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

30-Day Lockdown Retreat Journey: An interior sense and relish of God’s unconditional love for me (DAY 5)


Today is Day 5 of the 30-day whole community retreat journey in light of the lockdown.

Point Of Departure: Bill Huebsch on Whole Community Catechesis in Plain English published by Twenty-Third Publications, 2002.

Bill Huebsch draws the idea from the international Catholic guide for catechesis called The General Directory for Catechesis e.g. GDC 254. Signed by Pope St. John Paul II in 1997, it was written in response to Vatican II decree that a “directoy for the catechetical instruction of the Christian people” be drawn up (GDC 44 of the Decree on Bishops).

Huebsch adds that "the 'places' where catechesis occurs include the family, the baptismal catechumenate, the parish, Catholic schools, associations, movements, and groups of the faithful, and basic ecclesial communities." In the advent of the coronavirus we are now left with the first one—the family. Think of the cells in the body. This is a fitting image since we are trying to combat a common enemy that attacks the cells. Today, let us strengthen the smallest unit of the entire church—the family. We have to act fast like our body. Without our knowing, our body must replace nearly ten million cells each minute.

I had been in a rural parish during the first six years of my priesthood, I cannot say it enough here the importance of the family as the basic unit of the entire church. Going back to the image of the cell, a task which involves processing of an immense amount of data every second, the pastor needs to share the burden. Every time we have parish programs directly with families, the whole parish thrives because communication moves with the 'speed of light' with each cell being spiritually recharged. We are saved not as individual cells, but as a whole body of the Church. But every cell of the body—the family—should have the needed spiritual immunity from any outside attacks.

Modern Saints and Heroes: What could be learned from St. Joseph, the foster father of our Lord?

Today is the solemnity of St. Joseph. Let us rejoice only because we have the gift of this silent man in the life of our Lord’s growing up years. Pope Francis is a devotee—he had his installation as 266th Pope on March 19. When he came to the Philippines, he also shared his devotion of writing a note (telling Jesus his worries and difficulties) and slipping it under the statue of a sleeping St. Joseph.

In our morning mass today Bro. Gerard Joseph Enriquez, a Jesuit novice, gave an inspiring shared homily about St. Joseph: “A man who would do anything for his small family. He made toys for the little Jesus. He taught Jesus how to pray at the synagogue…” Bro. Gerard further shared that in his contemplation of the Gospel reading he had a conversation with St. Joseph telling him that his life changed the moment Jesus was born. He became the father of Jesus. No wonder when Jesus first came to understand the concept of a father, “Abba,” this simple family man was in Jesus’ mind. Jesus first experienced in Joseph the qualities of his own Father in Heaven. Have a contemplation or imagination of all the images of St. Joseph you have seen this far. Use Hosea 11:1-4 to picture the image of father and child:

“When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. The more I called them, the more they went from me; they kept sacrificing to the Baals, and other offering incense to idols. Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk, I took them up in my arms; but they did not know that I healed them. I led them with cords of human kindness, with bands of love. I was to them like those who lift infants to their cheeks. I bent down to them and fed them.”

During crisis times, we all need a Joseph in every household who, upon springing up from bed, immediately acts to protect his family most especially the child Jesus. To all the leaders of each community and household, let us draw inspiration from St. Joseph—patron of the entire Church.

Grace To Beg For: This is to ask for what I desire… an interior sense and relish of God’s unconditional love for me.

Word Of God: (See full text below)
1. Psalm 23 ("The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.")
2. Mt. 1:16-24 or Lk 2:41-5 (Gospel reading for today's solemnity)

Question To Ponder: How have my experiences of loving and being loved allowed me to feel God’s unconditional love and intimate longing for me?

An adaptation of a whole household assembly catechesis recommended by Bill Huebsch on page 109 of his book:

1. The master or lead catechist “presides” or leads.

2. Other family members: (a) someone to coordinate hospitalityfood and beverages, (b) someone to run electronic equipment, (c) folks to help with prayer and music, (d) folks to help take down and clean up.

3. Open with a prayer; music really works well. Sing songs that everyone knows and can sing with full throat.

4. Begin a reading of the Gospel from last Sunday or today and pose a general question like “What happened to us this week the moment the lockdown started?” Allow time for sharing at the tables.

5. Use humor as much as possible—but always respectful or reverential humor, as an example for others. Humor helps folks be at ease, and it helps them see the genuine joy that comes from being near to Christ.

6. Use multi-media responsibly; video tends to shutdown a group’s participation, but there is a place for it. If used properly, it can stimulate the members as well.

7. Powerpoint could be used. (I would like to ask our blog followers for some presentations that could accompany the main question of the week “What happened in your life this week?” Feel free to share a link in the comments section below.)

8. Keep the session moving. Vary your format for every session.

9. The bishops of the church rightly expect us to provide everyone with a comprehensive treatment of the fundamentals of our faith in every situation. (Links to the statements of the different bishops could be put in the comments section.)

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

Matthew 1:16, 18–21, 24a

Joseph did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him.

Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Of her was born Jesus who is called the Christ.

  Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit. Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly. Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.

Luke 2:41–51a

Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.

Each year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, and when he was twelve years old, they went up according to festival custom. After they had completed its days, as they were returning, the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Thinking that he was in the caravan, they journeyed for a day and looked for him among their relatives and acquaintances, but not finding him, they returned to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions, and all who heard him were astounded at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, “Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.” And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he said to them. He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them.


  1. I was thinking of the family too. Being in family ministries for almost 18 years, I realized that all efforts to bring the family together failed. It took this CoVid19 to gather the family together, physically as well as spiritually and emotionally. Families who are physically apart are connected through prayers and online. If there is one good thing that this virus has done well, it brought back everyone HOME--to the family.

  2. Thanks Dyames! God has packed this virus with some surprises!

  3. In these trying times in our lives.. kit is important and presumably the best time to sit with all family members and talk about what you could have missed talking about because each of you were busy with work or school.. this is the right time to form your bond again as a family and work together to how to keep yourselves safe against this COVID19 virus that has spread trough world. The Family as they say is the most important part of the human race.. God bless you all and keep safe.


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