Ang Ligaya ng Panginoon Community continues to celebrate its year-long 40th anniversary celebration and held a Community Conference themed “Living the Life in Love” at St. Paul-Pasig Auditorium last February 15.
The said Conference adopted the LNP’s 40th Anniversary theme which focused on how love is lived within the community as disciples on mission and outside which is on how to love our neighbors.
The Community Conference is being held yearly where the Community sets the stage for the entire year and asks for the Lord’s marching orders.
A celebration of the Holy Eucharist opened the Conference with Fr. Alex Nolasco of the Missionaries of God’s Love (a former member of the LNP under the University District in 2001) and Fr. Marty Macasaet of the Salesians of Don Bosco (SDB).
Right after the Holy Mass, Senior Head Coordinator Spanky Meer set foot on the stage and took time to proudly announce the new Senior Head Coordinator come July this year. “Last January 10, the Council of Coordinators met and we took time to pray and listen to God on who will be the next Senior Head Coordinator. With just one round of casting votes, the Council of Coordinators came to an almost unanimous decision.” SHC Spanky even made a funny remark, “Then, there was the white smoke!”, pertaining to what happens when a Pope gets elected. And then he said, “It is my great joy, honor and privilege to present to you the new Senior Head Coordinator-elect, Andy Juan!”
Senior Head Coordinator-elect Andy Juan (North District B) will be officially installed as new SHC in July during the 40th Anniversary Celebration.
Resident theologian and Vatican Congregation on Catholic Education-acclaimed Dr. Jake Yap delivered the keynote address which tackled the “present challenges on how to live our life in love in the present times”.
A panel discussion was conducted in the afternoon session of the Conference. The guests were Ellen Jamias (North District A), Reynor Buenaflor (South District A), Jordan Echague (Central University District) and Department of Works and Public Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson (Central District C). Two resident theologian-professors, Dr. Jake Yap (North District C) and Raoul Roncal (Central University District), joined the panel. Eddie Mendoza (Central District B) moderated the panel discussion.
To cap the entire Conference and to highlight the theme, Senior Head Coordinator Emeritus Vic Gutierrez gave a summary-exhortation. His address tackled the “Zechariah vision” of the community, the wisdom of the more mature brothers and sisters–the “old men in the village”, the role of the youth in today’s evangelization, the dangers of practical atheism, on being a prophetic people, on LNP being a “work in progress”, on the role of the community parents raising their children in the ways of the Lord and becoming community leaders, and the great mission ahead of LNP in the coming years most especially as the community enters its fifth decade.
The Conference ended with a time of praise and worship for the LNP to hear what the Lord will say to them as one body of disciples on mission. It also signaled the year-long celebration of God’s faithfulness for the entire 40 years Ligaya has been blessed and continues to be blessed.
“Living the life in love” and practical atheism
Dr. Jake Yap discussed and presented the “love” being lived inside and outside the community and how ” living the life in love” is being challenged by the present times.
“All the greatest commandments are reducible to one thing: to love,” said Dr. Yap. He showed an image of Pope Francis embracing a man with a condition called neurofibromatosis. “Days after being elected as a Pope, we get to see this. This is an update of Jesus embracing a man with a disease,” Dr. Yap further stated.
Dr. Yap cited Romans 13:10, “Love is the fulfilling of the law.” He explained that the verse has to be realized along with the greatest commandment which is “…to love one another as I have loved you.” Dr. Yap mentioned two distinct points. First, he mentioned: “[Love] the Church, the people of God, our brothers and sisters. How can we say we are loving if we turn away our eyes from our brothers and sisters? Where is good conscience there?” He immediately stated his second point, “[Love] in Community. The Community radiates the love by living its way of life. Back in 1975, there was the prophecy which gave us our name. “You will see my face in the love you have for one another”.”
Specific challenges to living the love in love were also discussed. To present the idea on how pervasive the challenges are, Dr. Yap quoted the Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI when he was still Cardinal Ratzinger, “We are living in period of great dangers that imposes great responsibility on us all.” Dr. Yap further quoted a prophesy from Bruce Yocum, “The storm is rising, clouds gather. Where is now the shelter? Where the bulwark, where the refuge? Where is the strength of the shelter when the storm is upon it?”
Dr. Yap enumerated the direct assaults to the Christian faith. “First is atheism. It is the active rejection of God. An example of this is Friedrich Nietzsche who quoted the infamous “God is dead”. The second is agnosticism, where one do not really reject the idea of God and doesn’t really take time to know if there really is a God. They are the people who ‘do not care’. Third is secular humanism. This is the acknowledgment of the human’s abilities and potentials. One example is Richard Dawkins, who believes that humans are on their way to find out that their abilities can possibly have no limits, the so-called “imperial self,” Dr. Yap explained. What highlighted this part of Dr. Yap’s keynote address, is particularly addressed to the Christians. “Practical atheism. This does not mean that we don’t believe in God but the way we live our lives as if there is no God who has authority over us,” Dr. Yap exclaimed. He further added, “All Christians are susceptible to this in one way or another. This is what Jerry Bridges mentioned as “ungodliness” in his book ‘Respectable Sins’.”
