THE GRACE OF THE
“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
AND LECTIO DIVINA WORKSHOPS
June 1 Introduction to
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
May 18 Introduction to
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
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
"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
"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,
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
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
April 29 Introduction to
Oasis of Prayer, Silang
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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!
“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
ST. JOHN BOSCO
PARISH CHILDREN AND YOUTH HONOR THE BLESSED MOTHER
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 Seńora 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
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
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
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
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.”
“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
“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?
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
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!
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.
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.
To your environment.
To your spirit.
To your goals.
To your life.
What will you dedicate yourself to?
FR. THOMAS KEATING!
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.
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:
was one of the best I have attended.”
“The workshop taught me how to pray and communicate with God, anytime,
“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.”)
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
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!”
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
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
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
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
May the grace of silence be upon all of us always. Have a holy and
blessed Lenten season.
THE GIFT OF SILENCE
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
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
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
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
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
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!”
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
Click here to view the COP Christmas Fellowship 2012 video
prepared and uploaded by Rachelle Rule.
CHRISTMAS MESSAGE 2012
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
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
SJB PARISH LAUNCHES THE YEAR OF FAITH
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
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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
KNOW, CELEBRATE, LIVE OUR
In the Year of Faith, we
are encouraged to know our Faith, celebrate our Faith
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
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
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
SILENCE AND WORD: PATH OF
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
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
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
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
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.
click here or picture of Arch. "Chito" to view more photos.
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
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
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
CP RETREAT IN TAGAYTAY
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
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
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
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 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
“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
RECOLLECTION FOR ANG MULING
PAGKABUHAY NG ATING PANGINOON PARISH (AMPAPP)
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
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
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
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
Click here to view
COP Write-up in
Simbahay, monthly Newsletter of St. John Bosco Parish
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,
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.
THE "PACEM RETREAT"
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
It is our hope that more parish organizations will take advantage of
requesting COP to share with them the beautiful prayer practice of
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
FR. MARTIN O'LOGHLEN RE-VISITS MANILA
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
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
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
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
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
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
CP INTRODUCTORY WORKSHOP AT ROOZEN HALL
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”.
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
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.
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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
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.
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
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>
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
Thanks so much for being on the lists and practicing Centering Prayer.
Father Thomas sends his prayers and blessings to each one of you.
CPG HEADS QUARTERLY
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
To visit the site:
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
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
by Rachelle Rule
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
Namaste – the God in me greets the God in you.
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
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
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
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
‒ 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
‒ Rita Go (St. Raphael
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
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
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,
‒ Minda Villamayor (San Antonio CPG, Makati)
BLESSING OF GRACE
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:
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
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
"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
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
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.
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
Our Lady of Lourdes CPG
Tues, 7:30 PM
Dominican Sisters Convent
149 Cordillera St., Q.C.
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,
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
email@example.com (c/o Rachelle Rule).
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
“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.
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
“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.
“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
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
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)
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
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
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
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
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
– Reprinted from Simbahay, May 2011 issue
EASTER: A CELEBRATION OF NEW
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
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
To new life! Alleluia! Alleluia!
– Reprinted from Simbahay, May 2011 issue
CALLING AND SERVICE
by Fr. Thomas
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
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
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
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
But with Centering Prayer and God's loving mercy, I was made to
experience and realize that:
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
We will miss you, Lita,
but Spain is only a text, an email, a Skype, a Facebook, a breath, a
Can’t wait to have our
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,
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.
by Rachelle Rule
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.”
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
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
- Angie Mactal
DISCOVERING THE "CONTEMPLATIVE
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
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
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,
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
- a traditional dish from the mountains of the Cordillera region. It
is prepared by beating a live chicken with a stick before cooking
- 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
“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
“Very revealing and
healing. Refreshing too…Like going to a spa and detoxifying myself
“This retreat showed me
what’s really important.”
“I kept hearing: ‘Do not
“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
“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.
The 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
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
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”
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
This is Father Keating's
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
In Christ's love,
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
AN UNFORGETTABLE WEEKEND
by Christopher G.
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
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
May the Good Lord keep you
always in his tight embrace.
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.”
“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.
“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
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
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
“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
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
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
20TH ANNIVERSARY ISSUE
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