Circular Letter No. 20/13
December 20, 2013
“And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us,
and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son
full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)
Peace and all good!
The last months of 2013 were really difficult for our brothers and sisters in Central Philippines. The damage which was brought about by the calamities is not foreign to most of us. And our sisters Capuchinas were not spared from the effects of one of the two calamities- Typhoon Yolanda.
We are grateful to God that none of them was hurt although some parts of their monastery sustained some damage. Because of the condition in Ormoc, the lack of food, electricity and the danger of being exposed to wayward elements, the Mexican embassy advised our sisters, particularly the Mexican Capuchinas to leave their monastery and transfer to the other CCS monasteries, in Lipa City or Davao, and eventually be repatriated to Mexico.
But what impressed me with what seemed to be “delicate” women is that they opted to stay in Ormoc in spite the discomfort and difficulties they themselves encounter. They not only brought home the message that they are one with the suffering of the people affected by the typhoon; they clearly offered hope for those who suffer. One could just imagine if those who mourn for their dead, those who were left homeless, those who are without food and water for days would see our sisters leaving!
With what the sisters had done I could see the dawn of Christmas morning as early as November. In the midst of tragedy, mourning, destruction, desolation, “the Word became flesh and dwelt amongst us.” The Gospel was proclaimed not plainly with the eloquence and brilliance of a well-thought of oration but in the clarity and vividness of action.
There are times that we need to stay in a situation or place even in the face of difficulties to bear witness to the Gospel, to fully live our identity and charism. It is in such moments that what we have been formed to be could truly blossom. Leaving at such a moment would perhaps strike our spirit a deathblow. And we would leave confused and dissociated.
On the other hand, at other times or other places, we need to leave and go. We need to move beyond the confines of what has already been familiar with us, what has already been usual to us, what we have been graced with dexterity because if not we might become complacent merely resting on our laurels, inanimate. There should always be a predisposition and openness to be challenged anew; to go on a journey, an adventure of radical uncomfortable Evangelical freshness, shaking off the web that entangles and keeps us glued to places, people and positions.
We need then to be enlightened where to stay and where and when to leave.
The greatest challenge perhaps that blocks our holy discernment on where to stay or leave is our self. Pope Francis has this to say, “The great danger in today’s world, persuaded as it is by consumerism is the desolation and anguish born of a complacent yet covetous heart, the feverish pursuit of frivolous pleasures, and a blunted conscience. Whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor, God’s voice is no longer heard, the quiet joy of His love no longer felt and the desire to do good fades.”
Where do we stay? Where do we leave or go?
We should ask ourselves this question, “Where are the lame? Where are the lepers? the blind? the deaf? the ones without voice? Where are the poor?”
Where our SELF is there they are not.
This for me is Christmas that the Almighty God freely chose to strip Himself of royal robes to lay in the discomfort of a manger, to be Emmanuel.
We hope to follow the footsteps of Christ to incarnate Him once more in ourselves for others, to make every day Christmas.
Praying for you all for a holy and blessed Christmas,
Br. Eugenio Juanilo P. Lopez, OFMCap.
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