“God is missing, but he is not missed,” said Dr. Yap. “We live a life too busy with many things and concerns that hinder us from finding time for God. We live a life that is too full to acknowledge His presence. We live a life that is too good–a life of affluence–to recognize our need of Him,” he commented. Before he ended his keynote address, Dr. Yap imposed a question: “What does all of these have to do with us in Ligaya?” He continued with his statement and highlighted the wayf of life Ligaya is trying to live out, “Everything in Ligaya ng Panginoon is designed to prevent us from being practical atheists.” He quoted James 4:13-16, emphasizing the Lord’s command to a specific obedience and way of life. As a closing remark, he mentioned a prophesy from the Sword of the Spirit International Executive Council President Jean Barbara, “I have built you for more.”
The document of Dr. Jake Yap’s keynote lecture/address can be viewed and downloaded here (please click the link): Challenges to Living Our Life in Love
Practical atheism: a conquerable enemy
To profoundly emphasize the challenges practical atheism impose on each and every Christian, a panel discussion was conducted where different members of LNP (with different profiles and states of life) were selected to sit as discussants and were asked regarding their respective experiences of “ungodliness”.
Eddie Mendoza moderated the panel discussion. The first question was to describe the their life before entering community. Ellen Jamias shared that she was a practicing Catholic”. “I did attend the Holy Days of obligation…but as a social function where I meet my relatives and friends,” Ellen said. Ellen shared that the first time she attended a gathering in Pathways Cradle of Joy, she was having a hangover. Reynor Buenaflor said that he was a nominal Catholic and he was okay with his college life. He was evangelized through a classmate in Cebu and he was baptized in the Holy Spirit through Lingkod. Growing up in a Catholic family, Rogie Singson did attend Mass every Sunday. As he worked in the Middle East, he observed how the Muslims devote themselves to the worship of Allah. “I was observing them and I felt that I want to have a personal relationship with my God just like the Muslims do,” Rogie stated. He entered community through the BCBP. Jordan Echague, a guy born in Ligaya shared his experience, “I did not understand why I had to attend prayer meetings, gatherings and assemblies. It was very inconvenient for me.”
Talking about their own experiences of “ungodliness”, Jordan said, “My god is convenience. If it is not convenient for me, I won’t do it.” Reynor shared his and said, “I was skipping prayer time.” Being a mom who is very busy everyday, Ellen exclaimed, “Temper, gossiping and prayer time–these what makes me ungodly.” A Ligaya member for a very long time now, Rogie admitted that there are still a lot of “ungodliness” in him. “I need more time to reflect on God’s word. Sometimes I feel I am too busy, too tired. Also, there is this lack of boldness. When I call for a meeting, minsan iba pa ang prayer leader and I do not initiate to lead.”
Jordan threw a question to Dr. Yap: “Is it okay to acknowledge my certain victories and achievements? “Yes but it should be attributed to God. We have to understand that it is a cooperation between you and God,” Dr. Yap answered. “Gratitude completes the picture. We’re missing something big if we don’t acknowledge the Giver of the gift,” Prof. Roncal added.
Eddie asked the panel “What helps you to grow in the community?” Ellen answered, “Service.” Reynor seconded. Rogie answered by way of stating that he needs to balance his time. “I have to make sure that malapit ako sa Panginoon. I have to make sure that I know my priorities. I see to it that I attend my MGWG meetings, gatherings. I have to make sure that I eat dinner with my wife.” Rogie added, “A lot of people were asking me, “Bakit enjoy na enjoy ka sa trabaho mo?” We were taught in Ligaya to serve joyfully. You just have to be good example on how to be a leader and you have to do what the Lord has told you to do.” Jordan said, “The perspective of community on how to deal with certain things. Kapag mga friends ko outside the community at may problema, inuman agad. What I do is I consult my Pastoral Leader first and seek some input from my Men’s Group.”
As a way of closing the panel discussion, Eddie asked, “How do you continue to fan the flame?” ‘Focus on my prayer time”, Ellen said. “Jordan shared, “Service is key. Also, attend and listen very carefully to the community courses.” Reynor said, “to remember my own conversion story. The important thing is to be reminded of why are you here.” Rogie stated, “To be radical and heroic disciples.If you want to be a good disciple, you have to listen to the Lord, seek Him and at the end of the day, follow Him.”
The “old man in the village” talks
Senior Head Coordinator Emeritus Vic Gutierrez delivered the summary/exhortation of the entire Conference. As one of the founding members of our dear Community, it was fitting for him to share his perspective, wisdom and guidance to the body during the Conference. He said, “as an old man of the village, I can give a certain perspective to the experience of the past as the village faces the challenges of today and prepare for tomorrow. I have been asked to give my views as an old man of this community.”
His presentation tackled the vision he had for Ligaya, the expansion of the bulwark and the next steps to be taken as one community of disciples on mission. His presentation can be viewed and downloaded here (please click the link): Ligaya 40th Community Anniversary Conference (Vic Gutierrez)
There will be a second part of the Community Conference in October. (Tito) Vic announced, “We are not ending our conference today. Next October, we will resume this conference. We will discuss how our Filipino culture combined with our Christian community culture is building us up to be effective servants and prophets that the Lord wants us to be. Let us look forward to that conference.”