Pinoy Jesuits to hold online Holy Week retreat

Complete with music videos, movie clips, and online polls, an interactive Holy Week retreat will run from Thursday to Saturday to cater to people whose schedules or locations prevent them from attending face-to-face prayer sessions.

Prepared by Jesuit priests Johnny Go and Francis Alvarez along with other Jesuits, the retreat titled “The Fugitives of Lent" takes off from the stories of the people whom Go calls the “bad guys" of the season – Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus Christ; Pontius Pilate, who sentenced him to death; and Peter the Apostle, who denied his Lord thrice.Using Facebook to supplement his online retreat for the first time, Go and his team put up an online poll asking people if they believe that Judas Iscariot — one of his retreat's "fugitives" of Lent — is in hell. "The results are surprising," he said. Screen grab from Facebook

In Go's effort to try something different this year, four comic book characters take centerstage in the brief preparatory module for the retreat. In the first few web pages of the retreat, Go invites participants to go deep into the characters of “the comic world’s worst villains" – Frankenstein, The Penguin, Dracula, and Lex Luthor.

Highlighting nuances in the characters' individual personalities, Go introduces participants to the antagonist-centered retreat with the opening line, “Even with villains, there is nothing black and white. Only grays."

In an e-mail interview with GMA News Online, Go said that the retreat also targets a “tougher" audience to reach. “We're hoping and praying that people who don't believe in God or those who have fallen away from the Church will stumble [upon] the site and in spite of themselves begin thinking about God again and – who knows? – maybe find their way back to Him," he said.

Initially for OFWs

Go —who is also the director of Xavier School in Greenhills, San Juan— began to hold online Holy Week retreats in 2008, initially to cater to overseas Filipino workers who find retreats largely unavailable in the countries where they live.

“At the time, I was religiously posting Bible reflections every Sunday on my Multiply site. The Bible blogs were being followed by a virtual community, who would post their questions or insights after every blog. So we thought an online recollection might work," he said.

His first online retreat, called “Meeting Places," carried interactive features such as a virtual Stations of the Cross, and was packaged in three modules that would require at least 30 minutes each. Go said the response to the retreat overwhelmed him and his fellow Jesuits.

“The website crashed on the first day," he recounted. “Once we managed to fix that, we got thousands of hits – many of them, the stats showed, actually going through all three days. Some of the sharing and prayers posted by the online retreatants really touched me."

In his 2010 retreat called “God of the Dungeons," a participant under the username “ps" thanked God for the online retreat “since I always feel that in my life, I don’t always have time or chance to pray to you, get close to you, or even to attend Sunday Mass."

Another participant under the username “tava" said in a prayer: “Lord, even at the end of the retreat, I’m still confused, hurt, and lost. But I thank you for your reassuring love."

Go said an average of 2,000 participants have finished the annual Holy Week retreat for the past four years, based on site statistics. He said the figure excludes participants who only come and stay for a while but do not finish the retreat.

Something new each year

While virtual retreats "can never replace a real-world retreat," Go explained that the use multimedia makes the genre of online retreats stand out. “Images speak to us, at times more powerfully than words. Going online allows us to use a whole repertoire of devices to achieve this and to go beyond simply using words," Go said.

Go, who has also pioneered e-learning programs in Xavier School, related the innovation of an online retreat to a similar trend in the field of education. “Students no longer want to learn just by being told. They learn best when they are guided in seeking knowledge for themselves and figuring things out on their own," he said.

“Why not the same for faith?" added Go, citing an increasing reversal of a previously “one-way" process of spreading the Gospel “from the preacher to the preached."

“Today it has to be two-way," he said. “The preacher, more than anything else, provokes the desire in the person to look for God himself or herself. Many people these days don't like just being told what and how anymore; they prefer being able to go through their process actively."

CBCP’s online ‘Visita Iglesia’

At the start of the month, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) launched another effort to extend Holy Week traditions to the online world – its online “Visita Iglesia." The CBCP said the program caters to disabled Filipinos as well as overseas Filipino workers who cannot make it to the Philippines during Holy Week.

As of Wednesday noon, the counter on the Visita Iglesia website said it has registered over 46,000 visitors so far.

