At that very moment he rejoiced [in] the holy Spirit and said,“ I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike.” Luke 10:21
As this year races towards the completion of our 25th year in the BCBP( my wife and I completed our BCLP 11 in November 1986) I had been seeking a way to significantly celebrate it. So far it has been great. Our original AGL’s(Action Group Leaders) from 25 years ago flew in from Toronto, Canada(where they migrated for the past 23 years) for a reunion and we managed one with the whole original AG in a weekend last March in Baguio. What a blessing that was! But my heart still yearns for something.
I have long wanted to go on an individually-directed Ignatian silent retreat but have always ended up struggling with scheduling issues. I have also been told to try shorter retreats( the real one is 30-days but that is too extreme for me) as an introduction but the where and when have always been a challenge. I am still aiming to schedule my self for a 3-day Ignatian retreat as of now.
Fortunately, an email got to me about the RDL( Retreat in Daily Life) based on St. Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises which conveniently fell into my schedule(before it could get filled again!). Eagerly, I filled up the application form and answered the questionnaires and got scheduled for an interview at the Center for Ignatian Spirituality Philippines. I also resolved to keep an open schedule as it is a guided open 14-week retreat. My only request was to have a spiritual director who I can visit weekly at a convenient location to my residence.
The first step was the interview at the CISP office in Loyola Heights Q.C. on a traffic-filled weekday. To myself, I was wondering. Why an interview? Can I still be turned away? Can my case for spiritual dryness be too small for them? Whatever it was as long as the spiritual opportunity presented itself I would take it on.
On the day of the interview I hustled into the car ready to face the afternoon traffic on Katipunan Avenue. I got my fair share of it and was late for my interview with the CISP Programs Officer. Surely, I will be disqualified!
But what a blessing. She patiently waited for me and we got started basically with why I was applying for the retreat. After some sharing about my concerns for spiritual dryness and beginnings of burnout I was basically accepted and invited to the Launching Recollection last September 4th. After I made my payment, I drove home feeling relieved no matter how much traffic was in the way!
On that day (the 4th) I was again running late due to some last minute errands( I am usually a punctual person!). As I opened the door after registering, my mind was not prepared for what I was to see. It was a conference room full of people, packed to the limit with practically a 2 or 3 chairs left to choose from. In my own mind I thought not that many seek the Lord, His will or be restored in listening to Him. All in all we were 80 retreatants, ready to spend a whole Sunday together in a recollection to start off our 14-week spiritual journey. Now that was truly awesome for me!
Some of the spiritual directors were actually on hand to introduce themselves to the retreatants and we had a quite engaging day complete with a Holy Mass to end. Retreat materials were distributed and we were on our way.
After 25 years in the Renewal I would have possibly practiced and learned things about prayer to last me for a lifetime. But that’s the beauty about our God he is not done with us yet and there is so much He wants to reveal about himself to us.
One of my resolutions in prayer now is to allow God to be God, to encounter Him in ways that he wants. I found that out in the direction my guide gave to me- “Do not direct your prayer. Just be and listen.” This prompted my return to contemplative prayer, allowing more time to listening and not just drowning out all things which to my rational mind are considered distractions. I found this very interesting though it was a struggle at first to settle down and concentrate. But within a week I was comfortable with the method and soon was rewarded with some consolations.
My next assignment is to move into seamless prayer-what I am calling Prayer Without Borders. Having established a formal daily prayer time where I get into contemplation and praying with Scripture, I can now move likewise into my tested prayer methods throughout the day. Like the Didache upon waking, Gospel for the day before breakfast and Sacred Space within the workday during a break. It is possible for God to speak from one prayer period to another, adding more and more revelation as the day goes on. Perhaps you would want to ask me why? Why all of this? Is this really important to me?
Perhaps many will not appreciate this at their point in their lives right now, but for me it is my time. This is my time to allow God to be God in my relationship with him and not just fill my prayers with supplications. It is my time to “Find God in all things”. It is my time to journey with Him and allow Him to guide me and encounter me in those areas where I may have not brought him yet or allowed him yet. It is my time to allow him into every aspect of my everyday life, even my workplace where I never thought I could pray. It is my time to Pray Without Borders, to engage Him in seamless prayer. It is my turn to desire to be anyone. I wonder. Will the Lord answer?
I draw upon the words in Baruch 4:28 and pray: “As my heart has been disposed to stray from God, let me now turn ten times the more to seek Him.” And I believe in faith that, even ten times more so, it is my time to deepen my prayer life/journey with God by praying without borders.
“No one knows who the Son is except the Father and who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal Him.” Luke 10:22