Beloved is Where We Begin (Retreat Full Recap Article)

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Defining and understanding the mysterious yet fascinating reality of love, was at the center of Radyo Katipunan 87.9 FM’s online Valentines retreat, “Beloved is Where We Begin”.

Streamed live last Friday evening, February 12, on the social media pages of the Ateneo de Manila University’s official campus radio and JesCom, a virtual audience of 16,000 tuned in to the two-hour special that deeply examined love’s diverse ideas and true nature- in light of Catholic faith, scripture and Ignatian spirituality.

“We do have a lot of questions on something we experience everyday but misunderstand every time. On the occasion of this month of love, and this Valentine’s day, let us reflect and pray on love,” invited JesCom Executive Director Fr. Nono Alfonso in his welcome remarks.

As co-hosts Fr. Robbie Paraan SJ and Sister Yna Oñate, rc discussed how general notions of love are often shaped by pop culture and mass media, Mr. Mark Calano of the Loyola Schools Office of Campus Ministry imparted his comprehensive understanding of the “human relationship involving all that we are”.

“Love is an attitude, a capacity that involves the entire person in his rich complexity. A person loves another because he sees good in the other. If we desire that our love be irrevocable, the only way to approximate any permanence is by frequent repetition,” he explained.

Reflecting on the commonly-used word of “intimacy”, Sr. Yna then recounted how people often limit this to mere physical interaction, when in fact, its meaning goes far beyond- as demonstrated in the Spiritual Exercises.

“In the second part of St. Ignatius’ collection of prayers, we beg for the grace to know Jesus more intimately. That intimate knowledge of Christ leads to a closer following of Him, and this is true for any human relationship,” expounded Fr. Robbie.

“Expanding our notion of intimacy is important because it can expand our notion of what love is. Intimacy underlies all forms of loving.”

Resuming after a few minutes, Fr. Robbie and Sr. Yna spoke of the struggle of loneliness and isolation, experienced by many during this time of pandemic, and shared encouraging words to redirect them to the source of all love.

“If there’s anyone who truly understands loneliness, it would be Jesus himself, who became human like us with all the emotions. He felt alone facing his death, but he knew that suffering was a consequence of his loving,” reminded Sr. Yna.

“If God loves us, what else can defeat us? Not even loneliness. Even God himself understands our pain,” advised Fr. Robbie.

“Three days after Valentine’s Day, we begin the season of Lent. Yes, we do remember Jesus’ pain, but the pain that was the result of the greatest love of all.”

Before concluding to the tune of Hangad’s “Pag-ibig Ko”, both retreat co-masters offered their heartfelt final messages for their participants.

“We need to love and be loved. When we pray and express our deepest desires to God, we also pray for the love that we need, and not just the love that we want,” mentioned Fr. Robbie.

“God’s desires for us the fullness of life. Whenever we find ourselves in loneliness and frustration of unmet expectations, let us turn to Jesus for help- our friend, our guide, our inner source of empowerment,” underscored Sr. Yna.