The book entitled “On the Road to Emmaus”, launched by the Silsilah Dialogue Movement last February 11, 2016 in Harmony Village, Zamboanga City on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the Priesthood of Fr. Sebastiano B. D’Ambra, PIME is inspirational because it equates the journey of every Christian today on his own Road to Emmaus to the narrative in the gospel of Luke 24:13-35.

The book is a special labor of love as it provides new approaches on how each Christian can practice his faith in a world that has not only become complicated and violent but also most difficult to understand and adjust.

Today many Catholics are discouraged and disoriented, especially in the context of secularism, materialism and the presence of people of different religions. Most of them are not prepared to face this new reality. This is also a challenge for them to go back to their faith and to rediscover the joy of the Gospel.

In many parts of the world and also in Mindanao there are forms of persecution going on, and Catholics, who are the majority in the Philippines, are often the targets of many Christian denominations or other new and old religions. They are also attacked in their faith as Catholics and some are attracted to other faiths with promises of benefits. The time of “persecution” for the Catholics is becoming more visible now in the Philippines and in other countries.

This formation program seeks to help Catholics to be stronger in their faith and, at the same time, to be in dialogue with all, in the spirit of Jesus who gave to us the great commandment of love of God and love of neighbor. Jesus also teaches us to love our enemies. Many Catholics today can be compared to the two disciples of Emmaus presented in Chapter 24 of the Gospel of Luke. They thought that to follow Jesus was only to become part of a powerful leader and a powerful kingdom on earth. They did not believe that the journey to God is through suffering and that Jesus is our guide in all stages of life. He teaches us to die to ourselves so as to enter into a new life of purification to attain real happiness.

This formation manual On the Road to Emmaus is a new presentation of some basic points of the Catholic faith and mission, inspired by the ICON of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. In the stage of fear and discouragement they found Jesus along the road. They invite him saying: “Stay with us,” and reach the point that “their eyes were opened and their hearts burned” (Lk 24:31-32).

The great challenge for Catholics today in the Philippines, especially in Mindanao, is to be strong in their faith and to be people of dialogue, ready to approach all, including those of other faiths and cultures, with kindness, considering all as brothers and sisters and ready to work with all for the common good.

This is one of the best ways to prepare ourselves for the 500th Anniversary of the Catholic faith in the Philippines which will be celebrated in 2021. It is also a concrete way to experience and share the spirit of dialogue in this time of violence, and sometimes persecution. As Christians, we wish to be in solidarity with those who suffer most, and to become and remain good Catholics and good citizens.

To enter into the spirit of this presentation, On the Road to Emmaus, one has to feel the need to be guided to give meaning to life and to understand that life is a spiritual journey which helps us to discover the real meaning of life and happiness. It is time for Catholics to change their paradigm: from faith as a tradition of the family to faith as a need to answer God’s call. This is the time for all, especially for lay people in the Church, to appreciate more the sacrament of Baptism and the call to holiness. The challenges presented in this book are:

1. To inspire Catholics on their “Road to Emmaus”
2. To witness God’s dialogue as a form of love
3. To welcome the new “signs of the times” and the “new Pentecost” of today
4. To follow the “spirit” of Pope Francis and the joy of the Gospel
5. To help Catholics to accept the past and move on to the present
6. To experience the “revolution of dialogue” based on the love of God
7. To use this formation manual On the Road to Emmaus as a spiritual journey
8. To inspire Catholics to move without fear
9. To guide other Catholics
10. To use this manual in guided retreats as a new “Road to Emmaus”

On the Road to Emmaus is a new book of the Claret Publishing Group available in bookstores or online: www.silsilahdialogue.com ( archive section, books of Fr. Sebastiano D’Ambra, PIME)

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