Saturday, October 28, 2006

SVDs on Retreat

Retreatants with Mike Somers
at the Divine Word Seminary Chapel
after the final Eucharistic Celebration

This is an opportune time to resume blogging, just after our SVD annual retreat.

Close to 60 SVDs (58 to be exact) from the three provinces (North, Central, and South) participated in the fourth batch of the SVD 2006 Retreat directed by Mike Somers, and Irish SVD who had worked in Ecuador and now the director of the Arnold Janssen Spirituality Center in Steyl (Holland). He also directed the other three retreats held in Baguio, Cebu, and here in Tagaytay.

This retreat began began last Oct 23 (Monday) and ended on the 27th (Friday).

What was striking in this retreat was when Mike Somers, who lives and works in the very first house of the SVD where Arnold Janssen had founded this missionary congregation, defined who is an SVD today (and perhaps by extension, who is an XVD also today).

"One who promotes and gives witness to
universal inclusiveness and
openness to diversity
living prophetic dialogue
marked by the characterisitic dimensions."

"Living Prophetic Dialogue" was the overarching theme of the last SVD General Chapter.

At the mass concluding the retreat, Mike Somers presided a rite to honor Mother Earth. Adapted from the ritual of the Mayas, the indigenous people of South America, the participants sanctified the earth's four directions, beginning with the East. It is in the East that the Sun rises, thus symbolizing "new life".

Retreatants pray over the East

The rite parallels the ancient Israelites' crossing of the sea (Exodus 14). Pressed in the sea by the pursuing Egyptian army, the Israelites marched through the sea, "the waters forming a wall for them on their right [South] and on their left [North]" (v. 22). With the West at their back, they leave behing Egypt, the place of their slavery and walk Eastward to freedom.