Only you Can fill my deep hunger, my heart burns, my heart burns.

This was my first time to be in Europe, particularly in Poland. I had no idea of the Light-Life Movement. I had no idea of the nature of the Retreat I was to attend with. I asked the grace of openness and humility. I needed the grace of openness to be led in an unknown territory of prayers and reflections. I needed the grace of humility to confront with the unknown teachings and lessons to hear with. I followed the leadings of the Spirit through the gentleness and patience of my animators.

In Our Diocese, there is only once a year retreat for priest. Such retreat runs for five days. We do not have the luxury of time to make it longer. We need to attend to the pastoral needs of the Parish. It is a struggle to balance the Pastoral and Spiritual need of the Priest for effective and fruitful Ministry.

I felt I needed more Retreats. Parish works sometimes are draining and suffocating. I needed to be spiritually filled in. reflecting on this, I realized that I have spiritual hunger. I needed to be filled in by God's presence. I know that God is always present. I know that He is very real in the Eucharist I celebrate. However, like the feeling of thirst of water and a hunger for food, I long so much for God's presence deep within me. I needed to reconnect with Him. My retreat in Centrum Ruchu Swiatlo-Zycie in Kroscienko nad Dunajem provided me this opportunity to reconnect with God and opened my mind to learn more about my faith in God and devotion to his loving service.

In the retreat, I became more aware of my hunger, deep hunger for God's presence in my heart. However, there were blocks in my heart to allow God to enter. These were my sins and selfishness. I had layers of sins. I nurtured them with my selfishness, greed and pride. I faced my sins and admit them. I owned them. I asked for forgiveness. Hence, during the Community celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation in the Good Shepherd Parish, it was so humbling to narrate my litany of sins and so liberating to be forgiven and be blessed with such comforting assurance from the priest that God loves me so much, not because I am a priest, but because I am his son. Lord, have mercy. Christ have mercy.

Proclaim! That Jesus is my God and Savior! I really had some thoughts running in my head. I am a priest. Do I still need to say it? Do I need to proclaim it? Is not my life right now as priest a proclamation that Jesus is my God and Savior? Yes! There is no need to say it and proclaim it. However, deep in my heart, I felt I was ashamed. I knew. God knew. If I really say and proclaim it, then, why my actions are not so Christian at all times? Why I have kept sinning? Why I am hesitant to make even a sign of the cross in public places? The proclamation moved me to go back to the basic foundation of my faith, not that I know it, but rather, I have to really experience it. It is not enough to say "I know my faith." It is important to say "I have experienced my faith." This is the faith that truly experiences the loving embrace of God. This is the faith that truly feels God's loving mercy.

The Retreat made me realize with conviction and sincerity that Jesus is my God and Savior. I experienced His saving mercy in the forgiveness of my sins. He alone can give me New Life. He alone can change me to become His face in the community I serve. He alone can transform me that my hands may become His hands. He alone can make my heart feel like His heart to the poor and the needy.
My heart burns. My heart burns in love to serve Him more dearly. My heart burns in joy to care for the community entrusted to me. That in All things, God may be glorified.

Fr. Hendrix Alar
Diocese of Dumaguete
Philippines