A Christmas Visit to a Monastery

      By Vic Odarve

I am always fascinated with the life at the monastery. Here, the monks spend their lives in solitude, in reflections and prayers, and abandon the outside world for religious reasons. That is, living in harmony with nature and to the one in the Highest!

Father Pius - Elele Monastery In Charge

Father Pius – Elele Monastery In Charge

Last weekend we visited the Elele monastery. When we arrived, the place was calm and serene as if nobody was around.

A sharp contrast to the outside world where humming Christmas carols are often heard, people are seen shopping lazily in malls, and children’s laughter are heard everywhere you go.

“Nobody is around,” I told my colleagues. Only a few minutes after, Father Pius opened the entry doorway and greeted us Happy Christmas. He was a Saviourite priest in charge of the monastery. Happy and smiling, he thanked us for coming. We knew then that the monastery opens its doors for expats for a visit and for those who don’t have anyone to share the holiday with or to people who don’t have family or would feel lonely to celebrate Christmas.

Elele Monastery, Rivers State, Nigeria, Africa

Elele Monastery, Rivers State, Nigeria, Africa

Life was so simple then. Monks were hospitable. With some foods and the special recipe they offered, we dined and also shared together splendid bottles of wine around a dinner table. We had a pleasant conversation and enjoyed the meal, too.  I had learned that besides from daily reflections and prayers, their times were also devoted to reading books, raising animals, and cultivating plants and fruit trees. We spent several minutes sightseeing on their gardens and livestock raising projects. It was enjoyable to see several of the fruit trees bear fruits and hundreds of chickens jostling each other over the feeds at the poultry. After we saw these things, we draw to a conclusion how the lives of the monks are being spent.

Filipino Expatriates

Filipino Expatriates

As we left, the monks returned to their cells and prepared to retire for the night; then the place was quiet and serene as their world would be. We bade goodbye as the sun sunk to the deep of the African sunset and the surrounding air began to cool. Then they would be living with nature and to God.

A visit to the monastery with our monks seem to spend our lives back to the old medieval periods. A monastery is a good place for those who retreat from the heavy traffic of our everyday life, bringing some meaning of our lives why we are here, embrace solitude for those who found the vices of the world intolerable. These are some small details of monastic life that people in the world do not see.

Life is too short. Sharing some moments during Christmas with our brothers who have built in strength and mission to live in monastic life; never to marry; obedience to God, and banned from possessing worldly goods is virtuous and memorable. That is, peace to our soul, minds, and heart! A visit will lighten your heart and reframe your perception of the holidays.

Merry Christmas and a happy new year to all.

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Tennis; The Sport Where Fitness and Fun Meet

       By Vic Odarve

Not only that this game keeps you physically fit and mentally alert, but also gives fun and excitements. Body movements are more than ordinary exercise; burns fat and promotes healthy hearts. It also keeps the players always on alerts; ball anticipation, cat-quick reactions, and explosive power shots. Excitements draw in during individual or double competitions to both players and the tennis enthusiasts as players exhibit their hidden and

Playing tennis at the European Quarter, Madonna University, Nigeria, Africa

Playing tennis at the European Quarter, Madonna University, Nigeria, Africa

awesome skills. That’s tennis, the sport where fitness and fun meet.

Tennis promotes general body movements by executing different positions; sprinting, jumping, walking, and quick actions. It develops stronger leg muscles through acceleration and side to side movements in chasing the flying ball. The short and intense burst of activities exercise lungs and actuate breathing; thus improving cardiovascular conditions. A study shows that all over workout a player burns an average of 498 calories an hour…good enough to burn fat, flatten stomach, and achieve physical fitness.

Tennis enthusiasts often play during weekends

Tennis enthusiasts often play during weekends

The game also keeps you mentally alert; that is, it requires tactical thinking as the game progresses… trading of forehands and backhands, slicing, top spins, and other techniques to keep your opponents off balance.  Your brain is always working on anticipation, quick reaction time, and finding strategic locations where and how to land the ball in an explosive manner… eluding the opponent’s defense. These mind-bursting activities generate connections between nerves in the brain, according to one of the study. Thus, the game keeps your mind in exercising mode all the time.

Nadal-Monaco double in Dubai Tennis Tournament

Nadal-Monaco tandem in Dubai Tennis Tournament

The game offers an enjoyment and excitement to both players and the spectators.  Some players display different forms of antics to draw the crowd for support and distract opponents focus on the game. Watching the players’ level of finesse and controls, power shots consistency, ball placement and depth, as the game progresses draws excitements. Keeping opponents off-balance by top-spinning, slicing, powering shots or smashing the ball gives a thrill to the fans and players alike.

Whether you play only in a weekend with your friends, tennis provides an excellent social outlet at the same time keeps you physically and mentally fit. It is a time-efficient outdoor activity, enjoyable sport, and allows you to meet with people in the community irrespective of your age.

There is no doubt that tennis is one of the best sports for us to play. It is the sport where physical and mental fitness and enjoyment meet.