my holy week 2012

my holy week 2012


over holy week, i had the great opportunity to participate in the “pabasa ng pasyon” which is a filipino tradition translated as “reading of the passion.” this was the third time i got to experience this rich tradition – the first time with my family in the PI, the second time at a parish in NY, and this time i got to experience it again at our family’s home in marikina.

it is a narrative of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, and lasts many hours. when we did it on saturday night-sunday morning, it lasted 13 hours. non-stop chanting/singing. there are different tunes also to sing with each stanza. there was another family who kept it going the whole night! it’s a community thing – so anytime during the day/night, people can just visit and join in for how every long or short they want! it’s pretty cool. just no stopping! 🙂 right after i got in to manila from baguio, i went straight to my nanay’s house, started the rosary, the pabasa went for the next 13 hours, and then i closed it off with the rosary again. and boom – Palm Sunday! 🙂

.2 minutes from the pabasa in marikina this year. / april 2012.

.my experience in new york. / march 2010.

and here are some pictures:

the book you sing out of!

the altar 🙂

the people

afterwards, i went on a 5-day silent retreat over holy week! i was very grateful that my aunt offered to take me AND pick me up from the retreat site in cavite – that way, i didn’t have to mess with traveling with all my stuff. super nice!

so this is where we slept (and yes, it was silent – so while we all slept in the same dorm, we didn’t talk to each other)…i only knew one other person (who i didn’t even know was gonna be at the retreat!) and so you’re basically sleeping in a big room with a bunch of strangers. but a bunch of strangers that you know are on retreat for various God-given reasons. i was ok with that. 🙂

5-day retreatants on the right, 3-day retreatants on the left

where we slept. pretty sure this was the ONLY time the room was empty! i took advantage by taking a picture!

at various spots at the retreat center, there were quotations on silence, and i thought that helped create a nice ambiance.

scattered throughout the retreat grounds were tables and chairs, crosses and candles – that way, you can set up your own little prayer area any given time of the day. how awesome is that!

retreat essentials!
underneath trees, in the chapel, you could pray anywhere 🙂

the set up was like this for me – my spiritual director was Fr. Rudy Fernandez, SJ, and our group would meet with him two times a day. everyday there was breakfast, then merienda, then lunch, then merienda, and then dinner AND fresh juice from various delicious fruit trees that grew all around the site…so basically, i ate, slept, met with fr. rudy as a group, and then i would take him aside to pick his brain for wisdom whenever i felt inclined to talk about things, and then i prayed. a lot. i journaled, A LOT. i found that i ended up journaling more in these 5 days then i had journaled since i started the journal in mid-january. that’s a situation! so good though and very much needed.

stations of the cross were placed on the trees.
i loved this tree thingy.
sunshine piercing through, always

a big part of the retreat for me was talking with fr. rudy fernandez, SJ. he was one of the most inspiring people i have ever met. he is an 82-year old Jesuit, and he shared with me so many stories. he reminded me of two people: Jesus and Mr. Miyagi from the next karate kid. he spent the majority of his life in japan, as the first Filipino Jesuit to be sent on a foreign mission. he sends mass text messages to his friends everyday with inspiring thoughts and reflections. he is a poet, a writer,  and such a beautiful person. people are so inspired by him that a group of individuals gathered his best text messages from the recent years and put them into a book called the “Text Book” – it is now being sold in Manila. um, awesome? yeah. very much so!

stolen shot

during the easter mass

whenever he would talk, i wrote as fast as i could to capture the gems of wisdom that he would share with us. i’m pretty sure i caught myself staring at him with big eyes, cause in my mind i think i was thinking, where did this guy come from? just so wise. one time i took him aside to talk about my life. that was a lonnnnnnggggg conversation, needless to say! eventually he said, “thank you for sharing this story with me, crystal. you showed me how loving and patient God has been with you.” dang. i thought to myself, yeah, i think so too! surprisingly, he shared with me some same connections that he had with my story, which only affirmed that he was indeed the retreat director meant for me!

