Sunday, July 02, 2006

By Teresita Malanum, TOCarm

I left the country last November to fulfill my role as a doting lola to my one and only two year old grandson and to keep house for the young family of my eldest son who recently migrated to Australia.

Half-heartedly, I left behind my two families, my daughter and my other son at home as well as my TOC family in Pilar, Las Piñas City. I’ve grown so accustomed to my daily house routines and to the regular weekly and monthly activities with my Carmelite brothers and sisters that it was difficult for me to leave without any qualm or misgiving.

Sometimes however God disturbs the life you have been used to in order to rock the boat of your comfortable habitual existence. Just like verbal prayers, God does not want us to fall into a ‘rote exercise’ where the heart is no longer engaged because the words just automatically flow from the lips without feelings anymore. In short, in Australia, I did not have the usually comfortable "do whatever you please" life. Of course, my ‘apo’ is a delight to be with and will always be. However, it was not my house and I didn’t have ‘the call’ for anything. For the first time, I experienced being totally dependent on others, on my food, on my activities (I can’t go places except when I’m with them). Their activities were also my activities and I felt I did not exist as an individual who can independently plan to do what I wish.

It was by God’s grace that our Natl. Prioress, Sis. Nimfa suggested that I contact Pamela Dewhurst, an OCarm TOC who was living in Canberra where I also stayed. First, being blessedly single, she made time to accommodate me despite her busy schedule. Second, being an active Carmelite (her apostolate was caring for the sick and the elderly which also included traveling to distant parts of Australia to care for her older relatives), I witnessed how, through listening, God provides each ‘willing hand’ a beautiful ministry.

Pam is 73 years old and has been an Isolate Carmelite all her life (that is more than 50 years). She is an Isolate because she has no community in Canberra. Furthermore, although there are four (4) of them in the same area, they are actually far from one another because of the vastness of Australia. At least 3 times a year, they do try to meet over lunch or when somebody is around, they contact each other. Other than that, on their own, they have to take care of their spiritual growth. Pam said she gets her regular ongoing formation from their TOC newsletter, "The Vine", because (like our own TOC News), it contains articles rich in Carmelite teachings. For any important matter, she receives communications direct from the National Office situated in distant Victoria. Otherwise, she pursues her journey to Carmel all alone.

We met thrice during my stay there. And every meeting was always an edifying experience for me, for here was a 73-year-old woman who was very active in her Carmelite ministry of spreading the faith through her care for the sick and the elderly. Today, she has now centered her life on this. She has a deep Carmelite spirituality and she speaks about it with fervor. She talks animatedly about God and exudes God’s love in the way she treats people (the first time we met, she treated me like a long lost friend).

I was truly humbled by this woman who single-handedly, without the support of any community, was able to transform herself into a deeply committed Carmelite through her fastidious effort to learn more about Carmel (she has subscription to a lot of Catholic publications and reads a lot of spiritual books – yes, she truly sounds well rooted in God). I felt inadequate with my ministry as I saw her untiring service to the sick and lonely aged people. Being a stranger in Australia, she provided for me a sterling inspiration to hold on to Carmel’s treasures.

In Australia, I felt like I was also an Isolate Carmelite. I did not have any community to meet with. It was all up to me to keep the flame of my love for Carmel burning in the midst of loneliness, boredom and isolation. ‘Loneliness’ for those I left behind; ‘boredom’ for the life of being in the house day in and day out with very little respite from the humdrum of exactly doing the same thing everyday in the four corners of our home; and then ‘isolation’ for not being able to socialize with anyone else except with my ‘housemates’. I had no other friends, and although I found a very dear friend in Pam, I did not want to disturb her unnecessarily because she was always up and about with her apostolate. She was seldom at home.

What kept me going were the emails from a friend who is a ‘soul-companion’ in my spiritual journey as well as the very inspirational, informative, and thought-provoking writings from our fellow Carmelites in the blogspot which our very own National Prioress has so brilliantly made available for everyone to read anywhere in the world.

