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

30-Day Lockdown Retreat Journey: Deep awareness of God’s mercy and compassion upon me a sinner (DAY 7)


Today is Day 7 of the 30-day whole community retreat journey in light of the lockdown.

Point Of Departure: In ecology the term for equilibrium is homeostasis. Seen in that context this outbreak is one result of a great and increasing imbalance in nature.

When I was assigned in a mission parish in Cabanglasan Bukidnon, I learned there the secrets of farming from the people. The parish too is home to a few tribes of indigenous peoples who helped me see the wisdom behind the changing seasons. The Umajamnon (people from the Umajam river) have a special connection to their native land, which they consider sacred and precious. They say that when there is a long dry spell; it means also a longer rest period for the soil. The earth, like an organism, needs to sleep after working to give us humans the good harvest we need. A period of dormancy is necessary for the soil to restore its greening power in time for the next planting season. You cannot go immediately and plant if the soil is still unprepared or you will regret it. They practice responsible "kaingin" system—a primitive form of upland small-scale farming—which is a sustainable way of a farming that is respectful of the boundaries of the forests.

It seems like nature too has to go through a period of the Lenten fasting and abstinence to re-orient herself to God. There is one beautiful lesson which only nature could teach us here. When nature’s equilibrium is disturbed, it undergoes a process of healing to restore the homeostasis that was lost. We humans have no choice but to respect this process of healing. The root word in Greek μοίωσις” (homoiosis) means “likeness” or “mirror-image.” Think whose likeness it is? Does this mean the image and likeness of the Creator? This rings a bell in our minds recalling an old catechesis on the doctrine of Imago Dei (God's image and likeness) which, I believe, extends to every creature on earth. We do not monopolise God's uncontainable Divinity and creativity.

Let us pray that in this period of the outbreak we will learn how to take the cue from nature. May we feel her sorrow and pain. Let us do even small things to ease her pain especially now, to bring back the harmonious balance. The ultimate goal is to bring back the right relationship between creatures, for restoration, reconciliation, and re-orientation back into the likeness of our Creator. We hope for the wholeness of God's creation, with humans, restored.

Grace To Beg For: To ask for what I desire, deep shame, sorrow and tears for my sins... I beg for the grace of a deep interior relish of God’s mercy and compassion.

Word Of God: (See full texts below from universalis.com)
  1. Ho 6:1-6 (“For it is love that I desire, not sacrifice, and knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.”)
  2. Lk 18:9-14 (‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’)
Questions To Ponder:
  1. The story of Prophet Hosea is one of my favorite stories to use about God's mercy. Hosea and Gomer (an unfaithful wife) had three children. God told him to name them using strange names. The first child, Jezreel, a name that means “shameful butchery” after Jehu’s savagery at Jezreel. The second child, Lo-ruhama, meaning “She is not pitied.” The third child is Lo-ammi, meaning “Divorce!” Imagine that you are the Prophet Hosea. God instructs you to name three children born to you. These are three strange and unusual names that will serve as representations of what need to be expressed that have been there in your heart since the lockdown period or even in the past. "Name" them (feel free to journal or make illustrations as you find it fit) using three classes that I have outlined below. (Avoid associating these names to persons. Let us not do what the self-righteous Pharisee has done. Think only of the sins and not the sinner. Do this with respect or reverence towards God in the form of a contemplation or meditation. And most importantly the IGNATIAN RULE OF THUMB—NOT MANY BUT MUCH! I have given pointers which you can CHOOSE from to be used person-by-person basis without the pressure of accomplishing everything.)
1st name “Virus”—It refers to the Covid-19 that destroys human lives. What does the name Virus stand for in my life today? (E.g. fear of contamination, anger towards the virus, physical and mental stress, when will it go away, how to eradicate the virus from this world, when will a vaccine be available, etc.)

2nd name “Outbreak” —It refers to the more serious effects on society both local and global. What does the name Outbreak stand for in my journey this far? (E.g. financial insecurity, loss of job, fluctuation in prices of commodities, concerns on how to recover losses, people become poorer, weakened by the effects of the virus, concerns on how to go about as a country in the future, etc.)

3rd name “Crisis” —It refers to the effects found in one’s home or the direct effect to one’s own individual life as a whole. What does the name Crisis stand for in my personal and spiritual life? (E.g. safety and survival of loved-ones, personal fear of the unknown future, spiritual hunger, religious matters of the faith being tested, questions about one’s belief system, why is there suffering and death, dealing with uncertainty, asking God the hard questions, permanent change is one’s   future, etc.)

  1. PRAYER OF THE PUBLICAN OR THE TAX COLLECTOR: (‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’) Imagine that you are the publican praying beside the Pharisee in the temple. You can overhear the words mumbled by the Pharisee. This is a grace-filled opportunity to pray fervently together with so many others in the whole world for the following five intentions:

Opening Song

Meditation on the Word of God: Begin by slowly reading the Gospel (See full text below) and pick and choose a word or a phrase that spoke to you. Spend some minutes of quiet.

Praying for Particular Petitions:

‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’ (Brief pause) (Lk 18:13)

Our Father who art in heaven hallowed be thy name. Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation. But deliver us from evil. Amen.

Let us pray: For the medical workers, volunteer responders, for the scientists and researchers that God grant them strength and wisdom... 10 Hail Mary; Glory be

Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen

‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’ (Brief pause) Our Father...

Let us pray: For all patients including people who have already pre-existing medical conditions that God grant them healing and inner peace... 10 Hail Mary; Glory be

‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’ (Brief pause) Our Father...

Let us pray: For all those who have already died during outbreak and for their grieving family members that God grant them consolation... 10 Hail Mary; Glory be

‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’ (Brief pause) Our Father...

Let us pray: For all those at risk and vulnerable individuals like the elderly that God grant them courage and strong physical and spiritual health... 10 Hail Mary; Glory be

‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’ (Brief pause) Our Father...

Let us pray: For the successful result of the community quarantine that God grant us the healing and restoration of our community back to the normality of living...10 Hail Mary; Glory be

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

Hosea 6:1-6 ·

What I want is love, not sacrifice.

“Come, let us return to the Lord,
  it is he who has rent, but he will heal us;
  he has struck us, but he will bind our wounds.
He will revive us after two days;
  on the third day he will raise us up,
  to live in his presence.
Let us know, let us strive to know the Lord;
  as certain as the dawn is his coming,
  and his judgment shines forth like the light of day!
He will come to us like the rain,
  like spring rain that waters the earth.”
What can I do with you, Ephraim?
What can I do with you, Judah?
Your piety is like a morning cloud,
  like the dew that early passes away.
For this reason I smote them through the prophets,
  I slew them by the words of my mouth;
For it is love that I desire, not sacrifice,
  and knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.

Luke 18:9-14

The tax collector went home justified, not the Pharisee.

Jesus addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else. “Two people went up to the temple area to pray; one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector. The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself, ‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity – greedy, dishonest, adulterous – or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.’ But the tax collector stood off at a distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and prayed, ‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’ I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”


  1. Sharing this to others (FB and Messenger), I found out that many are longing for this kind of journey, They are waiting everyday. Thanks po of this initiative.

  2. What the virus unveils in us are our: insensitivity (we thought we never need anyone so we just don't care of others), self-entitlement (that I deserve all I wanted because I am more important than you), and limitlessness (that I can continue to do what I want and desire, at times even sacrificing self-care). The virus attacked our insensitivity, self-entitlement, and limitlessness. Now I realize I am mere human... one of the creatures on earth.


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