Journeying with the Young as Carmelites
The 27th Carmelite Family Day in the Philippines took place on July 21, 2019. Speaking before members of different Carmelite congregations and lay associations, Fr. Sheldon Tabile, O.Carm., raised five points that would help in journeying with young people as “witnesses to the resurrection.”
Fr. Tabile said that in order for the Carmelites to truly journey with young people, they should first live in the presence of God so that they could initiate the young into living in the presence of God.
Jude Liao, a youth leader at the Minor Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Quezon City, shared his experience as a teacher, saying that to journey with the young is not so much about telling students what to do, but to actually and genuinely be available to them whenever they are in need of a guide.
“The memory of love is very important. The memory of love is living in the presence of God,” said Fr. Tabile, saying that for one to be able to give love one must first overflow with the experience of love from God and only then is one able to share love with others.
This led to the second point, where Fr. Tabile asserted that it is when the young are able to experience that they are loved that they will follow and do what they are told, otherwise they are not able to understand what is being communicated to them.
The San Juan couple, Loreto and Elizabeth, agrees, saying that in raising their children they realized that parents should commit time to making their children feel that they are loved.
“It is not enough for them to know that they are loved. They have to be convinced and should feel that they are loved,” Loreto said.
“The message is sent and received because of the act of love,” Fr. Tabile said.
“And the Word became flesh,” Fr. Tabile averred, is the third point to remember in journeying with the young.
“The fullness of love of God is to do anything, even to become vulnerable,” he said.
“When we journey, we don’t journey with ideals. The start of the journey is to recognize that we are journeying with the flesh,” he added.
With this, the audience was reminded that they should also be able to recognize the vulnerability, the pains, and the wounds of the young for them to be able to journey with them, and this, he said, can only be done if those who accompany the young recognize their own vulnerability, pains, and wounds.
Fr. Tabile also stated that the young should be enabled, citing as Biblical reference the encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman by Jacob’s Well (John 4:4-26). He said that the story is one of empowerment because, despite knowing the reputation of the woman, Jesus still asked her for water.
“You feel you are not worthy, yet someone asks you for help because they feel you can contribute something. That is enabling,” he said.
Lastly, Fr. Tabile shared that the image of Mary and the beloved disciple together with the other two Marys (John 19:25-27) is very powerful, as it evokes the love of God that they experienced through Jesus.
“In trying to stand with young people, not with our love for them, because there is the overflowing and exploding love of God for them,” he said, “we are not the end of the accompanying. Rather, we are pointing them to an encounter with Jesus.”
“When we are loved, we don’t only follow but we also believe,” Fr. Tabile remarked.
Meanwhile, in his homily during the mass that concluded the gathering, Fr. Arnel S. Panique, OCD used the word “hope” as an acronym for the qualities that every Carmelite should have in order to be an effective witness with and for youth.
The letters of the word “hope”, according to Fr. Panique, stands for humility, openness, positivity, and enthusiasm.
“Each one of us is called to be an instrument of hope in the world,” he said.
Through the “power of prayer,” Fr. Panique said that our faith life would truly be alive.
“The most visible fruit of prayer is love manifested in many virtues, including hope,” he said. “To deny hope is to deny God’s infinite goodness.”
Organized by the Carmelite Family Core Group, the Carmelite Family Day in the Philippines is a yearly gathering of representatives from different congregations and lay associations inspired by Carmelite spirituality.
This year the event was focused on the theme “Carmelite Family: Journeying with Youth as witnesses to the Resurrection.” It was held at the St. Joseph Gymnasium of the Carmelite Missionaries- Mater Carmeli School-Novaliches - July 21, 2019 and gathered 230 Carmelites from both branches of the Order. (by Br. Ritche T. Salgado, O.Carm.)