In the Spirit of Lent

Thursday, March 27, 2014 Veronica Joyce 2 Comments

We all need a healthy dose of silence (in our lives) once in a while. I appreciate days of solitude, a break from the noise and the chaos. But there are days when I avoid silence, too, especially when I have to do a repetitive task. If it does not require much thinking and introspection, I love to have music in the background, listen to a podcast, or my favorite F.R.I.E.N.D.S. episode sans the video.

We could only hope for a day or two of repetitions and so on. And yet, monotonous days are becoming much more frequent and silence just makes a seemingly boring existence much worse than it actually is. So, we seek fun and adventure, and surround ourselves with as much noise as possible to fully say that life is fun. Until we realize that we cannot stand staying still, keeping quiet anymore.

Do you think that there is beauty in silence? That even with the absence of sound, there are answers, there is clarity, there is enlightenment.

We, Catholics, are currently observing the Season of Lent. It is a time of fasting and abstinence, of repentance and reconciliation, of forgiveness and reflection. For a lot of us, especially here in the Philippines, the Lenten Season gives us a couple more days off work. Most take this time to relax, travel, bond with family and friends, and have fun. I have nothing against all these. But, I also think that this time of the year is a great opportunity to spend more time in silence - to pray, to reflect.

I had the most meaningful Holy Week, to date, in 2012. A good friend invited me to a 3-day silent retreat in Don Bosco, Batulao, Batangas. It was a silent retreat because as participants, we had to spend long hours alone - to read the Word of God, to talk to God, to examine ourselves. I found great wisdom in those moments of silence as much as I gained new perspectives in the talks given by one of the best Retreat Masters I have ever met, Fr. Armand D. Robleza, SDB.

In those three days, I was forced to confront myself - all my fears, my insecurities, my worries, the 20+ years' worth of resentment and bitterness. I answered questions like:
  • Which path should I go to? The one on my right or the one on my left?
  • What should I stand for at this point in my life?
  • What will I give up because of love?
  • Which treasures will I give away?
  • Which unforgivable will  I lift up to God?
  • Which pathetic behavior will I have to change?
  • Which hurts will I turn around?
I answered these questions not in haste nor out of a duty to someone who'd read it (my journal) or listen to it (as I speak). I answered them as truthfully as I could because I owed myself some clarity and  honesty. Everything was between me and God. There was no right or wrong answer. I didn't care if my grammar was spotless or if my thoughts were coherent. It didn't matter if my handwriting was legible or if I used punctuation marks at all.

I love that retreat for so many reasons. Although I was distracted from time to time, it really felt good to spend much time talking to God - something that rarely happens in the ordinary course of my life. I loved how I wake up in the morning and the first thing we'd do was go to the chapel and pray. How we only paused for meals and resumed to reflection and prayer in between. It also helped a lot that we were in such a tranquil, beautiful place.

Being in a very confused stage of my life then, I can say that those three days restored me. That I was made whole and new. As I flip through the pages of the journal I wrote then, I am once again reminded that there is more to life than acquisitions and success. That we are loved beyond measure. That life is made meaningful by the many questions we have that can only be clarified by Divine Reason.

A message I got from the retreat (written in my notebook in a handwriting that I cannot recognize now as my own, weird):

Have the enthusiasm to succeed.
Live by the mystery of our faith.
Christ has died. Christ has risen.
Christ will come again.
Do not forget.
Always remember.

I really hope that we all find time to pause and break free from the chaos that's surrounding us. And find that spot and time to look into the desires of our heart, our intentions, our feelings toward others and find peace, forgiveness and a stronger motivation to live a meaningful life.

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  1. I love how people can believe in God. I wish i could already. I try to do everything as the rules tell me. But I don't know yet if i do believe or not..I love how honest this post sounds to me. Good writing!

    1. Hi Melissa, thank you for reading this post. I understand how you feel. Honestly, I am not sure what to reply but I believe that God has ways of letting us feel/realize that He's real. I'm happy that you are not totally rejecting the idea. :) :)