faith in community

faith in community

“While my faith doesn’t change, its cultural expression may. This is part of being a missioner.” – maryknoll

sitting in a small church in beckel and listening to the whole mass in ilokano (i definitely did not understand 98% of what was said) gave me lots of time to think. the good thing about the Catholic mass, is that regardless of where i go, the liturgy is the same…so i’m familiar with the flow, and though at times i may not necessarily understand the exact translation, i can catch on to what i am praying (in english. 🙂
but, here were some of my thoughts and experiences – welcome to my stream of consciousness:
* is it possible to feel more Jesus in a small community? um, yeah. as i was sitting in the second pew from the front, i thought to myself, wow. the aura of this community, the spirit is so alive here. what a blessing! when i attend mass in a huge church like the cathedral here in baguio city, it’s not as powerful for me…but just sitting here in this church, listening to the congregation singing their hearts out in a language i don’t completely understand, i felt like i was home. funny how that works.
on the same level as the altar. i appreciated that.
* while the priest spoke in ilokano the whole time, he did say one phrase in english: “you cannot share what you do not have.” how true that is! if i want to share love with others, i have to have love within myself, in my whole being, and be that love. if i want to share joy with others, i must embody that joy and give it freely. i immediately thought of mission kapote and how i am so touched by the enormous generosity of my family, friends, and strangers.
* what a challenge and how beautiful it is to be able to serve others with our lives. not an instant martyrdom completed in a matter of seconds, but an everyday martyrdom – all for the love of one another. not a self-pity statement, but what a gift it is to be able to serve wholeheartedly, with endurance and true passion in the areas that have pulled our heartstrings. despite any opposition, persecution, trial, or challenge, with our eyes and hearts in the right direction, we GO.
* i feel like God could care less about the big words, pretty language, artsy ways we articulate our prayer. i don’t think that matters so much, as the authenticity of that which is in our hearts. 
* i thought about the gardener that i saw working outside of one of the retreat centers in baguio, back in december. i remember looking down at him from the window a couple of stories above him, thinking to myself, this man works day in, day out, so hard. i did not see his face, but watching him work, i realized, wow, what a gift it would be to truly lay one’s life down for another. am i willing?
* what would it look like if all of us in the world used our gifts and talents to serve others? to use who we are for GOOD in the world? how beautiful that would be…
* the offertory at mass was comprised of vegetables, fruits, bread, some juice boxes, 3-in-1 packets of coffee, and seedlings that would later be planted at our SOSCFI farm…these vegetables, this variety of fruits, the packets of coffee, this is livelihood. this is the livelihood of the community. the little that they have, they freely give, and share. what an inspiration. this is their offering, and it was absolutely beautiful.
this was by far one of the most powerful masses i have attended in the 20+ months i have been here in baguio city. tucked in to a little community called beckel, is the Padre Pio Parish that is dynamic, full of life, energy, and inspiration, and is true testament to the word, “community.”
after mass, one of the board members of our foundation took the staff out for some dessert…we had worked super hard friday, saturday and sunday…all day! it was starting to feel like we were sleeping at the office or something cause we were there early mornings and there until late, working on our different programs and activities. but the gift, is that, they were all successful activities! 🙂
this is what a happy kid looks like:
i spent the rest of the day running around town, enjoying the weather and went to the victory liner to get a ticket for manila. the line was the longest i had ever seen, winding all over the place, and i definitely stutter-stepped three times while i decided whether or not to just come back. well, i decided to tough it out, and i ran into a couple of the CICM seminarians who helped me out. 🙂 we ended up chatting the whole time and afterwards, sat on the stoop of the victory liner terminal, spending time talking vocation, challenges in the seminary and religious life, and shared some of our experiences so far. God is just so good at these spontaneous moments…looking back,  i can say there was grace in that run-in at the victory liner. i think it needed to happen. and it did!
there we go!


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