A Lent Reflection: Understanding the Values of Acceptance, Surrender and Moving On in our Day to Day Lives.

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How
has your 40 days of Lent been, especially your Holy Week experience? Has those
dates made you feel gratified, contented, dazed by the glory of God, or did a
specific day under this period, serve as an eye opener of certain realizations
to you, your friend or even the rest of the family?

My
Holy Week had been totally revealing, aside from meaning it is a 7 day break
for me, it had given me chances to rest from our university’s very demanding
schedules, plus additional hours of planning on what to write on my handled
pages. Last Thursday, I and my family had been blessed with the golden opportunity
to visit St. Thomas Aquinas Parish and National Shrine of Padre Pio, both in
Sto. Tomas, Batangas (a tourist spot in the Philippines). These 2 churches had
been the highlights of our annual 2018 “Visita
Iglesia”
(literally translated as: Visit Church) devotion road trip,
specifically because St. Aquinas is the Patron Saint of my University, and
Padre Pio, who is known for his strong commitment to the Catholic teachings and
fast response to the believers’ prayers, is also one of my family’s favorite
saints.

The Filipino people have worldly been known as
“faithful individuals”, our attitudes
towards these kinds of occasions are always caught up among the faces of total
seriousness, undeniable strictness and unwavering devotion. It is strongly
manifested through the newspapers, chanting of repeated Latin and Tagalog prayers
by the elders, locally known as Pabasa,
the sights of Sinakulo (Lenten
plays narrating the life, suffering and resurrection of Jesus Christ, beginning
from the night of Holy Monday to Easter Sunday) and Penitensya (self flagellation and determined crucifixion).  Most may seem that some of these acts are
unthinkable or even absurd, especially the concept of crucifying one’s self,
they may argue that our sins were forgiven long time ago, but here in our
country, it’s an accepted tradition and each unique devotee has their special
means of expressing their love and lifting up their failures. People may disagree
on what methods of faith are more safe and better, but I am sure that at one
point, we may agree that all our actions are rooted from our deeply enhanced
trust in our Creator.

We
came to Batangas to not only see the inimitable architecture of the religious
establishments, but also to bear witness on how Batangueños (residents of Batangas) celebrate their faith and
express it. As we climbed up the mountainous entrance to the Shrine, it was
very hard not to notice the cries of realization, laughter of tourists and the
amazement of the crowd as they continued journeying to the gates of the place.
I’ve observed the beauty of the surroundings, not solely because of the
landscape and the holiness that dwells in it, but mostly of the people exploring
around gleefully. In spite of the distance from their homes to here, no sense
of frustration were impressed on their faces, Families of different cities and
provinces were huddled by the benches consuming their late lunch on paper
plates, Friends were grouped by the statues of saints and pathways, holding
their cameras high above, aiming for good shots, Tourists crowded the souvenir
shops to grab as many memorabilia as they could and Locals assisting the
newcomers to their choice of scenery. It was an indeed joyful sight.

I had understood that these people were here because they had
already achieved or still want to achieve these 3 Major Values in their Lives:

1. Acceptance

“You must ask God to give you power to
fight against the sin of pride which is your greatest enemy – the root of all
that is evil, and the failure of all that is good. For God resists the proud.”
-St. Vincent de Paul

Truly, Acceptance and
Understanding are thoughts that could not be indeed separated.  For you could understand but never accept,
and what is acceptance without truthful understanding? Among the three virtues,
I believe this is the hardest stage to achieve; only a few have managed to
embrace this concept quickly enough. The
one thing that delays our path to being free is Denial, powered by Pride.
We
deny, You deny, I deny that we possess a thing called Pride, we are aware that
a dose of it, or even two, is quite enough to kill us with our eyes wide open. But
why the reason for our constant rejection of the facts? I assume that majority
of our answers would be, “because mistakes mean failure, and to fail means to
sin”. Once I’ve thought that phrase to be true, but thanks to the wonderful
articles, books and talks I had encountered, I began to change that mentality.
Now I could declare that, “mistakes mean
we are human, to be human is to be loved by Christ.”

Keep saying this phrase in your mind, and trust me, you’ll begin to feel the
virtue of Acceptance slowly piercing into every bit of your system. You could
never repent if you had never learned to Accept, so start doing it today.

2. Surrender

“Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry”

-St. Padre Pio

Personally,
I equate Surrender with Repentance. How often do you repent? In my case, I make
sure that I do it at least once a year, mostly after our Special Recollection
Ceremony done in the campus. This stage is the easiest of the three, removing
the reality that you wish to see a kind and happy priest to hear the confession
of your grave, graver, gravest sins. It’s easy to talk and relay the
information through the words you speak, it’s thrilling to let go of everything
finally at once. Why is that? Once you accepted yourself and the sin you’ve
committed with open arms, everything would be a breeze. Repentance is analogous to a graduation ceremony, you knew you did what
it took to graduate or maybe even to receive golden markers, and all you have
to do at current is to receive that plaque and medal and smile.
The
Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation is a gift of God to us, his children,
so Don’t Worry, everything will be okay maybe not at the moment, but soon.

3. Moving On

“Let us go forward in peace, our eyes upon heaven, the only one goal of
our labors.”
-St. Therese of Lisieux

Had
I said that Acceptance is the hardest virtue among the three? I think I’ll take
what I had just said a little back. Okay, I’ll admit that it’s harder to move
on than to accept, it differs on the situation. Moving On is not a single
process, it takes on many shapes and forms, so to simplify things, I would
relate it to the transition of a college student to work life and a cleaner
feeling after receiving Forgiveness. We are all aware that we could never stay
as college people forever, unless if we insist to repeat the courses over and
over again, in due time we have to level up and release ourselves to a hostile
environment, called “workplace”. The good thing is that we are free to look
back on our school experiences in order that we could continuously level up and
improve on our field of vocations. The human person is never designed to have a
stagnant nature, we always goal to be better every day and explore new circumstances
on a on a daily basis. As for the situations after the Sacrament of Penance,
most may tend to forcefully look back at the past and punish themselves for the
sins they already are pardoned with, claiming that the words of comfort by the
priest is not sufficient for their reasons. But we forget that, in this
process, our objective does not lie on making us look good in front of the
priest, but submitting ourselves wholly in front of the Lord. The secret of
Moving On and continuing this journey filled with overflowing Love is to leave
the dark past behind and run forward with a peaceful tomorrow, like what St,
Therese had taught us.

I
pray that you had a meaningful and sanctified Lent period, and that this week
would be a memorable remembrance intended to be looked back to and learnt from
in the next months to come. May our attitudes expressed during this time not be
only temporary, but perpetually lasting.

 Photo Credits:

Maronilla Family Album

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