(Below is the Exhortation given by our Senior Head Coordinator Tito Spanky Meer during our 37th Anniversary celebration last July 15, 2012 held at PICC Forum.)
Let me now share with you an inspiration I got yesterday morning as I was praying.
The First Reading was on Isaiah and to the familiar question asked by our Lord, ‘Whom do I send?’, Isaiah’s answer was, ‘Here I am, Lord. Send me’. We’re familiar with that.
But as I continued to pray, the words that grabbed me were the cries of the Seraphims, the angels, ‘Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of hosts! All the earth is filled with His glory!
And so, I sat there. And I treasured those words. And I cried out with the Seraphims, ‘Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord! All the earth is filled with His glory!’
And so, my brothers and sisters, that inspired me to caption my exhortation today this way, ‘Grateful hearts giving glory to God!….Grateful hearts giving glory to God!’
Lord, thank You for having written our names in the palm of Your hand even before we were born. Even when we were still in the womb of our mother, You already loved us. Thank You, Lord.
And I continued to thank God, and I continued to praise God. And I will highlight some of the miracles, big and small, that I want you, my brothers and sisters, to join me in praising and thanking our God and our King!
I asked the Center to come out with a list (list of 10 Youth Activities was projected on the screen)…. there it is! While we were on summer break, the Holy Spirit was alive and filled with energy, blessing us through all you brothers and sisters serving in all those camps and activities…Can you see them from where you are seated? Can you read them? Ang dami! I was so surprised, so pleasantly shocked! Read them with me…195 participants during the Young Adults Camp. 106 participants during the JYA Camp. Look what the Holy Spirit is doing in our midst thru you, brothers and sisters who have been serving the youth – the youth in Community, even the youth outside Community. I will not bother to go down the list and enumerate them and describe what was happening, but just for you to get a glimpse or visualize what or how the Holy Spirit wants to bless us, moving forward in the years to come…I call attention to the last item here. The 6th National Catholic Charismatic Congress, held at the SMX last May 31, where there were over 4,000 people in attendance. We had 64 UD, CYA and YAs serving in 7 workshops, leading worship and just inspiring all the participants. They must have done so well that the challenge was issued to Ligaya, ‘Will we, in 2015, host and lead the next National Charismatic Congress?’ Will we rise up to the challenge? Will we say ‘Yes’ to the Holy Spirit?
Yes, Lord, use us, touch us, bless us and bless others through us!
(But I mentioned to some of you, ‘Maybe that’s no longer my work. Maybe that’s the work of the next Senior Head Coordinator.)
But let me go on…. Catchfire – the Catchfire Rally that we had last year during the ‘Christ the King Sunday’….. We thought we couldn’t fill up ULTRA, but we, by God’s grace, had over 8,000 in attendance – fired up!
Our theme – One King, One People, One Mission – we ended up all fired up. And some said, ‘Spanky, is that a one day event? You answer that question, my brothers and sisters. Is it a one- time event, or is that fire, that message, the effects of Catchfire, something that we, as parents, would like to drill into our children…that we, leaders of Community, we want to see alive in our members…that we, brothers and sisters, will make sure that that fire of the Holy Spirit continues to burn in all our hearts, not for one day, but to the next Catchfire Rally to be held on November 25?
We wanted a bigger venue, we wanted SMX, we wanted the Arena – why? – we want to dream with the Holy Spirit. We want to dream with one another.
And I’m happy to announce the theme for this year will be ‘ALL FOR THE KING’…’ALL FOR THE KING’. All of us – everything that we are – for the King!
And I have very good news, it will be co-hosted, co-led, by our brothers and sisters from FAMILIA. I’d like to request all our leaders from FAMILIA to please rise and be recognized – headed by Ben Galang, who is now the co-chair of the next Catchfire Rally. Thank you.
And let me share a sense that I have about Catchfire – God is forging greater love, greater unity among us, among the Partners in Mission, because He is preparing us for something that lies ahead – something that will require our collective efforts, our collective prayers, our collective sacrifice.
So brothers and sisters, pray along with me. I also thank the Holy Spirit for the Pentecost Vigil that you, my brothers and sisters, hosted at PDS. For the first time in our history, we had a Pentecost Vigil right behind the Center, in that Covered Courts area, and we invited the brethren from PDS. Unfortunately, most of us Coordinators, were in New Jersey, attending a conference, that we weren’t able to be part of what was happening there. I received a lot of positive feedback (Let’s do it again next year). So Holy Spirit of God, thank You for revealing, once more, Your glory!
I can go on and on and on….but I don’t want this to sound like a report. God has been moving in the NOW Ministry. God has been moving in the Tahanan ng Panginoon. God has been moving in all of our lives.
