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By Hermie ClimacoBy Hermie Climaco
I attended a Palm Sunday weekend retreat from March 14 to 16 at the Washington Retreat House in D.C. I finally got the chance to get out from the complexities of life and rest my heart and mind with God. I am grateful to my friend, Bonny Joy, for sponsoring me in this retreat, which costs her a hundred and fifty dollars.

Bonny herself has a big family. She has eleven children, but all grown up, her youngest child being in college now. Somehow, Bonny very well knows what it takes to raise a big family. She’s been through what I’m still going through right now raising nine kids. That is why she’s been always concerned and supportive of my family.
I’ve known Bonny when we moved to Maryland in June 2006. That was more than a year ago now. We met at St. Margaret of Scotland Catholic Church in St. Pleasant, Maryland, the church that was close to the house that my husband and I bought in the area. Since then she and her family have been dear to our family.

Some months back she took for a brief field trip my three boys: Jessie Ryan, David and Emman. They had a wonderful time playing bowling, dining at a pizza parlor, and playing billiard at her house.

Last month, Bonny again picked up from the house David and Emman to buy them pants and some socks, and Kristine her school requirements. She also bought shoes and socks for Jay-ar and Sunshine who had not come with them.

Also, last year, before Sunshine and Jay-ar had their late baptism on Easter vigil at St. Margaret’s Church, Bonny took them out, accompanied by Angel and Kristine, and bought them clothes, shoes and socks, which they will use for the trip to the Basilica in their election rites with Archbishop Wuerl. Angel and Kristine each got a pair of shoes, too.

All of the above were things I needed to do myself but cannot because my hands were always full from both work and home obligations. Of course, there was the financial consideration as well. Bonny did them all for me: taking the kids out, and buying stuff they needed.

This time, Bonny thought I needed a weekend retreat. She wanted me to have the chance to get out from the noise of the world and momentarily reclaim peace of mind as I stay by myself, away from all of life’s cares and concerns.

In the retreat our director, Rev. Joseph McCloskey, S.J., always spoke about the love and sufferings of Christ. He said that Christ’s agony in the garden expresses a love that would go to any length to give what someone else’s is asking from him. What the Father is asking from Christ – to die for others – is hard love. And by his suffering, Christ teaches us obedience to hard choices that would cost us our lives.

Fr. Joseph asked us how much we love Christ. Do we love Christ so much? that we are willing to be all of him? He said we have to be passionately in love with Christ because he is the way, the truth and the life. And the way to love Christ is to give ourselves away, in that the only way to hold on to God’s love is to give it away.

Love, Fr. Joseph said, is a giving of ourselves as a gift to another, it is an opening of ourselves to another.
And to love Christ is to put on ourselves the mind and the heart of Christ so that we can face life as Christ would face it: to be involved with the hungry, the thirsty, the sick, the prisoners, the homeless, and all the needs of the human race, especially of the young.

Indeed, as Fr. Joseph was talking I was seeing Bonny Joy.
I went home from the retreat asking myself how much of Christ I am willing to put on myself; and how much of Christ I am willing to become for others.

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