, the Pope realizes that one Faith, one Church must engage changing realities.

And so the Year of Faith invites us to listen also to the world and be discerning and invites us to the many surprising ways by which the world searches for God.

The Holy Father first reminds us that it is God who initiates a loving relationship with us, in that sense, Faith is grace. It is a gift. God opens the door to Faith for us to enter to a life of communion with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

This life-long journey of communion with God happens within the Church, especially through the door to Faith, baptism. Baptism is the sacrament of faith par excellence and also the entry to the community of Faith called the Church.

KNOW, CELEBRATE, LIVE OUR FAITH

In the Year of Faith, we are encouraged to know our Faith, celebrate our Faith and live our Faith.

First, we need a deeper understanding of what we believe in. How do we know its content? Let us support “That They May Be One” Bible program of the CBCP, an intensified Bible apostolate. Let us read the Bible, the Vatican II documents, the documents from the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Pay attention to details that we may be able to defend ourselves from those who oppose our Faith.

But secondly, Faith is not just knowing, it is also a mystery to be celebrated. We will renew our appreciation and celebration of the mystery of Faith, in sacrament, in liturgy, in worship and in prayer.

Of course we know! Of course we celebrate! But what we know and what we celebrate must be matched with how we live in society. And so living the Faith that we know and celebrate involves conversion, in fact, the call to conversion.

And lastly, the Year of Faith also opens for the Church in the Philippines a nine-year preparation for the Commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the arrival of the Christian Faith on our shores in 1521.

SILENCE AND WORD: PATH OF EVANGELIZATION

Message of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI for the 46th World Communication Day (Sunday, 20 May 2012)

Click here to download message in PDF format.

CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTE FOR WOMEN (CIW) UPDATE

by Charit Montalban

Three workshops were given to new residents this year – two on the Human Condition with Introduction to Centering Prayer, and one CP Deepening with Lectio Divina. Inspired by these, many of those who attended the 2007 workshops requested for a refresher, and 90 “old timers” attended the refresher on Centering Prayer and Lectio Divina on September 10, 2012. As a result, the attendance in the Tuesday prayer meeting increased to an average of 25 residents (the roster lists 35 names). The number of small groups likewise increased and their meetings have become more frequent with some meeting daily. To help them get more rooted in the prayer, it is hoped that an annual CIW CP recollection will be possible.

COP VISITS THE ARCHBISHOP

by Rachelle Rule

A drizzly morning last October  5th did little to dampen the spirits of the little group gathered in the courtyard of the Arzobispado de Manila in Intramuros. After the customary security check, everyone was ushered into the receiving sala where 14 COP members led by the Circle of Service made a long-awaited courtesy call on His Excellency, Arch. Luís Antonio “Chito” Tagle.

A very pleasant and cordial hour was spent discussing varied subjects ranging from spirituality to catechists’ work in the parishes, to using sign language in CP workshops, to the use of mass media in spreading God’s Word, and on the spiritual practices of Centering Prayer and Lectio Divina, (Latin for Divine Reading). While Centering Prayer is a method of silent prayer opening oneself to the Divine Presence, Lectio Divina on the other hand, is a traditional Catholic practice of scriptural reading, meditation and prayer which also leads the pray-er to “resting in God”.

Archbishop Tagle briefly spoke to the group regarding “home catecheses” as a supplement to the more traditional and structured catechism that Filipino Catholics receive. He was delighted with plans proposed by COP Adviser, Grace Padilla for COP to coordinate with CWL (Catholic Women’s League) parish units to spread both Lectio Divina and Centering Prayer in parishes thru workshops given by COP.

Towards the end of the discussion, Arch. Tagle pointed out that the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XV1, has issued a pastoral letter for World Communications Day 2012 choosing the topic, “Silence and Communication”. This being the Year of Faith as the Church has declared, Lectio Divina and Centering Prayer are excellent methods by which Catholics can re-discover and deepen their faith. Centering Prayer with its quality of prayerful silence and openness to the Divine Indwelling is a practice that will be very helpful in one’s faith journey.

The joyous and engaging morning with Arch. “Chito” (as COP members remember him from the early days of COP when he used to be Spiritual Adviser) ended with the irresistible “Kodak moments”, much to the delight of the group! Arch. “Chito” was only too amused and patiently and cheerfully posed with the COP/COS ladies while cameras clicked non-stop.

Please click here or picture of Arch. "Chito" to view more photos.

ADVENT RECOLLECTION

by Rachelle Rule

St. John Bosco Parish had its Advent Recollection/Adult Catechesis/Adoration for Life last December 12, 2012 at the main Church. Parish priest, Fr. Romeo Agustin “Ting” Miciano SDB, spoke primarily on the persona of Jesus ‒ the historical as well as theological Jesus ‒ the Jesus who is a man in human history, and the Jesus who is the Son of God.

Interspersed between the Church doctrines were teachings about the Eucharist. For example, during Consecration, bread and wine are consecrated separately, the reason being that in death, Jesus' Body and Blood were separated from each other. His blood gushed out of His Body. Later in the Mass, during the Doxology, in a gesture symbolic of the Resurrection, where body and blood were reunited, the priest holds up both bread and wine together as he pronounces the words “through Him, with Him and in Him”.

An hour-long adoration of the Blessed Sacrament followed the Recollection, with the special intention of praying for the non-passage of the RH (Reproductive Health) Bill.

Future weekly catechesis for parishioners as well as other Mass goers will be given by Fr. “Ting” on certain days of the week after the 6 PM Mass. (This series started a few weeks ago.) Specific dates will be announced at the opportune time.

CP RETREAT IN TAGAYTAY

by Anna Marie Llanos

An Introduction to Centering Prayer Retreat was held on Aug. 31 to Sept. 2, 2012 at St. Joseph Marello Retreat House in Tagaytay City. What made this gathering unique was the presence of 21 seminarian and novices, all from Alagad ni Maria community in Infanta , Quezon Province. Led by Fr. Anthony Bautista, their Formator, the group of young men preparing for the priesthood experienced a few days of silence and contemplative spirituality.

There were 27 laymen and women who also attended the retreat which was facilitated by Pixie Cuisia. Staffing the retreat were Anna Marie Llanos, Nanis Icasas and Mae Josol. One of the retreatants, Fr. Anthony said Mass for us everyday. He also heard confessions. Just as our spiritual needs were well taken care of, our physical needs were also attended to with solicitous caring by Bro. Ariel and the staff in the retreat house.

At the end of the retreat, Pixie asked the 48 participants for a word or a phrase that would best describe the weekend for them. All had very positive comments and observations. Fr. Anthony may well have spoken for the whole group when he said: “I feel recharged, no, I feel FULLY CHARGED!”

How wonderful that the Alagad ni Maria seminarians, future priests, are learning Centering Prayer and Lectio Divina, two prayer practices from the time of the Desert Fathers, that will help the young seminarians in their ongoing spiritual journey.
As a final “take home” inspirational message, I ended our retreat with Anthony de Mello’s story regarding the harvest… Paraphrasing it I said: “We only gave you the seeds this weekend. It's up to you to water the garden of your soul, by doing Lectio Divina & Centering Prayer every day.”

MORE INTRODUCTORY WORKSHOPS ON CENTERING PRAYER

by Charit Montalban

In keeping with the proposed plan to present Lectio Divina before Centering Prayer, whether in a one day workshop, or as two separate workshops, a modified half-day presentation of Lectio Divina was designed. It covers introduction to Contemplative Prayer, Prayer as Relationship, and Essence and Methodology of Lectio with Practicum. This was presented twice in September by the author.

On September 15, 2012, some 15 EMHC (Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion) at St. John Bosco Parish in Makati attended the afternoon workshop, their second. In as much as not all lay ministers were able to attend the first workshop in June 2012, there was an immediate request for a “repeat” for those who were absent.

On September 29, 2012, 35 heads and members of parish ministries of Our Lady of Pentecost in Quezon City participated in a morning workshop. After the sessions, the head of the commission on formation inquired if it can be presented in Tagalog for the Basic Ecclesial Communities (BEC) as an Advent Recollection; another participant suggested that the workshop be given again to the parish community in preparation for Holy Week.

SHARING THE FRUITS OF CONTEMPLATION

by Rachelle Rule

One of the fruits of a contemplative lifestyle is the desire to share with others the gift(s) that one has, be it time, talent or treasure, as a means of improving the lives of the less fortunate. Last August 18, 2012, Contemplative Outreach through its Secretariat Officer (above author) gave a free class on rosary-making to a group of female parishioners of St. John Bosco as part of the parish livelihood program. For several hours, these ladies, many of whom came from one depressed area in the parish, learned the skills needed in making chain rosaries. Rosaries remain popular gifts as birthday or wedding giveaways in our predominantly catholic country. In future Saturdays, these ladies will be given another opportunity to learn how to make braided and cord rosaries. It is hoped that by learning these skills, these mothers will have a chance to augment their family income and at the same time provide items to sell in the parish gift shop.

DEEPENING OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD BY LEARNING HIS LANGUAGE

An Introductory Workshop on Centering Prayer was held at St. John Bosco Parish in Sta. Rosa, Laguna on September 1, 2012.  Forty-seven attended the workshop which was facilitated by Grace Padilla and Charit Montalban.  Both speakers were eloquent as they shared their knowledge and lived experience of both Centering Prayer and Lectio Divina. The whole day event was staffed by Susan Rivera and the members of her weekly Centering Prayer group in the parish.  The Sta. Rosa centering prayer community is grateful for the enthusiastic support of Fr. Rolo Alcasid, SDB, Parish Priest, inspiring them to grow in their spiritual life, as well as in sharing centering prayer and Lectio Divina with the rest of the parish.

The following were some of the observations of the workshop participants:

  • “Centering Prayer is a very wonderful experience. Kahit mahirap intindihin, nakakataba ng puso ang lahat ng narinig ko (even if it was difficult to understand, my heart was full having heard everything that was said) ...like prayer as relationship.”

  • “Both Centering Prayer and Lectio Divina gave me a deeper meaning of prayer. May God be praised for this wonderful work and for giving this group (COP) to us! Thank you so much!”

  • One participant, Teresa, was so animated in sharing that she has been called to be a “contemplative” for years now, and looked forward to learning more about what this meant.

  • “CP touched me....I have learned a lot - about God and myself”....”about how to deepen our relationship with God.”

  • While the concepts imparted were most enlightening, it was the sense of “touch” deep within during prayer that allowed the recognition of the image and likeness of God in one’s self - a relatedness that was, is, and always will be.

  • “The discovery that each person has a true and false self and that God is present in the inner core of each of us.”

  • How hard and punishing we are on ourselves most of the time. Falling short of the “must’s” and “should’s” that have become norms in our modern-day world can be most discouraging. Yet He reminds us, if only we care enough to listen...that He loved us first - warts and all. And even these, He heals, if only we care enough to be still.

“It is love meeting love.”  This was the essence of the opening and closing remarks of Fr. Rolo. How else can our relationship with God be called but love itself! After a workshop like this one, being “doers of the word, and not just hearers only” (Jas 1: 22) is certainly a challenge that each one of us will take on - courageously and lovingly!

RECOLLECTION FOR ANG MULING PAGKABUHAY NG ATING PANGINOON PARISH (AMPAPP)

by Charit Montalban

The AMPAPP Centering Prayer Group had their quarterly Recollection on Saturday, Sept 29, 2012 on “Loving and Living the Eucharist”. It opened with the premise that increased appreciation for the Mass and devotion to the Blessed Sacrament are fruits of centering prayer. The morning sessions, guided by “A Walk Through the Mass” (an enlightening article written by Fr. Thomas Richstatter), focused on the parts of the Mass, their individual significance and how they lead and relate to each other. The afternoon topic was the Holy Eucharist. Teachings of the Church, encyclicals and homilies of Bl. John Paul II, and insights of St. Julian Eymard, St. Faustina and Padre Pio were used to renew one’s appreciation and love for the “mystery of mysteries”. The participants found themselves assessing their participation at Mass most specially their disposition when receiving Holy Communion.

LECTIO DIVINA WORKSHOP IN CEBU

Heartened by the very positive feedback from the 43 participants during last summer’s John Paul II Catechetics and Youth Ministry Conference at Don Bosco Technical Institute, Makati, the Cebu chapter of the same group has extended an invitation for COP to conduct a similar Lectio Divina workshop in Cebu next year. Again, Charit Montalban will be the presenter. The Conference dates are May 15 - May 17, 2013. The invitation was sent to the COP Secretariat by the Cebu Conference organizer, Fr. Renato de Guzman, SDB.

LECTIO DIVINA WORKSHOP IN CEBU

Heartened by the very positive feedback from the 43 participants during last summer’s John Paul II Catechetics and Youth Ministry Conference at Don Bosco Technical Institute, Makati, the Salesian Philippine South Province through its Center for Lay and Youth office and Social Communications office has invited COP to conduct a similar Lectio Divina workshop in Cebu on Oct. 23 - Oct. 25, 2012. Again, Charit Montalban will be the presenter speaking on “Listening Prayer”.

The theme of the Conference is: “Silence and Word: Path of Evangelization”. The objective of the 3-day assembly is for youth educators, animators and catechists to have the opportunity to grow spiritually and professionally. The venue of the Conference will be Don Bosco Formation Center, Lawaan, Talisay City, Cebu.

LUNCH WITH COP SPIRITUAL ADVISERS

by Tess Colayco

The COP Circle of Service (COS) had a “catch-up” lunch with its Spiritual Advisers, Fr. Ruben Tanseco, S.J. and Fr. Romeo Intengan, S.J., on July 26 and July 19, 2012, respectively, at Cravings restaurant in Katipunan, Q.C. It had been quite a while since we had an opportunity to sit down with our Advisers, sharing with them our activities and plans in our ministry of spreading Centering Prayer and the contemplative lifestyle thru our workshops and retreats. The COS members who joined the lunch(es) were Grace Padilla, Billie Trinidad, Terly Chikiamco, Chuchi Daroy, Maritess Pineda, Dedette Gamboa and Tess Colayco.

Grace Padilla, COP Adviser, shared with Fr. Ruben and Fr. Archie the new format in Centering Prayer workshops, showing the natural flow from Lectio Divina to Centering Prayer. Also mentioned was the current thrust in COP which is to encourage parish-based CP workshops with the help of the Catholic Women’s League (CWL) that is present in almost if not all parishes nationwide.

We are thankful to Fr. Ruben and Fr. Archie, COP Spiritual Advisers, for their continued interest and support for COP. Knowing that we can count on them for their words of wisdom and guidance in our ministry gives us much inspiration and encouragement. We look forward to our next get together.

Click here to view gallery.

CONTEMPLATIVE OUTREACH PHILIPPINES

COP Write-up in Simbahay, monthly Newsletter of St. John Bosco Parish

CONTEMPLATIVE OUTREACH, PHILIPPINES, (COP), is a faith community whose primary purpose is to teach Centering Prayer, “a prayer of interior silence and alert receptivity to the Divine Indwelling in the center of one’s being.” It also teaches Lectio Divina (Sacred Reading) wherein Scripture is read more for formation rather than information, leading to an ever deepening relationship with God. COP is part of Contemplative Outreach, Ltd., an international spiritual network of individuals and small faith communities founded in 1985 by Fr. Thomas Keating, a Trappist monk at St. Benedict’s Monastery in Snowmass, Colorado, U.S.A.

The ministry offers workshops, retreats, and formation programs designed to present the riches of the Christian Contemplative heritage in a simple and contemporary format. Also called the “prayer of silence,” “prayer of consent,” or “prayer of the heart,” Centering Prayer is essentially about deepening one’s relationship with God through the language that God loves most: SILENCE. Together with the contemplative qualities of simplicity, discipline, and service as daily spiritual practices, the practitioner of Centering Prayer, grows in friendship and intimacy with God, “living ordinary life with extraordinary love.”

Many workshops on Centering Prayer have been held at the Roozen Hall of SJB Parish since July 2008 when COP was invited to have its Secretariat at the Parish. One of the tangible fruits of the workshops is the formation of the Don Bosco Weekly Centering Prayer Group that meets at Rm 211 every Monday from 6:15 p.m. to 7:45 p.m.

More activities and programs are being planned for the SJB parish community, especially for deepening its prayer life, complementing the Salesian spirituality of action and contemplation.

For inquiries, please call: Contemplative Outreach Phil. (COP) Secretariat, SJB Parish, Rm 211. Tel No. 501-5231

Office Hours: Tues. to Sat. 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Email: cop.secretariat@gmail.com
Website: www.cophil.org

THE "PACEM RETREAT"

by Billie Trinidad

Last July 4, 2012, a two-day retreat was given to a group of seminarians belonging to the PACEM Community, a religious community in Binangonan, Rizal, founded by Fr. Leonardo Polinar. The participants included several ladies, all lay affiliates of PACEM. The retreat was given by Billie Trinidad and Chickie Ferraren. The retreat ended with Fr. Israel giving them a “going away” present they will never forget. All the participants formed a circle. Then he prayed over them in tongues, “drenching” them in love, thanks and blessings. The touching scene ended with everybody singing “You are the One that Makes me Happy”. We were left in tears and a deep sense of gratitude.

JUNE 2012 NEWS

LECTIO DIVINA WORKSHOP FOR LAY MINISTERS

Upon the request of the Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion (EMHC) of St. John Bosco Parish, COP gave a Lectio Divina workshop to 24 members of the group on June 16, 2012, at Roozen Hall of the Parish.  Charit Montalban was presentor.

Lectio Divina or the prayerful reading of Scripture is the traditional method of developing a relationship with God using Scripture. Unlike Bible study that uses Scripture more for information, Lectio Divina is a spiritual practice that helps one in his spiritual formation and transformation. One encounters the Word of God, Jesus Christ, in a way that is fresh, meaningful and relevant in the context of one’s present life.

