Manila – It was a meaningful and touching experience for the Guanellian Lay Cooperators (GLC) who attended the 3rd Annual Guanellian Lay Movement Conference on September 6-7th at the Augustinian Contemplative Nuns Monastery Carmel Farms, San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan. The Cooperators are becoming more involved in the activities of the Guanellian family as they continue to study and learn more about the Guanellian spirituality and mission for the poor.
Inspired by the theme – “YEAR OF THE LAITY: CALLED TO BE SAINTS, SENT FORTH AS HEROES” the Conference focused on the importance of family, its influence in our faith, how it affects our relationship with God and neighbor, and prayer as a relationship. Invited speakers were Guanellian Cooperators, Pol and Nena Repotente, who shared their thoughts based on their life’s experiences during the session, “Growing in Love, Growing in Sanctity in My Family.” Reflecting on the truth, that we did not choose our families but that it is a gift and mission from God. We are not merely a family by blood but a family of faith called upon to listen, live and act on God’s word, and be sent to fulfill our mission with God and others. When we experience God’s love, we just cannot contain it within us, this love will flow out by our service to others. In addition, the talk delved into the influences of parents on our faith which changed our lives as we grew deeper in relationship with God and passed this faith to our children. A deep relationship with God means longing to stay with Jesus (John 1:37-39), doing the will of the Heavenly Father and thus becoming Jesus’ mother, sister, brother (Mathew 12:48-50), and partaking in the body and blood of Jesus (Mathew 26:26-28). And so, rooted in God, we grow in love and sanctity in our family. But love rooted in God is not only confined to our families but extends outwards and thus, we are “sent forth as heroes” into the world – evangelizing and spreading the good news of love as the saints did.
Sr. Claudine, an Augustinian contemplative nun, gave an inspiring talk about “Prayer as a Relationship.” As citizens of heaven, prayer is the call of every Christian. Prayer is a relationship because it is an act of faith, “heart that speaks to another heart. “ “God speaks thru the great silence of the heart.” Contemplative prayer is prayer of the heart, it is going back to our inner self, not bound by what is going on in our environment such that even noise becomes part of our silence. Alone in prayer, a person can either think of nothing but be in the presence of God or silently communicate his innermost soul to God. Through prayer, you think not only of yourself but of other people and their well-being and thus, in effect, you are relating with them even if you are not physically in front of them. Prayer starts when we want to live a life of prayer. It is not so much of the quantity but the quality of prayer. Prayer should also lead us to service. To love God and neighbor – “to see how Jesus would see and do how Jesus would do.” “Humility is the only path to prayer.” Every act one makes during the day is an expression of communion with God. Even when sleeping, a person is always in communion with God. Thus, prayer is a 24-hour activity. She also taught techniques in “mantra” prayers like inhaling as you say, “Jesus,” and exhaling as you say, “Have mercy on me” especially when one is distracted while praying. The inspiring words of Sr. Claudine on how to pray, being with the nuns for Morning Prayer and meeting them were so heartwarming; making the Conference truly meaningful and memorable.
The Conference ended with a call for commitment and challenged us to follow through in our lives. Several questions were laid down to guide us that seek actions. Where do we go from here—as a Christian community and as a Guanellian Lay Cooperator?
Fr. Charlton Viray, SdC has cited the virtues of St. Louis Guanella where we can draw our inspiration. His life, faith and total trust in Divine Providence is an example of a man of charity. Like St. Guanella, Pope Francis has touched many lives by his simplicity and humility, a man also worth emulating as our model of love and charity for the poor.