The Catholic Church has stepped up its use of Internet technologies, with no less than its head, Pope Benedict XVI, urging Catholics around the world to use social media and social networks to satisfy “the desire for meaning, truth and unity which remain the most profound aspirations of each human being." — TJD/VS, GMA News

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Pope Francis to visit Chile in 2016
    Pope Francis to visit Chile in 2016

    Pope Francis will visit Chile in 2016, the South American country confirmed, after a meeting in Rome between its foreign minister and his Vatican counterpart. The confirmation follows comments by the pope during a January visit to the Philippines, where he said he planned to travel to Chile, Argentina and Uruguay in 2016. Chilean Foreign Minister Heraldo Munoz and Vatican Secretary of State Pietro Parolin "spoke about a trip that His Holiness will make to Chile next year," the foreign …

  • Senators fail to grill DND, AFP officials on chopper deal officials on
    Senators fail to grill DND, AFP officials on chopper deal officials on

    Senators yesterday failed to grill defense and military officials over the P1.21-billion deal for the purchase of 21 Huey helicopters for the Armed Forces of the Philippines with the joint venture of Rice Aircraft Service Inc. and Eagle Copters Ltd. Francis Escudero and Joseph Victor Ejercito were interested to know why the defense department entered into a deal to buy secondhand helicopters when it is supposed to be modernizing the Armed Forces. “I am looking at the Armed Forces of the …

  • Revilla wants to undergo therapy for aching heels
    Revilla wants to undergo therapy for aching heels

    Detained Sen. Ramon Revilla Jr. has asked the Sandiganbayan to allow him to undergo therapy sessions for two weeks to treat his aching heels and back pains. In a motion filed before the anti-graft court’s First Division on Monday, Revilla’s lawyers said the senator should undergo further medical examination and treatment of his back and feet, including physical therapy at least three times a week or six sessions for two weeks, at the Philippine National Police (PNP) General Hospital at Camp …

  • Noul may intensify into typhoon – Pagasa
    Noul may intensify into typhoon – Pagasa

    Tropical Storm Noul was forecast to intensify into a typhoon before it enters the Philippine area of responsibility today, but state weather forecasters said it was unlikely to hit landmass. The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said Noul, which will be locally named Dodong, is expected to skirt the country’s eastern coast, bringing light to moderate with occasional heavy rains over areas in Central and Northern Luzon this weekend. Rene …

  • US fans sue Manny for hiding injury
    US fans sue Manny for hiding injury

    Two Nevada men filed a class-action lawsuit against Manny Pacquiao on Tuesday, seeking millions in damages because they say he fraudulently concealed a shoulder injury before his defeat to Floyd Mayweather Jr. It is just the latest fallout from Mayweather’s victory in Las Vegas on Saturday in a unanimous decision, with Pacquiao saying afterwards that the shoulder complaint hampered his performance in the welterweight world title showdown. The plaintiffs argue that by failing to go public with …

  • Phl expects China to attend APEC summit in November
    Phl expects China to attend APEC summit in November

    The Philippines expects all 21 leaders of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation member-economies, including China, to attend the summit here in November. “This is a multilateral meeting, not a bilateral meeting so there is a big difference between the two... when they come here anyway, APEC does not talk of politics, it’s all economic,” Paynor said. Yesterday at the Kalayaan grounds of Malacañang, the Asian Carmakers Corp. (ACC) held a ceremonial turnover of a fleet of BMW vehicles to be used for …

  • Noy to promote Phl in Canada
    Noy to promote Phl in Canada

    President Aquino left for the United States and Canada yesterday, bearing news of his administration’s accomplishments and hoping to attract more investments and tourists. Aquino noted the US and Canada are home to hundreds of thousands of Filipinos and have been reliable partners of the Philippines for a very long time. The two countries, he said, are participants in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in November to be hosted by the Philippines. The President is expected to arrive …

  • Rockers Lifehouse go indie and find unexpected fans
    Rockers Lifehouse go indie and find unexpected fans

    Rockers Lifehouse have gone indie for their latest album. "Either it's that, or there are a few hundred people there making a lot of noise," bassist Bryce Soderberg said. With an assist from Facebook to connect with fans, Lifehouse also played the Philippines in 2012 before a crowd of 17,000 -- the largest ever for the band as headliners. Lifehouse has sold more than 15 million albums with hits such as "Hanging by a Moment" and "You and Me," part of the hard-edged but pop-driven alternative …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options