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By Crisaldo A. Belas
Crisaldo Belas is Formation and Training Assistant of the Pontifical Missionary Societies of the Philippines. The PMS of the Philippines is not a religious congregation, nor an institute of consecrated life. It is under the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.
As a professional catechist of the Archdiocese of Manila from 1996 till 2004, I attended monthly catechetical formation sessions in our area. We usually recited Morning Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours, the official Prayer of the Church, and spent time in silent prayer. Those years of formation awakened in me an understanding and love of prayer.
Working at the National Office
Trusting in God’s providence, I ventured to look for other avenues of life and was accepted at the National Office of the Pontifical Missionary Societies in Sampaloc, Manila. I discovered that office hours started at 7am when we tidy our desks, a daily reminder of the importance of good office keeping.
First schedule of the Day
Monsignor Gilbert A. Garcera, the National Director of the Pontifical Office, introduced to all the staff, including household workers, the value of silent prayer as one family before the exposed Blessed Sacrament as the first activity of the day. At first, I found silence really difficult and thought it impossible in the midst of the noise of Sampaloc. I spent months trying to pray silently. Many times I failed. Then I realized that learning to pray is not by trying to pray, but by giving up and letting go of my ‘trying.’ The real silence is interior. Monsignor Gilbert taught us that we learn to pray by being attentive. This means bringing my center to the full consciousness of my being a person. It brings me from past experiences and future plans into the present, which is restful and gentle. In my prayer, I love to share with Jesus not my ideas, nor plans, nor anxieties about the future, but my stillness and attention to His presence. ‘Be still and know that I am God’ (Psalm 46:10).
Working at the National Office has made me discover the importance of sharing silence with my co-workers. Oftentimes I’m distracted during prayer. I remember a Buddhist saying that the mind has 151 operations going on at the same time. There are desires, dreams and great expectations that sometimes can divide and dominate us. But I have to be conscious of all these and let go of them. Then, I go back again to being attentive to His presence.
Fruits of Silent Prayer and Missioning
Yes, there are challenges that come my way as a young adult, but God has never abandoned me in times of trial. I’ve noticed that the fruit of prayer is my being open to active interaction with my fellow employees. This spirit of opening also gives me the strength to work for the Church, thinking not only of the Philippines but of the universal Church.
I’ve realized that there can be no missioning without prayer and consider this realization a grace of God’s providential love for me. I believe that I encounter Christ not only in my work but in people around me.
I invite you to visit us and share the prayer of the heart. In prayer we accept that God knows our needs and that this knowledge is the love which creates and will eventually complete our missionary work.
You may write to Mr Crisaldo Belas at Pontifical Missionary Societies, 824 Don Quijote Street, Sampaloc, 1008 MANILA or email at firstname.lastname@example.org