"Remember, I am with you always to the end of the age" (Mt 28:20)


30-Day Lockdown Retreat Journey: Deep awareness of God who alone created me and my own total and exclusive dependence on God (DAY 6)


















"I HAVE TOLD YOU THESE THINGS, SO THAT IN ME YOU MAY HAVE PEACE. IN THIS WORLD YOU WILL HAVE TROUBLE. BUT TAKE HEART! I HAVE OVERCOME THE WORLD" (JN 16:33).


Today is Day 6 of the 30-day whole community retreat journey in light of the lockdown.

ANIMA CHRISTI
(This old prayer begins the text of St. Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises.)

SOUL OF CHRIST, SANCTIFY ME
BODY OF CHRIST, SAVE ME
BLOOD OF CHRIST, INEBRIATE ME
WATER FROM THE SIDE OF CHRIST, WASH ME
PASSION OF CHRIST, STRENGTHEN ME
O GOOD JESUS, HEAR ME
WITHIN THY WOUNDS HIDE ME
PERMIT ME NOT TO BE SEPARATED FROM THEE
FROM THE WICKED FOE DEFEND ME
AT THE HOUR OF MY DEATH CALL ME
AND BID ME COME TO THEE
THAT WITH THY SAINTS I MAY PRAISE THEE 
FOR EVER AND EVER. AMEN.

Point Of Departure: Five years ago, Pope Francis wrote his second encyclical letter—Laudato Si’: (Praise be to you) On Care For Our Common Home. This letter is a must read especially nowadays. He says, “lf we approach nature and the environment without this openness to awe and wonder, if we no longer speak the language of fraternity and beauty in our relationship with the world, our attitude will be that of masters, consumers, ruthless exploiters, unable to set limits on their immediate needs…” Laudato Si’  11.

We, humans, have become overly confident in the treatment of beauty without true discernment, but simply chasing endlessly after external fads or trends. We need to ask ourselves now as a form of self-criticism—Do we really know what beauty is? The problem of beauty is that it is very difficult if not impossible to agree on a definition. The beauty that Pope Francis likes us to focus on is inner beauty which is very far from the dominant and consumerist perception of beauty that we now have. We have a lop-sided view towards beauty seen only in terms of development, consumerism, advancement, profit-oriented technology, etc. but all these are not sustainable. The mantra of this parasitic view is "growth... growth... growth." And the sadest thing is that the beauty of our native earth has enormously faded away. At the end of the day we say beauty is relative or beauty is in the eye of the beholder—flaunting all the more our self-righteous act and prideful sense of entitlement. Sense of entitlement is the enemy of the sense of wonder and beauty. The quotation from the Laudato Si’ is a call to look into the inner beauty of our common home and relate to her like our sister who needs protection and respect. Earth's beauty seduces us to save her and save ourselves in the process. And the scary part is we no longer have enough time to reverse the snowballing negative effects of our actions. The kind of world the current generation (That is us!) will be handing over to the next is a recycled earth—recycled from tons and tons of non-biodegradable and toxic wastes. I remember my month-long urban poor immersion as a novice. I stayed in the landfill area in Payatas. Almost all of the things that my foster family had in the house were recycled including my bed cushion and canned goods that went beyond the best-before date. If you read on in the Question-To-Ponder, I linked beauty and love which is the theme of the Gospel text today.

The turning point… (Before proceeding check this out by Louie Schwartzberg on Nature. Beauty. Gratitude.)

In latter part of Pope Francis’ letter, he gives us hope: Yet (remember the vertical line or Hebrew letter “vav” in DAY 4) all is not lost. Human beings, while capable of the worst, are also capable of rising above themselves, choosing again what is good and making a new start, despite their mental and social conditioning. No system can completely suppress our openness to what is good, true and beautiful. I appeal to everyone throughout the world not to forget this dignity, which is ours. No one has the right to take it from us…” (LS 205).

