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

30-Day Lockdown Retreat Journey: To Have, To Do, To Exist, To Love, To Be (DAY 16)

"Boats Running Before A Storm" by Aelbert Cuyp

Today is Day 16 of the 30-day whole community retreat in light of the lockdown.

Introduction: Pope Francis, in his Urbi et Orbi homily—giving his special blessing during this dark night of human journey. He likened our situation to that of the calming of the storm while Jesus and his disciples were at sea. The Pope says, "For weeks now it has been evening. Thick darkness has gathered over our squares, our streets and our cities; it has taken over our lives, filling everything with a deafening silence and a distressing void, that stops everything as it passes by; we feel it in the air, we notice in people’s gestures, their glances give them away. We find ourselves afraid and lost."

He said that "It is easy to recognize ourselves in this [Gospel] story... What is harder to understand is Jesus’ attitude. While his disciples are quite naturally alarmed and desperate, he is [lying down at] the stern, in the part of the boat that sinks first. And what does he do? In spite of the tempest, he sleeps on soundly, trusting in the Father; this is the only time in the Gospels we see Jesus sleeping. When he wakes up, after calming the wind and the waters, he turns to the disciples in a reproaching voice: “Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?” (v. 40).

I reflected on this and realized that during times like this it is good to have a firm hold of what is happening in our surroundings. Do not allow the tempest within to take over. Naturally it generates in the air lots of fear but let us trust in the Lord's words, “Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?” (v. 40). Maybe in this part of our journey at sea,  Jesus is still asleep (Is he?). But let us not forget that he is already on the same boat with us—this man Jesus about whom they say, "What sort of man is this, whom even the winds and the sea obey?" (Mt 27:8).

Let us continue with the second half of our 30-day lockdown retreat and find the same consoling experience of several thousands of people with you in this lockdown daily prayer. (As of today there is already a total of 43,000 page-views around the world). Please share and invite others to join. Everyone is welcome to enter at any point in this lockdown whole community retreat. Pope Francis reminds us that, "On this boat… are all of us. Just like those disciples, who spoke anxiously with one voice, saying “We are perishing” (v. 38), so we too have realized that we cannot go on thinking of ourselves, but only together can we do this."

Point Of Departure: Florencio Segura, SJ Eight Days of the Spiritual Exercises, trans. by R. Lumabao, SJ (Jesuit Communications Foundation, Inc. 2005).

I lifted the following schema (pp. 210-211) that may help us understand where we are internally and to feel ourselves in the "eye of the storm." Every retreat is an internal reality check through these five aspects that are present in every person. We are particularly grateful to the late Fr. Randy Lumabao, SJ—my superior when I was a newly ordained priest in the mission area—for translating from the original Spanish.

TO LIVE is to conjugate the five verbs expressed below.

a) TO HAVE; b) TO DO; c) TO EXIST (My own translation of R. Lumabao's "To Be" to differentiate the third and the fifth aspects); d) TO LOVE; e) TO BE (BEING)

When a group of shipwrecked people arrive at a deserted island, they go through these five verbs. They go on "making one's life"—going through these five great cultures.

a) TO HAVE: Before living [a certain kind of life], it is necessary to survive; and that is why the first thing that the shipwrecked person needs is to have—to have food, to have a roof, to have weapons, etc.

b) TO DO: And to have, one begins to do, e.g., one builds a hut, then one plows the land, searches for food, hunts animals, i.e., one begins to fight against the environment until it is made habitable.

c) TO EXIST: And when, [through] having and doing, one has already been able to integrate oneself somehow into the environment that was previously hostile and adapt it to one's needs, this person already begins to exist. One begins to achieve a culture of well-being—a technical (symbiotic) culture.

d) TO LOVE: But this person is not alone. One has arrived at that island with others. And others can be a threat to one's life, goods, and happiness.

Only when one manages to create some relationship with them that are at the same time satisfactory and stable, can that person begin to secure one's well-being. One has begun to love—[within a] culture of having relationship or the culture of "loving."

e) TO BE (BEING): Because, when this person begins to wonder about the "why" of all that one has done; when one begins to act, no longer out of fears, impulses, or whims; when one is able to enter within one's very self and, finally, to find a coherent and durable sense to what one is doing, then this person finally begins to be.

From the culture of well-being, one passes at last to the culture of being good. One has already begun to "save one's soul." One is already able to explain and to justify one's life before oneself and others. One is already able to know why one chooses some things and leaves the others.

In the First Principle and Foundation (FP&F) in Day 8 we answered the question, "Who am I?" with radical depth: I am a creature, contingent and free. And to the question, "What do I have to do?"—to serve and to choose, or to serve while choosing.

"...seize this time of trial as a time of choosing. It is not the time of your judgement, but of our judgement: a time to choose what matters and what passes away, a time to separate what is necessary from what is not. It is a time to get our lives back on track with regard to you, Lord, and to others. We can look to so many exemplary companions for the journey, who, even though fearful, have reacted by giving their lives. This is the force of the Spirit poured out and fashioned in courageous and generous self-denial. It is the life in the Spirit that can redeem, value and demonstrate how our lives are woven together and sustained by ordinary people – often forgotten people – who do not appear in newspaper and magazine headlines nor on the grand catwalks of the latest show, but who without any doubt are in these very days writing the decisive events of our time: doctors, nurses, supermarket employees, cleaners, caregivers, providers of transport, law and order forces, volunteers, priests, religious men and women and so very many others who have understood that no one reaches salvation by themselves. In the face of so much suffering, where the authentic development of our peoples is assessed, we experience the priestly prayer of Jesus: “That they may all be one” (Jn 17:21)" Urbi Et Orbi Homily of Pope Francis, March 29, 2020).

Opening Song The Deer's Cry (Adaptation of St. Patrick's Lorica)

Grace To Beg For: To ask for what I desire... radical acceptance of my exclusive dependence on God not in the form of fear or insecurity but as a free and full relationship with God.

Word Of God: Each aspect has a corresponding text to meditate on. The rule of thumb "Not many but much" (Non Multa Sed Multum) applies. Focus on that aspect which is your weakest and move to that aspect that you feel is your strongest. Converse (Colloquy) with the Lord through the given Scripture passages like a friend talking to another friend.

a) To HaveMatthew 6:30-34 ("So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?'...your heavenly Father knows that you need them."); John 6:26-33 ("I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill.")

b) To DoJohn 10:1-5 ("I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber."); Mark 13:9-13 ("Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit."

c) To ExistMark 4:13-20 ("Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful."); Luke 18:9-14 ("The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector.'")

d) To LoveLuke 9:23-26 ("If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me."); Matthew 5:38-48 ("If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers or sisters, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.")

e) To Be (Being)Matthew 10:34-39 ("Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it."); Mark 9:35-37 ("Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.")

Questions Or Considerations To Ponder:

"Gericault's Left Hand" by Eugene Delacroix

1. Get some writing materials and try to make a creative representation of these five aspects by tracing around your left or right hand on a recycled sheet of paper. Put the labels on each finger.

2. Share to a fellow retreatant your own creation. N.B. this is a personal representation of one's inner spiritual reality (State of Soul) which should be accorded with respect and prayerful reverence.

Prayer Requests:
You can email request for prayers for the dead (Name—RIP) using 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