From 16 January 2023 to 20 January 2023, Postulants Jose Ruben A. Garcia and Lemuel A. Asuncion spent their 5-day silent retreat at the Abbey of the Transfiguration of the Lord in Malaybalay, Bukidnon. The postulants reflected on their vocation in the silence of the monastery, guided by Rev. Fr. Paco San Juan, OSB, the spiritual director of the Abbey. The solitude of the monastery was an opportunity to appreciate nature and its creator, discerning the will of God in the majesty of the stars at night or in the serene surroundings filled with trees and farm animals.
Night sky last 18 January 2023, as seen from Malaybalay, Bukidnon, Philippines. Photo by Lee Asunción.
Lemuel Asuncion reflects on the majesty of creation and our place in God’s divine will: “Disconnecting from the world created much space and time to desire God, and in those five evenings, I’ve seen His presence through the stars in the sky over Malaybalay. When creation unfolds like this, one can’t help but have a deep reverence for God, who is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. The experience of quiet isolation helped me re-evaluate my spirituality, improve on meditation, appreciate the present, and reframe my priorities. At the conclusion of my retreat, with a renewed spirit, I felt much more ready to continue my journey towards more ardently desiring God and becoming a Brother.”
The Abbey of the Transfiguration of the Lord at dusk. Malaybalay, Bukidnon. 17 January 2023. Photo by Jose Ruben A. Garcia
The postulants participated in praying the Divine Office, joining the Benedictine monks in praying Matins, Lauds, Sext, Vespers, and Compline. These determined set times for prayer gave the postulants an opportunity to reflect on scripture (through the chanting of the Psalms and the reading of scripture) and hear from the wisdom of the Church Fathers (through the second reading at Matins). Furthermore, it was also an opportunity to hear spiritual insights from the monks. Jose Ruben Garcia recalls and reflects on a homily given by the abbot of the Abbey of the Transfiguration of the Lord, Rt. Rev. Fr. Savio Ma Siccuan, OSB from the morning mass of 18 January 2023: “‘If we try to find ourselves in religious life, we hit a dead end.” I was, to be honest, baffled by this message. I have always understood meditation as a journey to an authentic self that lies within. However, the abbot’s message led me to understand what it meant to deny oneself and follow Christ. As someone discerning the Brother’s life, this is something I must constantly remember.”
The postulants returned to Ozamiz on 22 January 2023.
Jose Ruben A. Garcia