But there is a major shift that all human beings need to undergo. Pope Francis beckons us to undergo an ecological conversion. Like all moments of personal conversion, we need the grace of acceptance that we are always a part of the whole problem. There is no more looking for whom to blame. We may direct the pointing finger together with our thumb towards others. (Our fingers will not be enough!) But notice that there are three fingers all pointing towards you. What we know about the virus is just a drop in the ocean. It is projected that it will not leave us until after 18 months. After that what would happen? Where will it hide next? For those among us who will survive and become more immune, you will be the chosen ones endowed with what the 12th-century abbess Hildegard von Bingen first called "viriditas" meaning  greening power, vitality, fecundity and growth. That is one very noble purpose for continuing to fight this menace. Read more on Hildegard below.

Grace To Beg For: To ask for what I desire, a humble spirit and a contrite heart... I beg for the grace that my heart be likened to Your Heart, the Sacred Heart.

Word Of God: (See full texts below from universalis.com)
  1. Mk 12:28-34 (“First commandment… You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”)
Questions To Ponder:
  1. The problem of beauty is intertwined with the problem of love because we love what is beautiful. Let us do an examination of conscience and ask, How was I in my loving of myself and others? How have I responded to God’s divine love in creating me and providing for me through the years? Try doing an Ignatian Examen by going through the moments of the day after waking. Like the video above; if you haven't seen it yet click here.
  2. How have my past practices and life-style contributed to the current dire state of our common home? Do a contemplation of your own surroundings. 

Modern Saints and Heroes: Hildegard von Bingen—twelfth-century theologian, mystic, poet, healer, musician and a woman for our time

June Boyce-Tillman, in her book “The Creative Spirit: Harmonious Living with Hildegard of Bingen,” (Morehouse Publishing 2001), explores the life and thoughts of this remarkable woman—so much ahead of her time. Her teachings reverberate through the issues of our modern age. E.g. she wrote about spirituality and physical health that are so inextricably intertwinedan aspect of God's divine nature. She introduced a theological term viriditas, that is, greening power. A person with the virtue of viriditas is the same as the person who has undergone Pope Francis’ ecological conversion. We are hopeful that after or if we survive (God permit!) the current pandemic, we will not go back to our business-as-usual mode. You will become a different person. Those who will outlive the coronavirus will be chosen for a noble purpose—men and women endowed with viriditas. They will start to harmonize living conditions respecting mother or sister earth's boundaries. Pope Francis says, “Let us do what we can while there is time!” He writes that, “Living our vocation to be protectors of God's handiwork is essential to a life of virtue…” (LS 217). It dawned on me St. Ignatius' view on love that ought to be manifested more through deeds. Beauty is a silent whisper that calls to us "Love me and protect me!" I admire the works of an American time-lapse photographer, Louie Schwartzberg, who said "... let us always protect what we are in love with."

Prayer Requests:
You can email request for prayers for the dead (Name—RIPusing 8thworkermercy@bloggercom—there is a DOT between 8thworker and mercy. It is restricted so that only me as blog author can read it. Others will NOT be able to read any email; instead they will get a message stating that this is private. We will offer your intentions during our regular 6:30AM Masses in our community of Jesuit priests and novices.

P.S. Feel free also to include the names of all who are sick (Name—Get well soon).

Fr. JM Manzano, SJ



Mark 12:28-34

The Lord our God is one Lord, and you shall love the Lord your God.

One of the scribes came to Jesus and asked him, “Which is the first of all the commandments?” Jesus replied, “The first is this: Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.” The scribe said to him, “Well said, teacher. You are right in saying, He is One and there is no other than he. And to love him with all your heart, with all your understanding, with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” And when Jesus saw that he answered with understanding, he said to him, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.” And no one dared to ask him any more questions.

Comments

  1. Thank you very much, Fr. I've been learning a lot and knowing myself better and deeper because of this. In this trying time, I feel like God is always with me, protecting me, my family, my community, my country, my home, which is the Earth. I pray that we get through this the soonest possible time. Thank you and God bless you.

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