NEWS AND VIEWS

by Tess Colayco

The COP virtual Prayer Room is open! Every Tuesday morning and Friday evening the virtual adoration chapel has been a place of silence and stillness, reflection and prayer, where people go for an hour just be-ing with the God of silence, compassion and love. It is open to both COP members as well as anybody who wishes to spend time with the Lord, in silent communion.

In particular, the intentions for having the Prayer Room are the following:

• For the healing of the world
• For an end to the pandemic
• For the coming elections
• For prayer requests

“For God alone my soul in silence waits.” (Ps 62:1) …

“Be still and know that I am God.” (Ps 46:10)

On Sept. 16, Lita Salinas gave a talk to the Centering Prayer group heads at their 3rd Quarter Meeting. It was a deepening formation talk on centering prayer and Lectio Divina. The following points were highlighted by Lita:

• Persevere in the prayer for its only in one’s fidelity to it that personal transformation will happen with God’s grace
• Consent to be transformed
• The spiritual journey is a “camino”, a journey with God
• In Lectio Divina, one reads Scripture, reflects on it and lives the Word in one’s ordinary daily life. Without obedience to God, lectio is meaningless.

A workshop on The Human Condition was held on Sept. 17 to Sept. 18, facilitated by Chickie Ferraren and Billie Trinidad, 2 commissioned presenters of Contemplative Outreach. It was attended by 45 people. At the end of the workshop, Terly Chikiamco and Pixie Cuisia shared with the group, the fruits of centering prayer in their lives. Terly spoke about the practice of the “active prayer sentence” that help her in dealing with afflictive emotions, while Pixie shared her experience of “changing the values of the unconscious” as a way of dismantling the false self system.

Beth Nasal was moderator, aided by the technical team of Cris Rosenthal and Sam Leuterio.

Fr. Tito Caluag was presider at COP’s monthly Mass for Sept. Before the Mass, he gave an inspiring talk on what it means to be a contemplative person. “Listening to the voice within is very important in one’s spiritual journey. Be mindful of God’s call to us while living our ordinary daily lives.”

Mary is the perfect example of a contemplative person. She always listened to God’s messages to her, sought understanding when she was not sure what they meant, discerned, and followed God’s will. Her mission was to be the mother of God and she lived up to this task with complete obedience.

“To be a contemplative is to be attentive and present to each moment as it unfolds.” Reverence is important in responding to the leadings of the Holy Spirit. Devotion moves us to action. “To contemplate reality is to contemplate God. “

 For COP’s Mass and talk in August, Fr. “Junjun” Borres, S.J., brought up the following thought-provoking points:

• Prayer is lifting our mind and heart to God. It is a relationship with God “who is obsessed with us”. It is to think, and live His presence. God initiates and sustains us in our prayer.
•  Go to God as we really are. We are acceptable to God whether we are “holy” or not. He loves us unconditionally.
•  By the fruits of our prayer, we will know whether or not our prayer is authentic. Some fruits of genuine prayer: being more loving, forgiving, non-judgmental; being less biased/prejudiced, less proud and arrogant, etc.
•  To be “holy” is to walk with God despite our flaws, and trust in His abiding presence in our lives.
•  There ought to be no aspect in our life that is outside of prayer.

An Introduction to Centering Prayer was held on Aug. 18 to Aug. 19. This was done in Tagalog. Presenter was Charit Montalban, head of Retreats and Workshops committee in CCOS (Coordinating Circle of Service). The 2-day workshop was attended by 17 participants. Sharing with the group about the fruits of centering prayer in their lives, was Joyce Adan. She mentioned several positive changes that she experienced thru her fidelity in the prayer such as gentleness, peace, and patience.

In the COL (Contemplative Outreach Ltd.) quarterly publication, The Voice, COP was featured showing its different activities, workshops, and plans.

A workshop on the Human Condition was held on June 8 - June 9, 2021 attended by 30 participants. It was facilitated by
Charit Montalban. Sharing the fruits of centering prayer in her life was Beth Ngo.

The topics presented were the following:

• God’s original blueprint for man whom He made in His image and likeness.
• Our natural instinctual needs for security/survival, affection/esteem, power/control
• Man’s difficulty in finding happiness due to his sense of alienation/separation from God
• The True Self as the self created in the image and likeness of God.
• The False Self as the injured and compensatory self.
• Dismantling the False Self system thru:

* the active prayer sentence
* guard of the heart
* letting go of the emotional programs for happiness

Healing and transformation are the result of our spiritual practices of centering prayer and lectio divina. At its best, we progress from a state of resentful resignation to one of joyful acceptance of God’s will.