But let me touch on one very powerful event that I and many of the brothers were a part of – that was the International Coordinators Meeting (ICM) in New Jersey during the end of May, for five days. The biggest gathering of Sword of the Spirit leaders. We came together in such a gorgeous campus of Caldwell College in New Jersey. It was a great time to share about our lives and to share about God’s work, as we build bulwark together – as we build God’s bulwark together.
And you know the theme was entitled ‘Saints, Missionaries, Martyrs’…. ‘Saints, Missionaries, Martyrs’. Mga kapatid, it was immensely enriching.
We in Ligaya are part of a bigger body, a bigger family – the Sword of the Spirit. And the Sword of the Spirit is a special unit in God’s army, a special unit in God’s church, entrusted with a special mission for the benefit of God’s army and for the benefit of God’s bigger church. And I will liken it to the Navy Seals, maybe? or the Marines? or the SWAT team?
To use the words of the brothers who made presentations before us during the ICM, “We’re being sent behind enemy lines, strategically, to capture maybe a strategic town… a strategic bridge….a strategic mountain. God is sending us. We are part of what the Holy Spirit has been doing and will continue to do to build His church”.
There were many, many prophecies, but one stood out personally to me. What was that prophecy? “I will make your later years the richest, the most fruitful!” Narinig ba n’yo, those of you behind? God said “I will make your later years the richest, the most fruitful!”. And God did not utter those words just to the seniors, just to the NOW. God utters those words to all of us across all ages. “Your later years shall be the richest, and shall be the most fruitful because I give you My Spirit that can move mountains and can work miracles!”
And one comment was made, ‘ Yes, Lord, I will die for you! But please, don’t make me suffer!’ Na-pick up n’yo ba ‘yon? ‘Lord, , I will die for you! But please, don’t make me suffer!’
Those words echoed within me, and so why did I share that comment with all of us here today? Because, mga kapatid, we need more and more prayers, for more and more Courage. ‘Yes, Lord, I’m willing to die for You, but please do not make me suffer!’
“If you want to be My disciples, deny yourselves daily. Carry your crosses daily, and come, follow Me.”
Last Friday, I received an email from a brother. The email contained the CBCP Pastoral Letter of July 9, 2012, announcing 9 years spiritual journey towards the 500th anniversary of Christianity in the Philippines when Magellan landed on March 16, 1521. It was announced and proclaimed that these next 9 years will be an era of New Evangelization, a re-awakening of enthusiasm – really being open to the outpouring more and more of God’s Spirit. The theme: ‘Live Christ, Share Christ!’
So, mga kapatid, everything is bouncing around, is alive, is full of energy because the Holy Spirit is with us. ‘All the earth is filled with His glory! Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord!’
But I am not through thanking the Lord. Last but not least, I thank God for 37 years of His love and His faithfulness to us in Ligaya, His “Community of Disciples on Mission – transgenerational, vibrant: love of a family, discipline of an army, the presence of the Holy Spirit; Disciples: radical, growing in our intimacy with our Lord; on Mission: evangelizing, building community together, Christian unity, defense of the Gospel.”
We are not a perfect people, far from it. We never will be on this earth. We’re all, to borrow the term that Tony used during our Asian Region Council Meeting, we are all ‘walking wounded’. Yes, we are. But with God’s grace, we can be, and are ‘wounded healers’. Yes we are wounded, but with the presence of the Holy Spirit, with love in our hearts, we can still heal together.
There is so much love in Community, but there is also pain. Some had shared with me that they feel taken for granted. Some had shared they are misunderstood. Some even shared they feel unloved….so unloved.
“Lord, help us to love better. Lord, help us to forgive each other.”
And so, Lord, on this our 37th anniversary, acting on an inspiration I received during our last Coordinators Retreat, and Rey referred to it earlier, acting on the inspiration of 2 Chronicles 7:14 and following, and like Isaiah, the First Reading yesterday morning, “Lord, here I am. Begin with me.”
For myself, my wife, my family, all our coordinators – sector, district, ministry coordinators …. senior leaders, senior women leaders, pastoral leaders, and all my brothers and sisters in Ligaya, Father in heaven, forgive us for not putting You first always in our lives”.
And now I address you, my brothers and sisters, and allow me again to ask each of you, for your forgiveness, for not having loved you enough,… and for some, for having offended you, without my knowing, or without my intending it, will you all please forgive me.
My brothers and sisters, may God’s love and His peace, be with us always!
“Thank You, Lord, for 37 years and counting. And to You, dear God, be all the glory and honor, now and forever. Amen.”