The POWER of the WORD…. the WORD that is ALIVE!

The start of Spiritual Formation Year way back 1982, envisions seminarians of the Immaculate Conception School of Theology formed in the Diocesan priesthood gleaned from the vision of the Philippine Church.

The program enhances and focuses on helping seminarians improve and deepen their spirituality for the vocation they are called to. Every year, SFYers undergo seminars on different kinds of spirituality.

It has been 3 years now since the John Paul I Biblical Center started its involvement in this program. Last September 29 – October 2, 2008, two of the staff of JPIBC, Felicidad Gines and Zusan Asistin journeyed with the 22 aspirants called to priesthood. Fr. Berlynden B. Dao-anis Spiritual Director of Montañosa Formation Community helped co-facilitate in giving input on Biblical Spirituality. In his input, his description of the Bible was awe-inspiring, that is, “an ocean of Wisdom whose depths are incomprehensible, whose range of contents is beyond limits. The Bible as a well, ever fresh, ever new.” The patient and calm spiritual director of the Spiritual Formation Year program, Fr. Jesus Cirilo R. Bala Jr., participated and journey with his seminarians throughout the seminar. The newly arrived Fr. Renato de Guzman from the Diocese of Ilagan, Isabela to be one of the formators of SFYers joined us as we ended the seminar during the celebration of the Holy Eucharist.



The following are selected reflections of SFYers on Biblical Spirituality seminar:



In the first day of our seminar, we were asked about the things that we heard or knew about Biblical Spirituality. Many of my classmates claimed that they never heard about it, others said they knew something because in the past years they were members already of the John Paul I Biblical Center – Biblical Pastoral Ministry of the seminary. When it was my turn to speak, I did not say any knowledge about the seminar. I just made my comment as, “biblical spirituality will bring us closer to God, otherwise it is not spirituality at all.” I say these words because of the fact that the Bible is the source of the revealed truth in our faith. Hence, it is not at all spirituality if it will not lead any Christian to his God.


In the seminar input that was given, Fr. Berlynden Dao-anis gave a comprehensive account on how the Bible struggled for it to be available to all people. At first the Bible was only available to the priest and monks alone. With the coming of the protestant reformation, the Bible started to become available to the lay. This was the main reason why at present there were many fundamentalist Christian groups. Especially that Martin Luther assured the validity of private interpretation of the Bible. The Catholic Church, however, did not immediately give the Bible to the public. She was careful of the dangers of private interpretations. She first informed the people of the importance of the Magisterium. With the grace of God, the Catholic Church remained one.

At present, the Bible is available to anyone who desires it. In some bookstores that I visited, a good number of copies of the Bible are available to anyone who is interested to have a copy. But I never saw anyone browsing a copy of the Bible in bookstores. For me, it is ironic. Now that the Bible is open to all, nobody seems interested with it. I am not saying that no lay people in this age is interested with the Bible.eve who do not care about it.



Our seminar in general is all about how to read the Bible effectively. The first method that was introduced to us was the Lectio Divina. It literally means divine reading. It was said that this practice was started by the Fathers of the Church. It survived in the test of time because of its effectiveness to make people encounter God. I find it good my self because when we tried it, at first it was difficult, but in the long run things became more and more simple. I find meaning in the word that I was reading. My reflection became deeper. I believe constant practice of this way of reading the Bible will indeed bring me closer to God. I then pray for more strength to do it daily for me to nourish better my spiritual life.

By: Sem. Rene P. Caligue





Studying the Bible is the most boring subject that I had. It seemed I did not have interest in it. Before our seminar began on this spirituality, boredom was my first impression. It might become again the most boring spirituality that I will be learning. This prejudiced impression of mine was wiped out when Miss Felicidad Gines and Miss Zusan Asistin made the Word alive through their sharing the activities that we had; dancing, reflections, sharing and others. They made my heart flamed with interest in studying one of the fundamental courses in Theology. Through this spirituality, I learned the importance and significance of the Word of God in the life of the Church and even in my personal life.

Reflections on the Sacred Scriptures are very important, for it leads one to unveil the Word of God that speaks through it. I will be a pastor someday, and I asked myself how I would bring to the people the Word of God, if I myself did not understand or reflect upon that Word, and what nourishment I will be giving them.

The different methods in Biblical Reflections helped me to internalize the message that it speaks, to own the words that flows from the text and connect it with my life. I thought that it was just a mental callisthenic, but it drove me also to act on the things that was thought upon.

