Grace and peace in the Divine Word!
For five consecutive days, I was out of the blogosphere. I was in Calapan together with my five other SVD classmates and our Perpetualist Director Fr. Ben Limsuan, SVD. We had our three-day guided retreat in the Holy Spirit Novitiate. We were accommodated by the 21 SVD novices and their Asst. Novice Director Fr. Josef Mesa, SVD. It has always been a very good feeling to be back to my spiritual Galilee. I have come to realize that I have been visiting our Novitiate House every year. But this time, it was very special since we embarked on a spiritual journey of once again tracing our footsteps in the road we once trod, the Novitiate.
I had my Novitiate four years ago. We were eleven then spending a year of ora et labora (prayer and work). Our schedule consisted of:
5:30 PM RISING. If you are the cook for the breakfast, you have to wake up as early as four. You should not be late for the morning prayers at 6. During our time, we were not allowed to use the Shellane. We used firewoods! Awww! It was very hot since you have to be always near the fire. I could not take a bath after cooking (the same with my other classmates). So, the cook for the breakfast had to bear smelling like smoke during morning prayers and meditation!
6:00 MORNING PRAYER
6:30 MEDITATION. This is one hour meditation! At first it was really very difficult to meditate early in the morning. But after some time, I learned how to sustain myself: I read the Bible, write reflections, pray the rosary, kneel, squat, etc. The assigned cook for the breakfast naturally feels sleepy…hahaha.
8:15 HOUSEWORK AND GROUNDWORK. We had to clean the whole building everyday. If you are the assigned animal lover of the day, you had to feed the chicken and pasture the goats before going to your assigned area for cleaning. Goats were really hard-headed! It was very hard to pull them. If you shove them, they would ran naman to different directions. One time, one of our goats was sick. Our Asst. Novice Director Fr. Vitalis Hiburdin, SVD prepared a tea for the goat to drink. The goat died the following day. Wahahaha. Part also of the housework was the chopping of logs for firewoods. Mano-mano. We were very fortunate because our classmates from Papua New Guinea made a career out of wood chopping. Thank you very much to them.
11:00 SPIRITUAL READING.
12:00 NOON PRAYER AND LUNCH
1:00 PM SIESTA.
2:30 MID-AFTERNOON PRAYER. THREE O’ CLOCK HABIT FOLLOWS.
4:00 RECREATION TIME
Ah, those were the days! I had so many beautiful memories of my Novitiate. It was really the time when my faith conviction grew deeper. During our Ignatian Retreat (this is one month retreat, talking to classmates is not allowed), I was staying in a nipa hut in our mini-forest. For consecutive days, it had been raining so hard. One early dawn, I just felt that I should go back to my room. Few seconds after leaving, I saw with my two eyes how the hermitage collapsed. It was shocking! I could not imagine what would happen to me had I stayed there for long. I could not forget it. I was very thankful that I was spared. Then, I realized prior to that event I was contemplating on new life in Christ. It was indeed New Life!
Our SVD Constitutions, par. 512 states that “The novitiate serves to mature and clarify a vocation. It provides a basic introduction to the following of Christ as outlined in the life and spirituality of the Society of the Divine Word; thus it leads one to follow him in an even deeper way.” This assertion is very true to me. Through fraternal life in the community, I came to understand myself and the SVD better. Furthermore, I was also able to mature and decide responsibly about my vocation. My Novitiate is a precious memory to me. May the Heart of Jesus live in the hearts of all.
After our recollection, we went to Puerto Galera. Thank you to Fr. Bar Fabella, SVD for the ride and to Fr. Jose San Juan, SVD for accommodating us. Thank you also to all the people praying for me and my classmates. We always include you in our prayers…