Here is one of those rare times I’m writing about my faith and my beliefs.
Happy Easter to everyone! And indeed, I waited until the Easter Sunday before I send out my joyous greetings. I never quite knew before that in other countries and cultures, Easter is just a celebration on its own. I hear them in other places in the world celebrating Easter quite earlier in the week. However for me, Easter has always been the highest and most wonderful conclusion to the Holy Week, the remembrance of the passion, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Far from the usual Holy Week from my childhood that I always spent away from the city in the quietness of my grandmother’s province, the past few years has been spent just in the city, but just as quietly. After all, maybe almost half of the city population leave for the province or vacations during the long holiday from Maundy Thursday to Easter Sunday.
This year, I was fortunate to have attended the Holy Week Triduum Retreat at the Loyola Schools (Ateneo De Manila). The retreat was comprised of three half-day sessions, held on the mornings of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Black Saturday. The retreat directors were Fr. Jose Mari Francisco, S.J., Fr. Manuel Francisco, S.J. (more popularly known as Fr. Manoling), and Rev. Chester A. Yacub, S.J. (yet to be ordained in the coming month).
Three topics on the three different days. The first day was focused on The Last Supper and the Washing of the Feet, directly connected to the liturgy of Maundy Thursday. The second day was focused on the meaning of the Resurrection, more linked to Easter Sunday. The third day was about the Faith Journey of Saint Peter the apostle. I will not expound on each of the three topics, but would rather share with you my overall takeaway from the three-day retreat.
Perhaps my biggest lesson and realization is the truth of my humanity. I am human, I should acknowledge that I am incomplete and imperfect. God does not expect me to be perfect, and that’s why he sent his son, Jesus Christ, to personally experience and truly become part of humanity. In all our pain and suffering, he has already suffered with us, through his death and dying on the cross. It is not only in is resurrection, but all through his incarnation as human, his passion, suffering, and death, that He showed that God’s love for humankind is enduring and victorious.
I have been always been afraid of making mistakes and being wrong. This fear had held me hostage from truly being and becoming. I am reminded that “We are not in control of our lives”. And yet, imperfect as I may be, I am also reminded that “God believes in me”, in all that I am and all that I can be.
And the most powerful thought I took from the entire three days: “If I allow myself to be overcome by fear, shame, loathing, envy, insecurity, or self-love, then I am hindered from truly loving and serving.”
I’m hoping to truly embody this – to open myself beyond fear of my own imperfection, to allow myself to truly love and to truly serve, to be the person that God believes that I am and I can be.