Tag Archive: retreat


 

 

 

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This weekend was powerful. Yes, that is the word to describe it: powerful. This is the third year in a row where I attended a young women’s retreat with the campus ministry of St Augustine, sponsored by the Universities of Miami and Gainsville, FL. Though I’m long past being a college student, these retreats have been so meaningful, revealing things about God and myself.

Last year was bitter. Bitterness mixed with sweetness in the three days I described as “like holy week” a dismal crucifixion of myself leading to resurrection. This year, praise God, was sweetness, and as I said, power. The goal of this retreat was first, listen to God, be open to his call. This is especially important for my vocational discernment, which has had its fair share of ups and downs, mostly due to my own stubbornness. It seems that even when God puts a good, beautiful thing in front of me, I deny it in my own pride. And this hurts Him more than anything. With this retreat, I vowed no more. No more saying I was too unworthy or not strong enough. We aren’t called because we are worthy or because we can do it. If so, the world would be filled with careless priests, nuns, monks and married couples who are very strong and very worthy but horrible at what they do. There is a certain power in weakness, in saying “No, God I can’t do it but I trust you anyway.”

The second goal of the retreat was to examine my spiritual motherhood of priests. How well have I been praying for the ones God entrusted to me? Have I served their needs selflessly- or used ulterior motives? Unfortunately, along with the selflessness, those selfish motives can trail behind, the awful thought of “Aren’t I so wonderful for doing this?” The first morning reflection coincidentally (or not) was on Abraham being asked to sacrifice Isaac. I decided to take my spiritual sons and offer them back to God, asking him to even remove them from my care-if it pleased him. The best way we can honor what God gives us is to offer it back to Him.

The retreat had a huge overarching theme that hit me over the head: Behold the Lamb of God. It started at Mass. As the priest lifted up the broken host and chalice, saying “Behold the Lamb of God” I looked into his eyes. Focused on the Eucharistic Lord held up before him, there was longing, anticipation, and excitement. My heart began to pound as I imagine the priest’s excitement. It wasn’t until the second Mass that God led me to understand. This anticipation was Christ’s own anticipation, of communing with us, becoming one with his bride. More specifically, it’s how he feels about me. At last, I could tangibly see and feel the love of God, taste and see the goodness of the Lord and after 6 years in this journey, it led me back to where I began, in the Eucharistic presence.

After the Mass, I drew a picture of what Jesus had conveyed to me. The Ecce Agnus Dei with streams of water pouring out. The book of Revelation (ch 21 and 22) speaks of a spring of water, the water of life, flowing from the throne of God and from the Lamb. In the power of the Mass, the waters of life are opened and pour out upon all creation. We, who are thirsting for God, for life, happiness and meaning, come and drink. It is the only thing that will satisfy us, the only thing for which we are truly made: A glimpse at the face of God. This powerful message is what propels us towards a new way of life and being.

Mixed into the passages about the streams of water in revelation, is profoundly nuptial imagery. At that time, the new Jerusalem is shown to St John, beautiful as a bride bedecked in jewels, free of all stain, lovely to behold! Wherever we hear “behold the Lamb” we should also hear “behold the bride”. Jesus is not only the sacrificial lamb who takes away our sins, he is the Bridegroom who thirsts for us. The great thirst we feel in times of desolation is but a taste of the thirst God has for us. We almost are brought to feel His own passion and thus, it’s in those times, we are conformed to His heart in a special way. The anticipation of Jesus before we receive communion is the same anticipation a bridegroom feels before the moment of the wedding. If we understood how deeply Jesus longed to be in our hearts, we would faint from love! His love for us is unquenchable. He will go to the ends of the earth, through unspeakable torments then to hell and back for us. He did it once before…

 

The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.”

And let everyone who hears say, “Come.”

And let everyone who is thirsty come.

Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift.”

–          Revelation 22:17

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Good News.

The Lord is great and so merciful beyond measure! He truly gives good things to those who ask! For a long time, there is something I kept silent, perhaps believing that it was “too good to be true” But my heart has known it for quite some time, the Lord has finally entrusted a priest to me, as my spiritual son.

