The theme was “A Journey of Faith: Living Life Fully and Meaningfully,” the first Recollection for the year organized by the Evangelization Team of The Montfort Center of Spirituality (MCS). Kuya Ham briefly presented Sis Becky as a recent consecrant of The Association of Mary Queen of All Hearts (AMQAH), the culmination of her having undergone the Totus Tuus Journey (TTJ). She introduced our guest speaker, Rev. Fr. Victor F. Sadaya, CMF, general manager of Radio Veritas Asia, who is also a byword in the 846 AM radio channel for his Sunday program.
While his assistant was preparing his Macbook, he warmed the audience by asking if there were foreigners among them so he may use the proper medium and not alienate anyone. Otherwise, he has no unease with Filipinos because we are a hospitable lot and speak many languages. Then he continued with a conditioning prayer which had a lot do with silence and having both feet grounded, which he called a breathing silent prayer, with less words and more presence (of God and His message from within).
He said that he was given two hours to talk and quipped that he can go on for a day but was thankful we were a small crowd (84, against the target 60) because, in his experience as a sought-after speaker, a big swarm tends to distract.
His equipment fixed, he started by enumerating the six Fs that he had for a visual for the Lenten theme which he termed pagbabalik-loob”. We tend to look at life selectively, he said, when we ought to look again, in order to get a better perspective. Then he showed his first three Fs: failures, fatigue (toxicity, stress, Covid 19) and frustrations as necessary factors towards fulfillment, feasts and faith, resiliency being the redeeming element in the factors to bounce back after the fall. Because of the prevalent mobile addiction, he joked, our time with the phone takes over prayer. The joke was in preparation for another which had to do with the upcoming 15-minute break. Evidently averse to superstition, he derided beliefs about long ears having anything to do with long life. Because at a wake where he said Requiem, he looked at the casket and saw the young stiff with long ears. And he remembered a family of nonagenarians who all had short ears. It’s all a matter of impulse, he thought, to make a difference or be indifferent.
After the break, he discussed the fullness of time, kaganapan, or kairos, which was what happened to Ananias, when the Lord appeared to him in a vision advising him to rescue Saul, the persecutor of Christians, that he may regain his sight and be Paul, the greatest salesman in the world. He then shared the story of his late sister, Terry, who was long ill with cancer but kept it to herself and, when they found out and asked her why she was silent, said: “I want to share my suffering with Christ. Bakit mo itinatanong, di ba pari ka? Which struck him dumb. For while it is true that they were praying for remission/recovery for Terry (why did God still take her back?), he realized that her fingers were also crossed. And it was her prayer that God answered. From this lesson, Fr. Vic’s advice was to let go and let God. He has also learned to not pity suffering. Instead, he is inspired by it, because restlessness lacks fulness which, unabated, becomes foolishness.
The moment turned to mirth when he related an anecdote about a mother and her three-year old son whom she was chastising because of his habit of holding his bird (the metaphor stretched into hilarity especially when its counterpart, flower, entered the analogy). Instead of reprimand the boy, the priest called the mother’s attention that her kid was only three years old and she would be responsible for the malice she was imparting to him by her premature, unnecessary reproach.
He mentioned Cardinal Tagle’s praise of his Veritas fame but left us hanging with his butterfly tale which he neither clarified nor qualified. Yet he bounced back with his Departamento ng mga Tsismoso’t Intrigera.
He posited that therapists are expensive story-tellers it is advisable and affordable to share one’s anxieties with a trusted person that does not measure conversation with an hourly meter. With a trusted person, one can learn, unlearn and relearn lessons through shared experiences. Furthermore, Fr. Vic deplored pamahiins (like pagpag and other silly myths related to death, which I totally agreed with) and practices, like palakpakan at the end of the Mass (which I find flamboyant since God already knows we have just partaken of His banquet and, therefore, joyful with gratitude we do not have to emulate the Pharisees). Living life fully, he believed, is getting out of the comfort zone, discovering freedom outside the box and realizing the mystique it entails.
I was heartened to hear from him that anger is not a sin. And his certitude that the consequence of it, especially if dire, is what constitutes transgression. His examples did not have to be dramatic or graphic for the message to sink in. I’ve always tried to live away from the seven deadly vices and his qualification of neutral anger becoming wrath when not contained or controlled made me sit up and promise myself that there will be less occasions of the feeling, if not utter eradication thereof. My resolved was made firmer by his astute theory that “Iba ang amoy ng taong galit (and he made a face to illustrate it). Inwardly, almost imperceptibly, I concluded it with “As averse to a positive person, who is amoy langit.
He rued the time constraint and I commiserated with him because it abbreviated his presentation. Yet he culminated the event by saying that the present is a gift. His parting shot was: total empty silence is the peak of meditation. Amen.