Honestly, I have not read the entire Bible, because of the boredom that I have said in the first paragraph of this paper. I have attempted to read it before, but my first experience brought about monotony and boredom on my part. I really have to correct my attitude regarding this important subject in my life as a Christian and a seminarian at that.

After the module that was given, there was a growing awareness and appreciation on my part regarding the Sacred Scriptures. I am going to use the Holy Bible to help me in my discernment and to reflect on the Word of God that is alive in my heart.

By: Sem. June Caesar S. Ragonjan




I remember clearly what my parents gave me when I turned seven, it was a big and thick yellow book entitled the Bible stories. It was a colorful book and interesting because in every story there are depicted pictures and drawings for each pages. Aside from the colorful drawings there were lots of stories that were very inspiring and enthralling. That was the first book and my first hand experience of a Bible.

I am awed by the fact, that when I was then seven my fondness with my book was so intense, but when I was growing, I find myself not so interested in the Bible. We had this old thick Bible in our house, and I tried to read it from the beginning but oftentimes I was hard up understanding it and I find it boring. It was only in college where I got to read the whole Bible, and it took me two years to finish it. I enjoyed very much the Psalms and the Gospels, where it taught me a lot about life. But I came back to the point where my enthusiasm to enrich myself more by reading the Bible again and again grew colder.

When I got to Theology, my cold enthusiasm drastically became warmer as I ventured through Biblical courses. The courses gave me the chance and the avenue to know the Bible more. It was very interesting how the Bible came about, how the oral traditions being passed to generations up until the written ones. The Bible for me is truly an “obra maestro”, a masterpiece and concrete records of God’s work in our lives. It gives me the sense of wonder how the stories in the Bible are very connected to our present day life. It was like truly the divine writer wrote it in a way that it can applied to all. Until now this thought gives me this unexplainable wonder and awe.

In the seminar that we had for four days, I was able to pick up many things which made me grow, enriched and deepen my understanding of the Bible. With all the activities and the body prayers, I was caught up in the word “embodiment” of the Word of God. We get a clearer message of what the text is telling, because I have to own it. I thought of the word embodiment because for me it is very touching. Its like when the word comes to me, I begin to embody it, owning the message of the word, and slowly begins to be clear and understandable, not only in mind but in the heart, the whole being. In embodiment and in owning, there is fundamental, that is listening. Listening not only from the physical ears, but as well as from our heart and mind.

I am thankful that through the seminar, I was able to find myself like a seven year old boy again, who was so fond of reading his favorite book. My enthusiasm to enrich myself, my vocation and my life, that someday I may also share to other people, to give that spark of desire for the Word of God.

Who would then would say that the Bible is already obsolete? The Word of God is very alive amidst the booming progress of our times. It would never be obsolete, for I believe that the message printed would last until the end of times.

Now, as I venture to my chosen vocation, I now see the real importance of the Word of God in my formation in the seminary. I believe that my understanding of the Bible before the seminar is not the same after that. I feel, I gained much from it and enriched my dedication and understanding of the utmost importance of the Word of God in my life, as a seminarian, and as a future priest who would proclaim the Good News to all God’s people.

By: Sem. Roland Anthony S. Gavina




I remember in my college days, a priest professor once posed the question, “why is it that people love to do things with procedures?” in burial for example, burying a dead fellow needs some rituals like a simple procession. And he said, “It is because of the drama of life.” The procession is a part of the drama; a birthday celebration is a part of a drama; a ritual is a part of the drama; even the process of a seed planted and grown into a plant is part of the drama; the washing of the dishes is also part of the drama. Everything is part of the drama in life.

This is the beauty of life. The very sound of phrase “drama of life” alone gives me a wonderful feeling. Yet, having said thus, there are times when this drama is never noticed. For instance, there are times when I eat but unable to appreciate the eating, or wash the dishes and leave the sink as if nothing happened, the sound of the “just like that”. It is a state of a heresy feeling, in the language of the Church doctrinal tradition; or a heresy in the parlance truth; or ordinary in the world of the daily. In other words, it is the sense of “becoming common” saying “what is common is not sensible”.