It is our hope that more parish organizations will take advantage of requesting COP to share with them the beautiful prayer practice of Lectio Divina.

POST-INTENSIVE CP RETREAT

There will be a Post-Intensive Centering Prayer Retreat for Centering Prayer practitioners who have been doing at least 2 years of regular practice. It will be held from July 9 to July 13, 2012 at St. Joseph Marello, Tagaytay City. For inquiries, please call the COP Secretariat at tel. 501-5231 or email the Secretariat at cop.secretariat@gmail.com.

FR. MARTIN O'LOGHLEN RE-VISITS MANILA

Fr. Martin O’Loghlen of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary visited Manila last May to attend the blessing of the Church of “Ang Muliung Pagkabuhay ng Ating Panginoon” Parish in Bagong Silang, Caloocan City, Novaliches. Fr. Martin was its parish priest for a year or 2 before he went back to California where he is now based in their Congregation’s House.

While in Manila, Fr. Martin had a chance to reconnect with COP when he attended a Formation Class at Santuario de San Antonio which was facilitated by Grace Padilla. After the class, Fr. Martin was invited to lunch at Casa Nostra in Makati by Billie Trinidad, Grace and Minda Villamayor. On another occasion, Terly Chikiamco and Chuchi Daroy who both worked closely with Fr. Martin on some projects regarding his congregation and also his parish in Novaliches, also had a chance to catch up with Fr. Martin over dinner at Café Provencale at EDSA Shangri-la Mall.

It was during lunch with Violet de Borja and Tess Colayco at the Peninsula Hotel lobby on May 11, 2012 that Fr. Martin reminisced about his initial introduction to COP. Shortly before he arrived in Manila in 2005, he asked Contemplative Outreach Ltd. in the U.S. if there was a local chapter here. He was told to get in touch with Tess Colayco which he did by email. That was the start of his close relationship with COP, culminating with some members, specifically, Charit Montalban, Terly Chikiamco, Chuchi Daroy and the late Monina La’O helping him in his projects regarding their Community as well as the parish in Bagong Silang.

LAY COMMUNITY IN CONTEMPLATIVE LIVING

by Tess Colayco

On April 24, 2012, seven members of Our Lady of the Rosary CPG (Makati) went to Sta. Rita Hermitage in Tagaytay City for a day of prayer, reflection and bonding, deepening their experience of contemplative living. Following the regular format of the LCCL spiritual practice which was introduced to COP some 15 years ago by our former Director, Lita Salinas (based on the same practice in CO Ltd. in the U.S.), the group did a “check-in” (a brief sharing of their Contemplative Living Statement), followed by a period of Centering Prayer. After a hearty lunch prepared by the staff of Nita Poblete who manages the hermitage, Tess Colayco, one of the group members, facilitated a 20-minute discussion of her topic of choice, God’s humility, based on Sr. Ilia Delia’s book, “The Humility of God”. Another period of Centering Prayer followed a short break, then a “closure”, the purpose of which was to express each one’s impressions and learnings from the day’s activity.

It was a happy group, namely, Tina Quiros, Carmel Dael, Polly Garilao, Ditas Lerma, Dolly Galang, Violet de Borja and Tess Colayco, that left Sta. Rita Hermitage that bright sunny afternoon, nourished in body, mind and spirit.

INTRODUCTORY WORKSHOP ON CP AT MARY THE QUEEN PARISH

by Miren Sun

We will always remember Sept 26, 2009, when we had one of our Introductory to Centering Prayer Workshops at Mary the Queen Parish in Greenhills, Metro Manila. That was when typhoon “Ondoy” lashed upon the city while we obliviously listened to Pixie Cuisia, our presenter. This year, we were blessed with beautiful sunny weather.

On June 9, 2012 at the newly renovated Leon Hall at Mary the Queen Parish, we had a roomful of 25 attendees who were all eager to learn Centering Prayer. In line with our thrust of introducing the prayer to the different Parish organizations, attendees at the CP workshop came from Alay Sa Diyos and the Catholic Women’s League (CWL). At the end of the day, the feedback was very positive. All were happy to hear about Centering Prayer, some expressing their desire to recommend it to their respective communities.

Truly the Holy Spirit was very much present at Leon Hall last June 9, hovering over our presenters Pixie Cuisia and Rita Go, our staff from Mary the Queen Parish CPG: Chris Lim, Sharon Sowy, Sally Tesoro, and Nats Montecastro as well as our 25 workshop participants and some COP members who were there to show support. It was truly a day full of blessings!

CP INTRODUCTORY WORKSHOP AT ROOZEN HALL

There was an Introductory Workshop on Centering Prayer at Roozen Hall, St. John Bosco Parish in Makati last June 2, 2012. Fifty men and women, among whom were 25 seminarians from Alagad ni Maria, attended the workshop which was facilitated by Pixie Cuisia.

The following were some of the observations written on the evaluation forms by the participants at the close of the one-day workshop.

“Now I have a better understanding of my prayer life. It is not only a form of communication with God but first and foremost, it’s a relationship with Him”.

“This is my first time to experience this kind of workshop. It’s beautiful communing with the Lord…. First impressions last.”

“It deepens my understanding as a Religious Brother about prayer as an intimate union with God”.

 

FORMATION CLASSES

by Billie Trinidad

After six Tuesdays of patiently trekking to San Antonio Parish, COP is all done with Fr. Thomas Keating’s Spiritual Journey Tapes, module 3. We came together, listened and shared, enthralled, as Fr. Thomas talked about the “Four Consents”, very fitting and timely, as always. We “met” Brother Bernie, the epitome of the art of consenting, and we mourned with Father Thomas when Bernie consented at a moment’s notice to God’s invitation to go back Home to Him. We journeyed with Anthony of Egypt as he went through his dark nights, questioning our own mindsets and motivations, wavering between hope and discouragement…finally making the silent promise to be like Anthony, steady in our devotion to God, (prayer) and love of others, (service.) We learned of the difference between translation, transformation, integration and the story of the butterfly, to name a few. And now, finished with Spiritual Journey, module 3 (SJ 3), we are happily looking forward to SJ 4, “Biblical Desert: The Night of Sense”.

COP JOINS ANNUAL COMMEMORATION OF THE FEAST OF MARY HELP OF CHRISTIANS

by Rachelle Rule

The liturgical celebration of Mary, Help of Christians, was established by Pope Pius VIII in gratitude for Mary’s intervention during a dangerous time in the history of the Church. After being driven out by violence from Rome and held as a prisoner for 5 years by Napoleon, the Pope entreated Mary for help and asked all Christians to do the same. Against all odds, he was freed and returned to Rome on 24 May, 1814.

Devotion to Mary, Help of Christians, was promoted by St. John Bosco and continues to be propagated in the world by the Salesian family which recognizes and invokes Mary, Help of Christians as its principal patroness. Annually, every May 24th, the Parish of St. John Bosco (where Contemplative Outreach Philippines has its Secretariat office) celebrates this feast in simple yet meaningful ways. This year, the parish celebrated the feast via the recitation of the Rosary and an informative powerpoint lecture on Mary, given by Salesian Deacon, Rev. Ade Prinanto, SDB. This was attended by the SJB parish office and rectory grounds staff, members of the parish Music Ministry, parish based organizations including Contemplative Outreach Philippines. COP takes Mary as one of its inspirations in the spiritual journey, for contemplation can be considered as an abiding attitude of taking in of all things and pondering them in one’s heart, a disposition that Our Blessed Mother lived throughout her life.

JOHN PAUL II CATECHETICS AND YOUTH MINISTRY CONFERENCE

by Rachel Rule

For eight years now since 2004, the John Paul II Catechetics and Youth Ministry Conference of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Phil. (CBCP), has been taking place at Don Bosco Technical Institute in Makati. Both catechists and youth leaders come together for a common formation while attending to and respecting the specific needs of each ministry.

Contemplative Outreach Philippines has been part of this annual event since 2008 by way of offering a workshop on Lectio Divina. Its objective is to teach participants the traditional method of “reading” Scripture not essentially for information but for formation. Lectio Divina does not treat Scripture as texts to be studied, but as a way of really listening to God’s message thru the 4 movements: “lectio” (reading), “meditatio” (reflecting), “oratio” (praying) and “contemplatio” (resting in God).

This year’s Lectio Divina presentor was Charit Montalban, who taught the audience of 36 nuns, youth leaders, a deacon and a priest the basics of this ancient monastic practice. The participants were eager learners, attentively listening as Charit explained the prayer practice. As in previous workshops, the participants expressed their appreciation for their new insights and learnings, hoping to share them with their different faith communities.

The spread of Lectio Divina in parishes and organizations wherever it is needed is one of the aims of Contemplative Outreach Philippines. Please call the COP Secretariat at telephone 501-5231 for Lectio Divina workshop requests, or email us at cop.secretariat@gmail.com.

FORMATION CLASSES

The first monthly Formation Class for 2012 was held at Santuario de San Antonio on Feb. 27, with COP Adviser, Grace Padilla, giving a talk on Lent and the Ascension. The clear and inspiring powerpoint presentation elicited an active participation by those who attended the class, as expressed in the Q and A portion and the reflections of the attendees (Click here to read reflections).

The following month, the topic was on Pentecost. Again the participants were taken by the profound and transformative teachings that Grace imparted to the group, based on Fr. Keating’s book, “Mystery of Christ.” All COP members are encouraged to attend the monthly Formation Class as an aid to their spiritual life, growth and transformation. A mobile formation class, one where Grace brings the talk to CPG’s that jointly want to listen to it, can be arranged thru Billie Trinidad, head of Formation Circle of Service.

SPIRITUAL JOURNEY TAPES SERIES

As part of the Formation Program for COP members, a weekly class based on the Spiritual Journey (SJ Tapes, Module 3) by Fr. Thomas Keating is being offered at Santuario de San Antonio in Forbes Park, St. Peter’s Room in the parish building. It is facilitated by Grace Padilla and assisted by Billie Trinidad (head of Formation Circle of Service) and Chickie Ferraren. The 3 ladies are with Santuario de San Antonio CPG, the very first CP group which was officially affiliated with CO Ltd. in Butler, New Jersey, in 1990. Contemplative Outreach Phil. (COP) was then headed by Lita Salinas who was its Director and Adviser until 2010 when Lita had to leave for Spain to be with her husband, Carlos Salinas, the current Phil. Ambassador to Spain.

The weekly SJ Tapes Series is held every Tuesday from 9:30 AM. to 12 noon, starting with a 30-minute period of Centering Prayer, followed by the audio tape of Fr. Keating. The free-flowing presentation and explanation of the material by Grace, encourages the group to ask questions, share their own reflections, etc. To date, the topics have been on “The Four Consents”, “Anthony as a Paradigm of the SJ”, and “Liberation from the False Self”. Average number of participants in the weekly class is 20, with the “spiritual seekers” coming from different CPG’s.

 

ST. JOHN BOSCO PARISH FAMILY DAY

On March 3, 2012, the Parish celebrated Family Day starting with the Eucharist in the parish gym officiated by Fr. Ting Miciano, SDB, Parish Priest. It was a day marked by family bonding, fun and fellowship with the whole parish community. Lunch was served at the covered basketball court, the food donated by the different parish organizations including COP. This was followed by games and more fun-filled activities participated in by the parishioners and their families. The successful Family Day was organized by the Family Life Ministry and Marriage Encounter Foundation of St. John Bosco Parish.

BAGUIO CP INTRODUCTORY WORKSHOP

COP was again invited to give an Introductory Workshop on Centering Prayer by the Sacred Heart Charismatic community in Baguio City last March 3 to March 5, 2012. (Pls. read accompanying article, “Many Sacred Hearts Abloom in Baguio City”, in Glimpses page click here.) The main Presenter was Pixie Cuisia, assisted by Dedette Gamboa. Anna Marie Llanos (head of Workshops and Retreats Circle of Service) and Susan Rivera helped staff the well-attended workshop. The happy participants warmly received the COP group, appreciative of the contemplative prayer that was shared with them, as well as the basic teachings of Fr. Keating re the spiritual journey.

 

RETREAT AT ST. BRIDGETT'S

An Introductory Retreat on Centering Prayer was held at St. Bridgett’s Retreat House on March 16 - March 18, 2012, in Tagaytay City. Twelve seminarians from the Vincentian Order and Alagad ni Maria, and some lay people attended the workshop. Presenting the 2 prayer practices – Centering Prayer and Lectio Divina was Pixie Cuisia. Staffing the workshop were Billie Trinidad, Anna Marie Llanos and Susan Rivera.

FATHER KEATING'S BIRTHDAY

On the occasion of Fr. Thomas Keating’s 89th birthday last Mar. 7, 2012, the worldwide community of Contemplative Outreach Ltd. (CO Ltd.) once again circulated among its members a prayer grid where people signed up to join the 24-hour prayer brigade for Fr. Keating. Making use of the Internet, Billie Trinidad took care of circulating the prayer list to the international CP community scattered in all the continents. Some of the countries represented were Sto. Domingo, Caribbean, Bolivia, Brazil, South Norway, Budapest, China, Singapore, Australia, Argentina, Nicaragua, Ireland, United Kingdom, USA, Philippines. As in past years, everybody was just too happy to sign up for a 30-minute period of Centering Prayer at their chosen time all of March 7th, offering it for Fr. Keating and his intentions. It was a small gesture but done with much love and gratefulness for the gift that Fr. Keating is to the whole Centering Prayer community. From St. Benedict’s Monastery in Snowmass, Colorado, where he is staying, Fr. Keating continues to touch all of us with his enlightened teachings and loving concern as we journey in the contemplative path. He is our beloved mentor, friend and companion in our journey towards God.

Below is an email message from Mercedes Scopetta, a dear friend of Fr. Keating from the earliest days of CO, Ltd., and currently List Owner of SPIRITUS and Lux-Divina, 2 Internet Lists re the contemplative path especially thru Centering Prayer and Lectio Divina.

From: Mercedes Scopetta<compassion@MSN.COM>
To: SPIRITUS@LISTSERV.ICORS.ORG
Sent: Monday, 12 March 2012 5:13 AM
Subject: [SPIRITUS] Father Thomas thanks to the list

Dear friends in Christ,

Our beloved Father Thomas called yesterday to thank us for the prayers for him on his birthday. He sounded happy and grateful. Billie, he very specially told me to thank you for the effort of making the grid and contacting everyone, so many. We have done it every year for years now, and it is still a puzzle to him how we can get it all together. He never wanted to learn internet or e-mail as such, so it is difficult to understand how we can reach each other and so many in minutes and sometimes seconds. Father seemed well.

He shared that he now uses a cane. I have been trying to get him to send me a picture with his cane but have not succeeded yet. :-) Once more, he took a deep interest in every list and who facilitated each one.

Thanks so much for being on the lists and practicing Centering Prayer.

Father Thomas sends his prayers and blessings to each one of you.

Mercedes

CPG HEADS QUARTERLY MEETING

On Mar. 24, 2012, the 2nd CPG Heads Quarterly Meeting was held at the Secretariat, St. John Bosco Parish. (Pls. read “The Holy Spirit at Work” in Glimpses page click here.) It was facilitated by Dedette Gamboa (head of Centering Prayer Groups Circle of Service), assisted by her alternate, Chickie Ferraren. Grace Padilla, COP Adviser emphasized the importance of a good grasp of CP and Lectio Divina by the CPG Heads. Also reiterated the value of re-reading the 3 foundational books on CP, namely, “Open Mind Open Heart”, “Invitation to Love”, and “Mystery of Christ”, all by Fr. Keating. Furthermore, Grace encouraged all CPG Heads to attend the weekly Formation Talks on the Spiritual Journey Tapes where Fr. Keating explains in detail the conceptual background of CP and the whole contemplative journey.

CONTEMPLATIVE MASS FOR DECEASED COP MEMBER/ FAMILY

It was a beautiful Contemplative Mass that was celebrated for the late COP member, Monina La’O and deceased COP family members, on Mar. 29, 2012 at the Baptistry, Santuario de San Antonio, Forbes Park, Makati. “Monsi” Oracion officiated at the Eucharist which was held in an atmosphere of prayerful silence, and soft chanting of Taize meditative songs before the Mass and during Communion.

After the Mass, Sr. Amelita Tanseco thanked the community in behalf of the other COP members whose deceased family members were the reason for the Eucharistic gathering. “Now we have more intercessors in heaven”, said Sr. Amelita in behalf of Sr. Cho Borromeo, Terly Chikiamco, Beth Ngo, Josie Tordesillas, Fe Flores, and Charit Montalban all of whom had lost either a husband, mother, son or brother in the past few months.

JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2012 NEWS

CPG Heads Renewal DayOn Jan. 21, 2012, the first Annual CPG Heads Day of Renewal was held at Santuario de San Antonio Parish. Forty CPG Heads and their alternates, as well as potential CPG heads attended the activity from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM facilitated by Dedette Gamboa of the Circle of Service in-charge of centering prayer support groups. It was a day rich in information as well as formation for the participants, with the day beginning and ending with centering prayer, and Grace Padilla, COP Director, explaining and facilitating a discussion on the Theological Basis of Centering Prayer based on Fr. Keating’s book, “Intimacy with God”.

Each CPG Head shared her experiences (i.e., difficulties, joys, plans, etc.) regarding her group. It was inspiring and heartwarming seeing the fervent commitment and deep gratefulness for the gift of the prayer, by the CPG’s in their spiritual journey.

The next CPG Heads activity will be on May 19, 2012 with the theme “Growing as a Facilitator/CPG Head – Spirituality of a Servant Leader.”
 

The first St. John Bosco Parish Pastoral Assembly for 2012 was held on Jan. 12, 2012 presided by Fr. Ting Miciano, SDB, Pastor. The evening meeting was attended by the heads of the different parish organizations (i.e., Legion of Mary, Catholic Women’s League, Apostleship of Prayer, Youth Group, Lectors and Commentators Guild, COP, etc.) The PPA meeting is held quarterly during which parish activities, programs, plans, etc. are discussed.

