(lifted without permission from Companion, Shepherd's Voice)
Give from the bottom of your heart, not from the top of your purse. Anon.
He who receives a benefit should never forget it; he who bestows should never remember it. Pierre Charron
Should one's spirituality be exclusively private?
I've read somewhere that our conversations with God is private, but it is also public. Indeed, if you believe in the communion of saints (devils) being privy to everything that's happening down here (up here), then you also believe that nothing ever happens in this world without being closely observed, if not, scrutinized, by this heavenly (or hellish) host. In this regard, "there's no such thing as right to privacy" holds true.
Love is God, God is love
He who is filled with love is filled with God himself. St. Augustine
Nothing is so strong as gentleness (and meekness); nothing so gentle as real strength. - Francois of Sales
Tenderness and kindness are not signs of weakness and despair but manifestations of strength and resolution. - Kahhlil Gibran.
Read: John Keating's Strength under Control. (Word of Joy Foundation.)
Before: "To see is to believe."
After: "Believe and you will see."
True liberality is the spontaneous expression of love. Geoffrey B. Wilson
An audience with Sr. Teresing Castillo
Coming face to face with Sister 'Teresing' (Teresita?) Castillo was a weird experience.
Sr. Teresing is, of course, the postulant from Our Lady of Mt. Carmel's convent in Lipa City, Batangas, who claims to have received messages from the Blessed Virgin Mary 11 years ago. [Note below the date this piece was written.]
The visionary is now well-known for her accounts of the apparition - our local version of Fatima and Lourdes - especially the shower of rose petals, events which the Catholic Church is still in the process of investigating. A book has been published about these apparitions, authored by media personality and Marian devotee June Keithley.
After the recitation of the rosary in our Community, Sr. Teresing led a short prayer and immediately delivered a talk about the motherhood of Mary, especially during the last days of her Son and after His death. She talked quite lengthily on the role of Mary in man's salvation: "Through her loving 'yes', we became Christians." "She's a mother whose son is God. She destroyed enmity between heaven and earth. From her, we received His blood and God received His humanity, with the same bonds of mother-child intimacy." (Sidebar: Do you realize that the flesh of Jesus was biologically the flesh of Mary?)
"There was nothing external to distinguish her from other mothers," Sr. Teresing noted, as she spoke about Mary's seemingly mundane routine of baking, fetching water, washing clothes, etc. She recounted Mary's hardship in her seven-year exile in Egypt, the loss of Jesus - probably her bitter-most experience, the consolation of which even Jesus seemed to intentionally withdrew - and Mary at the crucifixion, where she was denied to even touch her son's hands.
"She would have loved to go to the tomb with Him herself but she chose to stay put to continue His mission," Sr. Teresing went on, noting that the Blessed Mother's humility did not hinder her from her Christian zeal.
"She understands the life of Divine Grace." "She's not just the mother of Jesus, she's not just an intercessor. She is our mother." "She endured her sufferings with quiet dignity and forbearance." "Let's make her our model and inspiration."
"As St. Grignon de Monfort put it, 'He has not God for his father who has not Mary for his mother.'"
Sr. Teresing proceeded to talk on Mary's virtues, foremost of which is humility, "the foundation of all other virtues."
The third part of her talk dwelled on Mary's message to her which were no different from those of visionaries from other known apparitions: the enemies surrounding the Church, the most grievous sin of abortion, the importance of parents as models to their children ("The language at home should be love."), and the need for daily Mass (if possible), recitation of the rosary, and frequent communion. Sr. Teresing reportedly asked the Blessed Mother about the significance of the rosary and the Blessed Mother, she claimed, answered, "Little one, the rosary is my favorite devotion because it covers the life of my Son."
"The rosary is like a little Bible," Sr. Teresing added.
The following are the Blessed Mother's specific messages on specific dates.
2/2/19__: "Let peace begin with me." "Remove (?) all resentment, bitterness, revenge..."
"I am with you in your struggles."
5/5: "Be converted now, not tomorrow"
"Jesus is a Redeemer."
5/24: "Calamities will not mark the end (of the world), but are merely an awakening."
"Repent and be converted." "Pray for conversion." "You do the praying, I'll do the pleading."