Without a community, I still felt in touch with our Philippine Carmel family through the emails/websites. It was with great gusto that I relish every article and I was often amazed with the depth of the writer’s grasp of the topic. It certainly showed that those who wrote the articles spent long hours of silent love before God. Articles were written with much reflection, with much personal first-hand experiences and with a generous amount of love and interconnectedness with the readers. These were my ‘spiritual oases’ far away from home.

Now that I’m back, I realized that it was not really that difficult to be an Isolate. But then, maybe it was not hard for me because I started my formation with a very loving and supportive TOC community where we were committed to grow and struggle with our difficulties together as a family of God. Maybe, it was also because I resolved to be always in touch with my Carmelite family through emails. It may also be because I kept Carmel in my heart through my readings. Maybe, because my thirst to know and to live the spirituality never ebbed but continually grew stronger in the midst of a spiritual drought of Carmel’s well in Australia.

And so to be an Isolate Carmelite, I believe we must first of all have the great desire to embrace the spirituality. To this desire, we must add the commitment to pursue the quest for Carmel relentlessly. How? We must exert effort to be in regular contact with the National Office here in Manila, wherever we may be. We must undergo academic formation not only from those that will come from the National Office, but from our own personal labor to grow in the knowledge of God. We should not put to waste the benefits, which are available from the lives and teachings of our Carmelite saints and from the ‘written sharings’ that we get from our brothers and sisters in Carmel.

It will also be a great aid to have a ‘soul-companion’ in this journey, for we need the support and guidance of somebody who has genuine concern for our spiritual welfare. Lastly, it is much better and often highly recommended, that we get a good spiritual director who could ably chart our journey amidst the tempestuous sea of our trials and temptations to the sure road of Carmel’s peak.
Now, if you ask me, "Which one would you prefer, to be in a community or to be an isolate?" I would certainly want to belong to a community. The physical, social, emotional and spiritual support that a community can give me is something I wouldn’t want to miss. Of course, there are squabbles, misunderstandings, competitions and all kinds of pettiness that can go with it. But hey! Even at home, we don’t have a perfect family. All those things are parts of our rough edges that God is so kindly honing ever so slowly, so carefully and so patiently to prepare us for an entrance to the next mansion. And even if we don’t have the community, God can always provide other people to serve the same purpose. I’d much prefer my TOC family to do this than to have others who are not of ‘like mind’ to fulfill the role.
Nonetheless, before you think that being an Isolate is no good, I’d like to clarify myself. God always knows what is best. It is He who decides and provides the opportunity for us to be in a community or to be an Isolate. Whatever the circumstances of our life, it is He who wills it to be so. Being an Isolate does not make us any less. Yet, to be truly a Carmelite, it is not up to God alone. It is also up to us. We cannot be a Carmelite by name only, we must live it. And to live it is to breathe it, i.e., to imbibe it by lovingly and eagerly making sure that we grow in its spirituality for as long as we live. Whether we are alone or with others, we must journey in it patiently and untiringly. We must trustingly allow God to bring us to the summit no matter what it takes.
By Rose Perol, TOCarm

Ang Regina Décor Carmeli TOCC ng Parokya ng Nuestra Senora del Carmen ay nagdiwang ng kanilang unang anibersaryo noong Marso 19, 2006. Ipinagdiwang nila ito sa pamamagitan ng isang misa na pinangunahan ng kanilang kura-paroko, Fr. Elmer Ignacio.

Sa loob ng isang taon ay maraming pagsubok ang ipinadama sa amin para mapatunayan kung kami ay karapat-dapat mabilang sa TOC. Isa na rito ang maraming lesson na dapat basahin at intindihing mabuti dahil gagawan ito ng pagninilay. Dagdag pa rin ang maghapong meeting at formation tuwing unang sabado ng buwan at ang pagdarasal ng Liturhiya ng mga Oras.