Among the important matters taken up were the following:

  • Arrival of the pilgrim image of Our Lady of Fatima to the parish on Jan. 20.
    There will be a procession, then a vigil from 7:OO PM to midnight. The international image will leave the parish the following morning of Jan. 21.

  • Feast of St. John Bosco on Jan. 28, 2012. There will be a procession after the Saturday evening anticipated Mass.

  • In preparation for SJB Parish’ 35th anniversary in March 2013, there will be some renovation projects to be done in church starting with the sanctuary, altar, adoration chapel, etc. For this reason, there was a fund-raising concert last year in the church where different choirs and Fr. Ting as soloist performed.

"Great oaks from little acorns grow" by Billie Trinidad

Tom Skinner, a member of Contemplative Outreach Ltd, who co-authored with Father Thomas Keating, the book Divine Therapy and Addiction, is a regular visitor to the Philippines. He heads the 12-Step Outreach, and was formerly on the board of Contemplative Outreach Ltd. Tom visits different AA groups and happily reported to some members of the COS, namely Tess Colayco, Grace Padilla, Billie Trinidad and Mercy Soliven David, how he hoped he may have recently successfully planted an "acorn."

Tom, with some local AA group members, recently helped to establish a weekly AA meditation meeting at Malate Church (a first for Manila). While this is a closed meeting (only for AA members), its leader, John, was most interested as Tom explained Centering Prayer to him. Congratulations Tom, for your work of love. (Please see related article in Glimpses … click here)

Dinner with the Ambassador’s Lady by Tess Colayco

On Feb. 7, 2012, a happy group of COP members from the Circle of Service and from different Centering Prayer Groups welcomed the former COP Director and Adviser, Ms. Lita Salinas, over dinner at Kimpura Japanese restaurant at Greenbelt 5, Makati. One year ago, Lita left for Madrid to start her new life with the appointment of her husband, Carlos, as the new Ambassador to Spain. Now she was back on their annual home leave.

The joy and excitement of the COP group on seeing Lita again was evident all throughout the dinner till after the last cup of Japanese tea was drunk. Laughter, storytelling, and sharing by Lita of her experiences as the Ambassador’s lady in Spain marked the whole evening. With her characteristic sense of humor and most engaging style of storytelling, Lita shared about the visit to the Phil. Embassy of the San Antonio Parish Youth Group with Fr. Joel Sulse, during last year’s World Youth Day in Madrid. It was during this visit that she found herself and her kitchen staff preparing an instant meal for some 30 hungry youth!

As for continuing her life-long ministry of sharing the faith, (especially thru Centering Prayer), several opportunities already came up where Lita talked to Filipino groups in Madrid re the spiritual life. In one instance, the topic was “Living Your Lent in Daily Life”. To give us a better idea of how many Filipino OFWS are in Madrid, Lita said there are 49 Filipino associations!

We have no doubt that with her deep commitment to the contemplative life, Lita will be able to share her favorite prayers (Centering Prayer and Lectio Divina) with the Filipino community in Madrid. Truly Lita is an Ambassador’s lady, both in the literal and "spiritual" sense of the word, Lita being an instrument of God’s life, light and love wherever she goes.

Vaya con Dios, dear Lita! We accompany you with our loving prayers when you go back to Madrid. Until your next visit, blessings and all good wishes for you and Ambassador Carlos from your COP Family!

St. Francis Online Group

This is an on-line group of Contemplative Outreach Philippines, started by Marite Dichoso, a long-time member of COP. It is open to all spiritual seekers interested in Centering Prayer and Lectio Divina.

  • To join/subscribe:  Send any blank email to COP_SaintFrancis-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

  • To visit the site: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/COP_SaintFrancis/files/
    Upon subscribing, you will receive:
    • excerpts from Contemplative Outreach books, and
    • (2) announcements on the schedules and activities, and other updates on Contemplative Outreach Philippines.

PRAYER BEYOND THE BEGINNINGS

by Tess Colayco

Dr. David Benner, internationally known author, spiritual director and clinical psychologist together with his wife, Mrs. Juliet Benner, also a well-known lecturer and spiritual guide, recently gave a one-day seminar on contemplative spirituality. It was held at Trinity Church, McKinley, Forbes Park on Jan.14, 2012.

Inside the fully-packed church, Dr. and Mrs. David Benner gave their most interesting presentations, while also allowing the participants timely moments of silence and prayer, integral parts of the day’s experience. “Be still and know that I am God”. (Ps 46:10) This was impressed on us all throughout the seminar.

In his first talk, “Prayer Beyond the Beginnings”, Dr. Benner explained the following points:

  • “All prayer is relational... It is a 2-way conversation starting with God who is already present within us. It is not so much something we do as something God does in us when we open ourselves to Him in trust, love and attentiveness”.

  • As we deepen our relationship with God, our prayer moves from “conversation” to “communion”. We begin to pray beyond thoughts, words and feelings, much like intimate couples/friends who seem to be able to communicate with the least amount of words or actions.

Dr. Benner also brought up the subject matter of Lectio Divina, a traditional way of developing one’s relationship with God using Scripture. It’s different from Bible study in that during Lectio, the individual goes to the Word of God not for information but for his inner formation/transformation as a disciple of Christ.

On Contemplative Prayer, Dr. Benner mentioned Fr. Thomas Keating, O.C.S.O., founder of the Centering Prayer Movement (together with the late Fr. Basil Pennington, and Fr. William Meninger, also Trappist monks). Thru his books, video teachings and prayers, Fr. Keating continues to spread the practice of Centering Prayer, effectively aided by Contemplative Outreach Ltd., a network of Individuals all over the world supporting practitioners of the prayer in their spiritual journey.

  • As a preparation for contemplative prayer, Centering Prayer is a prayer of full consent to God’s presence and action with us. It is prayer beyond thoughts, words and actions.

  • It has 4 simple guidelines which are easy to follow. As Dr. Benner said, contemplative prayer is not an exclusive property for the spiritually “advanced” or “elite”. It is for everyone including the youth.

RECOMMITMENT DAY

by Rachelle Rule

Jan. 28 (Saturday) 2012 was our Annual Recommitment Day, a time when we renewed our consent to live the contemplative dimension of the Gospel thru Centering Prayer and Lectio Divina. At the same time, we recommitted our intention to support the vision and mission of Contemplative Outreach by helping out in whatever way we can in its various activities, all in the service of God's Kingdom here and now.

The contemplative Mass at 8:30 AM was celebrated by SJB Parish Priest, Fr. Ting Miciano, SDB, in an atmosphere of prayerful silence and Taize chants. After the Eucharist, we proceeded to Roozen Hall for a brief inspirational talk by our Director, Grace Padilla. In her message, Grace reminded us that our Annual Recommitment Day was a time to “remember our beginnings and how our Ministry has grown…also to remember who we were and who we are now. It was at the same time an occasion to be “grateful for how our Ministry has grown…for the gift of prayer… for the gift of life, for the love that opens up to us our true being.” And finally, it was a time to “realize” that all is gift. . . all is grace. Who we are and what we do is all gift, all grace.” (For the complete talk of Grace, please see below.)

A brief presentation by the Circle of Service (COS) followed with each committee head explaining to the community what their tasks and responsibilities were. Then the COS invited the COP members to consider volunteering for the committee they felt called to serve. This was preceded by a few moments of silence and prayer.

The general assembly ended at 12:30 PM with the recitation of the Recommitment Prayer. (Please see below.)

Click here to view more pictures

INSPIRATIONAL TALK BY GRACE PADILLA

Namaste – the God in me greets the God in you.

May the Lord give you peace. I welcome each and every one of you to this blessed day to renew our commitment. I believe that this could be one of the more important activities for this year because it highlights once again who/what you are committing yourself to.

I am aware a good part of your activities this morning is to plan which committees you are interested in joining. However, I would like to stress, first and foremost, the renewal of our commitment is to consent to live the contemplative dimension of the Gospel through the daily practice of Centering Prayer and Lectio Divina. These two practices open us to infinite possibilities…for it opens us up to the Trinitarian life lived in love and expressed in love. In short, to a transformed life.

In our daily practice of Centering Prayer we move deeper into trust and intimacy with the living God that Jesus experienced, the reality that we are not just with God, we are in God through Christ – each of us and all of us. To quote Fr. Keating: “As we sit in Centering Prayer, we are connecting with that immense flow of the divine life within us.”

The Christological focus of Centering Prayer, most especially in the daily practice of encountering the Word in Lectio Divina is a means to encourage relationship with the Spirit of God within us and a deeper capacity for listening to the promptings of the Spirit in your life now … listening to the Word speaking to you and in your spiritual journey each moment of the day. This is what is meant by living the contemplative dimension of the Gospel, manifested as an ever-deepening union with Christ and the resultant reaching out to others that flow from this relationship.

Blessed John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI continually underlined in their important documents the actuality and relevance of Lectio Divina in the life of the Christian and the power of the living Word of God to transform our lives, our society and our world. Allow me to quote John Paul II from his encyclical, Novo Millennio Ineunte: “There is no doubt that the primacy of holiness and prayer is inconceivable without renewed listening to the Word of God…. It is necessary that listening to the Word of God should become a life giving encounter in the ancient and ever valued tradition of Lectio Divina which draws from the biblical text the living Word which questions, directs, and shapes our lives.”

Both centering prayer and Lectio Divina work with one goal in mind: developing a relationship with Christ/Word and transformation into the mind of Christ. Our fidelity to the practice of Centering Prayer and the daily encounter with the Word through LectioDivina enables us to recommit in ways only the Spirit is able to do, to the various committees related to our Ministry. Simply said: let all our plans, our activities, our goals, flow from prayer.

When I think of renewal and commitment, three things come to mind. It is a time to remember, a time to be grateful, a time to realize all is gift, all is grace.

We remember our beginnings and how our Ministry has grown. We remember who we were and who we are now. In Centering Prayer we remember the Love, grounded in the inner life of the Trinity that brought us to wholeness and holiness….and faced with this immensity of love that this Divine Indwelling which the prayer has opened up to us, we know we are not alone…we are never alone, and we are loved.

We are grateful: We are grateful for how our Ministry has grown … the mustard seed of our efforts now a grown tree. We are grateful for the gift of prayer, for the growth in prayer, for the gift of life, for the love that opens up to us our true being. We ARE grateful. They say the best way to show gratitude is to live it…to be sacraments of love to one another, to reach out to others, especially those who are suffering, rejected, imprisoned ….this about describes each one of us, all of us, in different levels of experience.

And finally, we realize all is gift … all is grace. Who we are and what we do is all gift, all grace.

This is what I would want you to keep in mind today as you go about planning how you will express, the giftedness of yourself and the giftedness of your love in service.

Yes, Lord – we remember, we are grateful, all is gift.

Heavenly Father, we come before You today to recommit our sincere desire to live the contemplative dimension of the Gospel and to reiterate our full support for Contemplative Outreach Philippines. We humbly ask You to consecrate our response to Your invitation to “live our ordinary life with extraordinary love” through our daily practice of Centering Prayer and our service to our neighbor. We know that it makes no difference to You what our role is in this ministry. All that You ask of us is the gift of our being, our ready availability, and our constant consent to Your Will.

Father, Son and Holy Spirit, bless our community here present today, as well as those who are with us in spirit.

We ask for the gift of FIDELITY

for everyone to remain faithful to the Prayer and Lectio Divina
for members of Support Groups to continue edifying and inspiring each other through their presence in the weekly gathering
for the Service Team to consistently carry out their responsibilities in the spread and nurturance of Centering Prayer.

We ask for the gilt of GENEROSITY

so that everyone can give premium time to You Lord, in prayer and in service to others
so that members of Support Groups can be open, sensitive and genuine in ministering to each other
so that the Service Team can continue their mission undeterred by difficulties and harassment.

We ask for the gilt of HUMILITY

to accept and to surrender each moment of our life
to walk with all persons You put in our path through the Outreach
to acknowledge that the simplest work done out of Love, brings us closer to You

Heavenly Father, we thank You for bringing us to this beautiful graced moment of recommitment. Sanctify and strengthen our heart’s intention to consent ever more deeply to the promptings of Your Holy Spirit. All these we ask in the name of Your Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, Who together with Our Lady, the perfect contemplative, walks this journey with us every step of the way. Amen.

SHARINGS RE: RECOMMITMENT DAY (1/21/12)

My very first time to attend Recommitment Day was most special, serious, and intimate. It was my day to make a “covenant” with God to sit in silence and prayer with Him daily.”

‒ Tina Quiros (Our Lady of the Rosary CPG, Makati)

I had mixed feelings of unworthiness and hope. Unworthy for a lot of things about my relationship with the Lord and others, yet with renewed Hope for the grace of perseverance.

‒ Nessie Dionisio (Don Bosco CPG, Makati)

I agree with Grace Padilla that as we do our Centering Prayer daily, our level of relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ becomes deeper and intimate. This is what I noticed in myself. With my daily reading of the Scriptures, I began to call on the Holy Spirit for guidance. From then on, all my requests for more blessings were addressed to the Holy Spirit. I am so glad that my requests have been granted. Hallelujah to you, O Holy Spirit!

Furthermore, I look at Recommitment Day as a time when I renew my intention to our Lord Jesus Christ to be more faithful to my Centering Prayer practice.

‒ Rose Bernardez (Santuario de San Antonio CPG, Makati)

I learned that service doesn’t mean that I have to do very big tasks, but just being there ready to give a hand. Also at the welcoming remarks of Ms Grace Padilla, we were reminded to be grateful for all that God has done for us in our life.

‒ Arlene Nua (San Lorenzo Ruiz CPG, Binondo)

I was inspired by the short but meaningful talk by Grace Padilla during our Recommitment Day. The three key words: REMEMBER , GRATITUDE and GRACE somehow tied up the movements of the Spirit towards Service.

Indeed if I do not Remember the many and countless blessings the Lord has poured out to me then I would easily just forget how Grateful I should be in receiving those undeserved Graces from Him. As an outpouring of gratefulness for those graces one has to concretize gratitude thru Service to my fellowmen be it at home or in a community. It seems so inadequate and empty to just say "Thank you Lord" if it stops there. It would be authentic only if one translates this Gratitude in action thru Service. Even that act of service is a Grace-filled moment.

‒ Rita Go (St. Raphael CPG, Q.C.)

Recommitment to me is repetition of a solemn promise – an act of saying: “Lord, I want to remain faithful to the covenant I once made with you . . . a voluntary but binding act which I cherish so much because I know how much you love me.”

‒ Anne Aligada (Don Bosco, Makati, CPG)

The beautiful message that I picked-up is this. . . I am filled with so much joy about my experience of God, that all I want to do is to spread the joy to others too.

Indeed, if one is overflowing with happiness the natural reaction is to spread the love. Service is one way to spread the joy coming from God.

Fr. Keating once said, we cannot inhale all the time. There is a need to also exhale, otherwise, we will suffocate.

This time is a good time for me to be back in the service of Contemplative Outreach Philippines. I hope and pray that God will give me the grace to remain in this service with a smile.

‒ Marite Dichoso (St. Francis CP Online Group)

Nakakatuwang isipin that after all these years of not being active in the COP community, I am still able to come, feeling the very warm welcome from the rest of the members. God bless COP!

‒ Davie Dianco (St. Francis Online Group)

This Recommitment Day reminded me to be grateful for the gifts of CP and Lectio Divina, preparing and helping me to walk thru life especially in the past 5 years; also for improving my faith and love of God. The peace and joy that I feel even during difficult times is awesome!

I hope we will have more contemplative Masses. It is so peaceful. I felt my heart opening more to the Silence, to Love. Maybe Fr. Ting can celebrate it for us again. His homily was so beautiful too! Thank you, Fr. Ting!

‒ Minda Villamayor (San Antonio CPG, Makati)

A BLESSING OF GRACE

by Terly Chikiamco

In 2008, when Lita Salinas announced her stepping down as Contemplative Outreach Phils. (COP) Director after 20 years of dedicated service, it wasn’t a complete good-bye, as Lita continued on to serve as Adviser in the new structure patterned after that of Contemplative Outreach Ltd. in the USA and its chapters around the world, called Circle of Service or COS.

As Adviser, Lita clearly informed the COS that she was only going to stay on for at most two (2) years and that she would definitely retire at the end of such period. But even before that period came, God apparently had other plans for Lita. By the last quarter of 2010, Lita’s husband, Carlos, was appointed to the post of Phil. Ambassador to Spain which meant that they had to leave the Philippines by early January 2011. God made sure there would be no negotiating for the COS to ask Lita to stay on with COP. Hence, the COS suddenly found itself without an Adviser at the start of 2011.

By July this year, the COS felt the vacuum of not having any Adviser. Affirming this was Fr. Keating who specifically mentioned to Billie Trinidad, in one of their conversations, that it was crucial for the COS to have an Adviser to complete the Circle. Thus, after extensive discussions, prayers and consultations, the COS reached a consensus to ask Grace Padilla to be the new COS adviser.

Grace introduced and brought Centering Prayer here in the Philippines in the early 80’s after having attended an Introduction to Centering Prayer Retreat in Snowmass, Colorado. Like Lita Salinas, Grace was part of the Faculty of Contemplative Outreach Ltd. She lives and breathes Centering Prayer.

Grace is also in a leadership position with the Catholic Women’s League, national office and continues to be one of their key formators. She also belongs to the secular Franciscan Order and was just recently invited to sit as a member of the Parish Council of Santuario de San Antonio, Forbes Park, Makati City. She leads its current program of propagating among the parishioners contemplative prayer. Just recently, Grace attended the Annual Conference of Contemplative Outreach Ltd. in San Francisco, California.

