“Love is shown more in deeds than in words.” This quotation attributed to Saint Ignatius of Loyola can summarize my 30-day Ignatian retreat experience last April 6 to May 6, 2021. Our batch, Misericordia 2022, composed of Sem. Keith Buenaventura (Diocese of Antipolo), Sem. Peter Collin Crisostomo (Diocese of Malolos) and me, stayed for a month-long spiritual journey at the Holy Spirit Mission Service Center, Tagaytay City. Rev. Fr. John Barro directed our retreat using the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.
There were many insights that had come my way during the retreat. I pondered on them and I was able to recognize God’s hands holding me every step I take. All my prayers, reflections and contemplations were written in my retreat journal. In my whole life, I realized that all I wanted was perfect joy. Having experienced darkness in my spiritual life before, I thought life was unfair. I never experienced the joy of being free to choose my desires. And so, I explored many things in order to secure my life, looking always for satisfaction and stability. Going deeper to the very core of my being every time I prayed and strolled silently in the vast field of the retreat house, I received the graces of being able to open my pains and sorrows to God and of being able to offer them as my act of surrendering to His will for me.
Having realized that the very purpose of life is to serve others, I chose to answer God’s calling, a vocation to the priesthood. It is a much more challenging state of life where I commit myself to love others, not only by words but to express it through my actions. But this is not easy to grasp, given that I am a limited being. Sometimes, when I lack awareness, I fall in the temptation to choose myself rather than to acknowledge the needs of others. In offering myself always to the service of others, it is a joy and a great consolation to bring delight to them, to see them enjoying themselves.
The 30-day Ignatian retreat is an experience of realizing that God loves me, and so there is no reason for me to be tired of giving my service to others. In acknowledging my pains, disappointments, fears, anger, hopes, and dreams, I learned to surrender everything to God because He is forming me into a better and more loving person each day. In all my dark experiences in life, God has used me to glow and shine by enduring all the hardships that had come my way. Being loved by God, my response should only be to let His life flow in me without limits.
I am grateful to God that the 30-day retreat has given me the grace to realize that the goal of life is to live with Him forever. It is to be done by concrete actions of expressing my love to others. In this way, I can do all things to glorify God. This is the perfect joy – when I offer my life to Him in spite of everything, warts and all. I am now challenged to embark on a “new” way of journeying and accompanying others with a renewed spirit and dynamic indifference, all for the greater glory of God.
One of the members of Misericordia Batch 2022, Sem. Glicerio T. Tano is currently in his sixth year of formation. Sem. Cergz was a parish worker prior to his entrance to the Holy Apostles Senior Seminary. Sem. Cergz is from the Archdiocese of Cebu.