This past month has been an intensely reflective time, both personally and collectively within our noviciate group. Over the past few weeks our community has spent much time in reflection on the themes of mercy, care of creation, and intercultural communication.
During our first week we prayed on the theme of mercy (inspired by the Year of Mercy and Pope Francis’ letter Misericordiae Vultus) using one of the First Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola. We had rich moments of sharing on the spiritual and corporal works of mercy, and the fruit of our collective reflection can be found in a web-based resource that we developed called Richness of Mercy.
I would encourage anyone who would like to reflect on mercy to take a closer look. You can adapt the suggested exercises for a group or individual reflection. I found this reflection to be a helpful lens for me as I continue to struggle with the poverty I see here in the Philippines. There is no easy answer for me except to see within myself a growing recognition of God’s presence in the world around me and the gift that God has given to me in inviting me to participate in the works of mercy.
Our second week of reflection was on the care of creation. We prayed with the Papal Encyclical Laudato Si, using again one of the First Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola. This week of prayer for me was an equally powerful period of self awareness and awareness of God’s presence in my life. I was able to see how integral the natural world, and the experience of my body in the natural world, is to my prayer. I looked back on periods of my life (especially those spent in Ottawa) when I was active in the outdoors (i.e. running along the Rideau Canal, and taking my dog for walks in the Arboretum and Experimental Farm) and saw these as moments of spontaneous praise to God. I also recognized that I haven’t experienced prayer and praise in quite the same way since I moved from Ottawa and I would like to reflect further on that. I would also like to reflect on how to praise God in the natural beauty that exists, albeit in somewhat hidden ways, in the urban environment of metro Manila.
The beautiful Experimental Farm in Ottawa
Exploring God’s creation
Our third week of reflection was on intercultural communication. We had a special guest with us for a full week leading a workshop on intercultural communication. I won’t say more about this now because it is the subject of my next post.
So…month 2 of the first year of my noviciate is nearly over, and the discovery (and adaptation) is in full swing! God is working in me, pulling back the layers of my assumptions and perceptions about myself, shining a light on bits of myself I would rather ignore, and helping me to grown more fully into myself.
Praise be God in all creation, especially in dogs named Bernie