A Day of Recollection with Rev. Fr. Cantalamessa,OFM
While the priests gathered for the second National Congress for the Clergy (NCC) at the World Trade Center in Pasay, we were among the great assembly of laity that filled the Araneta Colliseum in Cubao at 8:30 am on January 28, 2010. It was the fourth day of the NCC when Fr. Raniero Cantalamesa, OFM (Capuchin) preached to the religious and laymen/women during their recollection.Fr. Cantalamessa is a Patristic Theology Professor who became a charismatic preacher. Since the time of Pope John Paul II he is a preacher to the Papal Household. The theme of this one-day Recollection was in line with theme of the Year for the Priests: “Faithfulness of Christ, Faithfulness of the Priests, Faithfulness of the Laity.”
To set the mood a choral group of Charismatic Prayer Movement began singing songs and the everybody joined them to their hearts’ content. Some moments were spent for silence. Silence was broken when everybody sang, “O, Sacred Heart“ during the procession of the statue of St. Marie Jean Vianney, the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus. These three statues were enthroned on the stage. When the enthronement was over and all were in silence Fr. Cantalamessa was called to begin his first talk on the Clergy and Laity Relationship.
He gave emphasis to the fundamental vocation of the laity to holiness. In living the vocation to holiness and in doing their mission it is necessary to establish harmonious relationship with the clergy and vice versa. Every Christian is challenged to live out his vocation which is a precious gift from God. We were so engrossed listening to Fr. Cantalamessa without passing of the time. He shared his reflection with us for an hour after which a group of young men and women led us to praise the Lord with their joyful songs to keep our spirit alive. This has prepared us to welcome and listen to the faith experience of a married woman, a government employee who was persecuted by her boss and fellow employees in the office where she worled as an accountant. She stood for the truth without wavering in her in God and at the end she won the fight. She gave all the glory to God who never abandoned her in the midst of her trials. Her sharing confirmed what Fr. Cantlamessa said: “Every person is called to live his/her vocation to holiness and each one has different way of doing it.”
In the afternoon Fr. Cantalamessa dealt with Marriage and Family in the Bible. He made us aware of the role of the laity to fulfill the God’s Divine Project in marriage.This pious preacher taught us that the first school of Religion is the family and, it is in the family that the Holy Trinity is reflected in the world. Fr. Cantalamessa’s talk was further deepened with the sharing of a couple, Mr. and Mrs. Sompayco. The couple narrated how the Lord called them to participate in his Divine Project through their marriage and family life. In responding to this call they discovered that realization and appreciation for the beauty of their God-given vocation to married life did not happen automatically. Like any other couple they experienced storms in living their commitment to God and to one another. They have learned to accept each other and to embrace their strengths and weaknesses. They bore witness to their love for each other more when they have become active partners in the family life ministry in the parish where they belong as they faithfully reared and formed their children according to their dignity as Christians. One of their sons is now a full-fledged priest of the Society of Jesus. As we rejoiced and thanked God for his inspiring works he has done through these people, Fr. Cantalamessa affirmed and lauded their good examples. He recognized the generosity and true sacrifice the laymen and women have contributed to the church. He challenged all of them to strive, collaborate sincerely with and pray for their pastors so that peace and justice may truly reign in this world.
The day culminated with the celebration of the Holy Eucharist with the Rite of Sending Forth of some laymen/women at 3:30 pm. His Eminence Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales presided in the Mass with some bishops and priests. With this we ended our recollection bringing with us Fr. Cantalamessa’s prayer: “God, look at me and rejoice!”
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