Level – 3 Renewal Program
Upon reaching forty years in the Congregation,
the Sisters need to be renewed after long years
of having been in the ministry in the service of
God's Kingdom. Indeed, it is a great privilege
to go through the renewal program as offered
by the Congregation for the welfare of each one.
The program took place at the Audio -Visual
Room of the Central House on May 4 - 10, 2015.
Direction Setting : Sr. Agnetia Naval
In the absence of Sr. Julie Saguibo, Sr. Agnetia also read the WELCOME MESSAGE
of the Provincial Superior. Quoting from Lewis Richmond, a Buddhist writer and teacher,
Five Best Practices for Aging are worth remembering:
1. Gratitude - How do we pray our "thank you" prayers?
2. Generosity - Giving back and helping others make us happier and more content.
3. Reframing - Aging includes its shares of reverses, losses and sorrows.
4. Curiosity - Curiosity is an important attitude to cultivate as we age. It keeps us young.
5. Flexibility - Every reversal comes with new opportunity, no matter what happens.
A spiritual perspective on aging is not just for personal transformation; it is medicine
for LONGEVITY and HEALTH. We deserve to enjoy our aging; it is our reward in the
continuing adventure of living a wholesome life.
Sr. Virginia Embuido introduced the first Speaker.
Dr. Farah Arsenia Agustin Bunch was the first Guest Speaker. Sr. Virginia
Embuido has been a long-time patient of hers. As Sr. Virginia is holding a jar of
coconut oil in this picture, Dr. Bunch focused her lecture on the medicinal value
of one of our own native products in the Philippines, the Coconut. She underscored
that Coconut Oil isthe Drug Store in a Bottle" which can cure a lot of diseases.
Sisters were very enthusiastic listening to Dr. Bunch. Sr. Immaculee was one of the
zealous sisters who asked a lot of questions during the session.
It was a blessed day indeed! The sisters bestowed the solemn blessing of St. Francis
for the couple in gratefulness for the graces received for the day through them. The
sisters' added knowledge on the use of coconut oil and other tips for treating maladies
was the beginning of renewal.
Sr. Ana Malapitan,RC was the second Resource Speaker with the theme,
" SPIRITUALITY OF THE SECOND HALF OF LIFE JOURNEYING TOWARDS WHOLENESS".
Salient points from her presentation were:
1. We are God's work of art, we are gifts. The second half of our lives should be spent in
partnership with God (interiority) and quality relationships recognizing our LIMITS,
DIMINISHMENT and ACCEPTANCE. It is celebrating the gift of years, not as burdens.
The second half of life makes our true identity and we find the person we CHOOSE
TO BECOME. To be authentic in the afternoon of life is to be integrated. Goodness is
beauty, and beauty is love made visible. Aging comes in with generativity, a culmination
of the journey. It is a stage in life, "the wear and tear..." It is a slow process . The
challenge for aging and the task is how to embrace the blessings of our time and
overcome the burdens. The trajectory is always toward communion.
The "Wear and Tear" Theory
Our bodies gradually wear out after a period of time. The parts break down and we
eventually cease to live. No matter how often we are fixed by medical treatment, there
comes a time when the fixing is no longer possible. We experience a gradual breakdown.
God uses this ordinary human process of aging to invite us to let go and turn over control
to God and to trust that God will provide.
The "Program" Theory
This offers insight that no matter how good our health is, there is a cap on human
longevity. The theory postulates that according to our understanding of cell
reproduction, our bodies are programmed for some 120 years of life. The day will
come when, no matter what, we will go to God. Longevity offers us the opportunity
to reflect on how our life is and put it in order for the Lord's coming.
2. Realities to accept:
Time slows down in aging. There is a lot of empty time that can bring on
loneliness. But this too can be an opportunity for intimacy with God. Boredom can
be a burden when we miss the point of slowing down as grace. The rhythm of
old age may be slower than that of youth but it can reveal a new kind of beauty,
one refined by experience.
Dependence is one of the challenges of aging. It is a call to compassion. It is an
invitation to a new way of loving, by embracing one's vulnerability and need for
others and gratefully receive love. This also opens to the christian vision of an
Losses occur in our lives throughout, but they often come at a faster pace in the
last years. We grieve not only for our losses but for the ultimate loss of self.
Facing losses opens one to enter the darkness of suffering, to blessed grieving
and letting - go in faith.
