On Retreat – Weekend Coffee Share

Campion Retreat Center 2

Campion Retreat Center

If we were having a cup of coffee, I would tell you that last weekend I was at a retreat for Permanent Deacons of the Archdiocese of Boston.  It was held at the Campion Retreat Center in Weston, MA.  The Center is managed by the Society of Jesus, better known at the Jesuits.  It is also where their retirement home is located.  Our retreat master was a Xaverian Brother by the name of Paul Feeney.  When many of us were in formation, he taught the Old Testament class.  For this retreat, he looked at the lives and spiritualities of Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton; two American Catholics, whose names were mentioned by Pope Francis during his address to the joint session of Congress.  Dorothy Day, a Catholic social activist, was a co-founder of the Catholic Worker Movement.  She practiced every day, the Corporal Works of Mercy, feeding the hungry,

79px-Dorothy_Day_1916

Dorothy Day

comforting those in distress, clothing the naked.  But there was more to it than that, she and her followers strove to change society, to make it a place where it “was easy for people to be good.”  Thomas Merton was a Trappist monk, who wrote a spiritual biography in the 1940’s, that continues inspire people.  He was a prolific writer, and a mystic; combining the two, he produced writings that helped guide many into a deeper spiritual life.  He also wrote on matters of peace and justice, that gave support and spiritual sustenance to many Catholic activists, the late Father Daniel Berrigan, SJ, being one of them.

If we were having a cup of coffee, I would tell you that I had planned on writing about this

Thomas Merton

Thomas Merton

sooner.  I packed the old laptop and brought it with me.  Only to find out that Center does not have WiFi available for retreatants.  Just as well, the weekend was suppose to a time of quiet and reflection, a time of sacred reading and prayer.  And I tried to take advantage of the opportunity handed me.  And it was a spiritually refreshing weekend.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that while I was waiting at the main entrance to be picked up, a horse came galloping by, followed by a dismounted horsewoman, and some bicyclists.  There was a horse show going on down the road; I guess this big fellah had other ideas.  Fortunately, they caught him before he could be struck by a car, or run over a retired Jesuit, out for his morning constitutional.

If we were having a cup of coffee, I would tell that no matter how great a spiritual experience of a retreat may have been, life is waiting for you when you leave.  I have a book entitled “After the Ecstasy, the Laundry.”  For me, it should read, “After the Ecstasy, Monday morning, the commute, the cubicle!”  The challenge of any retreat experience, is to strive to make what you learn, what you experience, a part of your daily life.  That is something I am still struggling with.

Well, the coffee mug is empty, maybe tomorrow I will bring another steaming mug over.  We will see.

Reflection on Last Weekend’s Retreat

As I have posted previously, members of the Diaconate classes ordained in 2012, 2013, and 2014, are required to come together for a jointEnders Island Chapel retreat.  This year’s retreat was held at Saint Edmund’s Retreat Center, on Enders Island, Mystic, CT.  Our retreat director was Father William Murphy, who is on the staff of St. Pope John XXIII National Seminary, MA.

Some random thoughts from the retreat:

The Church’s primary message, received from Jesus Christ, what we Deacons are to proclaim by our words and actions: God loves us, God cares for us.

No matter what matter troubles afflict us, no matter what anxieties there are in our lives, “we are being held in God’s arms, we are safe!”

In the Book of Exodus, we see the Hebrews threatened by Pharaoh’s army, God tells them to stand firm, and not to be afraid, and He will save them.  God is also telling us to stand firm in the face of pain and suffering we may be experiencing; He will be there to help us.  God wants us bring all thing to Him, our joys and our fears.  In the Gospels, Jesus promises that He will be there to help us with our burdens.

As Deacons, we are to be witnesses of the Love of God.  When we proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ, by the words we speak to others, by the care we give to others, we are witnessing to God’s love.  When we help to raise people up from their burdens, we are witnessing to the love and hope that comes to us through Jesus Christ.

I know that for some these words may sound hollow; I will admit that at times the road ahead right now looks dark threatening.  But I also know that God cares for me, and is trying to help me, right here, right now, if only I just open my heart and soul to his Presence.  I trust in the words of Jesus, when today, He promises to be with me, and will be with me till the end of the agEnders Chapel JFJe.

This is the truth all of us Christians, especially we ministers of His Word must witness to, at every moment of every day.

A task Father gave to us Deacons was to remember the words from our Ordination and live them: “receive the Gospel of Jesus Christ whose heralds you have become.  Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach.”

The retreat was definitely a time to practice deeper prayer, to be more present and open to my God.  The challenge now is carrying that experience forward into my daily life. Enders Island 3

End of Retreat -Packing Up

Enders Is ChapelIt is Sunday, and our Deacon weekend retreat at Enders Island is coming to an end.  The day’s were filled with conferences, times for silent reflection and prayer.  I will be honest, I have not felt like writing and sharing on this blog, for which I am apologize.  Even this post will be brief, because, first all the laptop is being particularly cranky now; and I have to pack it it soon, and it needs time to cool down.

Just let me say it has been a very refreshing retreat, a challenging retreat, a prayerful retreat, and a retreat full of good fellowship.  The day I spent gazing at the sea; the evenings looking up at a star filled night.  Once is reminded of the beauty, and awesomeness of God, who created all this, and yet still cares for each one us, who loves each one of us.

More later.