12/__/1997: "Chastisement is already here but people continue to be bad. It is given(?) little by little so people will be converted."
The visionary from Lipa also stressed the importance of prayer - which she likened to "conversing with God"....."from the bottom of our heart" - and offering up little daily sacrifices. "It's the act of offering that merits a lot," she explained.
Here are the Virgin Mary's messages to the Philippines, according to Sr. Teresing:
3/25/1994: "I am the mother of hope and tenderness."
"I love the Philippines because most of you love me." "You call on me whenever you are suffering."
"This country is(?) created for something great."
Sr. Teresing recounted her conversation with another visionary from Ireland, Cristina Gallagher, when the latter came for a visit to the Philippines:
"From her seat inside the plane, Cristina saw the Philippines to be covered with a blue mantle."
"The triumph of the Immaculate Heart will start from the Philippines," Sr. Teresing quoted Cristina Gallagher as saying, then noted the EDSA miracle as a case in point.
Again, the BVM: "I did not die on the cross but I suffered in silence and tears."
Sr. Teresing capped her talk with a very simple advice. "Be sure to smile always when you meet people - especially people whom you dislike." (The latter comment received knowing smiles from the audience.) "A smile disarms your anger for that person," she explained.
Sr. Teresing struck everyone who saw her as simple, humble and gentle, yet with a clear and assertive voice. But what is quite extraordinary about her is that she looked a couple of decades younger than her 72 years!
An open forum and a short mass healing followed, as well as an "anointing of holy oil." The mass healing consisted of a plain recitation of a prayer from one of the estampitas she had distributed at the start of the assembly.
In the open forum, one Community member asked the visionary to describe the appearance of the Blessed Mother. "Oh, she's very beautiful!" she gushed. "Even the most beautiful Miss Universe cannot compare with Mama Mary's beauty!"
Sr. Teresing also informed the crowd that she was no longer receiving messages, the last message being in 1997. But she said the Blessed Mother may manifest her presence by way of rose scents. She also said that her relationship with the Church "is now okay, thanks be to God." (She had experienced visitations from the devil and persecution from the princes of the church, no less, getting banished from the convent, getting hospitalized for heart attacks, and so on.)
The audience also learned that the statue of Our Lady, Mediatrix of All Grace in the Lipa City shrine was the third try of the sculptor because Sr. Teresing was not satisfied with the first ones - but that the statue somehow "corrected by itself."
(This event was made possible by AYP, a Community member who's also a Marian devotee.)
Rewards (both earthly and heavenly)
"You don't serve the Lord for the reward, but serving the Lord is not without reward."
A little history of Catholic charismatic covenanted (and/or transparochial) communities
I caught Philstar journalist Jarius Bondoc on Ch. 13 last week interviewing Fr. Bel San Luis and Couples for Christ leader Anselle Beluso. Yes, that former flamboyantly gay TV host, who's now a walking miracle, I should say, if there ever was one. Unfortunately I failed to catch the guests' answer. (I was also disappointed that Bondoc did not pursue the question of the Church's stand on homosexuality per se, which, I think, is quite erroneous to some extent, viz., how can someone with a sexual orientation he or she didn't choose be sinning about it?)
Anyway, let's tackle here the genesis of the renewal movement in the Catholic fold. Texts in quotations are taken from The Charismatic Renewal in the Archdiocese of Manila by Des Omac, Companion, Vol. 9, No. 3, 2001, Shepherd’s Voice Publications, Inc. Quezon City, Philippines. [Intrusive side comments in brackets mine.]
“The Catholic Charismatic Renewal Movement is one of many recent ecclesial experiences after the Second Vatican Council together with others like the Focolare, the Curcillo, the Marriage Encounter and many more inspired by the Spirit to refresh spiritual life. [These movements, it has been noted, are actually not new; they are reminiscent of the many ecclesial movements through the ages, such as the one started by the fathers of the Benedictine, Franciscan and other religious orders.] All these involved something old, that is, going back basically to the challenge of the Gospel but packaging it in new wrappings though distinctive, fresh approaches – the same challenge of spreading the Good News of salvation but in ways more appropriate to the needs of the times. It is this freshness, this newness that characterizes the charismatic activity of the Spirit in the church.
