April 10, 2006

Love, repeatedly

Repetition is an expression of love. Doing things over and over again, an endless cycle, a repetition of familiar events and happenings—it is the essence of and an expression of love.

That startled me. It was among the first few lines spoken by Sr. Perry, our retreat facilitator in the first session of our retreat. And it brought me upright and prompted me to write it down.

She was saying, “why do we do things over and over again? We are about to celebrate Holy Week, again; paulit-ulit, para tayong loko-loko. Yet we do it., Why? Because doing things over and over again shows that we love. If we do not love, then we would do something and stop.”

That made me really think.

Why, indeed, do we do the many things we do over and over again—because we believe that these things are worth our time and effort, because we believe that we will make a difference, because we believe that some day, some time, we will get it right. Perhaps, but I liked Sr. Perry’s way of putting it best: it is way of showing that you love.

I was on silent retreat with my brothers and sisters from Lingkod QC at Sacred Heart Novitiate last weekend and after Sr. Perry said that, I just could not do the activity she asked us to do but I spent a lot of time chewing on that nugget of wisdom: repetition as an expression of love.

And then, I realized the enormity of that truth: it is reflected after all in God’s own act of showing love. God did not impose a one-time offer: “I love you; take it or leave it.” Its not as if God’s love were a sale—for a limited period. God’s love is eternal, limitless, boundless and God shows His love repeatedly for His people; for me.

God is not content with one single moment of grace, one single return to Him; He pursues me—repeatedly. Each time I fall from grace, He does not write me off—“tsk, tsk, tsk, I knew it. He can’t hack it”—but instead, picks me up, dusts me off and sends me on my way—again and again and again.

Under the tree-lined beauty of Sacred Heart Novitiate, I marveled at the many ways God showed that He loved me—as he repeatedly would send me grace upon grace, blessing upon blessing, even adversity upon adversity.

Just before lunch of the first day, sitting in a low swing under a tree, with my feet dirtied by the soil below me, I asked myself if I could be capable of that kind of love—to repeatedly do things over and over and over again, selflessly, all in love’s name. And I answered my own question with a “no.” I am not capable of that kind of love for many times, I tend to stop and let my humanity take over; I tend to not “waste time and effort.” And I fell to my knees, like Nehemiah, imploring God’s mercy that He might make more loving, He might make me more determined to be more loving. A I ended my prayer, I heard the Lord say to me—in the silence of Sacred Heart Novitiate and amidst the noise of my heart—“thank you for asking for that grace.”

It was a great start for an immensely fulfilling journey.


Personal aside: I’ve raved about Sacred Heart Novitiate’s beauty for some time already; I think the brothers and sisters have been tuning out whenever I start on this.

But more than ever, last weekend, SHN became a beautiful place for me; perhaps it was because it was silent and God’s voice really could be heard or because it was peaceful and God’s presence could be felt.

Looking at them last weekend, I know that my brothers and sisters from Lingkod QC appreciated the beauty of the place and now share this little secret with me as I saw them choose their favorite bench, their favorite swing, their favorite tree amidst the silence that is not the absence of sound but the absence of noise, amidst the solitude that is not the absence of people but the presence of God.


Anonymous said...

Maybe the Jesuits planned it deliberately-- I like to think so, but look at the layout of the Novitiate. Metaphor, perhaps, for their lives.

The gate is in the east. You enter with the rising sun. It's a long and beautiful journey through the grounds. The sun sets in the west, the journey's end, behind the quiet and final resting places of the priests.

Sic transit gloria mundi

Ad majorem Dei gloriam

Anonymous said...


I was once your student in your criminal law class and I just passed the bar. I've been reading your blog for the past few months, and I must say that even if I disagree with most of your opinions, I truly enjoy reading them.

I used to go to on a yearly silent retreat in SHN when I was in college, and I am aware of the many graces one can receive in such a retreat. I was especially touched by this entry. I believe that He will always listen to a yearning heart.

I pray that God grant you that grace that you prayed for, and the other graces that you may have asked for as well. He will always provide.

Ted said...

@Anonymous bar passer. Congratulations! I do wish though that you identified yourself so that I could know who you are. And thank you for praying for me--that's another reason for you to identify yourself, so I could pray for you in return. God bless your legal career.

tere l. said...

Hi Sir!
I was struck by what you had quoted... that repetition is an expression of love. I'm at a point in my life where I have grown tired of repeating myself to a particular person and lately i just want to give up on him. But reading this has given me some hope. Maybe it is a matter of perspective on my part. Thank you sir. ;) Happy Easter po!

Ted said...

Hi Tere. Oftentimes, it really is just a matter of perspective--what's worth doing sometimes is worth doing repeatedly. God did that and does that--repeatedly. And oftentimes, we don't get it; maybe that's why "he" still doesn't get it. Doesn't mean you shouldn't continue doing it though. Good luck with "him". :) Happy Easter.