The context of this initiate began last March 15, 2020, the day before the 30-day lockdown period in Manila, Philippines—the 3rdmost populous urban area in the world with 29.7 million people next to Tokyo (38.5 M) and Jakarta (34.4 M). The lockdown consists of a nine-hour curfew, a community quarantine—the strictest in Asia—if fully implemented, and the banning of mass gatherings that mandated church leaders to suspend religious events. For the majority of the population who are Catholics this is unprecedented and many of the faithful are torn between concerns on how to avoid being infected by the virus and on fulfilling one’s religious obligation to attend masses, which is the Catholic church’s primary channel to receive spiritual nourishment.
1 Month worth daily online reflections that individuals, families and communities could use in light of being locked down because of COVID19 pandemic.
As a Catholic Jesuit priest, I would like to offer daily online reflections that individuals, families and communities could use during the 30-day lockdown period. Following the tradition of the 30-day silent retreat of St. Ignatius of Loyola, I would like to use as framework the five centuries old Spiritual Exercises to accompany us in prayer and in deepening our Christian faith.
Point Of Departure: Edward de Bono on lateral thinking
For our take off point in our journey I would like us to consider Dr. Edward de Bono—a Maltese physician, psychologist, author and proponent of what he calls “lateral thinking”. In layman’s terms, lateral thinking is simply the ability to look at things in different ways. De Bono gives this example: Grandma is knitting and the baby is disturbing Grandma by playing with the ball of wool. The father suggests putting the baby in the playpen. However, the mother suggests that it might be better to put Grandma instead of the baby in the playpen. Here is a different way of looking at things as perceived by the mother. The metaphor has a lot of similarities to the lockdown that we are now facing in order to halt further contagion. The baby is like the virus that disturbs Grandma and as a result Grandma is placed in a lockdown. You may as well perceive Grandma as the virus.
We can now look more at this lockdown not only externally but also internally. It is like a deeper place where one’s spiritual intuition is found. For us Christians, we call it the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that we received at the moment of our Baptism. External rituals cannot be relied upon during this period and the church leaders limit to the very minimum the administration of the usual rites. However, we are not being disallowed to find deeper expressions of the faith. The best thing to be reminded of is that individually we are called temples of the Holy Spirit. How deep is your understanding of this church teaching?