REMEMBERING OUR EUNTES JOURNEY WITH GRATITUDE

Friday, May 22, 2009

PICT1562The Synthesis of the summer programe 2009 is presented  by Fr. Giulio F. Mariani, PIME (Director of Euntes Asian Center)

This is our Integration – Reflection Synthesis day, a day of prayer and silence in which to remember our Euntes journey with gratitude. It is also the day of our Mission Sending bringing us to the closing of our summer Euntes journey, Toward a Renewed Mission in the Church.

 It is said that “Gratitude is the remembrance of the heart.” And it is with a grateful heart that we wish to spend this day in silent personal reflection and prayer, preparing to answer with our life more than with our words to fulfill Jesus’ command in today’s Gospel: Euntes in mundum universum!.

 In a nutshell, we can say that our Euntes course has been an invitation to commit ourselves once again to the perennial bidding of Jesus Christ that we bring the Good News of the Reign of God (the Basileia) to all the earth. We came to seek new ways of understanding and doing mission, faithful to the Church’s rich Tradition but responsive to the realities faced by the peoples of Asia.

 As Bishop Tagle stated in his talk at the First Asian Mission Congress (Chiang May, Thailand, October 19, 2006) “mission, a single but complex reality, is developed in a variety of ways. In continuity with the Church’s dynamic search for ways of doing mission appropriate to specific times and places our congress proposes an understanding and practice of mission focused on the Story of Jesus in Asia. A story is never just a story. A story is truly a story when told or narrated, and hopefully listened to”.

 This has been the guiding line and main point of all our Euntes modules that ended with Mission: sharing the story of Jesus!

 And now, at the very end of the course, we know that there is so much to be grateful for.

 We are grateful for the privilege of spending five weeks together without any real worries about much of anything…with good food provided, plenty of time to rest, to read and study, to pray, to enjoy each other’s company, to participate in interesting and informative modules, to share our mutual experiences, to be exposed to new and different situations, spending Saturday nights dancing, playing Bingo, watching movies and enjoying popcorn…for five weeks …(how many of our brothers and sisters in the real world can afford this?).

 Clearly, there is here an invitation to look back over the past five weeks in order to celebrate God’s fidelity to us and count our blessings, thanking and praising God for a refreshing pause in our daily routine that has taught us great lessons of life especially the “breakthroughs” in the new icon of the Church as God’s people in mission for the Basileia as we celebrated the dangerous memory of Jesus.  

 Today, in personal prayer and reflection, you can take time and look BACK to your sense of purpose in coming to the Euntes. You can do that especially during your silent adoration before the Blessed Sacrament solemnly exposed in our Chapel after the conference this morning, and all throughout the silence of this day until we meet for our final Eucharistic celebration and mission commissioning ceremony.

 This being the joyous Easter Season, the undercurrent subtitle of our summer program has been: We are His witnesses. Think of the times and the ways the various Resource Persons reminded us about this grave responsibility!

 We cannot forget what Paul VI said in his apostolic exhortation, Evangelli Nuntiandi: Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses. (EN 41)

 The same concept was taken up and developed by John Paul II in the Redemptoris Missio (RM 42) saying that people today put more trust in witnesses than in teachers, in experience than in teaching, and in life and action than in theories. The witness of an authentic Christian and holy life is the first and irreplaceable form of mission and evangelization.

 Yes, we must be ready to walk side by side/ hand in hand with the people we are serving, more than just ahead of them, especially with those on the margins, and walk together building the Basileia here and now, showing the way especially through our personal life witness. Yes, our life and lifestyle should always have the witness dimension.

 The authentic desire to remember the past few weeks with gratitude and not reduce it simply to an empty exercise can only be grounded in the desire to give thanks. Living in our consumerist society and taking many things for granted, there is always a great need to form in us and in the people entrusted to our care a “grateful heart”.

 We have to keep in mind that, in all our talks about the margins, the basileia, shifting paradigms, dialogue, signs of the times, migration, mission spirituality, Christian family, it was all for the sake of being ready to share the story of Jesus, and to discover and show the Asian face of Jesus.

 And, really, what is paramount in all of this, is our deepening understanding of Jesus, the Missionary of the Father/ the Missionary of the Kingdom, in his profound and intimate relationship with the One who sent him and whom He called abba.

 We know that this title, however, means nothing so trivial as “daddy”. It was, indeed, a relationship of the deepest intimacy. In the very words of Albert Nolan in his latest book, JESUS TODAY:

 “If we find it difficult to take Jesus seriously and to live as he lived, then it is because we have not yet experienced God as our abba. The experience of God as his abba was the source of Jesus’ wisdom, his clarity, his confidence, and his radical freedom. Without this it is impossible to understand why and how he did the things he did.” 

