Uniquely ICPE

May 26, 2016 at 8:55 am Leave a comment

A_MG_6875Today, ICPE Singapore organized a day of worship where we also launched the ICPE Alumni. It was wonderful to have former participants of ICPE Schools gather together to worship God in inimitable ICPE style, which means it was Spirit-filled, and reminded everyone in the room just how real the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are, most apt, for this weekend we celebrate the Most Holy Trinity.

A asked me if I could share what it means to be a Companion and here is what I shared, more or less:Being a cradle Catholic with a rudimentary and shallow understanding of my faith, I embraced the values of the world as a young adult, and became the prodigal who left home to enjoy a life of sin. I knew I was hurting the Father, and, most of all myself, but I was not the most integrated of personalities at the time. I craved love and went about getting it in all the wrong ways, thus, I could not find my way home, until I attended Pastoral Counselling School in Bangalore in 2003.

From the moment I stepped out of the cab, it was like a huge homecoming for me. I never imagined how community could be so welcoming and loving, how liturgy could be so beautiful, how prayer, praise and worship could be so powerful, and how my brokenness, my past could be restored through the Holy Spirit’s touch.

Many things fell into place for me and I finally even knew what my vocation was. Charismatic worship was so alien to me before PCS, but, then, I became the woman at the well asking Jesus for living water: I wanted the gifts of the Spirit. Although I had always believed in God, and I knew he loved me, He was mainly the stern, distant father. At PCS, I was finally standing inside my Father’s house and in His arms, and it felt awesome. It was here that I gave my life to Jesus completely. No more half measures. If I live, I live for the Lord, and if I die, I die for the Lord. For whether I live or die, I belong to the Lord (paraphrasing Romans 14:8).

The subsequent years were a time of much pruning and refining, some of it very painful, but necessary. Heeding the advice I received at PCS, I found a Spiritual Director, and I also found a community in ICPE’s Woman to Woman Ministry in 2004.

In W2W, Amilia and Karen were my informal faith formators, these two beautiful women and sisters who are steeped in ICPE spirituality. As we journeyed through the years with different groups of women, I grew not only through the group’s reflections and sharing of life, but through Amilia and Karen’s radical witness of life. I also studied our Catholic faith* in earnest, learned more about Scripture and Tradition, while the ICPE spirituality of worship and evangelisation nourished me and helped me refine my vocation.

When the idea of Companions came up three plus years ago I was unsure, at first, for many reasons, despite the fact I had been a friend of ICPE for years; I even went for reverse carolling in the Philippines a number of times over the years, and I have supported the community in various ways. But it was clear, if I wanted to grow more, which I did, and still do, then a covenanted community was the answer. God calls us all the time into a deepening and more intimate relationship with Him, but it is up to us to say yes. So after discerning together as a group for about a year, I overcame my commitment phobia born of my self-doubt, and became a Companion.

Being in community has really helped me grow in many ways, spiritually, emotionally as well as socially. I have learned how to love my brothers in community and to appreciate the strength and wisdom of good Christian men, not just good Christian women. This has been very healing for me for I had not had the best of relationships with my father who was autocratic, and a chronic alcoholic who emotionally abused my mother when he was under the influence of alcohol. And all the men in my life previously either ignored God or had a very superficial relationship with Him. So it has been affirming and enlightening these past three years to be a sister of godly men.

I also like the freedom and space to grow and live out my vocation that comes from being a Companion. I am a lay missionary, but a missionary who can support other missionaries and causes because I exercise my particular gifts and talents not just in the workplace, but in my personal pursuits as well. The loose weave of all my passions and interests are bound together by the strength of my covenant. I am able to be in the world, but not of the world, in a very unique way.

We all have different gifts and talents and it’s nice that each of us (Companions) uses our own unique gifts and talents to glorify Him in the workplace, and at home, wherever we are, whatever we do, and yet, we are centred in Christ the ICPE way: when we gather, the way we praise, the way we share life, the way we work together when we do outreaches, the ICPE spirituality permeates everything we do. This is the power of the Companions covenant. We are many parts of one body, and we are united by the same vision and goals; fundamentally, to know Christ ourselves, and make Him known.

My brothers and sisters also inspire me with their lives, how they bear active witness to the Christian faith with such missionary zeal every day. When I am slacking, their steadfast, unwavering focus on Jesus helps me keep burning with love for Jesus, so that I can continue spreading the joy of the Gospel. That is the power of community. The weight of a single snowflake may weigh next to nothing, but collectively, a flurry of snowflakes can weigh enough to effect change to the point of breaking branches (thanks Father JB).

It’s not easy to keep walking the narrow path and it is definitely made easier with Companions on the journey who support me emotionally and spiritually through prayer. A recent example is the sudden death of my cousin. I felt so loved through the support of my community, and I know I was able to get over the worst of my grief when I needed to, only because I was buoyed up by the love and prayer of my brothers and sisters in community.

I feel very blessed to be a Companion, and while it will always be a struggle to meet up regularly, given our busy lives, I am privileged and honoured by the way we all show up for meetings and give ourselves to each other as gift, with sincerity and wholeheartedness. The bonds forged find their strength in Christ, and overcome our human frailties and weaknesses, as we grow as individuals, and as one family in our community of ICPE Companions.

*  I remember fondly the time Amilia, Edwyn, Karen and myself flew to Melbourne to study Theology of the Body at the John Paul II Institute, that was pivotal in forming our ethos of the sacramentality of the body. We are all such JPII fans.


Entry filed under: Events.

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