Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Opus Dei: Makiling Retreat Center Laguna

"I'm proud of the scars in my soul. They remind me that I have an intense life"..Paulo Coelho

Among all the gifts that our local chief executive had shared with his hard-working managers, this spiritual detox is one of the most precious rewards that I value- another best practice on leadership management undertaken by the City Government of Balanga exclusive to its managerial heads. This can really help develop the faith of his subordinates towards Christianity while being exposed to great challenges and mediocrity in government service. There are so many surprising realizations that happened to me during retreat that I was able to take down notes during my three-day stay in West Wing, Makiling Retreat Center in Laguna. After a year, I just discovered that my iPhone 6-cellphone battery is still in good running condition. Maybe you're wondering about the relevance of my phone unit to my retreat experience. Well, in my three-day stay at the retreat center, we observed strict silence to the maximum; so strict that you could almost hear the whisper of the person seated two seats from you. And to exaggerate things, we were limited in the use of gadgets while on retreat.  Surprisingly, my cellphone battery lasted three days! No calls, no emails, no social media browsing and other pop-up notifications. Just needed to use SMS service because I had to respond to some urgent office concerns once in a while. I couldn't believe that I only recharged my battery once till the end of the retreat until I was back home. The fact is, I usually charge my cellphone battery on a daily basis, twice a day at worst, depending on the use of incoming and outgoing calls, emails and other SMS services. This is aside from more than 9 hours of working on my laptop computer if I was at the office. I realized that a big percentage of my daily routine merely revolves around the excessive use of gadgets brought about by modern technology. 

Another amazing thing is that after more than a decade, I again experienced swollen knee due to almost 8 hours a day of serious kneeling for prayers and soul examination. I recalled my childhood experience when every third day of the week I had to join the block rosary crusade group led by religious elders of our community. We had then a family-owned Fatima religious image that we moved from one house to another for a block rosary crusade. When my mother asked us (siblings) who wanted to join the rosary crusade, I always volunteered. It's not because I am a religious catholic devotee way back my childhood, but because of the fact that right after the long queuing of holy rosary and experiencing swollen knees, the serving of food will surely follow! The house owners will prepare lots of food as their way of thanksgiving for sending off the holy image. That is a common Filipino religious tradition. :-)
My book companion for three days for I have no idea who is Jose Maria Escriva. 
Even though the place is a bit scary at night, I preferred to stay at a single room for a more serious meditation. Sinners needs more chances for spiritual reflection...

What is most important is I was able to take a brave move to take one step forward to His holiness by submitting myself again to the holy sacrament of confession. I consider this a personal milestone since i have trust issue and taking the opportunity to talk with a priest has always been a point for discussion and deliberation on religious beliefs and practices. This is where I found out that not attending Sunday mass due to laziness is considered a mortal sin even if you had it replaced by a devotional rosary on the same day. Officiating priest said then that no amount of mercy and spiritual blessings can replace your presence on a Sunday mass and reception of the body of Christ.   

The lady at the middle (our city legal officer-Attorney April Atcheco) is on her 30th so she may not be included yet in the panic mode age. Lol. While the woman on the right side is our City Planning & Development Officer Ms Elsa P. Ilagan. 

The retreat participants were composed of the ladies coming from the panic mode age. Yes, you read it right, we were a group of professional women in our 40s, 50s and 60s who are rushing for time and effort to glorify God because we haven't had the time to worship during our much younger years due to other errands that we thought more important than glorifying Him. I may not be completely healed and still have a long way to go but I am thankful that I'm on my way. 

"Allow me to grow in my faithfulness to You as you fill my empty vessel. Thus, I sanctify my work to the glory of God."

I feel elated to meet new friends from the group of single Opus Dei members Dra Geraldine "gidget"  Ortiz and Ms Anette Sy who serves as our spiritual directress during the retreat. They're so reserved, fine-looing and decent. They’re my opposite alter egos. :-)

Opus Dei, formally known as The Prelature of the Holy Cross and Opus Dei (LatinPraelatura Sanctae Crucis et Operis Dei), is an institution of the Roman Catholic Church that teaches that everyone is called to holiness and that ordinary life is a path to sanctity. The majority of its membership is lay people, with secular priests under the governance of a prelate (bishop) elected by specific members and appointed by the Pope. Opus Dei is Latin for Work of God; hence the organization is often referred to by members and supporters as the Work.
Founded in Spain in 1928 by the Catholic saint and priest JosemarĂ­a Escrivá, Opus Dei was given final Catholic Church approval in 1950 by Pope Pius XII. In 1982, by decision of Pope John Paul II, the Catholic Church made it into a personal prelature—that is, the jurisdiction of its own bishop covers the persons in Opus Dei wherever they are, rather than geographical dioceses. (Source Wikipedia)


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