By Julie Ann Loong, for the North Star
“Lent is a time to reach out to neighbors, grow spiritually, and renew your relationship with God as we prepare for Easter,” announces Father Ike as he gave the welcoming during last week’s Lenten Parish Mission in Mt Carmel Cathedral.
The Lenten Parish Mission, organized by the Diocesan Commission on Faith Formation, allowed those willing to attend a moment of reflection and spiritual renewal in this season of Lent. Hundreds of parishioners attended the sessions last week. There were three sessions held on different days at Kristo Rai Parish, Mt Carmel Cathedral, and San Antonio Parish.
Pamphlets on examination of conscience were handed out as the sacrament of Reconciliation is urgent. The assembly began with the proclamation of scripture: a reading from 2Ti 1:2-10, which spoke of being Christian by becoming witnesses of God, how we are called to be holy, and to, “stir up the spiritual gift that God gave us.” This in itself encapsulates a crucial part of, not just the season of Lent, but every season.
Bishop Ryan was the main presenter, highlighting three main points, or the “Three G’s” as he referred to them. He shared his sagacious interpretation and told anecdotes containing much wisdom.
The Three G’s were God’s initiative, the gifts we are bestowed at baptism, and our role in having the good news proclaimed.
“We are called to mend our ways, as we have the tendency to focus on ourselves. God has already reconciled with us. If we place God first, everything will follow just as in that song we sing in Sunday’s. When we were baptized, we became Christians. We became children of God in Christ. From this, we realize that the gift of baptism is the gift of faith. This is the gift of faith in Christ. Saint Thomas of Aquinas once said, ‘Contemplata aliis tradere,’ which means to hand to others the fruits of contemplation. We can share our insights with others. Sharing the good news is essential to us. Our joy cannot be complete unless we share it with others.”
In his conclusion, Bishop told the story of a woman’s journey of faith that he found on a magazine subscription. The section titled “Why We Came. Why We Left. Why We Stayed,” was a series of essays about the testimonies of people who, in their faith, experienced what the title suggests. In this particular woman’s story, she was born and raised as a Catholic, left the church due to circumstances relating to her career, and ultimately came back to the faith in God’s mysterious ways. In her example, the grace if God was at work. Because of God’s initiative, she was moved by the Holy Spirit. Now, she is sharing and evangelizing the gospel through her experience.
“May we treasure all the gifts God has given us, the gift of faith, as we continue in this Lenten journey.”
After the Bishop’s presentation, the assembly was given a moment to reflect and were asked the question of who was an important person that handed on the faith to them. A couple of people were able to give their answers, and then candle sticks were passed out for the candle lighting, baptismal renewals, and sending forth, which was the perfect way to end the night.
Nicole Malasarte, a confirmation student from the cathedral, said that her faith was passed on from her mom. “She reminded me that I should believe in God because he’s the one who sacrificed his life for us, and without him, we wouldn’t be here. Anything can happen as long as God is with you. I’d share what I heard tonight with family and friends so that they can remember that it’s important to have faith so that it can help you and your family.”
Angelica Racelis, a parishioner, also said that it was her mom who passed her faith unto her. “We need to find our path towards God and being closer to him. Tonight refreshed me on what true faith is. In regards to sharing the faith, being there to listen to my friends is one way.sharing the faith can also be about being there for them.”
In Kristo Rai, Deacon Jeff also shared how thankful he was towards his grandmother who was the main person who influenced him in his faith.
Jesus says to us, “Go and be reconciled.” Through our baptism, we have all become one family. Let us remember God’s initiative, the gifts we receive, and bearing witness of the gospel in our lives. This Lent, let us be reconciled with our families and ourselves so that we may be ready for the day of His resurrection.
The next session will be on April 9 at Santa Soledad in Kagman. Then Bishop Ryan and some members of the Faith Formation Commission will fly to Rota and Tinian on April 10 and 12, respectively, to conduct the same Parish Lenten Mission.