I attended a silent retreat from Holy Wednesday to Easter Sunday at the Convent of Servants of the Lord and Virgin of Matara in Lipa, Batangas.
Silent it was indeed as we were not allowed to utter words to one another, not even engage in eye contact. The main focus was the Lord, following St. Ignatius de Loyola’s spiritual exercises that entailed reading bible passages and meditation.
Having attended silent retreats thrice during Holy Week starting 2012 (except in 2014 when I underwent surgery in February) and gaining new spiritual insights each time, I can now define what a silent retreat is, based on my personal experience. It is a break from my routinary activities and pressures of life while imagining myself “in a desert with no one” and realizing that amidst daily concerns, God is beside me.
Since solitude with God was a rare moment, I treasured my 5 days’ stay at the convent… reading given bible verses, trying to immerse myself in given scenarios before the Blessed Sacrament and realizing His love for me despite my shortcomings. The meditations resulted in seeing personal meanings to the Lord’s Passion, Death and Resurrection as I associate problems as my Good Friday and learning to accept God’s will as my resurrection.
Likewise, through the silent retreat, the Holy Mass has become personal to me. As the priest raises the Host with his hands, I too elevate my loved ones and thank God for His blessings. As he lifts the chalice with wine that changes to Christ’s blood, I immerse our spiritual, emotional, mental, physical and even financial illnesses to Him for healing.
The spiritual exercises are still fresh to me. I pray that amidst noise in my world, I will remember the importance of silence and the bible verses that I read will not be just a combination of letters in the alphabet but instead be applied in my daily life. As Mother Teresa once said, “God speaks in the silence of the heart. Listening is the beginning of prayer.”
Written By: Edna Sebolino, 3rd placer in PBS’ Holy Week Essay Writing Contest