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

30-Day Lockdown Retreat Journey: Wonder, awe and appreciation of the native beauty of God’s creation (DAY 3)


Today is Day 3 of the 30-day whole community retreat in light of the lockdown.

Constancy of prayer, like regularly getting sunlight, makes one spiritually healthy.

Yesterday, when I was preparing for today’s prayer points, which is about the meaning of prayer, I observed the sunrays on my skin. In the advent of the global pandemic, the first thought that dawned on me was concern about my own and my family’s survival. I constantly tell them that our first line of defense is to enhance our immune system. The sun, I realized, is a millennia-old remedy to build a strong immune system. We have heard it said that sunlight is still the best medicine. As my body was absorbing the sunlight, a second realization dawned on me: prayer too is a lot like being under the sunlight and getting the spiritual immune enhancement that my soul needs.

The sun is up or down there 24/7. When you do not see the sun, it does not mean it is not there. At night, the sun is just busy shining on the other side of the earth. Not all the time the sunrays are beneficial though. It is not advisable to expose yourself unprotected from radiation. The same is true with prayer. Choose the time that is conducive to talk or listen to God and commit yourself to that. E.g. many choose early in the morning because the day holds brand new chances—the mind is still fresh and uncluttered, and the light from the sun is rejuvenating. We are on Day 3 of our whole community retreat. For those who are new to my blog, you may wish to read up on Days 1 and 2 retreat materials for the previous two days since March 15, 2020.

Grace To Beg For: This is to ask for what I desire… deep wonder, awe and appreciation of the native beauty of God’s creation—a profound love for reality.

I can still vividly remember one morning of October 20, 2000—I was on 5-day discernment retreat at Canossa Spirituality Center in Tagaytay City. I was just gazing at the distant hills. At that moment time stopped for me. And something happened like a deep realization of how blessed I had been by God. I shed copious tears of gratitude for everything, both the pleasant and the unpleasant. No doubt that was my first God-experience. Whatever method of prayer you ascribe that is now secondary. Something ineffable happened period. When did that kind of God-experience happen to you? Go back to it by relishing or reliving the experience and fill your heart with gratitude. Gratitude is the door to the Divine or to the Source. During crisis we open this door.
Today’s beautiful sunrise reminded me to enter that door and relish God’s tender love and care for me—feelings of deep wonder and awe towards how God has been creating me resurfaced in my heart. I look forward to the next morning—given another chance—and long again to offer to God my thanksgiving. What are you most thankful for today? As you name each particular gift, notice your feelings.

Word Of God: (See full texts below from universalis.com)

1. Ps 139:1-18 “O Lord, you have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up…”
[Without being pressured to finish the whole Psalm, slowly pray line by line... stopping at the word or phrase that speaks to your heart and stay there. This is what we call listening through the heart method.]

2. Ps 18:1 “You are my strength, O God...and I love you.” [Do a simple breath prayer... as you inhale, hold your breath and whisper through your lips the 1st part of the verse. When you exhale, hold, and whisper the remaining part of the verse. You repeat this method throughout the duration of your prayer period.]

3. Jn 7:38 “Jesus said, ‘Out of your heart shall flow rivers of living water.’ [Breath prayer method could be used.]

4. Ps 84:5 “Happy are those whose strength is in you.” [Breath prayer method could be used.]

St. Patrick’s Day: 
Today is St. Patrick’s day and I remember Fr. Finbar Maxwell, MSSC, an Irish Colomban priest. He gave me the rosary with the Celtic cross and explained that the circle inside the cross signifies the sun. In the eyes of a National Geographic photographer, Marc Adamus, we can better appreciate this celestial body and even contemplate the journey it takes from dawn to dark. He describes how the sun “piercing through the early haze… declares itself distinct, bold, brilliant, divine. First a gleam, then a burst, then a bundle of flame so bright we must look away. Sunrise establishes the dominance of day. Its magnificence flashes forth, and it feels as if for just that moment we can stand in the presence of some power greater than human. Then it gains on us, and we must look away.”

To commemorate the feast of this Saint, I invite you to pray "The Deer's Cry" from St. Patrick’s Breastplate which serves as a spiritual shield and strengthener in the form of native elements, objects and concepts. 

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