Returning To God: 2017 Lenten Recollection at Divine Mercy Shrine

Yesterday, our Lay Dehonian Community, which is the lay organization of the congregation of the Priests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, went to Divine Mercy Shrine Hills situated at El Salvador City, Misamis Orientel.

I’ve already went to this spectacular place several times. For those who still haven’t went to this sacred place, it would just take 30 minutes of travel from Cagayan de Oro City without the sluggish road traffic.

Despite the countless times that I went to this place, this one is truly a different experience because it is a time for me, together with my fellow members and participants, to feel God’s presence and to return to His loving arms.

We arrived at the area at ten in the morning. We eventually went to the chapel situated at the underground of the dome chapel. This underground chapel is a special one.

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The view upon entering the chapel

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As one would enter the area, you could see the amazing carving of the Divine Mercy. Below it are the sponsors and benefactors who have supported the Divine Mercy Foundation.

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As one would eventually gaze to the altar, you would still be bothered on the dirty white paper-like image enclosed in a gold frame and the two black images on both sides. Actually, it is the replica of the Shroud of Turin. It is one of the most sacred religious icons on Earth, venerated by millions of Christians as the actual burial garment of Jesus Christ. The two black images are the photocopy of the cloth. One could see the face of Jesus Christ on the photocopies image.

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By the time we arrived at the place, we then had our adoration for 2 hours. We also had a confession. During these times, it was a solemn moment for me because it is a rare opportunity to listen to God instead of just always talking, which is the usual act we do. I have mostly reflected on several things that has happened currently in my life. It is likewise a refreshing moment because I was able to confess my sins, to pray silently, and to feel His loving presence in that place.

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Breathtaking view of Macajalar Bay
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Emote si Jek-jek
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Child of the one true king

By twelve noon, we then went to the cafeteria located near the parking area at the backgate. One could already buy lunch consisting of rice, 1 viand, and 1 drink for only Php100. After eating our lunch, it was a free time for us. So, together with my fellow members, Jessamine (Ex-Francisan nun), Joy (My cousin), and Krystal (New friend who was invited by Atty. Grace), roam around the sacred area. Despite the scourging heat of the sun and the salty breeze that came from the overlooking Macajalar Sea, we still took lots of pictures for social media purposes and also for remembrance.

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By two in the afternoon, we then went to the foot of the statue as Father Szymon promised that we are allowed to climb at the heart of Jesus. I was truly in awe after knowing this because it is just a rare opportunity to immediately climb there without the 30 minute orientation. Thanks to Father Szymon. Cellphones and other things were prohibited while climbing towards the Heart of the Divine Mercy. So we left our things at the area’s baggage counter. It was a heartfelt moment for me to be able to climb to the numerous steps towards Jesus’ heart. When we already arrived to His heart, I really made the most out of that rare moment and really prayed fervently. As one would go down, you could see the breathtaking view of Macajalay Bay. I would not forget the view because one could really see that the world is indeed round.

After we went to the heart of Jesus, we then went back to the underground chapel for an exclusive mass for the group, presided by Fr. Szymon himself. After the mass, we then had a sharing with our group. Father Szymon asked us the question, “Why should we constantly return to the Lord?”

From that question, I was able to truly reflect and to share my insights among the members of the group. For me, I do believe that there is a need for us to constantly return to the Lord because we are dependent to Him and our life is nothing without Him. I am nothing without God. Each day, we are always distracted by the earthly things which this world offers to us. We are continually tested through the challenges we face in our life, may it be in school, in our work, in our family, in our relationships, and in our friends. Because of this, at times, we shy away from God which is a risky thing to do because we are already prone to temptations. Satan would be the happiest knowing that we had lost sight of our path. We are like the carts with impaired wheels on the grocery store. We do strive to go to our destination which is a straight path but then, it is inevitable for the damaged wheels to go to leftwards or rightwards. Because of that, we need to constantly return to Our Lord because He is the one who continuously guides us. He is our merciful and loving Father. He is just always on our side but most of the time, we shy away from Him. We don’t come near Him and we failed to embrace His loving presence in whatever endeavors we go through our life.

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With the Lay Dehonians, from L-R: Fr. Szymon Bendowski SCJ, Joy, friend of Fr. Szymon, Atty. Grace Escobia, Karolina, Ate Vivian, Ms. Fabello, Me, Jekjek, Krystal, and Dr. Nino Macoy

With this, I am greatly blessed for yesterday’s recollection despite exhaustion from the almost summer heat. It is good for us to at least reserve a portion of time for Him amidst our busy lives. In this Lenten Season, may we be reminded to return to His loving presence and think of the things that truly matter most in our life.

Vivat Cor Jesu, Per cor Mariae!

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