Sunday, May 27, 2007

Pentecost Vigil

Yesterday, I was in San Julian, Eastern Samar, giving a talk to 280 delegates of the 2nd BEC (Basic Ecclesial Communities) Congress of the Diocese of Borongan. The topic of my presentation was "The Promotion of Growth and Sustainability of BECs in the parish." The talk was in waray-waray - the Samarenyo language. The delegates were mostly lay leaders and members of parish formation teams involved in forming BECs in the parishes of the Borongan diocese. It was a whole day affair.

At 8:30 in the evening, I gave an hour's talk to over five thousand faithful gathered in the San Julian school ground. They came from all the parishes of the diocese led by their parish priests for the annual diocesan Pentecost vigil. Most were members of BECs and lay organizations and movements (e.g. Couples for Christ, Charismatics, Neo-Catechumenates, etc.).

In my talk I traced the origin and inspiration of the BECs to the Christian community in Jerusalem that emerged on Pentecost Sunday with the coming of the Holy Spirit and the start of the evangelizing mission of Peter and the apostles. Unfortunately, through the centuries, the communitarian model of the Church was supplanted by the Institutional model. The formation of BECs which started after Vatican II is part of the post-conciliar effort to renew the Church and to re-emphasize the communitarian spirit of the early Church.

I also talked about the problems encountered in building BECs, the lessons learned, the challenges and prospects. I emphasized the need for renewed evangelization as an essential process in the formation of BECs, and also the need for developed BECs to work for total human development, address the problem of poverty, work for peace and justice and defend the environment.

I challenged the leaders and members of the lay organizations and renewal movements to be involved in their respective BECs and contribute in their growth.

After my talk, we had the celebration of the sacrament of penance and reconciliation. There were over 30 priests who heard confession. We were able to start the vigil mass at 11:30 pm (presided by the diocesan administrator). We finished the liturgy by 3;30 am, and the people dispersed and journeyed back to their respective parishes (riding buses, trucks and jeepneys).

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Coming down the mountain - continuing my mission

I have just ended one month of solitude in my hermitage in the mountain of Busay and I am now back to civilization. I feel that one month was so short - but all the same, I am grateful for the opportunity to relax, reflect prayerfully, read, write, and run. I had a great time running the mountain trails. Last weekend, I ran down to the city in the morning to attend an ordination, and in the afternoon I ran up back to the mountain. It took me one hour and thirty minutes to ascend the steep mountain from the monastery. The last time I ran up this mountain was 18 years ago while preparing for the marathon - and it only took me an hour. Well, at least, I can still do it at the age of 52, although at a slower pace. I have decided to make a marathon comeback and to start my training program during my stay in Busay. I have 9 months of training for the Philippines International Marathon this February 24, 2008. The last time I ran a marathon was in 1995 - twelve years ago - in Rome.

Tomorrow, I will be travelling to Samar. I have been invited to give a one hour talk to the Diocesan BEC (Basic Ecclesial Communities) congress in San Julian on May 26. They are expecting 250 delegates for the congress. In the evening I will give a 90 minutes speech during the Diocesan Pentecost Vigil. They are expecting six thousand people from all the parishes of the Borongan diocese. From there, I go back to Cebu and fly to Davao to give a seminar on Christology and Ecclesiology on May 29-31 in Tacurong.

This is going to be very busy school year. But my stay in Busay has recharged me to continue my mission.