Having graciously accepted the invitation as Adviser, Grace has already sprung into action, sharing with the COS her desire to focus on deepening the general membership’s understanding of Fr. Keating’s teachings through regular formation, using the SJ tapes. With such dedication and passion, Grace, the new COP Adviser, brings to us her committed and inspiring example of living the contemplative spirituality in our daily lives.

Indeed, we are truly blessed to have Grace.

ST. JOHN BOSCO PARISH FIESTA

by Vi Hernandez

From January 20 to 28, 2012, Salesian priests celebrated the Novena Masses at 6:00 in the evening in preparation for the feast day of our Parish’s patron saint, St. John Bosco on January 31. In keeping with this year’s strenna (a single sentence mission order for the year from the Salesian Director General to all Salesians worldwide), the general theme for this year’s fiesta was “Knowing and Imitating Don Bosco” with specific supporting themes for each day of the Novena. The nine guest priests allowed parishioners and devotees to get to know more of the different facets of this beloved saint and hopefully thereafter, strive to imitate his many good qualities. The topics of the different homilies during the 6:00 PM Mass were:

  • Don Bosco - the Educator of the Youth

  • DonBosco - the priest of Confession

  • Don Bosco - a faithful Servant of the Church

  • Don Bosco - a Man of Prayer

  • Don Bosco -a Builder of Churches and Communities

  • Don Bosco - a true Devotee and promoter of Mary

  • Don Bosco - a Statesman

  • Don Bosco - a man of peace

  • Don Bosco- Priest of the Holy Eucharist

It was on April 1, 1934, that Don Bosco was given the rare honor of being canonized by Pope Pius XI who presented to the Salesians as a gift, a picture of Don Bosco with a Latin inscription which when translated says, “God gave Don Bosco a great heart, a love shared in abundance like the sand on the seashore”. These words have proved prophetic. To date, Don Bosco’s heroic love has reached many shores where it continues to be replicated by 15,762 Salesians in over 130 countries.

CO ANNUAL CONFERENCE 2011

by Tess Colayco

“Re-Awakening to the Contemplative Dimension of Life”... This was the theme of this year’s CO Annual Conference which was held at the Marriott Waterfront Hotel in San Francisco, U.S.A. from Sept. 29 - Oct. 1, 2011. Three members of COP, namely, Grace Padilla, Billie Trinidad and the author attended the Day of Enrichment on Dec. 1, 2011.

As in all CO Annual Conferences, it was an experience of “Formation” and “Information”, allowing for activities that were spiritually nourishing (i.e., periods of centering prayer and reflection, celebration of the Eucharist, soulfriending, etc.) as well as having workshops, talks by highly qualified presenters, and offering books, tapes and videos on the spiritual journey.

Although Fr. Thomas Keating was unable to attend the Conference, he was still very much present, welcoming the participants and giving the Closing Message as well, via video from St. Benedict’s Monastery where he resides. His words were inspiring and challenging, exhorting the members of CO (Contemplative Outreach), both present and everywhere else in the world, to live life from a contemplative view. Basically it means seeing the world with “new eyes”, seeing God in all and all in God. Talking of evolution, Fr. Keating said “the new emphasis of evolution is spiritual”. As for the relationship between nature and grace (no contradiction there), “grace and nature build together”. In fact, “nature can be a door into the knowledge of God.”

It was heartening to see Fr. Thomas looking hale and hearty despite his advanced age.

The highly respected speakers from Academe and the Sciences were also very effective in delivering their scholarly and well-researched presentations. The topics were: “Neuroscientific Approaches to Centering Prayer: What can the brain teach us about this practice?”, “Centering Prayer: A Healing Response to Everyday Stress”, Educating Minds and Hearts: Contemplation and the Next Generation”, and “The Contemplative Dimension of Centering Prayer: Transforming Obstacles into Aides for Spiritual Growth”.

In between the presentations and workshops, Conference participants had many opportunities to browse and purchase books, videos and other informational materials, some of which were given away for free. Much time was also spent mingling with other CO members/guests, renewing friendships, networking and soulfriending. It was heartening to be in the midst of kindred souls, bonding and feeling the Oneness that is the Divine amongst us, in us.

Kudos to CO Ltd., especially to the Officers headed by Gail Fitzpatrick-Hopler, and the Organizing Committee headed by Marie Howard, on yet another very successful Annual Conference!

“Joy is the most infallible sign of the presence of God.” (Teilhard de Chardin). That sentiment shared by all of us who were at San Francisco in Sept/Oct. 2011 truly characterized the Annual Conference. Deo gratias!

"Here Come the Lonely Ones" - Contemplative Song

 

Science, Evolution and Divine Union (Video)

 

LECTIO DIVINA WORKSHOP

by Rachelle Rule

On Octobeber 8, 2011, Contemplative Outreach Philippines held a workshop on Lectio Divina for the general public. This activity took place at Roozen Hall of St. John Bosco Parish, Makati, from 8:30 AM to 4:00 PM. Attended by 30 participants, Charit Montalban facilitated the event.

Lectio Divina is Latin for "divine reading". It is a traditional spiritual practice dating back to the Desert Fathers/Mothers of the early Church. It is a way of praying with Scripture that calls one to listen, reflect, and, finally respond to God's Word, all in the context of one's ordinary daily life.

After a Lectio Divina workshop, participants often say that the experience leaves them with a refreshed spirit and an increased eagerness to experience God in Sacred Scripture. Both monastics and lay people find the prayer a beautiful way to deepen one's relationship with God thru Scripture, hearing and interiorizing it at ever deepening levels.

To inquire about future workshops on Lectio Divina, please call the COP Secretariat at tel. no. 501-5231 (Tuesday to Saturday) or visit the website of Contemplative Outreach Philippines at www.cophil.org

CP INTRODUCTORY WORKSHOP AT ST. JOHN BOSCO PARISH STA. ROSA LAGUNA

A CP Introductory Workshop was held at St. John Bosco Parish Sta. Rosa, Laguna last Nov. 26 – Nov. 27, 2011. With the active support of Parish Priest, Fr. Rolo Alcasid, SDB, the workshop was organized by Susan Rivera.

Pixie Cuisia facilitated the 2-day workshop which was attended by 50 participants. Anna Marie Llanos, head of Retreats and Workshops, and her St. Jerome CPG helped staff the workshop.

NEWS DECEMBER 2011

On Dec. 3, 2011, COP held its Christmas Party at Roozen Hall, St. John Bosco Parish. The very successful event started with a Contemplative Mass at 9 AM celebrated by our very own “Monsi” Oracion. After the Eucharistic celebration, the group of 120 COP men and women proceeded to Roozen Hall for a few hours of fellowship (i.e., games, musical program and lunch.) Meny de la Rosa, head of Socials in the Circle of Service was in charge of the whole event. Emcees were Miren Sun and Carmel Dael while Rita Go was in charge of Games. The happy event ended at 2:00 PM with the whole community forming a circle, linking hands, led by Malou Alzate, and singing together a most apropos song, “Sing a Song” and before that, “Healing our World”.

For this year's Contemplative Outreach (CO) Annual Conference, 3 COP members – Grace Padilla, Billie Trinidad and Tess Colayco, went to San Francisco in the U.S. to attend the Enrichment Day on Oct. 1, 2011. The 3-day Conference was held at the Marriott Waterfront Hotel in Burlingame, CA, with the theme: “ReAwakening to the Contemplative Dimension of Life.” It was a most enriching and heartwarming experience listening to the magnificent talks/presentations by the Conference speakers, and bonding with fellow centering pray-ers and spiritual companions. (Please refer to accompanying article. Click here.)

On Oct. 15, 2011, the Circle of Service (COS) of Contemplative Outreach Phil. (COP) held its Annual Planning Meeting at the home of Anna Marie Llanos in Alabang. The whole day activity started at 9:30 AM with centering prayer after which Terly Chikiamco, COS Convenor facilitated the discussion re plans for the coming year (i.e., workshops/retreats, formation classes, fellowship activities, etc.) An evaluation of the previous year's programs and activities as well as recommendations for the future were also taken up with each committee head giving her input. (Please refer to Events page for 2012 Schedule of COP activities).

To celebrate her birthday in Oct., Anna Marie served a sumptuous lunch and merienda, motivating the 10 member COS to do their brainstorming with even more enthusiasm and energy. It was also on this occasion that the new COP Adviser, Grace Padilla, formally expressed her acceptance of her new role in the community. (Please refer to accompanying article. Click here.)

For our monthly Formation Class, Dr. Carmen (Pinky) Valdes gave a presentation/ workshop on the Enneagram on Oct. 24, 2011 at Santuario de San Antonio. The 45 participants were all interested to know more about their personality type (i.e., strengths/weaknesses, natural inclination/aversions, similarities/differences with other personality types, etc.) There was a lively Q& A during the 5 hour presentation on the Enneagram. A workbook was also given to each of the participants which further explained this ancient and Sufi-based personality theory. During the working lunch, we gave written answers to the questions in the workbook referring to our individual personality type. The workshop was helpful in our journey towards self-awareness and more loving interpersonal relationships.

On Nov. 3-4, 2011, Tess Colayco and some members of CO, Singapore got together to renew friendships and share news/information re their centering prayer groups. Michael and Agnes Lim happily recalled their CP retreat in the past with Fr. Martin O'Loghlen who used to go to Singapore/Malaysia during the time that he was based here in Manila. In Indonesia, a CP group is slowly growing, per Michael. Suzan Ling, now volunteer Counsellor, (her outreach), in a parish in Singapore asked about the possibility of ordering books by Fr. Keating from the COP Secretariat. We also met with Madeline Soo, once a Servant Leader in CO, Ltd., and our Formator in 2004 during the Asia-Australia Contemplative Outreach Meeting at Lake Island, Binangonan. While in Singapore, we informed our CP friends in the Garden City about a plan of COP to organize an Intensive Retreat to be held at St. Benedict's Monastery in Snowmass, CO, in Sept. 2012. (Billie Trinidad is coordinating the event.)

The last CPG (Centering Prayer Group) Heads Quarterly Meeting was held last Nov. 19 at the Secretariat. Most of the 18 CPG Heads were present for the afternoon meeting which was meant to be an updating on COP activities, as well as a sharing of the current status of the different CPG's. At the same time it was an opportunity for the CPG Heads to meet the new COP Adviser, Grace Padilla. Facilitating the meeting was Dedette Gamboa, Head of the CPG Circle of Service. (Please see accompanying article. Click here.)

 

COP was requested by Sr. Loi Nemis of the Sister Handmaids of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul to give an Introduction to Centering Prayer Retreat for their congregation in Tagaytay City on Dec. 29-30, 2011. This is an offshoot of an inter-congregational Intro CP Retreat that their novices had attended previously which was given by Pixie Cuisia. For the Dec. retreat, Charit Montalban will be the presenter. Thirty participants are expected to attend the retreat.

Two new CPG’s (Centering Prayer Groups) have been added to our list. Welcome! Welcome! Welcome! The new CPG’s and their contact info are the ff:

Our Lady of Lourdes CPG
Tues, 7:30 PM
Dominican Sisters Convent
149 Cordillera St., Q.C.
Facilitator: JhulieTeh
Tel. 664 7087 or (0922) 8358500

St. John Bosco CPG
Thurs. 5:30 PM
St. John Bosco Parish Office
Sta. Rosa, Laguna
Facilitator: Susan Rivera
Tel. (0917) 8181838

 

ADVENT: WATCHING AND WAITING

by Rachelle Rule

“Life has become exceedingly hectic...“ So begins a video of CO Ltd., “Reaching Out to the World”. We are surrounded by hectic. We hurry to work, crowd into buses, jeepneys, tricyles; we sit impatiently in traffic jams, our foot hovers halfway between jumpstart and idling as we wait out the red light at the intersection. And as the video also states: "As I continue in that sort-of frenetic pace, I find that I forget about God". Why? Because hurrying almost always generates a noise, a distraction from other things. Hurry takes away silence from us, leaving us harassed, impatient, stressed out. And when one is impatient and stressed out, indeed it is easy to forget about God.

Advent is upon us. We probably know the textbook definition of Advent (from the Latin word “adventus” meaning "coming"). It is a season observed in many Western Christian churches, a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas. It is the beginning of the Western liturgical year and commences on Advent Sunday, called Levavi. (Catholic online: http://www.catholic.org). Four Sundays of preparation. Of watching. Of waiting. And not just ordinary waiting. This is the time of silence. This is the time when waiting and silence are not separate but one. This is the time when we are called to slow down to quiet watchfulness, and prepare for the arrival of Someone greater than one’s self.

Advent is not the time when we prepare for Christmas but the time in which we are being prepared for Christmas. Advent is a time when we are asked to be quiet and still in the middle of all the partying, cooking, shopping, Christmas tree decorating, etc. We are asked to slow down, to be awake, watching and waiting in silence for the God who is coming.

Waiting in silence, giving up more and more of a space inside us so God can be more and more within us, is something that all practitioners of centering prayer know. Advent is that time of the Christian liturgical year when we practice the waiting for something and hoping and trusting in that which is to come. And once that "something" does come, we allow ourselves to be caught up in it and to be changed by it into its own form and image (fruits and gifts of the Spirit!). For if after Advent, nothing happens out of the watching and waiting and we just return to our “normal” lives, then we really never changed, it is not a true Advent, it is not a true preparation for Christmas and not a true preparation for the arrival of the Christ into our lives.

I remember reading about an observation by Thomas Merton wherein he said that life is a perpetual Advent. I agree with him. After nearly four years of being with COP, learning and practicing centering prayer, it has been four years of learning to watch and wait and be silent. And just like Christmas that follows Advent, it has also been four years of welcoming God deep within me, four years of consenting to be changed by Him, four years of my own Fiat.

Four years of letting God be God in my life. Everything is grace. And I am grateful.

Father God, continue to foster in me Your spirit of watchfulness and patient waiting in silence, so that when Your Son comes, I may truly welcome Him and know what it is to be dwelt in by Him. Amen.

MY HEART THIS ADVENT

by Fr. Ting Miciano

As we enter the last month of the year 2011, our minds, perhaps by conditioning or by sheer media influence, think of Christmas and New Year! Along with these events come the most pleasant experiences, the best times, our highest wishes and most heartfelt desires. Yes, Christmas and the New Year bring out in us the best in ourselves. And why not? The human person is destined for great things. Ironically, it is this desire for great things which Christmas provokes in us that can give meaning to this period before Christmas.

Yes, my dear friends, Christmas might be so near, but it’s not yet. In the Liturgical Year (the schedule or calendar which the Church follows throughout the year), we are still in the period called Advent, which means “coming”. The 4 weeks before Christmas are meant to prepare us to celebrate and embrace that most glorious day of Christ's birth most worthily. The Church prepares us by its liturgy (celebrations in the Church, particularly the Holy Eucharist), prayers and practices. But there is one crucial element of the Advent season that we must not forget, and it deals with our desires and wishes.

In one of the many sermons of St. Augustine, I read this interesting line on prayer, “Why He should ask us to pray, when He knows what we need before we ask Him, may perplex us if we do not realize that our Lord and God does not want to know what we want (for He cannot fail to know it) but wants us rather to exercise our desire through our prayers, so that we may be able to receive what He is preparing to give us. His gift is very great indeed, but our capacity is too small and limited to receive it. That is why we are told: Enlarge your desires.” St. Augustine wants to emphasize those elements which motivate our prayers: our desires, our hopes, our wishes and dreams. What do we want? What do we crave for, really deep in our hearts? Yes, our saint wants us to move from the mere mention of objects to focusing on motives, and big motives at that. Now, once we know exactly what we want, he tells us “to enlarge your desires”. Wish for the greater things, hope for the impossible and desire more. By this, he means not quantity but quality, not temporal gifts but for dreams and wishes that really matter, especially in terms of our salvation. Instead of just asking only for Christmas gifts, why not ask also to grow in Christian virtue? Instead of merely asking for peace in your family, why not ask also for peace for the whole world? Instead of simply praying for protection from sickness or accidents, why not also pray for the eradication of world poverty and hunger? Instead of praying only for the love of your life, why not also pray for the increase of charity and forgiveness all around? In our desires and wishes, let us not be limited by our ignorance or the misconception that “it’s too much for God to grant”. God is too good not to give us the best and the most. With St. Augustine, let us enlarge our capacity to receive by enlarging our desires and dreams when we pray.

‒ Reprinted from the December 2011 Issue of Simbahay

The Official Newsletter of St. John Bosco Parish, Makati

CPG HEADS QUARTERLY MEETING

by Dedette Gamboa

Each quarter, Centering Prayer Group (CPG) Heads meet together to give an update on the status of their respective groups, to bring up any issues that their group members may have, and to be informed of forthcoming COP activities.

The last CPG Heads meeting for 2011 was held on Nov.18 at the COP office in St. John Bosco Parish, Makati. It was a well attended meeting during which we introduced to the group the new COP adviser, Grace Padilla.

The meeting started promptly at 1:30 PM with an opening prayer, followed by a brief introduction of Grace to the members. The group was then apprised of the forthcoming activities of COP for the rest of 2011 (i.e, Formation Class on Nov. 28 and the COP Christmas Party on December 3) and the planned activities for 2012.

With business matters taken care of, each CPG head was then asked to give our Adviser a short briefing on the status of their respective CPG's including any issues that they may have at present. A key concern/issue that resurfaced was the inability of members to attend the monthly formation classes which are held in Makati mostly due to the problem of distance. To address this issue, mobile formation classes will be revived with Charit Montalban making herself available for this. Grace Padilla has also volunteered to visit and give formation talks to requesting groups.

To jumpstart 2012, a Day of Renewal for CPG heads and their alternates is scheduled for Jan. 21, 2012 at Santuario de San Antonio from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM. Also, as part of the formation of the group, Module 3 and Module 4 of the Spiritual Journey tapes of Father Keating will be taken up facilitated by Billie Trinidad and Grace Padilla.

