It was like breathing again
A monthly newsletter Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Shrine, New Manila, Q. C.
July 2007 issue
by Crissy Pefianco
Someone wise was quoted saying that you only realize the value of something important when it is taken away from you. In my experience, I realized the real value of spiritual formation (which I was receiving religiously, so to speak, from my high school alma mater) and maintaining that spirituality only after graduating from St. Paul College, Pasig and entering the college arena.
The last two semesters of my second year had taken a lot out of me – physically, mentally and emotionally – and I knew it wouldn’t be long before the load I was carrying would get the better of me. And so after having survived a most trying summer semester as a Biology major at the University of the Philippines, Manila, I jumped the chance when my mom asked if I wanted to join the pilgrimage she was helping organize to the Relic of the Holy Cross in Tarlac, which also included visits to several churches in the province. And with that, I declared a temporary retreat.
The busload of us pilgrims met Fr. Alex Bautista, our priest facilitator for that day’s pilgrimage, during our sumptuous breakfast buffet stopover at the Coco Grill in Capas, Tarlac. We then proceeded to the Monasterio de Tarlac in Barangay Lubigan, San Jose town, Tarlac where the Sanctuary of the Relic of the Holy Cross is located.
On the way, the landscape transformed before our very eyes from the dull grays of the city to the refreshing greens and awe-inspiring mountain range of the rural side of the Tarlac countenance. It was breathtaking and mesmerizing all at the same time. And for a moment, all in the bus were silent, as though lifting an unspoken prayer of adoration to Him for besetting such beauty before us.
We celebrated the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist at the little chapel on the mountainside. And sitting after the veneration of the Relic of the Holy Cross, I felt my spirit lighten. It was like breathing after holding your breath for such a long time.
Fr. Alex, during the bus ride between churches, explained to us the significance of liturgical art; that it should lead those who gaze upon it to a paradigm of prayer and reflection. And in each and every one of the churches we visited, which he himself designed and orchestrated in its construction, this definition held true.
On our way to the Immaculate Concepcion Parish in Concepcion, Tarlac, my cell phone alarm went off and I said a silent prayer of thanks. At 4:29 that afternoon, I officially turned 20 years old. A great weight was lifted from my shoulders and I knew that I was readied for whatever the coming semester – and the rest of my life, for that matter – would bring. Not a bad way to celebrate a birthday, I think.
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