 We read in the Gospel of Mark 3:13- 15: He went up the mountain and summoned those whom he wanted and they came to him.

He appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) that they might be with him and he might send them forth to preach and to have authority to drive out demons.

 Over the past five weeks we, the Euntes community, (priests, Religious women, seminarians and lay people), responding to a call of the Spirit, (sometimes only through a strong ‘suggestion’ of our Superiors as in the case of our brothers Seminarians!), came together and we stayed ‘on the mountain’ (the Euntes rolling hills/ closer to God) to enter in communion with the Lord and with one another, but only in order to be sent out to go and tell the story of Jesus, and to drive out the demons of injustice and divisions so that more people could share in the blessings of the Basileia/ so that all men and women could have life and life in abundance according to the promise Jesus, the Good Shepherd, had made.

We started out saying that, in our journey toward renewed mission in the Church, the EAC sought to provide a setting where adult learning could happen and reflection on mission deepened and widened as we strove to be together a church renewed.

 We were told from the start that we were adopting a methodology not merely academic, but also experiential, inclusive, interactive and participatory.

 Today, five weeks later, we know that we have tried and have achieved this, by the grace of God and the willing cooperation of all. And now we are ready to go and reach out to our brothers and sisters in our various communities with a sense of gratitude to God and to one another. We really feel like saying, in fact, we really feel like shouting out: Forever I will sing the goodness of the Lord because of our Euntes experience.

 It seems to me that the T-shirt we have prepared as a remembrance of our summer program says it quite well. We are altogether in the same boat, our mission that is actually God’s mission, we are rowing over the waters of our broken world toward our different mission assignments under the shadow of the Cross, reminding us of the sacrifices we will surely encounter in our pilgrimage to tell the story of Jesus and build the Basileia.

 Quoting Gaudium et Spes , the pastoral Constitution of the Church in the Modern World, today we can say with greater conviction that we wish to carry in our hearts the joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men and women of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ. Indeed, nothing genuinely human fails to raise an echo in their hearts.

 And thus, we remember with gratitude our daily Liturgies, creative and yet simple, where every day we were nourished and transformed by the Word and Body and Blood of Christ.

 In the past five weeks the Word of God called and convoked us every day during the Eucharistic Celebration, every day the different Resource Persons through the various modules helped us to change our paradigms on Mission and Spirituality, offering us new insights to renew our missionary call as Priests, Religious or Lay by proclaiming the Word in the context of today’s globalized world, cultures and mosaic of religions, every day the Word of God challenged us to be open to the Holy Spirit in our personal life and spirituality, every day that Word sent us into the multicultural Euntes community. Today, finally, that same Word sends us back to our people in our mission assignments to re- tell the story of Jesus in a new and renewed way.

 We always filled our Chapel with all our brothers and sisters and their concerns in order to have the courage and strength to become ourselves, more and more each day, Bread Broken and Blood Shared with the gift of our life day after day. We confessed our personal sins and the structural sins we were part of, we confessed our brokenness that makes us more often than not ‘wounded healers’, proclaiming God’s loving forgiveness, in order to be ever ready to offer/ spend our life mindful of Jesus’ command: Do this in memory of me!

 We remember with gratitude our modules and our Resource Persons who shared with us their learning in their lectures, challenging and inspiring us to see, judge and act, helping us to wear new lenses and developing new perspectives.

 Father Angel Calvo, CMF set the mood for our entire program by leading us to experience God in the margins. We remember our exposure to Basilan and also the City Tour.

 Father Chris O’Leary, OMI set us on fire with his passion for the Basileia that became a familiar word that constantly emerged in our community prayers and reflections. We were led to understand Jesus’ mission as preaching the Basileia as ‘fullness of life’.

 With the Basileia on our mind and in our hearts, we welcomed Dr. Manny De Guzman as he introduced us to the much needed shifting of paradigms. The age of MISSIONS has ended while the age of MISSION has begun.

 This brought us to move into Mission, Evangelization and Dialogue with Father Jeyaraj Rasiah, SJ. We discovered the centrality of ‘dialogue’ in the Church in our evangelizing mission.

 Father Rolando Tuazon, CM, guided us into learning about ‘the best kept secret of the Church’, the Catholic Social Traditions. We gained more insights in the importance of reading the Signs of the Times to serve our people, especially the marginalized, more effectively.

 Father Danny Pilario, CM, through the sharing of many touching experiences with migrant people everywhere, impressed upon us the fact that we are also migrants, urging us as church ‘to just be there’ next to them in order to be the sign of the presence of God’s loving compassion. Telling our personal migration story and acknowledging our own personal woundedness and brokenness, we know that we can and should be more compassionate healers.