so important to look up

the second time i spoke with him, i asked him about freedom. he said, what about it? i said, just talk…and he just went off on a whole bunch of amazingness! he shared with me how sometimes he feels cheated cause Jesus never gave him an example of what a man in his 80s is supposed to be like (since jesus himself died in his early 30s), and then he shared with me what he felt Jesus told him, and so he shared with me, “so crystal, Jesus is saying to you, ‘YOU show me what i would be like if i were a 26-year old female.’ ” in other words, if i am a living jesus, if YOU were a living jesus, how would we live our lives? of course, jesus does not want us to be Him – he wants us to be who WE are…but looking to Jesus as our model. how would that change our actions and non-actions? something to think about.

he shared with me that he started his mission life when he was 26 years old, and after i shared with him my story as a missioner, every time we saw each other, he would make some type of reference to the fact that we were both missionaries. he’s such a wise, gentle man, and over the course of five days, he became one of my most favorite people ever.

one night i sat in adoration with the blessed sacrament for three hours. i would have stayed longer, as there was no one else in there, but i got scared cause it was super dark outside and i started hearing noises! AND as courageous as i am, i’m also a big scaredy cat when it comes to the dark. so i had to peace out early. i think Jesus was ok with that though. that was a special time for me because i got to just sit and be and talk and pray to Jesus. what ended up happening was me writing a whole bunch in my journal of things that i don’t think i had ever been able to articulate before, and that was a freeing moment in itself.

chapel 🙂

after six months of feeling dry with new material,, one day i just sat on the couch and started writing. i realized i had written a poem and i was so flippin’ happy because i had not written in forever! the night before our last day, i shared with fr. rudy that i was finally able to write my first poem (after reading his Text Book) – he said, “can you share it with me?” and so i did! i opened my journal, and he read it aloud! then, he said, “wow.” and i said, YES! then i threw my fist in the air because i finally got something special down on paper. success!

beautiful days

walkway to the chapel from the dorm

looking back, i think in a way, this was a very “freeing” retreat for me. after the easter vigil mass, we were able to talk and we had a little party. all i know is that that night, i think we were all laughing and talking until 3am. well, i think i was talking, and everyone was trying to get me to sleep. but i couldn’t help it – i was just feeling really energized with the company! haha, it happens. 🙂 all the aunties went to sleep, but the 30-year old kids and me were talking the rest of the time. so much fun! of couse we had our early AM easter mass and that was not fun to wake up for. haha, but it was great!

green green everywhere

and so, life continues after the retreat, and i’m looking forward to what is next. regardless of when i am leaving the philippines, regardless under what circumstances, i am finding that with faith, i can’t go wrong. 🙂

here are some of my favorites from fr. rudy:

his fave: “So God may make me wait, but he will never be late”

“the cross is the key that will turn and open the earth – open the key to life.”

” thank you for listening, crystal. as you grow older, you need a captive audience. “

“when Jesus said seek and you shall find, don’t run away looking for Him. he’s just waiting for you to recognize him here and now.”

“start with YES, end with THANKS…our two most beautiful words to God – YES and THANKS.” – 1.1.10

“let prayer be telling God stories and listening to God telling stories. don’t make your stories a monotonous litany of Please Gimme’s. listen to others – they’re God stories too!” – 5.7.10

“we should stop using being human as an excuse for failings. Matthew’s gospel begins with a genealogy, at paints to show Jesus is fully human. it’s grace to be human.” – 12.17.07

‘come, launch out into the deep – do not be afraid.’ we will not learn to swim or catch fish in knee-dep water. we have to dare to go beyond our depth.'” -2.4.07

“wisdom be the harvest you reap from your experiences. more important than what happens is what you see in it and learn from it. and don’t wait for special happenings. don’t wait for feasts to feed. it is the daily bread that nourishes us.” – 8.11.04

“it’s good to ask Good questions, as a child wanting to know, not as an interrogator. and wait for His answer – which may take time, given in hint and whisper.” – 12.1.05

“let us help others carry their cross – not be a cross to anyone…i will lighten their cross – not make it heavier.”- fr. rudy fernandez, SJ


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