“The Joy of the Gospel” - US-Philippines Delegation Retreat 2015
Somehow we found joy in driving for more than five hundred miles to Maryland on August 3, 2015. We woke up early in the morning, hit the road and listened to good old Filipino Music Fr. Ed plugged into the car stereo. It was not the best beginning of a long drive up to Maryland where our retreat was held until we were greeted by a magnificent sunrise along the way. I wished we had more time to gaze and enjoy the beautiful spectacle of nature but we were concerned about the traffic along the whole stretch of I-85. Finally, we arrived at Bon Secours Retreat House in Marriottsville, Maryland early afternoon, greeted by CRM priests and brothers who arrived earlier that day.
That evening, Fr. Hoare presented critical issues that priests face today and the necessity for continual formation in all dimension. He quoted St. John Marie Vianney who once wrote that “the priesthood is the love of the Heart of Jesus.” For priests, there is a need for a mature human and spiritual dimension that magnify intimacy with God.
The key word is intimacy with God. Priests are men of God. One particular issue that the speaker mentioned is heresy of activity which means a non-transparent lifestyle. The need to get back on track in the priesthood and live out the communion with God in this sacred vocation is essential and that every priest must personalize his love for God. Fr. Gerald Fitzgerald simply puts it; “Priesthood indeed is the greatest gift of God to Man and its faithful fulfillment is priest’s life for God.”
The speaker spoke about three important inputs in order to stay on right track. These inputs are: love and embrace your identity, have a joyful and active spiritual life, deepen your friendship with Jesus.
Love and embrace your identity. It is important to know one’s identity in order to live and embrace it. St. Thomas Aquinas wrote; “you cannot love something you do not know.” The same in loving and embracing the identity of Clerics Regular Minor (Adorno Fathers and Brothers), one must study, reflect, and understand what the Order is all about; its charism, spirituality and apostolate. As a professed member, one must be proud of his identity and live out its rules and regulations knowing that they are sure way to holiness.
Have a joyful and active spiritual life. The happiness emanates from within when a priest or religious is living an authentic spiritual life. One’s way of life must conform to what he professed and what he believes so that there will be no hidden chasm between private and public life. Jesus tells us in the Gospel about this joy that comes from Him, “I have told you all this, so that my own joy may be in you and your joy may be complete” John 15:11.
Deepen your friendship with Jesus. The Gospel of John tells us that Jesus considers his disciples his friends for he has told them everything he has heard from the Father (John 15:15). Deep friendship involves openness of one’s self. It searches the depth of one’s life in order to lay it down before Jesus our true friend. This is a great reminder for priests and religious to be constantly aware of Jesus’ presence in our midst. He is always present with us than we are with ourselves. Communication must be constant, in prayer, adoring, and celebrating the Holy Eucharist.
All these three inputs to stay on track can develop an incredible and invincible faith. In order to maintain on this path, one has to have discipline. The speaker speaks of discipline in three steps; right thinking, right reading, and right doing. These steps can develop an ultimate hidden life of prayer and good works which every disciple of God is called to.
For all Adorno Priests and brothers, these things are very important to ponder and apply in our day to day life especially this time of the year where we begin our new assignments. We take the words of St. John Marie Vianney as our source of encouragement; “Oh, how great is a priest! The priest will not understand the greatness of his office till he is in Heaven. If he understood it on earth, he would die, not of fear, but of love.”
Indeed, the community gathered together in faith and spirit of brotherhood basking in the joy of the Gospel in this retreat. We went on separate ways to our new assignments the 7th of August 2015 filled inspiration, joy and intoxication with God’s extravagant love. May we bring all these each day to the people we serve always for the greater glory of the Risen Christ. St. Francis Caracciolo, Pray for us.
Fr. Gio Nunez, CRM