In the future, each Quarterly Meeting of CPG Heads will include faith sharing by CPG heads who may volunteer to talk on the fruits of CP in their lives, and Contemplative Service. This will serve as an inspiration for the members to persevere in their prayer and in their ministry as CPG Heads.

The meeting ended with Grace giving some of her thoughts and ideas on how to deepen the spirituality of COP members for next year.

REFLECTIONS ON "PHANTOM OF THE OPERA" FORMATION CLASS

What struck me most during Pinky's talk was the idea of using the space between the time a situation arises and one’s reaction to it. The fact that I have time to think about my response and deliberately, consciously decide what to do rather than act on impulse (i.e., knee-jerk reaction) is useful information. I am not automatically programmed to react mindlessly. This space can be an occasion for spiritual growth, an opportunity given to us every moment of the day.

‒ Marge Tambunting

What is the meaning of my life right now? For me it is having this relationship with my Abba, allowing Him to take charge of my life, surrendering and obeying, consenting to whatever is there. Sometimes it is still hard but He has said, "Just have faith." I know He will see me thru. Now I do things that I had not thought of doing previously with joy, humility, patience. What’s more I enjoy doing it. Life is beautiful!

‒ Minda Villamayor

Pinky’s talk allowed me to take a closer look at myself. There is a creative tension between my intention and my actual behavior, one that can be explained by the Human Condition with its conflicts and dilemmas. Thru the formation talks, I feel surer about the path I must take in my spiritual journey.. . Thank you, Jesus, for speaking thru Pinky!

‒ Popsy M. Aquino

The formation talks have broadened my perspective and understanding of Spirituality. I feel blessed with my new learnings and hope to share them with others.

‒ Marite Dichoso

PHANTOM OF THE OPERA
by Rachelle Rule

“People often say that this or that person has not yet found himself. But the self is not something one finds, it is something one creates.”

 ‒ Thomas Szasz, "Personal Conduct," The Second Sin, 1973

Attending a formation class of Pinky Valdes is, for me, very much an act of creation. With deep insight, wit and humor, Pinky led all of us in analyzing the dynamics of the characters of the movie, "Phantom of the Opera" last July 25, 2011 and Aug. 22, 2011. At the same time she explained how this movie was actually a reflection of our own Human Condition, leading to our discovery and acceptance of our shadow side (including our inner hurts and traumas) as a way of healing our personas.

During the class, while reflecting and sharing our views on the movie especially as it applied to us individually, I realized that this was no random passive process. I had to choose to deliberately and bravely step out and create this new and whole person that I am meant to be, a child of God (also referred to as the True Self.) I do this thru Centering Prayer, a spiritual practice and anchor in my life that appears to be passive, but is in fact a dynamic process allowing my True Self to come to the fore while diminishing my False Self (i.e., who I think I am because of what I have, what I do, what others think of me.)

SPIRITUALITY AND A MEANINGFUL LIFE
by Josie Valderrama

To answer Pinky’s question during our Formation Class: “What is a meaningful life for me?” Life has meaning for me as long as I am able to contribute some love, truth, goodness, kindness, beauty.

As to my understanding of Spirituality, for me it is the personal experience of my own will, desire and longing to give and receive love, goodness, kindness. To know truth and to create beauty, order and balance. It is the experience of my personal “brokenness” and “woundedness” (terms of Jean Vanier & Henri Nouwen). It embodies the “Phantom” (as Pinky explained the character from the film), Persona and Shadow, and the small self (Jung). All of these that I lay bare and with awe, before the Presence of a Source of Love, Life, Light within, all around, yet beyond my knowing and understanding. It is my life-long journey/struggle/prayer to remain attentive, attuned and responsive to that Source who we call God and who Jesus taught us to call our "ABBA" - Father.

“Growing on the Way to Infinity”, the topic of Pinky’s 2-part Formation Talk is excellent! She speaks of the spiritual journey with such depth and wisdom yet the way she presents it is simple and grounded in our very human experience.

SOUNDS TRUE OFFERING
From Spirituality and Practice Website - Sept. 2011

Our October E-Courses plus three Offerings from Sounds True

Dear Friends,

In October we will be looking at the meaning of our lives from two lenses. One is the lens of Jungian psychology as James Hollis takes us through a process of living the questions; exploring myth and meaning, eros and desire; developing intimate relationships; accepting ambiguity; coping with loss; exploring creativity and foolish passions; expressing gratitude; and more.

The second lens is contemplative practice, specifically the practice of discernment. Our friends at Contemplative Outreach will help us deepen our ability to listen to God through prayer and LectioDivina and then allow the love of God to motivate our actions and manifest through us.

Please read the brief descriptions of these programs below and go to the sign-up pages for more information.
We appreciate your support of our e-courses and online retreats.

Salaam, Shalom, Shanti, Peace

Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat

October 10 - November 4, 2011

"We discover what it means to truly pray 'not my will, but Thy will.' " ‒ Contemplative Outreach

Contemplative Discernment is a one-month retreat on contemplative discernment, a process of opening and listening to receive clues about who we are in God. We focus on ever-deepening levels of relationship and trust in God and purifying our motivations. This retreat will be led by Gail Fitzpatrick-Hopler and Fr. Carl Arico, who with Fr. Thomas Keating are the principal servant-leaders of Contemplative Outreach, a worldwide contemplative movement. The retreat consists of email lessons, mini-practices, audio recordings, a live teleconference, guidance in LectioDivina using 1 Corinthians 13, and community sharing in an online Practice Circle.

"VENI, SANCTE SPIRITUS"

by Tess Colayco

To prepare for the solemnity of Pentecost, St. John Bosco Parish held a triduum from June 9 to June 11, 2011 which was highlighted by a Holy Hour and Benediction after the 6 PM Mass. On the last day of the triduum, a Taize prayer service was held with the youth of the Parish leading the faithful in chanting Taize meditative music.

In-charge of the Taize prayer service was Welly Cuna, head of the Don Bosco Youth Ministry. During the vigil service, in between chanting the beautiful songs (i.e., Veni, Sancte Spiritus, Nada Te Turbe, Ubi Caritas, Magnificat, O Lord, hear my prayer, etc.) the Gospel was read as well as the Encyclical of Pope John Paul ll, “Lord and Giver of Life”.

The encyclical was a most appropriate reading, emphasizing the fact that “in the Holy Spirit, the intimate life of the Triune God becomes totally gift, an exchange of mutual love between the divine Persons... It is the Holy Spirit who is the personal expression of this self-giving, of this being-love. He is Person-Love. He is Person-Gift.”

Interspersed with the chanting, were several periods of silence, giving the faithful time for reflection and just be-ing with the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. This year’s Pentecost Holy Hour vigil was officiated by Fr. Ting Miciano, parish priest. It is Fr. Ting’s hope that there will be more opportunities for holding Taize prayer service in the parish, giving everyone an opportunity to experience this beautiful contemplative prayer form and liturgical worship.

Starting on Aug. 5, First Friday, and every First Friday thereafter, St. John Bosco Parish will hold a Holy Hour and vigil till midnight, after the 6 PM Mass. A Taize prayer service will be part of the liturgical adoration and worship. Everyone is invited.

LECTIO DIVINA WORKSHOP

by Pixie Cuisia

The John Paul ll Catechetics Institute sponsored a Lectio Divina workshop at Don Bosco Technical School, Makati, on May 20, 2011. Twenty six catechists from all over the Philippines, among them six nuns, took the workshop.

One of the teachings emphasized was the fact that words in Scripture “speak” to the practitioner so directly and concretely that it “connects” to the person’s present life situation. Then he is able to choose an appropriate response and live out the message in his life. Only then does the Word become “alive”.

The workshop, the third in three consecutive years requested by the sponsoring group, the John Paul 11 Catechetics Institute, was facilitated by the author who also gave the two previous workshops.

Contemplative Outreach Phil. accepts requests for both Centering Prayer and Lectio Divina workshops, from parish groups or faith communities. Please call the Secretariat at 501-5231 or email cop.secretariat@gmail.com (c/o Rachelle Rule).

"WHAT NEXT?"

by Billie Trinidad

Last June 27, 2011, COP members from different Centering Prayer Groups (CPG) trooped to Santuario de San Antonio in Forbes Park, Makati, for their monthly formation class. With her excellent credentials in the fields of Education, as well as in Spirituality and Theology, Pinky Valdez gave an inspiring and most enlightening talk about the human/spiritual journey.

“Act 2 or What Next?”, the main focus in Pinky’s talk was about us getting to a turning point in our lives where we need to review our motivations, decide what attitudes to have, evaluate our priorities in life, and also allow our image of God to grow.

It was good to be reminded that as we walk our journey, God is ACTING too. We can look at the different events and situations that happen to us as turning points opening the doors for God to enter into our lives. Our role is to be open and aware of God’s abiding presence at all times regardless of whether the event is great or not. Most important of all is our commitment to consent to God moment to moment.

EMBRACED BY GOD

by Conchitina S. Bernardo

How often have I written, “Lord please free me from suffering.” I do not like looking at crucifixes. I never meditate on the Crucifixion. I have never understood why Christ had to suffer dreadfully. I’m afraid of pain. I am a coward.

Our formation class last month given by Pinky (Valdez) made me see another side of the cross. (While living in Spain for many years, I had the good fortune of visiting Avila where I saw a Crucifixion drawing by St. John of the Cross. It was unusual in that Christ’s figure was presented as having been taken from above. This same sketch was shown in the video presentation by Pinky.)

In our formation class, Pinky’s powerful presentation made a profound impact on me. I found myself pondering on the mystery of God’s infinite and unconditional love for mankind, a love that led His Beloved Son to embrace the cross. As always when I get these graced moments, these spiritual insights, I am moved to tears, tears of comfort and utter gratefulness for God’s tremendous love for me, for all of humanity.

Pinky explained so beautifully how it’s possible to see the cross from God the Father’s perspective. It was a view that was so new to me. (The Crucifixion sketch by St. John of the Cross expresses this dimension very effectively.) When the Father looked down and saw His son hanging on the cross, it was as if He was saying, “Son, You have expressed the love I have for mankind, the overwhelming passion in my heart for all my people.” How often have we told someone we cherish, I love you so much I could die!”

Now I am seeing the Crucifixion with new eyes. Now I shall embrace the cross courageously, peacefully. No more will I fear it, instead I will revel in this divine love that is so perfect and so unconditional.

It was a most transformative morning, that morning of our formation class when Pinky showed us a whole new vista regarding the Crucifixion. I am brought to silence.

I find myself at the center where Love dwells. Deo gratias!

REFLECTIONS ON FORMATION TALK

From Bro. John Viterbo

“Be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matt 5:48). We keep trying to be perfect but because of our woundedness and traumas that are part and parcel of life, we struggle until we die. It’s only when we accept our human condition and brokenness that we are then able to accept ourselves. In the process we are also led to understand, accept and love others.

Christ taught us to love all people, regardless of who they are, their ethnicity, their preferences, their way of life. It is not for us to judge them but the invitation and challenge is for us to love them. The bottom line is, we are all brothers and sisters - children of one and the same God who is our Father.

From Dolly Galang

“Our life is like a play with 2 acts. First act refers to the early stages in our life when we’re busy earning a living, mothering and caring for our families. Act 2 is when we focus on our spirituality and our inner life with God. When we “shed the petals”, (i.e., lose what previously gave us a sense of security such as our accomplishments, material possessions, prestige, health, etc.), we come face to face with our inner selves.

We are now being invited by God to pay more attention to the things that really matter. We begin to see our true self that is made in the image and likeness of God. It changes our whole perspective on life.

From Millete T. Ocampo

“Yes, I can embrace a “powerless” God because He is a God of infinite love . His love is greater than His helplessness. Jesus/God stooped to being completely “powerless” on the Cross to show us the extent of his humility and willingness to share in our humanity, and offer a perfect sacrifice.

From Chuchi Segovia

Retiring from my long and active professional life could have led to a disheartening experience of uselessness and lack of meaning in life. But “losing” fame, power and control has instead become a joy for me. Amazing grace indeed!

Can I accept a God of “powerlessness”, one who is “helpless” (as He was on the Cross?) Ordinarily I would never associate God with suffering, loneliness and abandonment. But that is my ordinary human view of God. Ultimately there’s more to it than what I can see with my own limited mind.

God the Father looking down with utmost love on His crucified Son is so touching.

From Jhulie Teh

Pinky’s talk made me reflect on my life. Approaching my retirement from work, I am wondering what to do next. What’s Act 11 going to be like? Pinky’s analogy of the worm eating the apple down to its core and comparing that with what happens to us when we let our ego consume us, made a big impact on me.

The challenge is for me to shed off my false self (i.e., ego) little by little and allow my true self (i.e., the person God meant me to be) to rise.

From Dorothy Yu

Can I embrace a “powerless God”? All my life I have looked at God as someone who is almighty, one for whom nothing is impossible. All He has to do is say “Let it be done” and it is done. The idea of a “powerless God”, someone who is no longer able to answer my every wish and prayer because He is “helpless” (as when He was on the Cross), makes me ponder. Would I still embrace Him?

CPG HEADS HOLD SECOND QUARTER MEETING

by Dedette Gamboa

Last July 2, 2011, the heads of the various Centering Prayer Groups (CPG) of Contemplative Outreach Philippines (COP) held their 2nd Quarter Meeting at the COP Secretariat at St.John Bosco Parish, Makati.

Each of the CPG Heads was asked to report on the status of their group in terms of attendance, meeting format, formation requirements and the support being given to members in their spiritual journey.

The group was also updated and asked to encourage their members to attend and invite people to the workshops, retreats and formation talks lined up for the year. They were also informed about the mobile formation program that Charit Montalban would bring to CPG’s that find it difficult to attend the formation talks held at Santuario de San Antonio in Makati every last Monday of the month.

The meeting which was facilitated by the author ended with the inspiring and touching sharings by Vicky Wieneke and Beth Ngo on the fruits of Centering Prayer in their lives.

IN THE SILENCE GOD SPOKE

by Charit Montalban

The annual intensive retreat is always much awaited; this year it was also badly needed. Not only did 2011 start with an incredibly hectic quarter, a couple of days before the retreat, a very disturbing problem erupted. So it was that I arrived in Tagaytay very hurt, full of anger, and totally clueless as to how the problem will be resolved. But deep in my heart I knew I was in the right place to listen to God. And He did speak, right from the start and every single day.

Day 1, Sunday: God’s timing is perfect, His preparation absolutely thorough. I was prepped at morning Mass even before I left for the retreat . The First Reading was from Isaiah 55 :11 “So shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; It shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it”. I heard this as a promise indicating where I will find Him waiting for me.

The Gospel, the Sower and the Seed (Mt 13:23), was a reminder that the extended prayer periods of the retreat, 3 hours daily, will be the preparation for my soil (soul?) so that I can receive the seed, hear His words and understand His message.

God wastes no time and minces no words! In the Evening Prayers (Sunday, Wk III) before I retired He was very clear: (1Peter 2:21-23) “Christ suffered for you, and left you an example to have you follow in his footsteps. (Lead on Lord, how very consoling in my moment of pain.) He did no wrong; (Yes Lord, I can truly relate to that one. How terrible it is to be unjustly accused!) no deceit was found in His mouth. (Oops!) When He was insulted, he returned no insult. When he was made to suffer, He did not counter with threats. (Oh no!!! Is this what is being asked of me? C’mon, Lord, give me a break!)

Day 2, Monday: God is quick to re-enforce. I went to bed and woke up with the not-too exciting thought that there is no question that I want to “follow in his footsteps” but can I? His first come-on was in the First Reading (Exodus 1:12) when Pharaoh lamented “the more they (Israelites) were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread” (‘blessed’ the priest said in his homily) (Hmm...ok if you say so.) By communion I was smiling as we sang : “Be not afraid, I go before you always. Come follow me.” (O Lord, how can I NOT?)

Warning: God puts His finger where it really hurts! In the Evening Prayers (Mon Wk III), He showed me where my pain and anger were coming from: (James 4: 11-12) “Do not, my brothers, speak ill of one another. The one who speaks ill of his brother, or judges his brother, is speaking against the law. (Ouch...even if I am only letting off steam?) Who then are you to judge your neighbor?

(Bullseye! But this is a tough one, Lord.)

Day 3 & 4, Tuesday & Wednesday : God sheds light on truths that matter. Encouragement came early with Morning Prayers (Tues Wk III): “Sion sing, break into song! For within you is the Lord with His saving power.” (Ok then, onward, soldier!)

Wednesday Gospel (Mt 11:26) “...such is your gracious will, Father” (Within your will Lord are all the graces I will need to obey and accomplish it; all You need is my consent. This is one “yes” that will not be easy.)

Day 5, Thursday: God is very obvious and direct!: Today’s Gospel Mt 11: “and I will refresh you...learn from Me...for I am meek and humble of heart. Your souls will find rest, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.“ (I get it Lord; the peace I seek is not in the removal of the burden but in bearing the burden Your way – with meekness and humility. And yes, I see that if I am meek and humble, I wouldn’t be so hurt and there won’t be much to be angry about.)

And so in the silence of those five days, God spoke as I knew He would and I am grateful, even though I did not pretty much like some of what He said!

Click here to view photos

POST-INTENSIVE RETREAT NOTES

by Tess Colayco

Twenty-seven COP long-time practitioners of centering prayer attended a Post-Intensive Retreat last July 10-14, 2011 at the St. John Mary Vianney Retreat House in Tagaytay City. Enveloped in an atmosphere of prayer, solitude and silence, the group started each day with the Eucharist, then did several hours of centering prayer as a community morning and afternoon, and ended the day with an Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and Holy Hour, and Lectio Divina.