Last year, I attended a religious retreat during which Our Lord did extensive work on my soul, painful and extensive work within the period of three days. If one looks at a former entry in this blog, dating from June 10, 2013 (https://catholicwvengeance.wordpress.com/2013/06/10/a-retreat/) you will see my thoughts and reflections on this retreat, which I often describe as “like Holy Week” because during this time, I began to crucify the old self and let the new woman be resurrected. And let me tell you, it was long time coming. I met a young priest on this retreat who was newly ordained. He opened my heart to God’s love and after I left, his kindness left an impression in my mind, so much like the kindness of Christ Himself. Well, I went home and promptly took up the Divine Office again. Chanting it it with others, every morning and evening also left an impression, that this rhythmic prayer unified with the whole Church could be a means to taste heaven and intercede for others. Every now and then, I offered Lauds or Vespers for this kindly young priest. Nothing more.

Then came the soft, voice of the Lord saying “Pray for him”. So I started offering more prayers. However, myself being so stubborn in nature and skeptical to an infuriating degree, I grew slack. Let me tell you now, that when God wants something done, He WANTS it done. I learned that quick. He began urging me to pray for this priest, even at night and even in my dreams! If I did not stop whatever I was doing and pray for this priest, anxiety would well up in me so that I could think of nothing else but this poor man stumbling into some sin because of my negligence. So, by the grace of God, I “adopted” our kindly young priest in question, envisioning him as an innocent child yet with the power to call Christ down from heaven, who needs help in this great vocation. Not that I by my own power can help him, but Our Lord, He delights in hearing me ask for His help.

Recently, due to my horrible pride, and the attacks of the Devil (I never underestimate that dirty rat anymore) I nearly rejected my own spiritual son. I said “This is too good a thing to happen to me,” “He doesn’t even know me”, “He probably doesn’t even want my help.” And the worst one: “What use is it?” Going to adoration on a sunny Friday afternoon, seeing my Lord there, sitting silently with me, it made those thoughts go away. For so long, I had wanted God to outright say “Okay, Rachel this is your spiritual son. Yes, I gave him to you, here he is.” Yet, He never used words. The warmth and peace of His presence simply confirmed it.  This priest needs me, he needs my prayers. At last, at last this wonderful thing has happened. A beautiful soul, a priestly soul, has been put into my clumsy hands for special care! It is such good news that I had to tell others! What amazes me that the one whom God gave me at first as a brother and a father, was now given to me as a son, that I may be taught how to love. He truly is a compassionate God who meets all needs for all people! Every moment when I suffer, either from a headache or a hard day at work, I think of this priest and offer it up for him.

And Our Lord is still fond of waking me at night and asking for a few Hail Mary’s on his behalf. Blessed Mary, who is mother to all priests, is such a strong advocate for both of us. I entrust this priest to her because she can watch over him at all times. Such tenderness, that I feel for this spiritual son of mine, she is the one who taught it to me first. The Devil be driven far from him, I pray, and may his priesthood bear much fruit and may every blessing which is given to me, be also given to him.

 

 

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A Retreat.

Here are pictures from the retreat I went on. At first I was skeptical about the whole matter, wondering if I would ever be yanked out of the horrible spiritual dryness that plagued me for months. Soon enough God began to work. He sort of acted the part of a surgeon, cutting me open and doing some much needed operation. I learned a lot of things about myself, which hurt at first but I realized that God only allows wounds so that he may heal them. I learned about love as a gift we give and not a shallow feeling of happiness.

I also met two wonderful Dominican sisters who shone with the joy and light of Christ. There were role models for me, reminding me of that Marian “yes” we can give to God. I also met a priest who had only been ordained for 2 weeks. Yes, he still had the tags and the new priest smell 🙂 God gave me this priest as a brother, in place of my real brother who abused me emotionally when I was young. In the place of an absent father, God gave me the priesthood that I may always admire it and learn the ways of Christ.

The climax of this retreat was when I got to stare Jesus in the face as He was held up in the monstrance (not monster- Jesus isn’t scary!) His glory and radiance surrounded me in a dark room, everything faded away. It was just me and Him. I asked Him to empty me and make me whole. He is the Lord God, the Son of David, the King of Mercy, my Sweet Savior and the Beloved of my soul. He can do anything! Pure awesomeness!!