For our monthly Mass and spiritual talk for June, Fr. Pat Villasanta, SDB, celebrated the Eucharist, and Dr. Carmen “Pinky” Valdes gave a talk on “Viktor Frankl – Man’s Ultimate Search for Meaning”. It was attended by 94 COP members, and friends. The following are some of the profound quotes that Dr. Valdes gave for our reflection.

• “He who has a “why” to live for can bear with almost any “how”. (Viktor Frankl)
• “If there is meaning in life at all, then there must be meaning in suffering.” (Viktor Frankl)
• Happiness cannot be pursued. It is a by-product.
• Spirituality is an experience, an ongoing practice.
• The meaning of life differs from one person to another moment to moment.
• “Dance with me, God, at every moment in my life”.
• The ego has to die. … What is to give life, must endure the burning.
• The more you love, the more you are open to suffering, pain and total vulnerability.
• God consciousness is being one with God.
• “Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation.” (Viktor Frankl)

COP invited Dr. “Pinky” Valdes on July 10, 2021, to give another talk as a follow-up to the previous month’s talk on man’s ultimate search for meaning , based on the book by Viktor Frankl. The morning’s activities started with a Mass celebrated by Fr. Dave Buenaventura, SDB.

In her talk, “Where the Ego and its Shadow Hide”, Dr. Valdes explained some of the characteristics of the Ego.
Among them was the fact that the Ego has several layers in our consciousness, going all the way down to the unconscious level. Here we are not aware of the materials (i.e., our woundedness, traumas, negative experiences, fears, sadness, coping mechanisms, emotional programs for happiness, etc.) that contribute to our False Self.

The Ego is not bad in itself. We need it to survive especially in childhood. It only becomes problematic when it controls the way we think and act. Then it needs to be moderated. The False Self, referred to by Dr. Valdes, as the “scaffolding” that we have, is not our True Self. It is an illusory self but we erroneously think that it is who we are.

It takes courage and humility to see and admit our woundedness and flaws buried in the unconscious. But we must acknowledge it, accept it. Denying it will only prolong our bondage to our Ego. As Dr. Valdes said: We must kiss our woundedness.

In our life journey, we meet all kinds of experiences, some of which leave us in a state of bewilderment, confusion, and terror. How do we respond to these life-shaking situations? Rainer Maria Rilke, a German poet gives us an answer:

“…have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to love everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then someday far into the future, you will gradually without even noticing it, live your way to the answers.”

One of the noteworthy fruits of Centering Prayer is the involvement of its members in worthwhile causes. Invariably, as one embarks on the spiritual journey, there arises a need to reach out and help others. It were as if the normal trajectory of a prayer life is first, to develop a relationship with God - “You shall love God with your whole heart, with your whole soul and with your whole being. “Then, inevitably the prayer begins to manifest its fruits in the care and compassion of neighbor … “and love your neighbor as yourself.”

Here are examples among the members of Contemplative Outreach Philippines. To name just a few:

Betty Florendo is Involved in the work of training, educating and supporting mentally challenged young boys and girls . The organization which is located in Antipolo is called ARKO, tagalog for Arc. It is part of the international organization called L’Arche, founded by the late Jean Vanier. Its center is in Trosly, France. Aside from her responsibilities in ARKO, Betty also serves in the Coordinating Circle of Service in COP.

Len Hizon is very active in her church’s Parish Education and Formation Committee while at the same time working for the COP Coordinating Circle of Service as the head of the technical team.

Ada Mabilangan helps in Father Willy’s feeding program. This program has fed thousands of families affected by the pandemic, especially children.

Drawn to the elderly and infirm, Conchitina Bernardo visits the San Lorenzo Ruiz home for the elderly, where the old and poor who are abandoned by their families, are taken care of by a community of nuns.

Charit Montalban teaches various formations classes as well as workshops in Centering Prayer and the spiritual journey. She does this in English and Tagalog. Her additional responsibility is being the head of Retreats and Workshops committee in the Coordinating Circle of Service. A special ministry of Charit is her work with the inmates at the Correctional Institute for Women where she has been teaching centering prayer for the past 15 years.

Margarita Tambunting, Billie Trinidad, and Chita Castillo are involved in feeding programs and community pantries in Tondo and Malibay.

Doris See, heads the 2 Centering Prayer Support Groups in her Parish. She also works for the Scholarship Committee of Santuario de San Antonio as well as in the Coordinating Circle of Service of Contemplative Outreach Philippines.

Gilda Reyes, works in an NGO that coordinates classes and activities for the elderly - Sunshine Place. This is a recreation and wellnesss center for seniors. She is also the Convenor of the Coordinating Circle of Service.

Dedette Gamboa works with much dedication coordinating the different Centering Prayers Groups of COP. At present there are 25 such groups.

