“Dear God, which Way?”
Jesuit Discernment Retreat
Jesuit Novitiate; Church of St. Ignatius
6th August 2010 – 8th August 2010
After the many weeks of school work and presentations, the holidays’ arrived! It has been quite a period of time since I had a retreat, a good one. I guess I have decided to come for this retreat not just to accompany a few other good friends but also for myself to learn more about the Jesuits and Ignatian methods of Discernment. They are very much known as the Masters of Discernment. Before going, I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to make use of Ignatian Spirituality to discern my life vocation.
The sixth day of the eighth month of A.D. 2010 was an interesting day for me. It’s one of the special days where I can hear God really calling me and trying to tell me something. The first highlight of that day was the reception of the Sacrament of Penance at St. Joseph’s Church, Victoria Street. I was on the way to St. Joseph’s Church, when my train on the circle line stalled at Esplanade Station for at least thirty minutes. For some reason, things always have to happen whenever I’m making a trip to St. Joseph’s for the Confession.
The last time when I was making my trip to SJC, there was an extremely heavy downpour and I do not have an umbrella. It seems like a rain that wouldn’t stop and if I waited for another 10 minutes, the Opus Dei Priest would have already left. While waiting at the Esplanade Station, the term “patience” just kept flashing in my mind.
O Lord, teach me Patience!
At that time, God seems to be asking why am I just so concerned about how fast I’ll be able to get to the Church. Ain’t I suppose to recollect myself for the Sacrament of Reconciliation later? The train finally moved…
As I went through the side door of St. Joseph’s Church, I smiled. I smiled because I saw at least ten people queuing for confession. When I go for Confession every other Fridays, it’ll the most be two to three penitents in the queue, sometimes none. I rejoice when I see people going to receive the Sacrament and be reconciled, just like at the Polytechnic Catholics’ Retreat. I was telling myself that morning that if I ever get ordained as a priest, I will spend most of my life as a priest, in the confessionals. The Church’s main mission is the Salvation of Souls and I pray that God will use me as an instrument to that mission.
There’s actually two sacraments going on at the same time! Quite very near of each other! The Sacrament of Penance and the Sacrament of the Eucharist! A requiem mass that is celebrated by at least six to eight redemptorists. Even though I only witnessed a very small part of the Mass, it was beautiful! Yes! There was no drums, no guitars, just an organ. It sounded sacred even though there wasn’t any Gregorian chants.
“I commit these mortal remains of Brother Joseph…” said a Redemptorist. At that moment, I really felt God speaking to me again. I was like, “Hey! That’s the kind of thing I would like to do for God!” The attraction and calling to the priesthood was and is still very strong.
During Confession, Father reminded me that the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is fast approaching! August 15. As I step out of that mercy room, I saw at least another ten more penitents. I was late for my lunch appointment with Christopher Tan. Had awesome Fish Masala Crepe at “Out of the Pan”, and an interesting conversation probably not worth remembering.
After Lunch, I made my way back home to rest and to prepare myself for the Ignatian Retreat. I met Nicholas John Tan at Marymount Station before taking Bus 855, alighting at Block 6, some Block 6. Don’t really know where but we went looking for the Church of St. Ignatius. That Church sure wasn’t an easily accessible one. After registering and collected my room key, we put out bags in our rooms before Brothers Leonard, Nicholas and myself went for the evening Mass.
Interesting Mass I must say. At entrance and exit, the priests, servers and lectors genuflected. Very nice gesture but why genuflect towards the altar? It was an organ-only Mass. After Mass, the retreat-ants met at the novitiate building for dinner followed by some Ice-breaking games. Following that was the first time doing the Examen (guided), a form of mental prayer, in the Ignatian Spirituality. The Examen is known as the Examination of Consciousness. Before this, I only know Examination of Conscience. We had to imagine a Beach while noticing our senses, sitting beside Jesus and talking to Jesus about my day. They mentioned that it’s the core of Ignatian Spirituality but I didn’t really find it good. Off to bed on day 1 at about 2am.
I woke up at 5am, well, not really 5am, but before 5.15am. Took my shower before going to the prayer room to say “Good Morning” to Jesus. Just started writing my Journal when I heard noises. I swear they were audible, some music. Went out of the prayer room to check but there wasn’t anything. Perhaps, it’s just due to my lack of sleep. I hope! Mass in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary, it being a Saturday, was at 7am.
To be continued…