Memory - Old age is memory incarnate. Aging is a time of storytelling of our
lives. We experience the fear of forgetting. It's good for us to be with someone
old even if we are not remembered. When we die, we become a memory.
Love and Friendship - There are dimensions of love that can only be experienced
in later years. The ripening of relationship into a familiarity happens with a sense
of mystery and reverence, a love that transcends trials and which reveals
the fidelity. It is at this stage that intimacy heightens because of multiple losses.
Relationships give meaning to our lives.
Dying - Death is the final moment of life. Dying is a journey a person must take
in the last phase of life. It can sometimes be a long journey of progressive
suffering, but we often fear weakness, pain, physical dependence and mental
deterioration more than the cessation of life.
Redemptive Diminishment means finding God in the midst of the varied and
constant passivities of diminishment: the crushing failure, sudden accident or
illness, etc. Recognizing the capacities of such experiences can transform us.
Struggling and accepting them in faith as a share in the redemptive suffering
of Christ in us and in the world which opens up to the gift of the Resurrection.
Legacy - Reflect on your whole life. Think of yourself as God's work of art meant
to be a blessing to others.
REFLECTION : What is the legacy you want to leave behind?
How do you want to be remembered?
Sisters shared in between sessions.
Important Points for Reflection that were shared:
1. Reflect on your experience of the elderly (your own parents,
old people you know). How do you regard them?
2. Who are the old people you know who inspire you?
Discourage you? Why?
3. How do you feel about growing old? What are your fears?
4. What is your sense of the community /society's attitude
towards old people?
MOVIE ANALYSIS: SHADOW LANDS
The movie portrays Jack whose anima was aroused. He was angry because of the loss
of his love one, and this wounding on his part gave him the chance to be vulnerable.
The wounding is important because this is where spirituality begins. The art of
letting - go every moment of our life is always LADEN WITH GRACE. The process of
holding on and letting - go leads to happiness because when we entrust things to God,
things are seen differently. INTEGRATION begins with the new self then.The movie
explains the many polarities of life, i.e. "There is no heaven, but I like to see her again".
" HAPPINESS IS NOW PART OF THE PAIN THEN".
SYNTHESIS: Compassion for the World - Discover the depth of your humanity
to touch the God in us. When we die, it's the ultimate passage for new life.
Sr. Naty was one of the Sisters who shared her reflection at the end of the
last session after which she sang an appropriate song for Sr. Ana to the delight
The Solemn Blessing of St. Francis was also sung by the
Sisters in gratitude for Sr. Ana's haring in the hope that
this added experience with her will enrich our SFIC way of life!
The Sisters' third Resource Speaker was Dr. Hildegardes Dineros who also
shared his expertise on HEALING.
He gave a holistic approach to the topic on "aging", in the context of the spiritual,
biological, chronological, and psychological framework. He maintained that:
1. SELFLESSNESS IS GODLINESS AND SELFISHNESS takes the self as its center.
2. The road to selflessness is the road to holiness.
3. Healing energies are positive. We are exposed to both positive and negative energies.
4. In all areas of life, be focused on God.
5. Be aware all the time of your spirituality.
He also reminded us to strengthen our immune system:
* taking a lot of water, vitamins, rest, good activities, and dwelling on God through
FORGIVENESS & COMPASSION.
Dr. Dineros was so pleased with the personal sharing and openness of Sr. Redempta that
he donated his honorarium to La Verna II. Sr. Letty Nuyles was just pleased to receive the
check. That's how generous Dr. Dineros is! It is not surprising given the deeply religious
man that he is! God bless Dr. Dineros!
Sr. Lourdes Panganiban introduced the last Speaker for the program.
Last but not the least, Bishop Emeritus Teodoro Bacani gave the most important topic
for the sisters which should be in our hearts as we continue journeying on in our Senior
years, "Consecrated Life". His talk centered on HOLINESS, where he explained that there
is no holiness in sadness. Following Jesus is richness because Jesus is rich in mercy,
in grace, in wisdom, joy and love. To live is renunciation of life, which means that you
become rich if you lose your life. He continued further that Religious Life is testimonial
to grace, and when Christ calls us, it is always through his own initiative. Given this
highlight for the different topics given to the Sisters in Level - 3, we can say that having
reached this stage of our Religious Life is indeed a grace to be treasured and with one
voice, we say THANK YOU to the Congregation! Congratulations to all!