Mahirap ngunit napakasarap lalo na ng maranasan naming ang tatlong araw na retreat sa Notre dame de Vie Retreat House noong Nobyembre 2005. Hindi matumbasan ang kasiyahang naramdaman naming sa retreat na ito. At noon ding Mayo 6, 2006 ay nagkaroon kami ng Recollection at Day of Discernment para sa paghahanda sa nalalapit na pagtanggap sa amin sa Orden ng Carmelo.

The new novices from Regina Decor Carmelit TOCC, Pulong Buhangin, Bulacan during the fraternal visit, June 3, 2006

Buong husay na tinalakay ni Fr. Pol Evangelista, parochial vicar, ang kahulugan at prinsipyo ng "Discernment". Tunay na nabuksan ang aming kaisipan tungkol sa TOC. Naging mabisa, mabunga, at makahulugan ang Recollection na ito para sa aming lahat na nagsisimula pa lamang sa aming paglalakbay patungo sa bundok ng Carmelo.

Sa nasabi ring petsa ay para kaming sumuot sa butas ng karayom sa one-on-one interview sa pagitan ng aming prioress, Violeta Cruz, at Ruel Santos, aming formator. Salamat sa Diyos at naging maayos ang lahat. Matapos tanggapin ang kumpirmasyon mula sa National Council ay aming hinihintay ang araw na kami ay tatanggapin sa Orden ng Mahal na Birhen ng Carmelo at ito ay sa Hunyo 12, 2006 – araw ng kalayaan at kapistahan ni Beato Hilario Januszewski.

By Ruel Santos, TOCarm
Regional Coordinator

Mayo 8-10, 2006

Nagsama-sama ang mga komunidad ng TOC ng Malolos, Barasoain, Calumpit, Guiguinto, at Hagonoy sa kanilang taunang retreat.

Ito ay ginanap sa Notre Dame de Vie Retreat House sa Novaliches. Ang paksa sa nasabing retreat ay "Understanding Carmelite Charism II: The Rule of Saint Albert" na may pagninilay tungkol sa mga pangako ng isang Karmelita (obedience, chastity, and spiritual poverty) at tungkol sa mga katangian ng isang leader. Ito ay pinangunahan ni Fr. Domingo Salonga, Regional Spiritual Director.

Mayo 27, 2006 at Hunyo 3, 2006

Ginanap ang taunang fraternal visit ng National Council sa Bulacan. Nagbigay ng pag-uulat ang bawat prioress ng komunidad tungkol sa katayuan ng bawat TOC community at ang kanilang mga gampanin.

L-R: Ruel, Nimfa, Fr. Pete and Joe during the Calumpit-Hagonoy combined fraternal visit, May 27 (A.M.)

Joe explaining the new procedure for application and preliminary evaluation of candidates for Reception and Profession.

Local heads of the Calumpit and Hagonoy Communities

Pagkatapos ng pag-uulat ay ipinaliwanag ni Bro. Joe ang tungkol sa bagong paraan ng pagsusuri sa mga taong tatanggapin sa Orden at sa mga magbibigay ng profession sa TOC. Pagkatapos nito ay ipinaliwanag ni Sis. Nimfa kung paano mag-ministry ng YCPF, Scapular Confraternity at tungkol sa International Convention na gaganapin sa Setyembre 2006.

TOC Community of Malolos (Cathedral and Barasoain) during the fraternal visit on May 27, 2006 (P.M.)

A glimpse of the Guiguinto TOC Community during the fraternal visit, June 3, 2006 (P.M.)

The National Officers listening to the report from the local Prioress of Sta. Maria, bulacan Community, June 3, 2006 (A.M.)

Hunyo 12, 2006

Tinanggap sa Orden ng Carmelo ang mga postulante ng Regina Décor Carmeli TOCC, Pulong Buhangin, Sta. Maria at ng Holy Family TOCC, Guiguinto. Isang misa konselebrasyon ang ginanap sa parokya ng Nuestra Senora del Carmen na pinangunahan ni Fr. Domingo Salonga, Regional Spiritual Diresctor, at Fr. Elmer Ignacio, kura paroko. Ang mga postulanteng tinanggap sa Orden ay sina Cristina Mauricio, Josefina Santos, Lucita Villanueva, Estelita Libiran, Luzviminda de Silva, Adelina Pilapil, Rose Perol, at Boy de Silva ng Pulong Buhangin at Crisanta Flores ng Guiguinto.