There was more than sufficient time also to rest and just “be”, as well as take walks and smell the flowers in the vast retreat center grounds and garden. With their vegetable garden awash with lettuce, tarragon, rosemary, peppermint and other herbs, the kitchen staff prepared delicious and nutritious meals and snacks for the retreatants.

A unique feature of the Post-Intensive Retreat was the observance of what is referred to as Grand Silence. Throughout the entire retreat, silence was observed strictly. Neither was there any input (audio, video or actual talk) unlike other Centering Prayer retreats where there is a presentation material for the retreatants’ formation. Even eye contact among the 27 retreatants and staff was discouraged.

During the closure on the last day of the retreat, every one was only too happy to have gone thru the whole experience even if initially some were not sure how they would be able to handle the silence and the many prayer periods. There was an overwhelming awareness of God’s abiding presence and His steadfast love. Also a desire to live daily life thru the contemplative path leading to union with God by “living ordinary life with extraordinary love”, and by committing fully to the spiritual journey.

The retreat was staffed by Anna Marie Llanos, Billie Trinidad, Terly Chikiamco, and Charit Montalban. Thank you so much, ladies! You exemplified contemplative service at its finest going about your chores with utmost love, peace and joy.

A big thank you also to Fr. Renato Naca, Center Director, and Sr. Letlet, in charge of Housekeeping, as well as the kitchen staff of St. John Mary Vianney Retreat Center. They made sure that we would have the perfect atmosphere for a beautiful leisure time with God.

(The following, an explanation of Grand Silence as practiced in a Post-Intensive Retreat is taken from the notes of Billie Trinidad who has been attending both Intensive as well as Post-Intensive retreats at St. Benedict’s Monastery in Snowmass, Co. since the 1990’s.

It was Fr. Thomas Keating himself who emphasized the value of observing Grand Silence at the retreats.)

“Grand Silence is one of the most important aspects of the Post Intensive Retreat. The purpose of this silence is to create a space for conversation with God. Aside from the obvious, Grand Silence means no eye contact even. That is also why it is recommended that retreatants spend time walking around and being aware of God’s presence all around them; allowing their 4 senses: touch, sight, hearing, tasting and feeling to remember God’s presence.”

Fr. Keating says: “In silence we are vibrating to the initial Word of God, not using words but vibrations of our brain or heart to the mysterious sound of the universe.”

FAITH IN THE RISEN CHRIST

by Fr. Ting Miciano, SDB, Parish Priest of St. John Bosco Parish, Makati

“In China, where there are many more Muslims than in Europe and more practicing Catholics than in Italy, and around 100M Buddhists, faith shapes many lives. Wherever you look today, religion matters. Faith motivates. (emphasis mine ‒ author) Understanding faith ‒ its demands, its trends, its structures ‒ can be as important as understanding a nation’s GDP, its business, its resources.”

– Tony Blair

Many people in our modern world will disagree with what I emphasized. I heard a friend comment that for some countries in the very near future, religion would no longer be relevant and would cease to exist. But while there are many more ‘supposedly’ religious people in the world today, religion and faith for them are just nice words and hardly meaningful realities. But for somebody who had recently converted to the Catholic faith, Mr. Blair knows what it means to possess a living faith in a living God. While religion “binds” us to a set of doctrines and ways of conduct, it is faith that is the heart of all religion. And our faith, which is the basis of all beliefs and practices deemed “catholic”, flows from the reality that Christ has risen from the dead! If we truly believe that our Catholic faith is still relevant in our world today, it is only because we believe that Christ is truly risen! That He has conquered sin and death, and everything else connected with them. This simple carpenter from Nazareth turned preacher and healer, who because of His trust and commitment to the Father, endured the tortures and humiliation of Good Friday and was crucified on the cross as a criminal, this Jesus becomes the point of reverence and the object of return for all mankind. Why? He proved that love once promised and persevered in will conquer the greatest fear of man, which is death. It is love, the Father’s love for Jesus that enabled Him to come back to life, so that all who believed in Him may share the same love, that which conquers death. This is what the resurrection of Jesus is all about. This is what Easter proclaims. The love of God in Jesus, through His death and resurrection, becomes the bedrock of our faith today.

– Reprinted from Simbahay, May 2011 issue

EASTER: A CELEBRATION OF NEW LIFE

by Dominicanis

Forty days and a week from Ash Wednesday, on April 24 this year, when penances have been performed, Holy Thursday vigils held and Good Friday processions ended, on a night made rich with symbols and rituals dating to the first centuries of the Church, a people of faith shakes off cloaks of sorrow and atonement and dons new garments – the garments of great joy and festivity.

For it is on Easter Sunday that Christians rejoice – when we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, and not just His Resurrection, but ours – we who exult in the promise of a new life, a birth which comes from a death. In believing that Christ has risen from the dead, we catch a glimpse of our own destiny – as Christians, our existence does not end in death, rather, death is our own birth into an eternal life with Christ.

Both Easter and baptism speak to us of this promise of life after death. Since the days of the first Christians, baptism is seen as a rebirth to a new life, a spiritual resurrection. Hence, it is only fitting that on the night of the Easter Vigil, baptism is the first sacrament that catechumens (persons, usually adults, who prepare for baptism) receive as a sign that they are beginning a new life of belonging to Christ and His body, the Church.

But more than mere symbolism of the Easter Vigil, adult baptism is the challenge for us who are already baptized in Christ, who are members of His Church. It is the challenge of Easter. And that challenge is this – just as Christ was raised to a new life, do we who call ourselves by His Name, live lives renewed? Paul’s letter to the Romans which is among the specially chosen readings of the Easter Vigil is clear on this – “We were indeed buried with Him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life.” (Rom 6:4)

We are an Easter people. And as Christians, this is our struggle, to set our hearts on things not of this world but of the “other-world” – to die to our old selves and renew our lives so we may be resurrected to an even newer life with Christ. This is our birthright. This is our Easter.

To new life! Alleluia! Alleluia!

– Reprinted from Simbahay, May 2011 issue

CALLING AND SERVICE

by Fr. Thomas Keating

We initiate service.

Service is when we are doing something for somebody.
The feeling that we have to do something easily causes resentment.
When it is a service chosen by us, we may feel out of control all day.

God initiates calling.

When God calls us to do something, there is a certain sense of peace
about doing it, even if it takes all day, or whatever time it takes.
When we know we are called, the results are all in God’s hands
and we don’t care what happens.
There is no anxiety, no ‘should’s.’
We trust that everything will be okay.

(From CO Ltd. E-News, April 2011)

TO SERVE AND TO BE SAVED

by Chuchi Daroy

“An obstacle to our service is the desire to be successful...Results are not our business, they are God’s “

– Grace Padilla on “Contemplative Service”

“O my Jesus, You do not give a reward for the successful performance of a work, but for the good will and labour undertaken...Therefore, I am completely at peace, even if all my undertakings and efforts should be thwarted or should come to naught. If I do all that is in my power, the rest is not my business.”

– Sr. Faustina, Diary 952

I believe this is the reality in the contemplative business – to remove our sandals, and barefoot on holy ground, contemplate the burning bush of God’s unquenchable love. To minister without expectations, ready to cast down our human measure, and just embrace the cross of indifference, rejection and hostility. I know this cross all too well, a suffering that brings me the ineffable joy of sharing this path with Christ. And that is enough, no sainted aspirations, no angelic halo, just the short-sighted groping in the dark of a soul trying to wiggle out of an exasperatingly gripping false self.

So much for consent, for when you find yourself chasing the bliss of a comfort zone or anticipating an indulgence, then, you have to turn to Him who pierces your heart with the truth of this love. I find that the more I commit to the spiritual journey of centering prayer and contemplative service, the more I get to know the pain of this constant “Yes.”

There is the pain of knowing who I really am, warts and all. Then there is the pain of seeing the other as the spitting image of myself, with the same warts and all. But I say “Yes” to that too, and look for the same Trinitarian longing in the other. With the clay and the spittle, my eyes see -- one soul at a time, then I see a multitude of souls all in need of God, and I, one among them. Community breaks into the solitude with a call for help, for mercy, for understanding – in the same language, we cry, “Yes, Lord, we need you.”

My consent has grown to enfold this need, to pray with all in my heart, to serve not only our need for God, but more importantly, God’s longing for each and every soul. By myself, it is an impossible task, but with my consent in place, it is up to Him to move mountains of pride and walk over the waters of selfishness to be with us.

Thus, only He makes perfect our service.

 

SHARINGS ON GRACE'S TALK (March 26, 2011)

From Marite Dichoso:

Now being in service makes more sense. I look forward to putting into practice what I have learned from the talk. I can apply this at home, in the office, in my communities.

From Vekee Constantino:

I’ve been trying to put into practice what I heard Grace say re Contemplative Service…’the only intention of one’s heart is to seek the will of God.” Also, “humility is knowing who God is and who you are.”

Reflections on Contemplative Service by Dedette Gamboa

Grace Padilla's talk on Contemplative Service made me reflect on my own service to COP. Is it mere work or is it truly service?

When I was first asked to serve as Convenor in COS (Circle of Service) by Lita Salinas, I remembered my strong hesitancy to consent, viewing the call to serve as a responsibility and a task for which I was not qualified. But because of Lita's persistence, I eventually said yes. However, I felt pressured and stressed to do an excellent job and achieve results as though success depended on my efforts. Such pride!!!

But with Centering Prayer and God's loving mercy, I was made to experience and realize that:

  1. a simple YES is all He needs to accomplish the many wonders He can do if I consent to be His loving instrument. To say NO is to limit His work of molding me to become the person He has intended me to be.

  2. Whenever I consent to do God's work, He will equip me with everything I need to accomplish the work. There is really no need to worry or feel pressured and stressed. God provides. All I need to remember is that mine is the effort, His, the results.

  3. Finally, to experience God's love is to desire to serve. Service is transformational. What started first as work in COS in particular, and COP in general, has turned to loving service to a God who truly loves. Service to COP, currently as head of the Centering Prayer Groups, is indeed a fruit of Centering Prayer. Thanks be to God!

A WEEKEND OF BLESSED SILENCE

by Rachelle Rule

Attending the March 18-20, 2011 Introductory Retreat on Centering Prayer at St. Bridgette’s House of Prayer in Tagaytay was nothing less than answered prayer. I had been working at the COP Secretariat Office for almost 3 years but had not yet experienced a centering prayer retreat.

For three days and two nights, all of us, 19 men and women (a nun even came all the way from Cebu!) were introduced to Fr. Thomas Keating’s Spiritual Journey program of Christian life, growth and transformation. Emphasis was on the practice of centering prayer and lectio divina. The retreat was facilitated by Pixie Cuisia while Anna Marie helped with the practical aspects of the weekend from registration to arranging for confessions, to meals, etc. Billie Trinidad took charge of the audio/video materials used during the retreat. I was touched by the loving way that the 3 servant leaders went about their duties. It was contemplative service in action.

We asked questions, reflected, internalized and prayed as a community as well as by ourselves, in silence. It was a transforming experience. (Coincidentally, March 20th was Transfiguration Sunday!) As I reminisce about the retreat, I can’t help marvelling at how my encounter with the Lord on top of that mountain in Tagaytay, took my practice of Centering Prayer and Lectio to levels far beyond that which I was used to doing.

The peaceful ambiance of the convent helped bring about my being open to the change. The wind was cool and pure, refreshing to breathe. The landscape was lovely to look at, with patches of forest interspersed with pineapple, banana, flower and vegetable gardens. Mornings, we were awakened to the angelic voices of the nuns chanting Lauds (in Gregorian chant). Evenings, we closed our eyes to those same voices chanting Vespers. Mass was solemn. Confessions were heartfelt. The Sisters made every effort to make us feel welcome.

And there was the silence. To a city dweller like me, the silence was at first deafening, even painful, but I also knew that it would be in this very silence that God could be found.

Indeed it was a blessed, blessed silence.... A silence that brought heightened awareness and spiritual healing. The retreat weekend was precious. It was a shot in the arm, recharging and renewing us in our spiritual journey. It was also a reminder as well as an encouragement affirming us in our belief that wherever our life’s journey takes us, we are never alone – God travels with us.

LECTIO DIVINA WORKSHOP

by Lynn Angeles

The Lectors and Commentators Guild of St. John Bosco Parish had a Lectio Divina workshop on April 2, 2011 by Pixie Cuisia of Contemplative Outreach Philippines. Assisting her were Anna Marie Llanos and Vekee Constantino. A total of 45 members of the LCG attended this half-day workshop.

The LCG of St. John Bosco Parish requested this workshop so that we, as lectors, can grow in our spirituality with the practice of Lectio Divina, and also improve our service as lectors and commentators.

It was also timely that the topic for the Lectors’ ongoing formation to be given by the Archdiocese this year is about Verbum Domini, the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Benedict XVI. In this document, Pope Benedict XVI recommended Lectio Divina to be part of every believer’s spiritual life.

The 45 participants found the workshop very enriching. Hopefully, with the regular practice of Lectio Divina, we will grow spiritually and deepen our relationship with God, thereby helping us to become better proclaimers of the Word of God.

WORKSHOP IN STA. ROSA

by Susan Grace Rivera

St. Jerome CPG (Centering Prayer Group) sponsored an Introductory Centering Prayer/Lectio Divina Workshop at St. John Bosco Parish in Sta. Rosa, Laguna. The workshop was given by Pixie Cuisia on 2 Saturdays- April 9 and April 16, 2011. Prior to the workshop, Anna Marie Llanos, head of Retreats and Workshops coordinated with Fr. Rolo Alcasid, SDB, parish priest, for the arrangements. Staffing the workshop were members of the sponsoring CPG – Mae Josol, Levy Mechelena, Sarci Razon, Tessie Lalisan and the author. Vicky Constantino and Jo Gonzales from other CPG’s also volunteered to help out.

We are most grateful to our sponsors, Pilar Quiros of St. John Bosco Parish, PARTHIA-myhomespa, Santarosa Estates 2 Homewners Association, its president Amando Solero, Jr, its residents Mrs Sedano, Belen Magdaraog, Ayala Westgrove’s Perry and Beng Rivera, and Noel Manalo. They were very generous in providing financial assistance for the workshop “gratis et amore”.

The 30 participants were effusive in expressing their joy at having taken the centering prayer/lectio divina workshop. Here are some of their feedback:

From Margarita T. Andrade:

“An unreflected life is not worth living. I will try to convince my friends to attend a similar workshop in the future. We all need it.’

From Wilfredo Repuyan:

“I’ve learned a lot about the ‘Human Condition’. Now I know myself better and the changes that I need to do interiorly in order for me to have a better relationship with God.”

From Priscilla Bandolon Casana:

“ I learned the importance of growing in my faith and trust in God. I commit myself to doing the prayer.”

From Monica Yambao:

“I learned about the formation of the “false self” and how it influences our lives. Also the importance of prayer.”

From Mellisa Mondoy and Liz Dorothy Baes:

“Understanding our ‘emotional programs for happiness’ is important... The challenge is for us to also understand our fellowmen better.”

HASTA LA VISTA, LITA!

by Chuchi Daroy

God’s call to us is more often than not shrouded in mystery. In the latter half of 2010, He beckoned once again to our beloved former director and founder, Lita Salinas, to leave her comfort zone here in the Philippines, and go with her husband, Carlos, who will be taking up the post of Philippine Ambassador to Spain. As enticing as this call to serve country and fellow Filipinos seemed, it was not without its heart-wrenching complications. For one, Lita and Carlos would have to leave their cozy home in Makati, pack up their belongings, bid adieu to faithful staff, and set up a new household in Madrid. Of course, this means learning a foreign language, training new house staff, establishing fresh norms for daily living, and learning to trust in the strange environment of Spain. All so exciting and full of promise for young newlyweds, but for a couple in their senior years who have shared 50 years of settled bliss in the Philippines, this opportunity could bring about both boon and bane. For Lita, the strain of this major, major move tugged incessantly at her equanimity and usual spiritual poise -- coming on the heels of her brother Joey’s demise, and having to face the physical distance that will set her apart from her close-knit loving family.

What’s more -- the Contemplative Outreach Philippines (COP) community would fare no better, bereft of the wise and inspiring presence of director, mentor, spiritual guide and best friend, Lita. When the news about Carlos’ pending appointment broke out in August 2010, it was met with much rejoicing and was seen as an affirmation of the new administration’s sincerity in cleaning up the government. In due time, groping concern for the future of COP without Lita in its stead crept in. As well-trained ministers of faith in prayer, the members and Lita stormed heaven with prayers, in silence and in words, to discern the right new path to persist in the building up of the practice of Centering Prayer and Lectio Divina in the Philippines. For the COP leadership, the Circle of Service (COS), much thought and discussion was shared on how to steer the community towards a firm grounding in Centering Prayer in the absence of its foremost personality. Sadness at the prospect of Lita’s departure prevailed at the COP Christmas Party- cum-despedida on December 4, 2010 and at the farewell dinner given by Doris See and attended by the COS at the Peking Garden restaurant on January 5, 2011. Truly a future without Lita seemed very bleak, and for Lita, it was a formidably daunting prospect.

It was very apropos then, that COP gathered its members for a Recommitment Day on February 5, 2011 (see accompanying article), the “eve” of Lita’s departure for Spain. Those present witnessed the overflowing response and affirmation of a mature commitment to serve and minister to the community’s spiritual formation after a farewell letter from Lita was read by Anna Marie Llanos. Thus heartened by this grace-filled activity, the COS members, the centering prayer group heads, and avid CP practitioners can now look forward to a fruitful and re-energized journey in the contemplative spirit. As for Lita, COP puts its faith in the ever-present Spirit as well as the shrinking globe of the world-wide web, to reach out for her sage advice and inspiring stories anytime.