“The Catholic Charismatic Renewal, “Catholic” to distinguish it from charismatic activities of other church denominations, has acquired large and devoted followings worldwide. Its momentum started during one weekend retreat in February 1967, with a group of about 20 students and faculty members at the Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. This event was marked by an outpouring of charismatic gifts like the apostolic experience recorded in the book of Acts and the fulfillment of the promise in Acts 1:8, “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes down upon you; then you are to be My witnesses.” Those who were present testified to have received gifts like that of speaking in tongues or glossolalia, prophecy, discernment of spirits, and the power to drive away evil.
“The events obviously manifested the Holy Spirit’s response to the express need of the Church to experience a new Pentecost as prayed for by Pope John XXIII and intimated through the teachings of Vatican II…” “…The movement rapidly spread to the campuses of Notre Dame University and the universities in Michigan and Indiana. Like wildfire, it drew so many to a spiritual reawakening in schools, parishes, convents, monasteries, offices in all parts of the world, the Philippines included. According to the Malines Document I, as of 1993 or a little more than 25 years later, it was estimated that some 60,000,000 Catholics have already experienced being “baptized in the Holy Spirit.” This gentle breeze of the Spirit blowing has recharged and filled peoples’ lives with fresh spiritual energy and enthusiasm, touching countless laypersons, religious, priests, even bishops in the work of renewing the face of the earth.
“…A great number of leaders who thought of it as an answer to the spiritual thirst or dryness being experienced by many people received it with eagerness and enthusiasm. [Understandably,] [h]owever, others viewed it from a distance at first, with a wait-and-see attitude or with much caution, misgivings, or even distrust. Many others on the side[lines], some even skeptics, were drawn to this Spirit-inspired movement as they witnessed supernatural changes happening in [the] lives and relationships of people who have participated in the programs it offered.”
[Today, a Catholic charismatic community, no matter how little, cannot recount its history without situating itself in the larger picture of these little-known events that are central to the birthing of the global Renewal movement. These events would comprise the common history that would bind all big and small communities here and around the world into a beautiful tapestry - woven undoubtedly by the mysterious fingers of the living God, an awesome handiwork for our time.]
It was these events that would eventually produce such living miracles as the work of communities like Elim and certain individuals like Bo Sanchez of Light of Jesus Community and Shepherd's Voice Publications as well as, believe it or not, Mike Velarde of El Shaddai.
[If I may insert some personal notes… I was blessed to have personally met one major figure of this movement in the Philippines in the person of one PR man named Tony Vasquez. Tony Vasquez was among the first witnesses who saw the beginnings of the Movement, particularly those in the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he consequently would receive training. Soon enough, he became one of the “founders of big communities and prayer groups [back home] during the early period, which include Fr. Pascual Adorable, S.J., Fr. Leonardo Polinar, Bro. Paul Aguas of Baguio City, Bro. PB Dionisio.” Tony Vasquez was around during the inception of such 'ideas' as Couples for Christ, Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen of the Philippines, I think even the Word of Joy Foundation and the Institute for Pastoral Development, and something called Kawal ng Panginoon.]
[More importantly, he was as well a long-time personal friend of Vic Gutierrez, an elder of Ang Ligaya ng Panginoon (ALNP) Community, the first organized community in the Archdiocese of Manila. ALNP was founded in July 1975 under the headship of Fr. Herb Schneider, S.J. It was receiving continuous guidance directly from Ann Arbor, Michigan from some of the professors who experienced the weekend retreat of February 1967.]
[Today Vic Gutierrez is not just an elder of ALNP but serves, too, as the President for Asia Region of Christ the King Association (CKA), a worldwide organization of Catholic covenanted communities.]
The paradox of obedience
“We must exert all our energy obeying God’s calling, even as we rely completely on his power to make us capable of obeying him. It is true that we can live in obedience to Jesus only to the degree that we are relying on his grace. But it is equally true that whenever we face a crucial decision, it is completely our choice, and we must decide whether or not we will obey the commands that God has given us.”
-Word Among Us (Easter 2004)
‘Because we are unworthy, we are worthy’
It is precisely our wretchedness and our helplessness about it that attracts God to us.
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