Carmel Pilipinas holds Triennium 2018

“Philippine Carmel: Celebrating Our Charism through the Life of Blessed Titus Brandsma.”

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Triennium 2018

“Philippine Carmel: Celebrating Our Charism through the Life of Blessed Titus Brandsma.”

That is the theme of the Order of Carmelites Philippine Province of Blessed Titus Brandsma’s Triennium 2018, happening from June 10 to 15. 

Carmelite formands from all levels of formation are the participants of Triennium 2018, which promises five days of activities ranging from theme-centered fora to sports.

The first three days are held at the Crispin Hall of the Titus Brandsma Center, Acacia Street, New Manila, Quezon City. In fact, Day One kicked off with a Mass presided by Provincial Councilor Fr. Perfecto Adeva, O.Carm. 

This was followed by the Dinner For A Cause, which saw the Order’s benefactors and friends attending the occasion. It was also a gathering of Carmelites friars, lay, and Third Order Carmelites. 

Highlights of the dinner include musical presentations from the friars themselves. The dinner service was provided by caterer-to-the-stars Chefwix Catering.

Day Two witnessed Institute of Spirituality in Asia (ISA) Executive Director Fr. Rico Ponce, O.Carm. in the morning session. Fr. Rico provided food for thought with his topic “Titus Brandsma: A Prophet of the Modern Times”. 

Provincial Councilor Fr. Marlon Lacal, with his talk “The Influence of Blessed Titus Brandsma in the Philippines”, took care of the evening session. 

June 12, Day Three of the Triennium, featured Provincial Bookkeeper Fr. Sireneo Jaranilla, O.Carm. and his topic “Titus Brandsma: A Model of Contemplative Life”. 

Each of the sessions provided audio-visual aids and open fora on the relevant topic. The attendees were encouraged to share their reflections or inquire further about the subject. 

In addition, Triennium 2018 held various community-building and spiritually-enriching activities such as basketball and volleyball games, creative liturgy, and daily Masses. 

The last three days saw the Triennium participants traveling to Saysain, Bataan for much deserved rest and recreation. 

A Night to Celebrate

Every three years, the formands (seminarians under formation) gather to celebrate life in Carmel and to strengthen the fellowship, camaraderie and brotherhood and we call it Triennium gathering. It is attended by the seminarians from different levels of formation—postulancy, novitiate, and the student friary with the formators. This Triennium’s theme is “Philippine Carmel: Celebrating our Charism through the Life of Blessed Titus Brandsma”.

June 10, 2018 served as the opening of the Triennium gathering, starting with a Eucharistic Celebration and then followed by the Dinner for a Cause. The latter is intended to those individuals who have in a way or another helped the formation in any form that they can. Friends of Carmel, especially those who are near the hearts of the seminarians, graced the event. The inclement weather did not hinder them from attending this celebration. It also became a venue for everyone to reflect on the prophetic life of a great man and brother, Blessed Titus Brandsma.

He was a Carmelite who fought for truth and justice against the Nazis during his time. He is also the patron of the Carmelite province in the Philippines.  
Fr. Perfecto Adeva celebrated Mass and honored the beato. Together with Prior Provincial Fr. Artemio Jusayan and councilors Frs. Marlon Lacal, Gilbert Billena, and Arnel Glodobe made everyone feel welcome to the big and happy family of Carmel.

Discovering the model of contemplative life

The third day of the Triennium opened with a Eucharistic Celebration presided by postulancy director Fr. Irvin S. Mangmang, O.Carm.  It was followed by the very significant reflection of Fr. Sirenio Jaranilla, O.Carm.  His theme “Titus Brandsma: A Model of Contemplative Life” focused on how Titus Brandsma celebrated his prayer life and communion with God in the midst of persecutions and hardships.  

Fr. Toto tackled the prayer life and contemplation of the blessed man.  He started with Titus Brandsma’s very own poem, the source of his contemplation.
He posed the question, “Contemplation – how to judge if a person is contemplative?” No one can peek into the soul of the person.  In Carmel, however, the works of the person can say much to the movement of his spirit.  In the personal life of Titus Brandsma, his contemplative spirit became most evident when he was imprisoned in Scheveningen of the Netherlands and later on in the Dachau concentration camp of Germany.  

Inside his prison cell he composed a beautiful poem which expressed his sufferings and showed how lofty was his contemplative experience in communion.  
Before a Picture of Jesus in My Cell
(February 12-13, 1942)

A new awareness of Thy love
Encompasses my heart:
Sweet Jesus, i in Thee and Thou
In me shall never part.

No grief shall fall my way but I
shall see thy grief-filled eyes;
the lonely way that Thou once walked
has made me sorrow-wise.

All trouble is a white-lit joy,
That lights my darkest day;
Thy love has turned to brightest light
This night-like way.

If i have Thee alone,
The hours will bless
With still, cold hands of love
My utter loneliness.

Stay with me, Jesus, only stay;
I shall not fear
If, reaching out my hand,
I feel Thee near.

Fr. Toto said that this poem speaks about love—experience as grace—purely as a gift, something that is never at one’s disposal no matter what.  According to Him, Titus would not only be in the side of the comfort of this love, but there was also a time of not-seeing, of not understanding, a time of emptiness and dread.  It talks about his imprisonment and arrest.  This poem has become a dialogue. Peace – as well as acceptance and hope – returned.  Titus returned to himself and to him who sustained life.  This was the spring from which he drew life:  the consciousness that was loved by God.
Fr. Toto stressed on the “Thy and Thou” as it is present in every line of the stanzas.  From his childhood onward, Titus had lived in this “Thy and Thou” and “I and Thou” relationship with God and now he came back to the experiences.  Fr. Toto elaborated on the meaning of friend and friendships of Titus and God. 

He also paved the path of suffering as clearly seen in the life Titus had, Fr. Toto added.  Eventhough there is pain and hardship, Titus Brandsma sought his strength in the inner life, the contemplative way which Carmelites had taught and experienced for centuries.  He witnessed how people for whom political power and riches are supreme good trapped in inhuman structures.  Titus attuned his life to the voice that spoke from within him.  

Fr. Toto said that great mystics have always viewed suffering as a way to become transformed in God, a means of breaking down our resistance with a view to delivering ourselves up to the incomprehensible reality of God’s creative love.  We discover within ourselves forces of which we were previously unaware.  Thus human logic breaks down and we begin to see suffering as a source of power and hope.

The mystical space of solitude was shared by Fr. Toto as one of Titus Brandsma’s dark nights. Not only in darkness but also cruelty to the full.  Total concentration on God’s presence absorbs all his powers.  For Fr. Toto, it pours the whole self  into loving to which giving themselves away without protecting themselves and and who persevere in this in solitary faithfulness.  Solitude for him as a Carmelite was a space filled with meaning because there he discovered the hidden meaning of suffering and being alone.  Silence and solitude took him into the space of his own heart where he and his God dwells (Vacare Deo).

Fr. Toto continues to share the hardship of the life of Titus Bransdma, who never relented his faithfulness to God.  His lecture concluded with Titus’ martyrdom.