We will miss you, Lita, but Spain is only a text, an email, a Skype, a Facebook, a breath, a prayer away.

Can’t wait to have our first chat......

CHRISTMAS FELLOWSHIP AND DESPEDIDA FOR LITA

by Tess Colayco

On Dec. 4, 2010 COP had its Christmas Party and Despedida for outgoing Director, Formator, and Friend, Lita Salinas. The day started with the celebration of the Eucharist presided by Fr. Ting Miciano, parish priest of St. John Bosco Parish, assisted by Fr. Manny Domingo. After the Mass at the Blessed Sacrament chapel, the group proceeded to Roozen hall, beautifully decorated with live poinsettias and Christmas glitter balls by Tina Quiros and her sister, Nena Tantoco. Tasked with organizing and overseeing the day’s activities was Tina’s group, Our Lady of the Rosary Centering Prayer Group.

Highlighting the morning’s activities was a talk by Lita during which she shared with the community her journey of consent to the major changes that her new life demanded from her. With her husband, Carlos’ appointment by Pres. Noynoy as the new Ambassador to Spain, Lita had to say yes to the uncertainties as well as the challenges before her. That meant leaving her family and loved ones behind, and relocating to an entirely new environment including furnishing their new residence completely as well as bringing and training a new household staff.

How did she face her daunting task made even more difficult because she had only a few weeks to prepare for the big move to Madrid? Prayers, prayers and more prayers! At one point in her daily conversation with God, Lita asked the Lord if He would promise to be with her and her husband, Carlos, the whole time that they would be away serving their country in a foreign land. She got a clear answer: “Mi amor, te prometo.” (My love, you have my word.) After that reassuring divine promise, Lita could breathe a sigh of relief and her heart was peaceful.

COP’s farewell and thank you gift to Lita for more than 25 years of faithful service and inspiring leadership in the community was a set of exquisite mother of pearl plate liners. In her message on behalf of the grateful members of COP, Carmel Dael said to Lita:

“Our hearts cry as we bid you our goodbyes for now. You have been an exemplar leader, a guiding star to all of us in our individual journeys. We shall miss your presence in our lives as well as your hugs that made us feel loved and totally accepted. We wish you well, dear Lita. Our loss shall be a gain for Spain. Godspeed in this yet another mission in your life.

Con mucho carino y abrazos fuertes,
COP Phils.”

Another special gift that the community gave Lita was a prayer grid wherein we signed up to pray for her and Carlos every single day of their foreign assignment until they come home. Included in the prayers is their family whom they left behind.

With hearts overflowing with feelings of joy and gratitude, but also sadness over Lita’s departure from COP, the members took turns posing for pictures with la Sra. Isabelita T. Salinas, wife of the new Philippine Ambassador to Spain. Farewell, dear Lita, our cherished mentor, inspiration and beloved friend. Vaya con Dios!

Miren Sun and Carmel Dael emceed the rest of the program including some parlor games that added to the happy camaraderie of the day. Then a hearty lunch followed arranged by Violet de Borja and Ping Ong. Everybody enjoyed the fellowship that followed, re-connecting and bantering with one another. The beautiful Christmas table arrangements were given away to lucky “winners” of the informal raffle adding to the gaiety and warm holiday spirit of the season.

Hasta la vista, Lita! We love you and we’ll miss you but we know that you will do your country proud and that you will continue your faithful and loving service to God and neighbor wherever you are. Be blessed, be a blessing to each and every person you meet in Spain, in Europe, in the whole world!

LITA'S FAREWELL MESSAGE

(Lita’s Farewell Message which was read by Anna Marie Llanos during our COP Recommitment Day on Feb. 5, 2011)

Feb 4, 2011

Dearest Anna, I have a farewell message for the COP community for tomorrow's recommitment day. Maybe you can read it for me.

RECOMMITMENT DAY

by Rachelle Rule

Contemplative Outreach, Phil. (COP) celebrated its annual Recommitment Day last February 5, 2011. The event began with a Contemplative Eucharistic Celebration at the Blessed Sacrament Chapel at St. John Bosco Parish. It was presided by Monsignor Atilano Oracion of the Diocese of Lucena, himself a faithful practitioner of centering prayer for the past 15 years. A contemplative Mass was celebrated in an atmosphere of silence and with minimal movements on the part of the Mass attendees. After Holy Communion, the COP members did twenty minutes of Centering Prayer, a prayer of quiet and complete openness to God’s presence and action in one’s being.

Before the final blessing, those present recited the Recommitment Prayer, renewing their pledge to live the contemplative dimension of the Gospel, to be faithful to their daily practice of centering prayer, to be open to serving others, and to reaffirm their wholehearted support for COP.

After the Mass, the COP members went to Roozen Hall for a short program and some refreshments. Ms. Grace Padilla, one of the two ladies from Santuario de San Antonio Parish, Forbes Park who brought Centering Prayer to the Philippines in the 1980s gave a 30 minute inspirational talk on “Contemplative Service”.

Grace emphasized that when we do “contemplative service”, it is the God in us serving the God in others. She differentiated it from plain “work” wherein our motivation for serving may be coming from the ego and therefore, is self-centered.

The nine committee heads making up the Circle of Service (COS), the group that oversees COP’s activities, duties and functions, were then introduced to the rest of the members. They took turns explaining the functions of their committees and also recruiting volunteers.

A touching farewell letter to the COP members from Ms. Lita Salinas, its former Director, and COP co-founder was read by Anna Marie Llanos. Lita was leaving for Madrid with her husband’s appointment as the new Philippine Ambassador to Spain. Through the years, she had taught centering prayer and lectio divina, and conducted COP workshops and retreats on the Spiritual Journey program of Christian life, growth and transformation by Fr. Thomas Keating, O.C.S.O., the founder of Contemplative Outreach, Ltd., based in the United States.

For 2011, the thrust of COP is the spiritual formation of its members as they try to live the contemplative dimension of the Gospel, aided by their daily practice of centering prayer and lectio divina. Towards this end, the Formation Circle, headed by Billie Trinidad has lined up a monthly program of inspirational talks by different speakers.

In the Recommitment Prayer, the COP members prayed:

“We humbly ask You, Father, to consecrate our response to Your invitation to ‘live our ordinary life with extraordinary love’ through our daily practice of Centering Prayer and our service to our neighbor. All that You ask of us is the gift of our being, our ready availability, and our constant consent to Your Will.

We ask for the gift of fidelity, for everyone to remain faithful to the Prayer and Lectio Divina, for members of support groups to continue edifying and inspiring each other through their presence in the weekly gathering, for the Service Team to consistently carry out their responsibilities in the spread and nurturance of Centering Prayer.

We ask for the gift of generosity so that everyone can give premium time to You, Lord, in prayer and in service to others, so that members of support Groups can be open, sensitive and genuine in ministering to each other, so that the Service Team can continue their mission undeterred by difficulties and harassment.

We ask for the gift of humility to accept and to surrender each moment of our life, to walk with all persons You put in our path through the Outreach, to acknowledge that the simplest work done out of love brings us closer to You.

Heavenly Father, we thank You for bringing us to this beautiful graced moment of recommitment. Sanctify and strengthen our heart's intention to consent ever more deeply to the promptings of Your Holy Spirit. All these we ask in the name of Your Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, Who together with Our Lady, the perfect contemplative, walks this journey with us every step of the way. Amen.”

CONTEMPLATIVE PRAYER AND SERVICE - MEDITATION ON THE TALK OF GRACE PADILLA

by Conchitina S. Bernardo

At a retreat three years ago, I was asked to meditate a whole day on the Gospel story of the paralytic who was lowered thru a hole on the roof to the ground floor of a house, for healing by Jesus. I imagined myself as the paralytic and my retreat director told me: “Jesus wants you to get up, take your mat and walk. Will you?”

At the end of the day, to my chagrin and astonishment, I found myself not acting on it. I was too comfortable not doing anything and instead having everything done for me. No, I did not want to walk. It took three years to revisit that scene and ask myself again: “Do you want to walk?”

That Saturday morning during our Recommitment, the words resounded in my ears and nudged a comfortable and complacent place within me. When I heard “THE GOD IN US SERVING THE GOD IN OTHERS”, an apt description of “contemplative service”, I was deeply touched and finally after a breather, I realized it spoke to me. Moreover, the message had a caveat - it must come from the True Self rather than from the hidden agenda of the False Self. I had to move out of my comfort zone to be able to translate into love, by way of service to my neighbor, the love outpoured to me by God. It was my duty and responsibility.

So I venture to find expression of this love in Service, doing Centering Prayer twice daily where in the quiet encounter between my God of Love and I, there would be a clear and definite signal that this service is a reflection of the love of God, the life- giving power of the universe. We also begin to discover God within ourselves, God in others, God in all things. Love begets love.

My answer now is “Yes I will walk, just guide my path in your service and in love”

Just as you think you have hurdled an obstacle in this journey, you find a new one. When an exasperated husband asks me: “You have been in this journey for so long. When will it end?” Knowingly, I tell him, “Never.”

REFLECTIONS ON OUR RECOMMITMENT DAY

by Maritess Pineda

It’s been a year since we made our Recommitment. I realized how important this activity is, for it reminds us of what our responsibilities are as members of COP. It also reminds me that in order for me to be changed internally, I must be faithful in doing Centering Prayer regularly. This is the kind of prayer that, if we are faithful to it, people around us will notice changes in our way of life for the better. We may be kinder, more generous and charitable. All of this is the working of the Holy Spirit in us because we have allowed Her to transform us.

Grace Padilla who talked on “Contemplative Service”, was a powerful witness to the fruits of the Prayer. She was so joyful and peaceful, so appreciative of God’s creation. She was able to enlighten us on the importance of being able to accept whatever comes our way, how we can be more positive in looking at things, and how we can be flexible in responding to the needs of others. She spoke about purity of intention in whatever kind of service we are inspired to do. All this is possible only because of God’s grace. On our own, we can do nothing.

During our Recommitment, I noticed the enthusiastic and active participation of the COP members in the day’s activities. Their warm camaraderie can only lead to a better organization whose only goal, in the end, is to help the members have a deeper relationship with the Lord, and serve in the Kingdom of God thru sharing the Prayer.

In conclusion, I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit in our gathering. May we grow to be loving, joyful and peace-loving men and women, living the Word of God in all aspects of our life. Only then can we say that our ordinary daily lives bear the fruits of Centering Prayer.

SHARINGS ON RECOMMITMENT DAY

“Upon mentioning the word ‘service’, what entered my mind was actually the Outreach activities that my friends and I have been doing for quite sometime now. During the talk of Grace Padilla, she mentioned that service to mankind is something that one does regardless of whether he/she is rich or poor. ‘Contemplative Service is pure love in action, and is prompted by the Holy Spirit.’

I started to reflect and internalize these words, hoping to apply it in my work and in my day to day activities. By learning to follow the prompting of the Spirit within me, I can find my work more meaningful each day. I believe that my work can be fulfilling not necessarily because of the financial benefits but more because I do it as Contemplative Service.

- Dorothy Yu
 

“Contemplative service is a kind of service that is done out of love for God. It’s beyond reason or any obligation. ..The experience of joy and love within.”

- Beth Ngo

“Contemplative service flows from the deepest core of our being which is love. It is a manifestation of an interior call, a prompting from the Spirit to activate our gifts and talents for the benefit of family…”

These words from Grace Padilla’s inspirational talk during our Recommitment Day struck me. We usually think of service in a big way, such as when we join organizations to help others, raise funds for feeding projects, medical missions, and educational programs . But never service within our family as expressions of love. How often do we have a kind word, a ready ear, a confirmation of our love by saying “I love you” to our families? This love we have for our spouses, children, grandchildren, brothers and sisters, etc. prompts us to be present to them. This is the form of service I choose for myself today.

- Marge A. Tambunting

During the Contemplative Mass, the Gospel of Mark 6:30-34 that was read by “Monsi” Atilano was so appropriate to our celebration of our Recommitment Day. Jesus told His apostles: “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.”

There are many things in my life where I need to be re-energized in order to be a fruitful branch in the vine of COP. The same goes with my family life. And so Grace Padilla’s talk on “Contemplative Service” made me pause, ponder and reflect on what I can do to live the contemplative dimension of the Gospel. It is thru my daily practice of Centering Prayer and Lectio Divina that I am able “to live ordinary life with extraordinary love." Indeed it is important to “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” It starts with be-ing….then the doing follows."

- Angie Mactal

DISCOVERING THE "CONTEMPLATIVE DIMENSION"

by Charit Montalban

Every time I conduct a Centering Prayer Workshop, part of the orientation is this statement: “Contemplative Outreach is a spiritual network of small faith communities committed to living the contemplative dimension of the Gospel in everyday life through the practice of Centering Prayer”. More than a decade ago, as a new presenter I would always keep my fingers crossed hoping no one would ask what the “contemplative dimension of the Gospel” meant because I did not know either. Well, the question was never asked. I guess the first session of the first day is a bit too early to be asking questions. And for many years, it remained an elusive but nonetheless, impressive phrase I used. It was never explained in the many books I read and, protecting an illusory image, I never asked.

One day, as I was preparing for a workshop, the meaning of “contemplative dimension” finally dawned on me. Though not completely sure of its accuracy, I was happy with my “meaning”, especially when I realized I have accessed that dimension without realizing it. For me, the contemplative dimension simply means that which is beyond the literal meaning of the Gospel, where one sees/ hears beyond the printed/ spoken words of Scriptures. This dimension becomes available when the word of God is approached with an open heart, with the spiritual senses alert so that one understands more. The ability to enter into interior silence acquired through the practice of Centering Prayer was my key to this “contemplative dimension” and praying the bible in the ancient tradition of Lectio Divina provided the opportunity to expand this dimension.

Even as I was mulling over this topic for this sharing, I realized that once discovered, the ‘contemplative dimension’ remains open and accessible, such that daily life can be lived in this dimension as well. For me, this simply means God’s abiding presence becoming part of my every day reality. It is a presence that I am not always aware of but which gives me the courage to accept, the strength to obey, the patience to wait – whatever it is that the moment needs.

I must have been in that dimension when I went through a dark period, clueless and helpless, but without fear; or moving on with a damaged relationship, unable to trust yet demanding no guarantees, simply holding on to my trust in God. More recently, I went through years of frustrating and humbling inability to be and do what in my head I knew I should. After my denial, rationalization and justification ran their course, I began to see God’s hand more clearly; and that was enough to stop my struggling so I could “flow” as I was being “stewed” in the process, assured that God was in charge. Sure enough, one day I just noticed I was slowly beginning to be and do the right thing – without conscious planning or much effort. God’s time has indeed come.

I thank God for the gift of life, which I have made more complicated and difficult, so I thank Him even more for the gift of the contemplative dimension. It has given the dark, the difficult, the painful aspects of my life more meaning and value.

HEAVEN ON EARTH

by Vissia Hernandez

February 22, 2011

It is my brother Jong’s birthday today. As I am settling down to do Centering Prayer (CP), my second session for the day, I am thinking of this morning’s services at St. Mary the Virgin Episcopal Church, here in Sagada, Mountain Province.

In his homily, the Anglican pastor drew a parallel between the widow Ruth in the 1st reading who was adopted by Judah, the tribe of Naomi, her mother-in-law, and Gaudan (Jong’s Igorot name) who was adopted as honorary son by the people of Sagada for his pro-bono services to the community as resident theater director, cultural events coordinator, museum curator, occasional village petition writer, teacher, friend, brother.

If I were in my parish in Malate the 1st reading would be from the 1st letter of St. Peter - "Be good shepherds in God’s flock, not for profit, but eagerly." I should be celebrating the feast of the Chair of St. Peter, the institution of the Catholic Church. Jong used to tell me that many Christian churches share the same lectionary, hence the same readings on some days, but understandably, not today.

So, even the psalms are different! Which one should I read on this special day to start off my CP? Should I go for St Mary’s Psalm 120 - "I have lifted my eyes to the mountain, from there, help will come to me" which is perfect for where I am or Our Lady of Remedies’ Psalm 23 which is perfect for why I am here?

Since I started CP almost three years ago, I have done it in several places: my bedroom, my office cube, at the COP office with my weekly Centering Prayer group, in an island retreat house by Laguna de Bay, in several chapels and churches but never in as breathtaking a location as this one. I am perched on a ledge overlooking Echo Valley. A canopy of pine tree tops covers the deep and wide valley below and separates my narrow ledge from the towering limestone cliffs across, where I could barely make out what seems to be weatherworn, wooden ref magnets stuck on limestone walls - the famous hanging coffins of Sagada.

Chilly winds whirl out of the valley but are tempered by the late afternoon sun; instead pleasant breezes waft around my ledge. Jong calls this time of the day, the golden hour, the first and last hour of sunlight in a day, sought by cinematographers and advertising “creatives” like him to craft films in soft and warm hues. The valley is bathed in gold. How can it be more heavenly than this?

There IS one way. I begin my Centering Prayer. Psalm 23 wins; “The Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want. . .” Today, I choose sacred breath over sacred word – taking one pine-scented breath after another as I begin my “descent”.

I surface about half an hour later. The gold has faded from the valley as I end the Lord’s Prayer and open my eyes. I am feeling a bit disoriented, almost lethargic as I often do after CP. I remember Pixie’s imagery during my introduction to CP. Like Mary of Bethany, I have been sitting quietly at the foot of the Lord with no other thoughts, actions, feelings or intentions beyond merely being with our Father in heaven.

Heaven . . . for the past months I have drawn comfort and healing in knowing that as I sit with my Father, I am as close to heaven as I can possibly be, worshipping quietly with all the angels, saints and loved ones who have gone.

