FOR the believers and devotees, nothing beats the power of prayers. As Mahatma Gandhi puts it, prayer is not asking; it is the longing of the soul.
In the coming Lenten season, the Roman Catholic Church and the Catholic devotees will be in full prayers again as they start preparing for the Ash Wednesday on February 13 signifying the first day of Lent, the season of preparation for the resurrection of Jesus Christ on Easter Sunday.
Filipinos have different ways of celebrating the Lenten season. Some do fasting, Station of the Cross commemorating Jesus’ way to Calvary, Pabasa where the flagellants go and pray, Visita Iglesia where they visit 14 churches as a symbol of the 14 stations, and more other ways.
Aside from all these, Filipinos simply have their break and spend time with their families. Some go to places where they could feel peace and serenity, others simply stay at home.
One place though that Filipinos and catholic tourists would love to go is the Carmelite Monastery in the City of Mati in Davao Oriental. Just a three to four-hour drive from Davao City, it has become a popular destination during Holy Week.
Many has discovered the monastery as the best place to hear the Holy Mass, pray and meditate, offer petitions, or simply have quality bonding moments with families and friends.
Located in Tuatua Road in Barangay Matiao, Carmelite Monastery is situated in the middle of towering coconut trees where the only spectators are silence, fresh and gentle wind, soothing sounds of insects and birds.
It has a total land area of 16 hectares and features a unique Prayer Garden where one can say the rosary by roaming around the garden in tableaus with life-sized statues of the Virgin Mary, the Archangel Gabriel, up to the birth and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Founded in November 21, 1987, the Prayer Garden was slowly built by Bicolano sculptor Jose Barcena carving life-size statues. To date, Barcena’s latest work is the 71-foot high sculpture of Our Lady of the Rosary with a prayer room inside it in Tanay, Rizal.
This famous Carmelite Monastery in Mati is also called Carmel of St. Teresa of Jesus Monastery. History tells us that the original Carmelites were hermits who settled on Mount Carmel in the Holy Land where prophet Elijah had lived in Old Testament times. Until today, the Carmelite nuns live as hermits in the community, following the inspiration of St. Teresa of Jesus and meditating day and night on the law of the Lord and watching in prayer.
This is why the Carmelite Monastery is the perfect place for those who want to feel the presence of God in their life, or simply feel closest to what they deeply believe in.
Those who pray in their distress and need, those in fullness of joy and days of abundance find one common thing in the monastery: prayer is the most meaningful tool the humankind has.
In this Prayer Garden, where it can be reached through a hanging bridge about 100 meters away from the church, God speaks in the silence of their hearts.
The Carmelite Monastery is swarmed by devotees during Holy Week but it is still better to see the place in an ordinary season, in the tranquility of the day, where only silent prayers are loudly heard.
The lent, our prayers, the Carmelite Monastery – they are manifestations of one singular truth, that God is alive in us.