Pagkatapos ng misa ay tumuloy sa parish hall para ganapin ang Regional Assembly. Dito ay tinalakay ang "Carmelite Identity in the Rule of Saint Albert" sa kadahilanan na sa susunod na taon ay ipagdiriwang ang ikawalong sentenaryo ng Carmelite Rule. Pinasimulan din ang "Pondo ng Karmelo" na ibinatay sa diwa ng "Pondo ng Pinoy" para makalikom ng karampatang pondo para sa nalalapit na national convention na gaganapin sa 2008 sa Bulacan. Ito ay para rin makapagbigay ng kaunting tulong sa National Fund.

Pinagtibay din sa nasabing pagtitipon ang pangalan ng rehiyon. Ang rehiyon ng Bulacan ay itinalaga kay San Jose bilang patron nito at tinawag na "Lay Carmelite Region of Saint Joseph." Pinili si San Jose sa kadahilanan na sa tuwing magtatag ng monasterio si Sta. Teresa ng Avila ay lagi siyang may kasa-kasamang imahen ng santong ito. Panatag niyang iniiwan ang bagong tatag sa pangangalaga ni San Jose dahil alam niya na ito ay lalago at mamumunga sa pangangalaga ng esposo ni Maria.

By Elvie de Dios, TOCarm

The Project 4 Community, trying to beat the threat of "La Niña," went on pilgrimage on Monday, May 8, 2006.

The plan was first to try the popular "Razon’s" halo halo and pancit luglug. Then on to San Sebastian Church to view the original image of our Lady of Mount Carmel, which was first brought to the Philippines by the Recollect Fathers. Afterwards, we agreed to watch the famous sunset at Manila Bay and take a stroll at the new Baywalk of Roxas Blvd. Since we would already be in the vicinity, we would try to seek an audience with our newly installed Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales who happens to be a long time family friend of Sis Sally, our local prioress. He resides at the Arzobispado, near the Manila Cathedral in Intramuros.
Proj 4 TOCs with Cardinal Rosales

But, as the saying goes, "We plan, God directs." Calling to try to make an appointment, Sis. Sally was told that the Cardinal’s schedule was so hectic that Sr. Elsa, sister-in-charge at the CBCP, suggested we "ambush" the Cardinal when he comes down to start his scheduled activities in the afternoon. At the very least, we would get to kiss the Cardinal’s ring. It was necessary to be early, to catch him before 3:00 pm. And it came to pass, the Cardinal graciously received us! He made us feel important, as if there were no other people waiting for him. We spent a memorable and leisurely thirty minutes with the Cardinal. To top it all, at the end of our visit, he gave each of us a beautiful Rosary from Rome, a souvenir we will cherish for the rest of our lives.

After out visit, we felt there was no sense retracing our steps to go to San Sebastian, much less to have a snack at faraway Greenhills. Instead, we had a simple agape at Chowking and then, we spent some time in prayer at the Manila Cathedral. With our luck still holding, we found the underground crypt open to visitors so we were able to view the niches of Jaime Cardinal Sin and the other Archbishops of Manila who are buried there.

Bay Walk at dusk is a wonderful sight to see. Though the setting sun was partially obscured by some clouds, the beauty of creation was still breathtaking. These are one of the times when we believe there really is a God.

Brown ladies at Baywalk, Roxas Boulevard....

Supper was definitely another story to tell. We ate at the Aristocrat Restaurant, their chicken barbecue to die for among Filipinos both from here and abroad.

Enjoying the famous Chicken Barbecue at nearby Aristocrat...