I hear the tourists coming up from the valley below. Earlier, I showed them the footpath to go down. How thankful and excited they were to get close-up photos of the hanging coffins and how thankful I was to finally have the ledge to myself so I can do my CP and lectio in peace and quiet. As though on cue, my phone rings, Jong’s friends are inviting us for his birthday dinner. Sunset comes early in the mountains; it will be dark soon. Lectio will have to wait until later. I retrace my steps through the narrow mountain trail but not before letting the valley resonate with layered echoes, “Happy Birthday, Jong!”

The shadows are longer and the mist is rising as I hurry down to the village, past the village graveyard overgrown with wild ferns and Bontoc lilies, white and satiny as the thoughtful armloads that Jong brought home for Uying’s wedding years ago. I am looking forward to dinner; his friends said they will be serving my brother’s favorites. I wonder - will Jong be having pinikpikan and tapuy in heaven tonight?

pinikpikan - a traditional dish from the mountains of the Cordillera region. It is prepared by beating a live chicken with a stick before cooking

tapuy - a fermented rice wine originating from Batad (a place in the Banaue Rice Terraces), Ifugao

HONEYMOON WITH THE LORD

by Tess Colayco

“The retreat was like a honeymoon with the Lord”.

“I experienced God. . I look forward to more such retreats.”

“After 20 years of doing CP, I feel re-charged and affirmed...I know I can give love abundantly.”

“Thank you, guys...Thank You, God for this experience. It’s like I went into another dimension inside me. So enriching.”

“I so enjoyed the silence, the fresh air, the angelic chanting of the Brigettine semi-contemplative nuns in this retreat house.”

“Getting back to a role where I could be of service during this retreat has been a very nice experience.”

“Very revealing and healing. Refreshing too…Like going to a spa and detoxifying myself spiritually.”

“This retreat showed me what’s really important.”

“I kept hearing: ‘Do not worry...let go.’“

“I experienced the love of God as expressed by the nuns in this retreat house.”

These were some of the observations shared by the 20 men and women at the end of the Intensive Retreat held last Feb. 25 to 27, 2011 at St. Bridget’s Retreat Center in Tagaytay. For three days, in an atmosphere of silence, solitude and prayer, the participants immersed themselves in centering prayer, lectio divina, and private reflection, their intention being to deepen their relationship with the Lord. Anna Marie Llanos, head of Workshops and Retreats, and Billie Trinidad, head of Formation Circle and assisted by Minda Villamayor, “led” the group during the retreat. There was no retreat speaker, the only input being a one-hour video of Fr. Thomas Keating or Fr. Carl Arico on each day of the retreat.

St. Bridget’s Retreat House was an oasis of joy and serenity especially with the nuns’ beautiful singing of the Liturgy of the Hours, as well as during the celebration of the Eucharist every day. The spacious and lush garden around the retreat house was also perfect for quiet walks, giving us the opportunity to ponder and reflect on Fr. Keating’s words of life expressed in the video presentation. I was especially struck by the following:

“Listening is the key word in contemplation...We do lectio divina not to learn something but to be open to what the Spirit is saying.”

“Human health consists in a constant awareness of God’s presence.”

“Our intention is more important than the words we use when praying. Consent to the divine presence is the heart and soul of centering prayer.”

“Divine therapy heals the deepest wounds in our psyche.. . The rest that we experience in centering prayer loosens the hard pan of our unconscious and so emotional junk is unloaded.”

By the time the retreat ended, the whole group had bonded very well. This despite the fact that it was a silent retreat and a good number of the participants didn’t really know each other that well. It is a truism that silence can be a very powerful form of communication. Doing several periods of centering prayer each day and being affirmed of our innate goodness as children of God, also helped remove relationship barriers, part of our coping mechanism in facing daily life.

Truly those three days of deep encounter with the Divine Therapist was an experience of inner healing, purification and conversion. The next retreat to look forward to is the 5-Day Post-Intensive Retreat in July.

“Joy is the most infallible sign of the presence of God.” (Teilhard de Chardin). Our hearts are brimming with joy and gratefulness to the Lord for the gift of our Intensive Retreat, affording us a taste of heaven on earth. Thanks be to God!

DAMES AND KNIGHTS IN COP

by Chickie Ferraren

Three members of Contemplative Outreach, Phil. namely, Marge Tambunting, Nancy Tambunting and Bobby Novenario, were asked to join two different lay Orders of the Church, and signified their commitment to live a life of Christian virtue and charity.

On November 17, 2010, Marge and her husband, Jesus Tambunting were invested as Dame and Knight, respectively of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem. On April 16, 2008, Nancy and her husband, Antonio “Jun” Tambunting, Jr. were invested Dame and Knight, respectively of the same Order. On February 2, 2011, Bobby became a Knight of the Order of Malta.

Though all three have been very active in the parish and other charitable institutions, the enormity of the duties and responsibilities of their respective orders gave them pause, and their consent to the membership came after much prayer and reflection.

Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of JerusalemThe origins of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem dates back to the first Crusade. Its leader Godfrey de Bouillon founded the Order of Canons of the Holy Sepulcher.

“The tangible objective of the Order, according to Knight Commander Jesus Tambunting is to really help maintain the religious sites in Jerusalem and to make sure its management is kept by Catholics.”

Nancy writes: “Becoming a Knight/Dame of the Holy Sepulchre means witnessing the Kingdom of Christ, and spreading the Church as well as working for charity with the same profound spirit of faith and love.”

Why Bishop Chito Tagle describes the Order’s objective as a charism, that is, a calling to keep the faith alive and to spread the love of Christ, may be explained by a very Filipino reality. Filipinos working abroad identify themselves by their places of origin. They are mindful that these places are their roots – a place that formed them and now informs their lives.

So it is this calling – the call to remember that Jesus lived and died in Jerusalem – a call to be rooted in a God who has a human history – This is what Nancy and Marge responded to when they consented to be invested as Dames of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem in the Philippines.

The Order of Malta has a very interesting history. The order of Malta is distinctively both a religious and sovereign order. “Originally, the threats to pilgrims from their enemies soon led the early members of the Order to protect the faith and the faithful and to defend them against external attacks.” Today this charism is fulfilled in the Order’s charitable works for the sick, the needy and refugees without distinction of religion, race, origin and age. Admission to the Order of Malta simply expands the many outreach programs wherein Bobby is involved.

To Nancy, Marge and Bobby, may you be blessed abundantly by the God of Abundance as you live the charism of your calling, and witness to God’s abiding presence in this world thru lives of profound faith and love.

THE GIFT OF CENTERING PRAYER

by Tina Quiros

The greatest gift of Centering Prayer to me is the gift of contemplation. When I look back at my life, I realize that I could not be the person I am today if I had not accepted and responded to receiving that gift many years ago. Treasuring my friendship with Him in silence and prayer has only inspired me to say “Yes” to His invitation to “taste that silence” everyday.

TO FR. THOMAS, WITH LOVE

by Billie Trinidad

Every year Contemplative Outreach pray-ers from all over the world get together and fill up a prayer grid for Father Thomas Keating’s birthday, from Mar 7, 12:01 AM all the way to Mar 7, 12:00 PM, to literally cover him with prayers! All hours were finally covered and after a few moments of panic and anxiety, the grid was sent to him on time as he turned 88, thanks to the efforts of Mercedes Scopetta, Bonnie Shimizu, Carol DiMarcello and Father Charlie.

This is Father Keating's reply:

Dear Billie,

I have received the extraordinary prayer grid just in time for my birthday.

I am overwhelmed by so much generosity. Please find a way to thank the various "pray-ers" on my behalf.

In Christ's love,

Thomas Keating

And, on behalf of everyone, the reply:

Dear Father Thomas,

I think you have found the most beautiful way to thank us by your reply. It is just wonderful to hear from you, and always heartwarming to know you are well!

And in our case, how best to express our gratitude to you? By gifting you back with the beautiful prayer you have gifted us with!

Always be well, Father. Together with those prayers, is all the love and gratitude that we can muster. We hope that you are safe and that the sacred valley resounded and reverberated with the silence of our prayer! We love you!

Blessings and love from Contemplative Outreach of: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, Nicaragua, Colombia, Singapore, the UK, the US and of course, the Philippines!

Billie

AN UNFORGETTABLE WEEKEND

by Christopher G. Suguitan

Below is a letter written by Mr. Christopher G. Suguitan, the organizer of the CP Introductory Workshop held at Holy Family Parish in San Pedro Laguna on Feb. 19-Feb. 20, 2011.

Feb. 23, 2011

Dear Sis. Anna Marie,

Greetings in Christ!

Once again I thank you for the seminar you gave us. I can now sleep well. I am less worried. I am more conscious in controlling my thoughts before it wanders into anger and anxiety. I am more at PEACE. My mother-in-law who attended your seminar is now more patient with her apos.

Kuya Ramil told me that he and his family will practice centering prayer and Lectio-Divina. I too started CP although still with great difficulty. I told my wife about the seminar and she's also interested to know the prayers. And I'm sure that majority of other attendees experienced and are experiencing positive results.

Just give us a breather and we'll plan and contact you soon on how our group shall proceed. Definitely we'll need more coaching from you and it's good to know that Ate Dedette (Gamboa) is willing to help us. By the way would you share with me her cell phone no.? Thank you!

Also, everyone who attended loved your sharing. Nobody suspected that you had cancer. Your good spirit radiates... Thank you sister Anna.

Before I end, in behalf of our group, let me extend our apologies for many things-- for not being punctual, for not being organized enough, for the food we served, and for our other shortcomings. We are sorry and at the same time are thankful for your patience and understanding.

If I recall it right, Abraham in his old age was visited by two angels, thereafter his life was never the same again. Same are the stories of many characters in the Bible including Mama Mary.

I guess 3 angels visited our poor village last weekend. Our lives will never be the same again.*

May the Good Lord keep you always in his tight embrace.

Regards,

CHRISTOPHER G. SUGUITAN

*The 3 angels were Anna Marie Llanos, Pixie Cuisia and Dedette Gamboa who served during the workshop. Pixie was assisted by Dedette in doing the presentation, while Anna coordinated the whole workshop as Head of Retreats and Workshops in the Circle of Service (COS).

Feb. 19 – Feb 20, 2011 – Introductory Workshop on CP – San Pedro, Laguna
Facilitator: Pixie Cuisia and Dedette Gamboa assisted by Anna Marie Llanos, head of Retreats and Workshops
Sponsored by: Holy Family Parish

20TH ANNIVERSARY OF CONTEMPLATIVE OUTREACH PHIL.

by Tess Colayco

The invite simply said: “Let us Rejoice and Reunite on Contemplative Outreach Philippines’ 20th Anniversary”. And like homing pigeons, some 120 men and women went “Home” on March 13, 2010, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their faith community. “Home” was COP. As some of the members said:

“COP is like being at home where people speak the same language; are happy to be doing the same things like centering prayer and lectio divina; and share the ups and downs of life while we go through the spiritual journey.” (Nancy Tambunting)

“What a joy to be back after many years of doing centering prayer solo. I have come home to be with my kin sharing and supporting one another thru life’s travails, life’s little mercies, and life’s challenges as we all journey towards one Center.” (Carmel Dael).

The venue for the simple but beautiful anniversary of COP was the North Forbes Pavilion in North Forbes Park, Makati. From 4:PM to 7:00 PM the spacious hall was a scene of happy faces as people greeted and bonded with each other, sharing many stories about the past 20 years in their spiritual journey thru centering prayer. Those who joined COP mid-way or more recently had their own stories to tell that were just as heartwarming.

“Today reminds me of 20 years of working on a relationship with the Lord...sometimes joyful, sometimes not...but always fraught with hope and gratitude...and love. (Billie Trinidad).

“COP as my faith community for 14 years has taught me to live in a still and quiet space at the center of my being. Centering prayer gives me respite from the busyness of the marketplace that is my ordinary daily life.” (Angie Mactal)

With his Eminence, Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales as the main celebrant, the highlight of the milestone event was the Holy Mass during which the 13-member “Hangad” Choir sang beautiful liturgical songs. Five priests concelebrated the Eucharist – Rev. Fr. Ruben Tanseco, SJ., Rev. Fr. Romeo Intengan, S.J. (both of whom are members of COP’s Advisory Board); Fr. Joel Sulse, OFM, Fr. Manny Domingo, SDB and our own “Monsi” Msgr. Atiliano Oracion who has been with COP from the very beginning.

In his beautiful homily on the Gospel of the Prodigal Son, His Eminence, Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales spoke about the mystery of goodness. Saying that goodness is not always easy to recognize, he stressed that basically goodness means humility, compassion and unconditional love. These qualities were exemplified by the father of the two brothers in the Gospel who the Cardinal said also had some measure of goodness in them.

At the end of the Mass, the COP members said their Renewal Prayer recommitting themselves “to renew our sincere desire to live the contemplative dimension of the Gospel and to reiterate our full support for Contemplative Outreach Philippines.” At the same time, they prayed for fidelity to their daily practice of centering prayer and reach out in service to others. Lastly they asked for the gifts of humility and surrender– “to accept...each moment of our lives...and to acknowledge that the simplest work done out of love brings us closer to You, Lord.”

Then it was time to watch the video presentation of the COP Story. The 15-minute video touched on the significant events in the 20-year history of COP starting with the visits of the late Fr. Basil Pennington, and Fr. Thomas Keating in the late ‘80’s. Adding a personal dimension to the video was the portion where many members shared about the impact of centering prayer in their life’s journey. Fruits of the prayer included spiritual inner dispositions like a growing capacity to “wait on God”, “be-ing” rather than “do-ing”, acceptance, trust, surrender, awareness, living in the present moment, and discipline.

In her Welcome Message before the merienda cena, Lita Salinas, COP President and Adviser reminded the gathering that it was thru God’s sheer gifts of benevolent love and mercy that everyone had experienced in varying degrees the work of transforming grace. And though it is “inconspicuous and slow, change has taken place in no uncertain terms.” Cardinal Rosales for his part said in his message that “twenty years of the gift of prayer has enriched the life of every member.” Rev. Fr. Romeo Intengan, S.J., affirmed the group’s fidelity to contemplative prayer saying: “By practicing and propagating centering prayer, we help recall ourselves and others to a deep consciousness and love of God, and in this way we help others and ourselves live lives of clear direction, discipline, depth, meaning and happiness through friendship and service.”

During the light dinner, a COP member and professional theater person, Christine Carlos sang two songs for the group: “The Journey” and “Wind Beneath My Wings”. A Trivia Game was played towards the end of the affair, eliciting much laughter and fun among the audience. The winners were rewarded with centering prayer books written by Fr. Keating. Some lingered on and stayed a while even after the goodbyes were said and the last picture was taken. Indeed everyone was happy and grateful for COP’s 20th Birthday including our special guests for the celebration, the COP Board of Advisers.

What a beautiful 20th Anniversary Celebration and what a joy to see how our community of love has grown so much to what it is today. Congrats to all for answering this call to Silence, Solitude and Service...“ (Josie Tordesillas)

“Our celebration was a meaningful one with the Mass and the renewal.” (Jean Sia)

“Enjoyed the company of our co-pilgrims in the centering prayer journey… The Cardinal’s homily was so inspiring!...Being a member of COP is a blessing.” (Baby Dee, Maya Santiano & Corrie Dichoso)

“It has been a prayerful affair overflowing with friendship.” (Chuchi Daroy)

"I'm grateful for the gift of community." (Faith Faburada)

In his message to the group, His Excellency Bishop Luis Antonio Tagle, one of the members of the COP Advisory Board, wrote the following:

“Twenty years of existence and mission gives us reason to celebrate God.. Our outreach is a fruit and response to God’s reaching out to us. Contemplation is responding in love to the One who loves us. As I congratulate you, I also pray that you may be renewed in zeal for mission and serenity in God’s presence.”

Rev. Fr. Ruben Tanseco, S.J., also a member of the COP Advisory Board exhorted the community to continue with the ministry of spreading the good news of centering prayer and the contemplative dimension of the Gospel in God’s Kingdom here on earth. He said:

“Alongside the ruthless influence of a technological culture that pushes for speed and more speed, quick results, and the worship of money and what money can buy, your ministry of contemporary mysticism and the centrality of God in our lives is most urgently needed.”

From the International Coordinator on the Circle of Service of Contemplative Outreach Ltd. in the U.S., the Rev. John David Muyskens also sent a message of congratulations, and wished the community a wonderful celebration. He also shared the happy news that currently the global CO family has a presence in well over 40 countries around the world. The Philippines is one of the earliest chapters in the group.

Fr. Thomas Keating, O.C.S.O., founder of Contemplative Outreach Ltd and one of the Trappist monks who began the centering prayer movement sent his own warm greetings. He wrote:

“As I rejoice with you on the 20th anniversary of Contemplative Outreach Phil., I honor the witness of prayer, dedication, and selflessness that your anniversary represents...I pray for the servant leadership team that is forming to continue the work of the Spirit in bringing the love of God into the world.”  (Please refer to the 20th Anniversary Issue for Fr. Keating's whole message.)

The cover of the COP 20th Anniversary souvenir magazine says: “Twenty Years of Centering Prayer…Twenty years of Being United in Silence, Solitude and Service…One in Christ.”...Thanks be to God! May God bless the next twenty years and beyond as we continue our journey of faith, hope and love, and consent more and more to His presence and action in our lives.
 _____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Kudos to the Overall Chairperson of the COP 20th Anniversary Celebration, Nancy Tambunting, and the different committee heads and their assistants: Terly Chikiamco, Dedette Gamboa,and Doris Sy (with Ping Ong). Also to the Video Committee headed by our “volunteer” professional videographer, Mr. Salvador Fajardo, assisted by Billie Trinidad and Minda Villamayor. Thanks also to Chuchi Daroy for the Souvenir Magazine, and to Lita Salinas for her guidance and support. Lastly to Rachelle Rule at the Secretariat for multi tasking wherever and whenever she was needed.

TO VIEW PHOTOS (click here)

20TH ANNIVERSARY ISSUE (click here)

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