Spiritual formation

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Saint John of the Cross

Saint John of the Cross

Anne Saludes Aguilar, 25th Generation – St. John of the Cross

The name, San Juanistas unveiled the individual and collective faith experiences of the members of the 25th generation of Mother of Life Centre. “Nada, nada, para el todo” was a tagline attributed to the unique, distinct and communal identity of this group of young people who were captivated by the spirituality of St. John of the Cross.

Our formation year started with the cataclysmic eruption of Mount Pinatubo. Though the explosion was the largest volcanic eruptions of the century and chopped off 300 meters of its original height, it nonetheless left Mount Pinatubo with a charming sight and a calming lake many years after.

This natural calamity did not only leave a mark in the history of our country and the world, but also in our individual and communal spiritual journey as Sanjuanistas. The hill beautifully tucked under the trees and around verdant bushes along Susano road, has provided us a tent where most profound encounters with the holy took place. But just like Mt. Pinatubo spewing up a cubic mile of volcanic materials, each of the Sanjuanistas had to go through the process of self-emptying in this hill. Though difficult it might have been, it was the most significant blessing we were gifted with at the same time. Though the gradual shedding off of masks and layers of filters while responding to the grace of becoming true to ourselves and to our calling was painful, yet it was meaningful and life-changing. The experience has resemblance to the words of St. John of the Cross: “how tenderly you swell my heart with love (Living Flame of Love, stanza 4).”

My own personal experience of formation in Mother of Life was seemingly an endless flowing of lava out from my very depths. I had my own share tears “flash-flooding” every now and then. But fortunately, it did not take too long. I had an amazing turn around. I felt that my own prayer and the prayers of my formators, and the intercession of St. John of the Cross was changing me day after day. The sight of a community, kneeling together in silent prayer and receiving Jesus in the Eucharist every day was phenomenally transforming me, as it were making me feel:

How gently and lovingly you wake in my heart, where in secret you dwell alone; and in your sweet breathing, filled with good and glory, how tenderly you swell my heart with love (Stanza 4, Living Flame of Love, St. John of the Cross).

The experience of transformation and enlightenment that started in Mother of Life made me actively seek for help. It eventually led me to a much deeper appreciation of spiritual accompaniment and left me with a strong desire to train as spiritual director which I finished 7 years ago. The structure in Mother of Life that compelled me to pray has evolved into a deeper need to pray each day of my life knowing that “In the inner stillness where meditation leads, the Spirit secretly anoints the soul and heals our deepest wounds (St. John of the Cross).”