(One of Two Parts)
This is by far the hardest writing task I have ever had – to describe The Prayer and Life Workshops. I have had seven drafts and not one of them seems to give justice to my experience at the workshops. It’s similar when one is star-struck beyond words.
The Prayer and Life Workshops are a sixteen-week free service that teaches one how to pray and how to let prayer affect daily life. Last October 2013, I graduated from the workshops together with eleven LOJ Servants / Carebears. Anyone who attends the workshops is fondly called a “pilgrim.”
When an interested outsider asks about what happens in the workshops, a pilgrim would usually not know how to respond. A pilgrim would attempt to explain the PLW only to realize he had not captured its very soul. And so he would surrender and say, “You have to experience it.”
So it is the same with this article. After having seen and fallen in love with a diamond, I will attempt to explain its radiance and its many facets to a stranger. The stranger may come home pleased with new knowledge but only with the idea that a diamond is a nice-looking pebble.
Recognized by the Vatican
The PLW was founded by a Spanish Franciscan Capuchin priest, the late Father Ignacio Larranaga who died last year. Before PLW, he traveled extensively to give retreats and realized that, while the Church tells us to pray, it has yet to teach us how to pray in a “practical, varied and progressive manner.”
In 1997, by God’s grace, the PLW was given the Decree of Approval by the Holy See.
The PLW is present in 16 countries. It reached the Philippines in 1998, and the year 2013 was God’s appointed time for the PLW to come to Bacolod City for the first time.
There are two aspects in the PLW. The “Prayer” aspect and the “Life” aspect.
The “Prayer” aspect
In each workshop day, a new prayer method is taught. The PLW makes one discover that there are so many ways to pray. There is a prayer method that suits every personality. There is a prayer method that suits every situation.
The pilgrims then go home with a daily assignment to set aside a thirty-minute date with God, applying the prayer method, and assigned Bible reading. The PLW calls this the Sacred Half Hour, or SHH, when you hush (SHH), withdraw from the world and commune with God.
My personal learning from the “Prayer” aspect of the PLW is this: I can never know someone fully by just reading about him. A crush remains a crush if I only admire him from afar. Similarly, I can never know and love God back if I don’t spend time with Him in prayer. Otherwise, God will remain an idea I create in my head, according to my liking, and not according to who God really is.
(“Life” aspect to be continued in the next issue)
*** “No one leaves the presence of God unchanged.” – Brother Bo Sanchez