SAINT SIMON STOCK: THOUGHTS ON HIS FEAST DAY

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Simon Stock will be forever associated with the Scapular. His story will also always be under contention, with real and verified information about the saint seamlessly integrated into legends and myths. See, even his vision of the Virgin Mary and the Scapular has become a subject of heated debate and of inspired works of art. His is not a unique case. Many saints have stories that contain a continuous mix of reality and fiction, but it did not diminish their value as followers of Christ. At the end of day, we look at virtue, good example, and inspiration from the saint and not their extraordinary earthly experiences.

This is the same stance of the Church regarding mystics who are under consideration for sainthood. It is not about the levitations and the visions. It is about how the saint lived the life of the Gospel, no more no less. And so, for all the Simon Stock stories’ worth, we must be able to work through the foliage and see what is really growing underneath. We must be able to peel through the astonishing segments of the stories and see for ourselves what makes Simon Stock a good example of exemplary Christian life.

Written accounts of his life by various authors through the centuries portrayed Simon Stock as a Godly and God-fearing man, someone who made it his mission to be sensitive and responsive to the Lord’s teachings. It was said that Simon led a solitary and penitential life, able to have lived the life of a hermit. Well, he was probably more solitary and penitential within his heart, resolved in detaching himself from worldliness and earthly desires.

As he was largely responsible for the Carmelite Order in England around the 1200s, he made it his business to carry out God’s plan, spreading the Gospel and leading the people to live full Christian lives. His was an unenviable position back in the day. Despite the seemingly dazzling title of Superior General, Simon had his work cut out for him. His time had conquerors and other characters of ill-repute. It was an uphill battle for him in establishing the Order in England, but he persisted.

This spirit of persistence, and indeed perseverance, was strengthened by Simon’s devotion to the Blessed Mother. In her Simon found more than an ally: a mother, a friend, a confidante, a bridge between heaven and earth. In her Simon put his trust, and he was never disappointed. Every Carmelite should learn from this simple relationship, and it is not just the seemingly mother-son interaction between them.

We are looking into exactly the adjective used to describe that relationship: simple. Well, years into our religious life, some of us still make that relationship with the Blessed Virgin more complicated than it should. There would be bargaining agreements with Mary (usually one-way, and it’s just the petitioner’s), asking for this and that in exchange for something else, to the point that the person does silly devotional practices just to ensure the success of his petitions. Doubtless, it is this type of person that prompted Saint Teresa of Avila, possibly horrified at the very reality that confronted her, to exclaim: “May God deliver us from silly devotions!”

True enough, once we let go of this silliness, we should find ourselves standing with Mary leading us to Jesus. It is simple faith that we should hang on to. It is the kind of faith that does not think twice about soiling one’s feet when the bridegroom’s hands slip through the door. Simon obviously had his faith firmly secured, and, yes, one would have to admit that his was the fruit of contemplation and prayer. Perhaps these are the stories of his life—contemplation and prayer—which should always be remembered by and found inspiration in by generations of Carmelites to come. Now that’s a story angle in Simon’s life that could never be contested.

Celebrating 50 years in Carmel

The Carmelites in the Philippines recently celebrated the 50th year anniversary of Fr. Paul Edison Medina, O.Carm. as a Carmelite with the celebration of the Eucharist in the Carmelite-administered Sagrada Familia Parish in Bagong Silangan, Quezon City.

Considered as the first Filipino Carmelite to be formed in the Philippines, Fr. Paul was born on March 24, 1947 in Tigbao, Calatrava, Negros Occidental.

In his message to Fr. Paul, Fr. Bernard Roosendaal, O.Carm., one of the first Dutch Carmelite missionaries to come to the Philippines, recalled how Fr. Paul had to a walk long distances during school days just so he could attend the Carmelite-administered East Negros Academy.

“Paul was making that journey for four years. No wonder that the spirit of journeying had been very much part of Paul’s fifty years being a Carmelite,” said Fr. Bernard.

“As director I had to officiate the first graduation ceremony under the administration of the Carmelites. One of the graduates was Paul Medina and I was privileged to hand-over to Paul his  ENA high school diploma,” he recalled.

The celebration started with a Eucharistic celebration officiated by Fr. Paul with several of his closest priest friends concelebrating, including the Very Rev. Msgr. Hernando Coronel, CP, rector of the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo, Manila. It was then followed by dinner and a short program that highlights the contribution of Fr. Paul to the Order and the Church, as well as expressions of gratitude from his Carmelite brothers and friends.

