Friday, March 24, 2006

By Joe Generoso III, TOCarm
National Formation Commission Director

At the beginning of each year, the first task of the National Council is to come up with the schedule of fraternal visits to the different communities during the next 10 months, excluding the first and last months of the year.

Considering the total number of communities to be visited and the individual and sometimes conflicting schedule of each concerned member of the council, makes the planning session a bit harder than planning a visit to the mall or a family weekend at the beach.

What makes this task even tougher is the fact that all these visits fall on a week-end and if you add to this the reception and Profession rites, Regional Meetings and Training Seminars we have to be present in, we are left with an average of only one (1) complete week-end per month for our family.

We have been doing this for the last five years. Is this what you call sacrifice? I call it, The CALL. When you hear His voice, harden not your hearts. I can write a book on what I have been through before my wife got comfortable with my schedule.

One thing is different this year, though. There is a new face (a young face at that) among the “old” faces in the National Council. This face is in the person of Fr. Pete M. Manilag, Jr., O.Carm., our new National Spiritual Director. Most, if not all of you have encountered him in one of the retreats you have attended so he is not really a stranger among the TOCs. You have seen his picture and have read his resume’ written by his biographer, the outgoing NSD, Fr. Toto Jaranilla in the 2nd page of the Nov-Dec 2005 TOC news. If you have not done so yet, you have a big problem. I advise you to go grab a copy right now.

We will all miss Fr. Toto and I especially will miss him and the lament he expresses during our fraternal visits. He used to say, “When will we start discussing about the Carmelite charism and deepening of our prayer life?”

His frustration is brought about by the fact that during those 5 years he was Spiritual Director, the topic of brown uniform, absences, factions and disobedience have always been the subject of discussion during the fraternal visits and the more important subjects like Carmelite spirituality and prayer life seldom, if ever, had been taken up. The irony of it all is, it is rarely the Aspirants or Postulants who constantly dwell on these chronic problems but those who have been in Carmel for a long time. Obviously, there is no transformation. Are they lacking in formation or simply close-minded or both?

Reading a book of St. Augustine, I came across the following scriptural verses written by Paul almost 2000 years ago but still aptly describe our present day situation:

And I, brothers, could not speak to you as spiritual people, but only as fleshly; I gave you, like babies in Christ, milk to drink, not solid food, for you were not capable of it-indeed you are not capable of it even now. While there is jealousy and rivalry among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving in an ordinary human way? (1Cor3: 1-3)

Yes, each year that passes by makes us another year older and supposedly wiser but some of us have chosen to remain as babies in Christ, preferring milk to drink instead of solid food.

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