During the Lenten Season, several groups of PCJ servants went to Maryridge Retreat House in Tagaytay City for a silent retreat. A couple of them share their thoughts and experiences during the event.
A BEAUTIFUL ENCOUNTER WITH MY GOD
by Essie Alcausin
Silent retreat! I have been to so many retreats before, this time it’s going to be a SILENT one. Will I be able to survive a day without saying a word or talking to someone? I asked myself. And I decided to go to that retreat last February 16. I was with some fellow church servants and while we were on our way to Tagaytay, we shared a lot of laughter and thoughts. I was with “good conversationalist” church servants. I thought, well we have to talk and laugh now, because as soon as the retreat starts we can no longer talk to each other, at least for a day.
The bell rang at 2:00pm that day. And that signified the start of the silent retreat. Excited I was! “First time ko to e”. As soon as the opening song was sung, I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit in me! I felt my tears rolling freely down my cheeks. Then we were made to go to a place of our choice to talk to our God alone. “One on one” ikanga.
I decided to go in one of the benches in the garden outside the retreat house. I could see the trees, the beautiful taal lake, and I could hear nothing but the sound of the wind blowing and the tweet of the birds in the trees…. And the voice of the Lord who was conversing with me! My personal encounter with God started! And He said, “I am your shepherd Essie. Oh my God! You have called me by my name! Then He continued… I have loved you Essie, with an everlasting love, and therefore I am constant in my affection for you. I am silently planning for you in love. It was tear jerker for me! Lord, I said, how undeserving I am of your love! Forgive me for I am a sinner. Forgive me for I haven’t even noticed how much You love me in ALL my days, months and years of existence!
And I continued to listen to Him. Then I couldn’t hear anymore the sound of anything that surrounded me. Not the sweetest tweet of the birds. I could only hear my God telling so many good things to me! I felt so secured resting in His shoulders. I felt so important! To Him I am a precious living creation of His. I am His precious child! Oh how unworthy I am, I said. But He insisted otherwise!
Then that day continued. It was grace filled day for me. I am experiencing the GOODNESS of a loving GOD! I don’t want to miss a second. And when evening came, we went to the chapel and reflected on the parable of “The Prodigal Son”. I reflected and I was brought to my younger years, when life was so simple. That a lollipop was enough to make me happy. But when I grew older, like the prodigal son, I went to my Heavenly Father and claimed what I thought was rightfully mine. I wanted my freedom. My FREEDOM He gave me. And for the longest time, I savored it and I realized how long have I been disobedient to Him because of that so called “freedom”. I must have pierced my Father’s heart! And deep inside me I was sobbing and I sincerely asked for His forgiveness! Heavenly FatherI said, make me strong because I want to be home. Yes, like the prodigal son, I went back into my Father’s arms and indeed I felt His love and my feeling of guilt that night was wiped away! Thanks to the inspiring words of our retreat master and spiritual director, Father Eric Salazar!
We went back quietly to our room that night. I was alone inside my room. And I continued to listen to Him until I went to sleep.
I woke up the following day, still enjoying the time left for us. I got the chance to talk to Sister Cristina, one of our spiritual directors. I shared with her the fruits I have harvested from this whole retreat. I listened attentively to her during our one on one conversation. Oh, how I appreciate her for being so passionate in sharing her thoughts, and she comforted me when I bursted into tears! I kept in my heart all of her advice which now serve as my spiritual guidance.
Our silent retreat was concluded with the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. And with a joyful heart we went back home bringing with us a good harvest. It was an awesome experience. It quenches a thirsty heart! I kept my harvest from that retreat, inside my heart and nurture them. I hope to be able to share them so that my harvest will grow!
I look forward to go into a GRACE filled retreat like this again!
SILENT RETREAT EXPERIENCE
by Bert Dacuycuy
The silent retreat provided me an excellent environment for introspection, to intensely look into my heart and evaluate my
– relationship with GOD, and
– relationship with others starting with my wife & children
The splendid landscape around the retreat venue, the “don’t talk and let-others-alone” format, my one-on-one talk with our retreat master and the scripture readings & solemn music during our group sessions all contributed to a wondrous feeling of a renewed person after the one-day retreat.
A flash-back to my past in one of our group sessions aided by the melodious song “Who Am I” led me to realize once again the countless blessings and joys I have had since my childhood, later on with my own family. This left another indelible imprint in my heart about GOD’s unfathomable love, mercy and compassion.
By the way, some verses of the beautiful song “Who Am I” run like these:
Who am I?
That the Lord above the earth
Would care to know my name
Would care to feel my hurt….
Not because of who I am
But because of what You’ve done
Not because of what I’ve done
But because of Who you are….
Hear me when I’m calling
Lord catch me when I’m falling
And you told me who I am
I am Yours
I am yours
Now about a month after the retreat, the lyrics and melody of the song Who Am I keep ringing in my ears. They wonderfully remind me of my retreat resolutions to continually strive to deepen my relationship with God and to share His immense love with others.