At this point, I’d like to leap at once into the question, “what brings this state of senselessness?” I may not be hitting the “bull’s eye” of the inquiry, but I like to underline something which might give a hint to the core of the search. I underline the words common, ordinary normal, the same, and it’s nothing”. These seems to be the words being uttered referring to the things or events “without, or with lesser meaning”. Like the Bible, for instance, it was greatly sought for when it was not yet allowed to be available for anyone. But now that it can be in anyone’s access, its meaning seems to have become lesser; not anymore appreciated as before. It has become an ordinary book. It has become a best seller literature which had its “weeks of glory”. Or for the Christians, it seems that it become like the best wine which is admired only because it is labeled “best”, but never did its taste really savored. It is something like a beautiful castle by which it is merely watched in awe from afar, but never really been entered into.

The Bibliodrama experience had taken me aback. I never thought that the experience would such a wonder. I know that I will like it since it is about the Bible despite some negative feedback I heard of the seminar such as boring. Well, I had to admit that there are moments of boredom on the flow of the seminar, but the thing is that even those “boring times” are actually a help in the process of the internalization of the Word texts – even the activities where I tend to find it unnecessary were in the end instruments of a deeper understanding. The rests in every movements on the activities and the body dances for instance are very much helpful.

The waiting for one another, the silence, the smiles, the laughter, all of them accompanied my walk with the Word which eventually made my journey a meaningful one.

Everything that transpired from the first day until the fourth has been a personal experience of the power of the Word. Indeed, it was on the first day when I heard the phrase, “power of the Word”, and on the last day, I realized that what happened during the seminar was an experience of that POWER. On the second day, I was Jonah (who runs away from his mission), the third day – Mary (who kept things into her heart), and on the fourth day – LIFE (that is to be a ransom for many). The messages I heard as these three characters were significant and very relevant in my present state and direction. Through them came revelations of myself with which I am clarified with. The things I learned, the things that confronted me through the Word of God are those that are to be kept in the heart, lest they be forgotten.

With the Bibliodrama experience, I am reminded of the time when I was in the initial state of tasting the sweetness of the Scriptures. That was years back in my orientation year in seminary formation. However, as years went by, I seem to have forgotten that deep desire of listening from the Word. Every now and then, I do listen but it had become only occasional. Hence, I believe I have to bring back that warmth of my relation with my God in His Word. I am compelled to pay attention to the Word, not only occasionally but as regular as I can. I can now sum up my life-drama experience with this motto” “the drama of my life is bound to be directed by the voice of the Word”.

By: Sem. Ronald Felis




The sad reality that the Bible nowadays is used merely as a display and showcase for a dead spirituality has been brought to my attention once again. It gathers dust and cobwebs as it is relegated to our altar at home. Worse, nobody really minds it anymore. The written Word may not mean a lot for many people not but they fail to realize that there is more to the mere written word that is dead and unread.

The seminar started with the evolution of the understanding of the Word throughout history. We saw how the Word remained and survived as the ages have passed. We also realized the power of the Word and how this force has directed and guided the Church, and still remaining true to its real essence. We had the body prayer dances which I suspect are a slow introduction on the way of the Word should be understood; that is, as a prayer and a way of life, the very essence of spirituality. We took on the importance of roles and the understanding that the roles, not only play a literary part of the Bible or are a narration of some historical figure who existed in the past, but the roles are the very narration of ourselves and the situations that governed them speak of the way we should live our lives.

It is very difficult to take on a role; to presume and to guess how the role reacted to situations and circumstances that are described in the text that was read. In taking on a role, we don’t notice it at first, but we are actually acting out the ideals and the realities of our unconscious. In other words, we are not acting but merely expressing the groaning of the Spirit within us. We are actually living the realities we refuse to face or those things that are too ideal or distasteful for us. In being somebody, we live our dreams and also our fears. This way, we don’t only portray the text into action, we are actually narrating our very lives.

In this sense, the Word, written and passed through the ages, becomes alive. It does not forever remain a book, but it becomes a LIFE force that is enfleshed by the way we live our lives. When the Bible says… “and the Word was made flesh…” it is not joking. Christ who is the Word become man, but in the same sense, HE, the WORD, can become alive and in the form of flesh through us, if only we allow Him to speak through the written Word.

The Word survived through the centuries, not only because it was preserved by monks and kept in monasteries. It remained and remains alive through the people who live its essence in the way they live their lives. The key is not merely reading the text, although this step is also crucial. The secret is actually in embodying the text and allowing it to live in our minds, hearts and souls. Only then we can achieve an understanding of it beyond reason. It is only then can we grasp the meaning of Scripture as it must be understood; that is through a response to the LOVE God offers us … through what we call faith. Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam!

Sem. Jomar M. Castaneda



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