Len Hizon, Sam Leuterio, Cris Rosenthal, Dette Armada, and Faye Corcuera are all professional women. When not working, they dedicate their time and their talent as the technical team in charge of moderating and managing the technical requirements of every COP zoom event.

Polly Garilao teaches classes on the spiritual journey, to seminarians as well as nuns who are preparing for the religious life.

Terly Chikiamco is a volunteer at St. Luke’s hospital, being a member of the Women’s Board.. She also works as Finance committee head of CCOS.

Tess Colayco serves by working on our website, and is in charge of the COP Secretariat

CO ANNUAL CONFERENCE

This year’s annual conference was held on Sept. 16-19 at Denver, Colorado, USA. The theme was “The Global Embrace: Our Widening Reach, Our Deepening Connection”. Both in-person and zoom attendance were made available, thus enabling the international chapters to join the conference. The Philippines’ participation was in the form of a “video postcard” sent to the Conference, and a reading (in the vernacular) of one of the “7 Stages of Centering Prayer”. The gospel was read in Tagalog by Charit Montalban.

The conference included:

• Prayer : seven sessions of Centering Prayer
• Companionship: one on one, and small group sharing
• Conversation: learning how the Centering Prayer community is expanding and our contribution to the raising of consciousness of the planet
• Collaboration: Spirit-led listening to widen our reach within and beyond the Contemplative Outreach community
• Celebration: in profound gratitude for the gift of prayer and community

The video postcard from COP (Contemplative Outreach Phil.) had the following message: “From the country of 7,103 islands, we in Contemplative Outreach Philippines embrace all of you in celebrating our deepening connection and unity. We are one with you in spirit during this year’s Annual Conference! Mabuhay!”

Below is the video with Robert “Bobbit” Suntay providing the beautiful underwater seascape.

It was a wonderful experience attending the Conference even if only virtually. We were able to see and interact with the Conference attendees, some of whom we knew both personally, or by correspondence, such as Fr. Carl Arico, Marie Howard, Pat Johnson, Gail Fitzpatrick Hopler, Terri Murphy, Pamela Begeman, Elizabeth Norton Amor, etc.

The break-out groups provided a kind of “up close and personal” conversation with different people enabling us to feel being more connected with each other. As for the Conference talks and sharings, they were inspiring, enlightening, and informative.

Clearly, our worldwide community has lived up to the theme of this year’s Conference about being connected with each other in ever deepening ways, and embracing the gift of centering prayer and the spiritual journey as taught to us by Fr. Thomas Keating. We are motivated more than ever to share Fr. Thomas’ legacy to as many people and countries as possible in a spirit of love and contemplative service. May the Spirit bless us as we embrace the world.

COP EVENTS FOR 2021

Jan. 9

Mass and Talk by Fr. "Jett" Villarin, SJ, "Journey to Transformation and Oneness"

Jan. 16

Mass and Talk by Fr. William Meninger, "Contemplative Prayer"

Feb. 13

Mass and Talk by Fr. Louie David, SJ, "Jesus Beckons in the Gospel of Mark"

Feb. 25

CPG Heads 1st Quarterly Meeting

Mar. 6

“United in Prayer Day”

Mar. 13

Annual Recommitment Day

COP 30th Anniversary Mass/Talk

Mar. 20

Memorial Mass for Fr. William (Tribute by Fr. Carl Arico and Mr. Dan Dobbins)

April 4

Mass and Talk by Fr. “Soy” Hernando – “Cultivating and Contemplative Heart”

May 8

Mass and Talk by Fr. William Abbott – “Reflections on the Paschal Mysteries”

June 12

”Talk by Dra. Pinky Valdes : "Viktor Frankj's Search for Meaning: What is the Ultimate Meaning of our Lives"; and Mass by Fr. Pat Villasanta,SDB

June 25

CPG Heads 2nd Quarterly Meeting

July 10

Mass by Fr. David Buenaventura, SDB; and Talk by Dra. Pinky Valdes: "Where the Ego and it's Shadow Hide"

Aug 14

Talk and Mass by Fr. Junjun Borres, SJ : "Lord Teach Us How To Pray: Struggles and Difficulties in Prayer"

Sep 7

CPG Heads 3rd Quarterly Meeting

Sep 11

Talk and Mass with Fr. Tito Caluag

Oct 9

Mass and Talk by Fr. Jordy Orbe, SJ

Oct 25

Fr. Keating's Memorial Mass

Study of Theological Principles - 1st Part

Oct 30

Study of Theological Principles - 2nd Part

Nov 13

Mass and Talk by Fr. Junjun Borres, SJ

Nov 25

COP 31st Anniversary

Dec 11

Christmas Fellowship

TBA

CPG Heads 4th Quarterly Meeting


 

BACK TO TOP