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During last December 2017, in order to deepen and promote the Continuous Prayer, we visited the Piarist Demarcation of Central America and the Caribbean, at the request of their Provincial, Francisco E. Montesinos.

Our visit was developed in two process:

  1. Educators.

In the schools of Santo Domingo and La Romana of the Dominican Republic; Managua and León, in Nicaragua; and San José de Costa Rica, we held formative meetings with the pre-school and Primary educators. We introduce the spiritual principles, pedagogical and institutional foundations of the Continuous Prayer, the description of our activities in two different times of classroom and chapel, the materials in which we reflect and elaborate as a foundation to educators´ initiative and elaboration, and from the beginning always be remembered: can only be a teacher of prayer, who is a person of prayer.

Likewise, we accompany time and space of prayer with the intention of cultivating in educators the openness entrusted to the presence of God, to educate our students.

In all the schools, the educators welcomed positively this proposal, in an atmosphere of spontaneity and familiarity. Little by little, this has impulsed the activity in their schools.

  1. Religious

At the end of the visit, we offered the same materials to Piarist religious, some days of spiritual exercises, in an atmosphere of silence and recollection, to learn more about the spiritual and theological principles, to share some reflections and times of prayer following workshop type, and to promote dispositions and virtues that impulse the prayerful heart.

For the Piarist religious, there were intense days of listening, reflection, prayer and spiritual revitalization, from our own charism, so to be grateful when the school and pastoral activities demand all the attention in daily activity. Many took the opportunity to remain silent, give primacy to the Word of God and personal and community prayer, and let them grow among all the bonds that arise from the closed presence of the living God.

At the end of the visit, we return to our community and school with profound gratitude to God and the Virgin Mary for the welcome and the treatment received, including familiar and welcoming atmosphere in all the religious and school communities, for the desire of many educators to carry it forward with their students, but above all, because Continuous Prayer can be a great help for many children to feel children of God, and to look, listen and love God as a Father who protects and cares for them.

From our blog, we join prayer for the Central American and Caribbean Province that celebrates its Provincial Chapter during these days, wishing that the Holy Spirit inspires the people and future horizons, through which they have to walk for the coming years.

 

Finally, we share some testimonies of Piarist religious who participated in the meetings.

Testimony 1:

What does Continuous Prayer mean to me? Since I’ve known it, it has been the greatest joy of my ministry, a continuous revitalisation. Because it pushes you to pray. I’ve seen in prayer the gift of God that forces me to put myself in a prayerful attitude so that I can pass on my experience to the little ones.

In Santo Domingo prayer with children is a joy. Here in Costa Rica I also enjoyed it very much. Above all because of the preparation: discovering that if you don’t pray, you can’t pray with the children. The key is that you put yourself in a prayerful attitude so that you can pour out a bit of what you are collecting from God, who is enlightening you even if you don’t realise it.

The key is that you put yourself in an attitude of discovering that God is near, that He calls you to be honest in what you do. A peaceful attitude that has helped me a lot to interact with the community in a peaceful and welcoming way, loving everyone as they are as far as possible. Although sometimes I find it difficult, but I see that the children continually enlighten me. The sincerity with which they express themselves, the affection with which they pray. That conviction with which they know that Jesus is there, that he listens to them, that he welcomes them, that leads you to always be saying “I cannot be doing something contrary to what I’m doing with the children, I’m the first one who has to put myself in an attitude of faith in order to be able to pray”.

 

Testimony 2:

The Piarists in Cuba have a whole educational work that starts from the organisation of the centre. School reinforcements are made, participation and protagonism of the children is sought, and above all the evangelising element, which is key. In all this process, continuous prayer has become for us a richness and a great discovery.

What has been this richness? Firstly, to feel that it’s not only the children who pray, but to pray with them. That our life also becomes a sign of prayer and that the whole school can be praying. And this novelty of simplicity, practicality and how down to earth prayer is for the children is a captivating element. This is what motivates me in continuous prayer: to know that you can pray with children but that it comes from a profound experience where they are capable of God.

 

Testimony 3:

Hello, I’m Esteban, I’m from Costa Rica and I’m a Piarist junior. These days we’ve shared with Father Javier the annual retreats of the province and we’ve made a dynamic of Continuous Prayer. For me, the experience was very beautiful because it reminded me of the novitiate. The importance of silence, of interiority, of realising that one is inhabited by God and that in that silence the spirit is speaking and that if one is paying attention, one suddenly receives lights that guide one’s life. As a Piarist this is key and essential, in this sense these retreats with a dynamic of continuous prayer have been very positive.

 

Testimony 4:

I’m Father Jeffrin, I’m a Piarist priest, Nicaraguan. This experience with Continuous Prayer has been very beautiful, both the experience in the School Calasanz of Managua and the experience that we have had in this week of spiritual exercises. It has helped me a lot to know in depth the spirituality of our holy father, St. Joseph Calasanz. I’ve also seen in the school how teachers have been motivated by this project.

I find it important that this continues to be promoted in the Order and that we discover the great richness that we have and that we share it.  Personally, I’m glad that we are going deeper into this spiritual part of St. Joseph Calasanz. Because we know the pedagogue Calasanz, but I think we still need to know the spiritual Calasanz. It has been a very beautiful experience.