Fr. Paul first professed his vows to the Order on May 10, 1969 and was ordained a priest on May 5, 1974. It wasn’t until almost 20 years after that another Filipino professed his vows to the Order. Fr. Paul is part of the Manila Formation Community and is based at the Spring of Carmel Novitiate House in Tandang Sora, Quezon City where he assists Frs. Aries Escobal and Melvin Loronio in the spiritual formation of the novices. (By Br. Ritche T. Salgado, O.Carm.)

Renewal of vows and installation to the Acolytate and Lectorate ministries

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Five brothers renewed their vows to the Order of Carmelites last May 10, 2019 before the Philippine prior provincial, the Very Rev. Artemio Jusayan, O.Carm., at Titus Brandsma Center.

In his message to the brothers, Fr. Marlon Beredo, prior of the Manila Formation Community, reminded them that in formation the struggle is real, but at the same time, he said that Christ is real, alluding to the help that Christ would offer to the brothers in their journey in Carmel.

Renewed were Br. Ritche Salgado, O.Carm. of Negros Oriental, Br. Vinson Luayon O.Carm. of Davao City, Br. Joiezl Fern Pinon, O.Carm. of Leyte, Br. Paul Pakao Kaptain of Papua New Guinea, and Br. Leo Nebril of Iloilo.

In the same activity, five brothers together with three seminarians from the Diocese of Sorsogon were installed to the Acolytate Ministry. They are Br. Lester Hallig, O.Carm., Br. Oscar Robles, Jr., O.Carm., Br. Eduardo Adolfo, Jr., O.Carm., Br. John Jeempy Sebuguero, O.Carm., Br. Johnie Rebosquillo, O.Carm., Sem. Eli Dingalan, Sem. Michael John Federoso, and Sem. Cavin Lumberio.

Ten brothers were also installed to the Lectorate Ministry, namely: Br. Rolando Mamites, O.Carm., Br. Rio Mar Sindac, O.Carm., Br. Vincent Sumanting, O.Carm., Br. Flor Vincent Taoc, O.Carm., Br. Kim Paul Escobal, O.Carm., Br. Marjune Caloring, O.Carm., Br. Mechael Tating, O.Carm., Br. Romualdo de los Reyes, Jr., O.Carm., Br. Jade Gerona, O.Carm., and Br. Jaymar Falcasantos, O.Carm.  (Text and photo by Br. Ritche Salgado, O.Carm.)

Revitalized CarmelitesPh.Com launched

The Order of Carmelites in the Philippines, Province of Bld. Titus Brandsma, is relaunching a reformatted and revitalized website that aims to inform and to give visitors an experience of Carmelite spirituality through relevant and engaging content.

Managed by the Carmelite Center for Socio-Pastoral Communication, the reformatted CarmelitesPh.com will feature news on the activities of the Prior Provincial, Very Rev. Artemio Jusayan, O.Carm., of the different Carmelite communities in the Philippines including the community of nuns, affiliated institutes, lay groups, and the institutes and foundations of the Order, as well as the ministries and apostolate of the Order including the Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation Commission and the Spirituality Commission.

Stories on Carmelite saints as well as of local Carmelites whose life are worthy of emulation are also highlighted in the site, as well as reflections on lived Carmelite spirituality written by Carmelite friars, nuns, and lay.

“This site is our platform to inform the world of our activities here in the Philippines,” said Fr. Perfecto Ll. Adeva, O.Carm., first councilor of the Order in the Philippines.

“As a ministry, this will serve as a way of evangelizing and in sharing the spirit of Carmel to the rest of the world, especially among the Filipinos with our localized contents,” he added.

The stories are collected from different Carmelite communities in the Philippines, from the communities of the nuns, from the different Carmelite institutes and other affiliated organizations and lay groups. Contributions on Carmelite topics are also welcome.

The CCSPC team is composed of Fr. Adeva, O.Carm., Fr.  Sireneo Jaranilla, O.Carm., Fr. Sheldon Tabile, O.Carm., Br. Lester Hallig, O.Carm., Br. Ritche Salgado, O.Carm., and Jeshrel Alimojaned.

For more information, the team can be reached through email at CarmelNewsPh@gmail.com. (By Ritche T. Salgado, O.Carm.)