By Fr. Eduardo Paglinawan, Jr., sss
This year’s middle religious gathering from August 6-10 was held at Panal, Tabaco, Albay and at Caramoan, Camarines Sur, where the members were warmly welcomed by their hosts. Aside from myself, only seven other members were able to make it, namely, Brs. Rey Acabado and Reno Intong, Frs. Muriel Uy, Junvic Diolata, Froilan Briones, Clifford Barrios and Rudsend Paragas, but it did not prevent us from having a productive and meaningful get-together.
Allow me to describe the gathering featuring orange juice metaphor. When you squeeze an orange, orange juice comes out and no other. The amount of juice you get depends on how hard you squeeze or the number of times you squeeze the fruit.
On the day of our arrival in Panal on August 6 (three batches of the middle religious group - Fr. Froi’s batch, Fr. Muriel’s and Fr. Ford’s), there were smiles all around the community; orange juice was ready and immediately served by active parishioners of the Holy Family Parish. And it seemed that the place was overflowing with orange juice! At that particular moment, as I looked around, I likened the orange juice as coming not from squeezed oranges but produced naturally, emanating from the generosity and hospitality of the parishioners. Food overflowed in abundance; the accommodation was superb. The overflowing “orange juice” from the parishioners made us feel relaxed and special. Even the August 6 and August 7 Eucharistic celebrations were well attended, proving that the parishioners also wanted to have a taste of the orange juice the group of religious would offer them in return.
That whole welcoming experience enabled each one of us to be more cooperative with the prepared set of activities. And we were challenged to be like them (our hosts) so that our orange juice too would freely overflow as we take part in the activities. On the second day, Monsignor Chris Bernarte, Vicar General of the Diocese of Legazpi, offered another taste of orange juice for the New Evangelization Pastorale ― a talk that focuses on the post-baptismal kind of evangelization of every Catholic. Then on the third day, we went to Caramoan, Camarines Sur. On the way to the venue, we encountered fellow consecrated persons belonging to the Congregation of the Daughters of Mary, Mother of the Church, a locally founded congregation of sisters. Again, we received a warm welcome and delicious food. One could easily say that orange juice flowed from everywhere.
At Caramoan, we faithfully followed our schedules of celebrating the Eucharist, communal prayers, sharing our pastoral experiences and recreating together, all of which proved to be rejuvenating and spiritually uplifting.
We hoped that when we returned to our respective assignments, we could bring with us some sense of newness, of being a changed person, whose orange juice is sweeter, overflows not with anger, hatred, bitterness, tension, anxiety, fear or stress, but rather with happiness, calmness, blessing, courage, forgiveness and even understanding towards the members of our respective communities.
This continuing formation program helps make our orange juice more delicious and overflowing to better nourish the people we serve and lead them to fully embrace our Sacramentino or Eucharistic way. We are also working towards making our orange juice creative enough to make bearable whatever difficulties we face.
With this continuing formation we hope to be renewed so that through our lips, Jesus in the Eucharist is speaking, that through our hands, the Eucharistic Jesus is healing, that through our hearts, Jesus is loving and through our person, the Eucharist is working.
Because we let Jesus live in our person, what’s really in our hearts come out.