After another year of amazing activities, projects, long tests, crammed papers, all-nighters, and nerve-wracking oral exams, Gabayanos ended it through prayer, spiritual silence, and quiet reflection. Just meters away from the hustles and bustles of Katipunan is the Cenacle Retreat House & Spirituality Center, which housed the Gabayanos for the day-long calming of the soul – coming back to the heart of all the things we’ve done.
Lead by Bro. Mark Purugganan, Ateneo Gabay’s Spiritual Director, the Gabayanos were guided into the 3-part Lenten Retreat. The blocks, which divide the whole day into lessons to ponder on, were about The Shepherd and the lamb, The Shepherd becoming the Sheep, and The Lamb that is Risen. In the attitude of silence and solitude, the participants had the opportunity to quiet down and listen to the gentle voice of God. Through reflection and recollection, the individuals were to find how God moved in their lives and in their personal journeys during the school year.
The morning prayer block was a rediscovery of how Jesus’ love carries us in all our days. He is the Good Shepherd, and by recalling all the struggles of the year, all the times we cried out to God for help or for praise, His love keeps us alive. In Psalm 10:11 it says that, 11“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (NIV). This is also pondered on in the second prayer block, which is about the mystery of the Shepherd becoming the Sheep. The love of God, born out of compassion, is a gift that all of us do not deserve at all, and what’s worse is that after a lot of disappointments, sadness, failure, and exhaustion, we fail to see and appreciate this Gift. Through prayers, the participants asked for faith to stay and wait with anticipation, to always seek Jesus in everyday, and to feel his deep love for us. The third block, in the afternoon, was about Jesus’ condescence in order for us to have the courage and zeal to follow Him. His victory over death is what should be the reason for all our actions, for Him and His glory. Bro. Mark refreshed the Gabayanos to St. Ignatius’ The First Principle and Foundation that is: “The goal of our lives is to live with God forever.”
Also, the concept of Magis was reinstated and rebuilt in the minds of Gabayanos. Bro. Mark reminded the retreatants that Magis is not about the quantity of our tasks, it is not about the amount of work, but rather it is about depth, about the meaning of our actions and objectives. It is about how each person’s work makes meaning to other people’s lives, and how it has made theirs and ours meaningful, so that we may find God in all things – in our work, the people we work with, and the people we serve.
Things that too much work or the noises of daily life might have drowned, such as the desire to know how Jesus loves us, the depth of His sacrifice, His presence in our daily struggles, and the true goal of our daily actions – these things that we may forget during the year were celebrated and all the experiences throughout the year were processed so that we may begin a new one, full of hope, love, and joy.
Article written by Patricia Yray, 2 AB PH