 Bro. Karl Gaspar, CSrR, led us into the world, the minds and hearts, of our Indigenous People. Through their rituals and many of their symbols we were helped to discover the Spirit, the vivifying Breath of God present in the world of Nature and of Mother Earth. Bro. Karl, a dedicated Mindanao Church worker and anthropologist, artist and peace advocate, is also a man of God and of the world with a spirituality that embraces the poor and the oppressed; he helped us discover our ‘indigenous’ roots.

 Dr. Joe De Mesa, a lay married Theologian, a recognized expert on enculturation, challenged us to see and put the family at the heart of our mission effort presenting marriage as discipleship for the Basileia, a real ‘domestic church’.

 Dr. Natividad Pagadut, a lay woman and a Bible expert, inspired us with her profound knowledge and deep personal love of the Word of God, helping us to see the Word of God for what it actually is, that is, source of our life and ministry/ mission. 

We remember our glorious integration groups with names that proposed the Euntes values such as Creativity, Fidelity, Hospitality, Solidarity and Serenity. It is there that we experienced many personal and liberating sharing while bonding us together in a friendship that will continue in the years to come though we will be working in different places. 

 We remember our Social Nights that certainly qualified us as an Easter community that manifested its inner joy through table-fellowship, laughter and dancing.

 We remember the exposures…. We remember the Euntes Olympics…We remember the movies and the time we spent bonding together…much of this bonding will probably continue even after we leave this place…The Euntes Blog can serve as a good link, and here let me thank those who worked on it giving generously of their time and talent.

 We remember the Euntes workers…Baby the Secretary, the kitchen girls, the ground maintenance crew, the night guards and our gatekeepers who, in different caring ways, made our stay at the Euntes more enjoyable.

 We remember Sr. Stella and Sr. Francis always ready to serve, to listen and provide for all your needs. PIME is greatly indebted to the OND Sisters for their generous cooperation in our Euntes experience.  

 Hopefully, you will also remember and say a prayer for ‘yours truly’ who sat at what was defined ‘the hierarchical table’ but only not to force you to have to talk English as gamay lang ang Cebuano ko. I can honestly say that I always shared, enjoyed and loved your presence and saw in each one of you a precious co-pilgrim and co-missionary in following Jesus in-mission.

 I can assure you that in the days and months to come, from time to time, I will go through our Euntes Directory (you will be given a copy) and will behold your names and faces.  Many fond memories of each one of you  will return to my heart and mind and  will pray that the Lord be with you!

 There is joy in your heart, eager, as you are, to go home and share what you have learned and experienced here. Your Bishops, Superiors and your local communities are joyfully looking forward to your return counting on you to bring a breath of fresh air because of your renewed mission formation and spirituality.

 However, I am sure there is also a twinge of pain in having to say goodbye to some dear people you have become close to over the past few weeks.

Fond memories of the days spent in the ‘warm and cozy nest’ that the Euntes proved to be for each of you will surely accompany you, but the time has come for you to be true to your name for you have been and are the Euntes community/ the Reach Out community!

 There is joy in the hearts of all the Euntes Staff for bringing to a successful end another batch. And I assure you that there is joy in the heart of the PIME Missionaries who, (as I was telling you in my opening talk) after working for over a hundred and fifty-nine years in the missions with a special attention for Asia and the Pacific, founding many local Dioceses and spreading the Good News revealed in the story of Jesus, see themselves prevented from going to some of these countries because of Visa restrictions, and thus they see in each one of you one very precious extension, trusting that the Euntes has succeeded in transmitting to you some of its mission charisma.

 PIME has been willing and is willing, year after year, to invest in the Euntes program for the good of the missionary Church of Asia.  And today PIME proudly salutes and welcomes each one of you as its co-missionaries, joining you in praising and thanking the Lord.

 Here are some questions/ points that can serve as a guide for your personal and prayerful reflection, but the Spirit is sure to suggest you even more appropriate ones, and so just ignore all this and just follow the Spirit.

  • Am I more ready for renewal (aggiornamento)? Ready to be more in touch with the sources (ad fontes)?
  • Did I deepen my personal encounter with the person of Jesus so as to be ready to engage in renewed mission in the Church today?
  • Shifting paradigms invites us to check out our lenses as to how we see reality and ‘crossover’ to a new way of seeing reality. Thus, renewal requires paradigm shift: Self – Others – World –God – Jesus –Mission – Church – MINISTRY.
  • Personal conversion (‘shifting paradigm’) is a pre-requisite for evangelization: to see reality through the lens of a new experience of God.
  • What are some of the most important insights will I treasure in my ministry from now on?
  • Do I try to apply some of my new learning to the concrete pastoral situations that I will soon be facing at home?

 And now, in your silence and prayer today, just remember…nothing escapes God’s loving embrace!

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