With happy hearts, filled stomachs and aching arthritic bones, we rested that night with thanksgiving to a great God, each in her own way, and a prayer for those who made it an experience of a lifetime, specifically our dear Prioress, Sis. Sally, not to forget Sis. Fe [Buenaventura] for the use of her van, What with the high cost of gas these days! Indeed, Project 4 TOCs are blest.

By Violeta Veneracion, TOCarm
Regional Coordinator

On April 4, forty (40) TOC members of Cabanatuan attended a Recollection on the ‘Spirituality of the Paschal Mystery’ given by Rev. Fr. Reynold Oliveros. On the same occasion, three (3) members were administered the Hermitage Rites namely, Rosita Abando, Juliana Encarnacion and Emilia Hilario.

Meanwhile Fr. Reynold praised the TOC for their prayerful life, which according to him is the pillar that makes us holy. He further emphasized that spirituality without prayer is like a Gospel without Christ. Carmelite prayer life needs to be treasured as these produced many Carmelite Saints who had experienced the intimate presence of God in their lives.

The recollection was followed by our sharing of insights and reflections on how we have experienced the Paschal Mystery in our lives and in our community; how it has transformed our members into one, loving and sharing community.

As a community we have had our share of the passion and purification. There had been so much dissensions, divisions and intrigues in the past. At one time the community had refused to submit to national directives, but ‘dying to self’ had enabled us to triumph over the negativism prevailing in the atmosphere at that time. With God’s grace, good will prevailed. We had to undergo ‘death to self’, especially on the part of the local officers. Often times we have had to abandon personal ambitions, sacrificed our time, leisure and pleasure to serve the interests of the community. After the ‘dying to self’ or ‘self-denials’, we now experience life, love, joy and peace in the community.

After the recollection we felt we are ready to accept our crosses again and again because beyond these sufferings is the revelation of glory; beyond the cross is the crown of triumph; beyond death is eternal life.

April 11 – 12, 2006

Nine (9) members from Tarlac TOC Community attended the annual retreat on the ‘Carmelite Charism’ given by Fr. Pete Manilag, Jr., O Carm.
By Gloria Jumawan, TOCarm

A recollection was conducted by Fr. Paul Medina, O Carm on March 12, 2006 and attended by 34 members of the Dumaguete TOC Community. The term ‘RECOLLECTION’ according to him is to ‘collect again the life one must have to belong to the Carmelite Order.’ A Carmelite (TOC) should have a life of promise; a consecrated life to Christ and to Mama Mary. Just as Christ the anointed one, has consecrated his life in obedience to the Father with purity and poverty, taking a life of total surrender to the Father, so, should each and every one of us also follow his example of life of obedience, chastity and voluntary poverty.

Fr. Paul further shared to us that in the promise of obedience, humility is highly regarded as the greatest Christian virtue and is strictly observed. Obedience of the congregation to the superior should be observed and respected because the superior represents the community and the authority of the community is from God. If the Superior practices his authority for the good of the community this comes from God Himself. But if the Superior abuses his power this does not come from God anymore. In the context of the Third Orders it is expected that the members should obey their superiors, their memos and directives. If these directives and memos are for the good of the members, the members should follow because this authority comes from God Himself.

The promise of Chastity is the availability to serve the Lord. For the Third Order this is not the denial of sexuality but bringing it to the divine purpose with purity of thoughts, actions, gestures, speech, feelings and intentions. The members of the Third Order are expected to live in accordance with their state of life and practice the essence by which this promise is made.

In the promise of voluntary poverty, for the TOC this is the denial of worldly attachment in order to use the material goods for the greater glory of God. Poverty may be material, social and spiritual.

The recollection ended with the advice of Fr. Paul that when the National Council gives directives or memoranda for the community to follow, everyone should obey these rules because it is the voice of God who directs every member for the good of the whole community. One should not defy these rules since this may cause disobedience on the whole community. The members were also reminded to live a chaste life in accordance with one’s state of life. Our life is exposed to the dangers and temptations of this world but through the grace of God we shall be able to faithfully practice these evangelical virtues.