Feb 23, 2018

Friendship in the BCBP

As I toss in bed, past midnight, recovering from flu, and awaiting the visit of BCBP “angels” Cris and Jeanne Tan and their son IdYan, Edison and Langga Else, Rudy Mendiola, Eddie Ramos and Desiree Lee, friends from Chicago who will drive through rain to serve in our BCBP Breakfast in Columbus, many will be struck by the thought “why do they make such a great sacrifice to do what they do?”

A cliche’ answer would be that “they do it for love of God, and neighbor,” but an equivalently sound response could well be, “for friendship.”

The very first time Fr. Ramon, who will be our Sharer this Feb 24 BCBP Breakfast, attended his first breakfast months ago, he already acknowledged the great generosity that BCBP friends have for each other.

And when at about the same hour I was writing this article, the ping of my iPad led me to open it only to find out on my daughter Maya Malferrari’s FB page that their friends, Canadians Ramon and Aileen Singh is visiting them in Towoomba, Australia, and even naming her photo essay “Friendship,” well, I knew down deep that the good Lord wants me talk about “friendship.”

That the good Lord has “planted” on my mind the notion of friendship in my earlier reading of Thomas Merton’s book “No man is an island,” would surely deserve only a footnote if this was a scholarly piece I am working on, but no, I can claim that it is the Holy Spirit who planted all these in my brain, and thus “inspired” me to proceed as I should.

In the case of my daughter and son-in law Tata and Maya Maferrari and their friends Ramon and Eileen Singh, their friendship was nurtured and begun during their old BCBP prayer-meeting days in Cagayan de Oro where they started.

And the friendship continues. I am not saying that “friendships” are the exclusive domain of any one group, such as ours, no, but only that it should be guided on grounds of our own cultures and religion, even.

So to continue to “friendship:”

“When all this has been said, the truth remains that our destiny is to love one another as Christ has loved us.

Jesus had very few close friends when He was on earth, and yet He loved and and loves all men, and is, to every soul born into the world, that soul’s most intimate friend.

The lives of all the men we meet and know are woven into our own destiny, together with the lives of many we shall never know on earth.

But certain ones, very few, are our close friends. Because we have more in common with them, we are able to love them with a special selfless perfection, since we have more to share.

They are inseparable from our own destiny, and therefore our love for them is especially holy: it is a manifestation of God in our lives.” Merton, page 12

Uummh…we must think more about this last paragraph because it is not so easy to grasp.

We can approach it by thinking that because “God is love,” and further because to be able to love our friends with that especially holy love would indeed and actually do amount to a “manifestation of God’s love in our lives.”

But to continue with Merton:

…there is one universal basis for friendship with all men: we are all loved by God, and I should desire them all to love Him with all their power. But the fact remains that I cannot, on this earth, enter deeply into the mystery of their love for Him and of His love for them.

Great priests, like the Cure’ d’Ars, who have seen into the hidden depths of thousands of souls, have, nevertheless, remained men with few intimate friends.

No one is more lonely than a priest who has a vast ministry. He is isolated in a terrible desert by the secrets of his fellow men.” Merton, p 12.

So, on February 24, 2018, when our very own BCBP Chaplain Fr. Ramon Owera gives us his personal sharing, let us remember the loneliness that many priests encounter in their ministries, and allow his love for us in his BCBP flock to experience the same so that he, too, may experience the “manifestation of God’s love” in his life.

And let us also remember, when after we have all experienced the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, and had been formed in our respective prayer groups, that our love for those to us would be especially holy.