An encounter with a Dominican priest

MALAYBALAY CITY, MINDANAO — After the Easter vigil this Saturday night, we had a festive dinner followed by socials with matching drinks and dessert. After getting my allowance (which is not that much), I was talking to Br. Romy and asked him about the Starex vehicle that broke down in Damulog. Since his group was on the broken vehicle driven by Br. Joe that arrived at 8pm last Monday, I mentioned about our retreat facilitator and how he started the retreat with an orientation.

The Habit
Our retreat facilitator, Fr. Rolando de la Rosa, O.P., is a Dominican priest who was the former Rector of University of Santo Tomas. When he entered the Manresa conference room here in a Jesuit Retreat House, he was wearing his Habit. His wearing of Habit is not about his being a Dominican Order of Preachers giving a retreat in a Jesuit retreat house (while co-presiding a Mass with a Jesuit priest, they assured us that it’s not yet the end of the world). He emphasised at the start of this week long retreat that his attire is to remind us that the success of the retreat mainly depends on the disposition of the listener, meaning us Marist Brothers present.

The greatest truths are the simplest ones
There are lots of take aways from the seven sessions but I will mention the simplest ones since St. Thomas Aquinas said that the greatest truths are the simplest ones.

On poverty
1. “When God is all we have, we realize that God is all we need.”

On Sinning
1. “There are no private sins. All sins are communal (1 Cor. 12:26).”
2. “Sin brings its own punishment (Deut.6:15).”
3. “Unconfessed Habitual Sin causes Moral Anesthesia.”
4.If the devil cannot make you Sin, he will make you busy.”
5. “If I am full of myself, I am empty.”
6. “Hurt people hurt people.”

On Change
1. “Only the dead does not change.”

On dreaming
1. “You cannot outdream God.”

On love
1. “We become what we love.”
2. “We cannot love that which we do not understand.”

On Forgiveness
1. “Forgiveness does not change the past but enlarges the future.”
2. “Even when reconciliation is not possible, forgive.”
3. “If one forgives, one must remember.”

On classics
1. “A classic is timeless because it is forever timely.”

On hermeneutics
1. “Every translation is an interpretation.”

On presence
1. A bra is someone close to the heart and is there to support.”

On peaceful living
1. “A peaceful life is an orderly life.”

There are lots worth mentioning and I’ll update this post once I remember them.

What it means to Fast on Ash Wednesday

Disclaimer: There is nothing new here; just an echo of what I have read, heard, and lived as a practicing adult Catholic since 2011.

Today is Ash Wednesday, a day of imposing ashes on our foreheads and a day of fasting.

Let’s focus on fasting.

Fasting is abstaining meals for a day, either limiting to one full meal or two smaller meal. And what is the point of fasting?

Keyword: self-restraint.

When we fast, we abstain from eating and drinking not because we are dieting or for medical purposes; it’s purpose is spiritual.

Even if I use theological terms such as turning away from “sin”, it will still boil down to self-restraint. And since I brought it up, what is “sin”?

To turn away from others and from God is to “sin”. It is a state of discord or disunity. This is why the term devil or diablo literally means the one who disperses or scatters. To be a sinner means to be someone who is isolated from God and from others; to be a sinner is also to become “full” of oneself.

Fasting is not only about eating. We also abstain from harmful or “guilty” pleasures such as speaking ill of others (yes, gossiping is pleasurable), watching a late night television series, or drinking five cups of coffee (yes, I know I’m lame in giving examples so think of your own way of fasting).

When we Catholics fast, we do it as a gesture of desiring unity with God and with others; we desire unity because we love God and we love others as well.

And like Valentine’s day, fasting is about love.

It’s ultimate end is to fulfil the desire of Jesus for us, that we may be one just as he and the Father are one (John 17:11).