This weekend I had the chance to simply be. Be with amazing women who each are beautiful and uniquely the Lord’s. I was on a retreat with women from my Church. The theme of the retreat was, “Blessed Because I am His.” It was a beautiful weekend filled with love and sisterhood, each of us bearing witness to how Christ works uniquely in each of us through the many gifts he bestowed on us. We focused on how each and every soul including our own, is His; because we are made in his likeness by Him for Him. I feel blessed because I am His. My Catholic retreat experience was in a word… wonderful.
God wants us to share these gifts. His gifts aren’t meant to be kept hidden within us, we are meant to share them.
Having a weekend spent focusing on our gifts was wonderful. It was exactly what I needed because I needed so much to hear it. I generally don’t have a hard time sharing my gifts with the world… Except as it pertains to my creative writing.
I have such a hard time sharing this aspect of myself, it can become crippling to my writing. Weird I know, considering the medium through which I am sharing this story. However, the two for me, are entirely separate and unrelated. I need to remember they aren’t. They both come from God and He wants me to share my gift for story with you.
We are sanctified with his Grace. I am His, and He lives in all of us.
Having the opportunity to sit and focus my attention on this simple fact was so fulfilling. I left this weekend feeling as though my soul got a bolt of Grace and now I’m ready to take on whatever life sends my way, (including this new story I began outlining last week.) That’s the amazing thing about stepping away from our imperfect mundane lives to reflect. One can return to her flawed life and realize how perfect it really is.
During the course of the weekend, we were treated to three lectures.
One discussion was on the topic of the Holy Spirit given by a Sisters from a local parish, the topic focused on the Gifts of the Holy Spirit and how we use these gifts as daughters of the Holy Spirit. I never once thought of myself as being a daughter of the Holy Spirit, but after this discussion, I am confounded as to why I hadn’t. I’m going to add it to my catechist toolbox, even though it is SO obvious. Every time I go to Mass, during the Liturgy of the Eucharist the priest prays the Eucharistic prayer and basically tells us this fact…
Have mercy on us all, we pray, that with the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, with the blessed Apostles, and all the Saints who have pleased you throughout the ages, we may merit to be co-heirs to eternal life…
I suppose I always related the “co-heir” to being a sister of Christ but considering the Trinity… Yep. I totally get it now. Which is why I love being Catholic. There is always something new to discover and learn about my faith.
The other two discussions were given by Brigid Hogan. She writes for the Blessed Is She website. I was so impressed by her spirit and her lecture. She said something in one of her lectures which really resonated with me. She referred to saints as “following her around”. I loved this, and have certainly had some saints following me around lately, one who I had begun to think on in particular. Just in case your curious they are: Joan of Arc, Therese of Lisieux, and St. Francis De SalesI’m going to speak more on them later in the week.
I had the chance to get to know Bridgid a little bit over the course of the weekend. She is a beautiful soul, and I was so inspired by her passion for her students. She’s teaches reading and literature at a school in D.C. where many of her students are immigrants and who’ve not had the most consistent education. I asked if she could use some new books and she said, “Always”. She had me at “reading and literature” but mix in the whole immigration and underserved kids and I’m on a mission to get her kids some new books! Bonus, I get to use some of those
What happens at Retreat…
We celebrated Mass twice on Saturday and Sunday, and both homilies were moving. The first focused more on the Psalms. It much reminded me of Psalm 100.
Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth.
Serve the LORD with gladness;
Come before Him with joyful singing.
Know that the LORD Himself is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
For the LORD is good;
His lovingkindness is everlasting
And His faithfulness to all generations.
During our Sunday Mass, one of our priests from our home parish came to celebrate with us. He is one of those elderly priests who crack a lot of jokes, but in doing so always manages to impart some wisdom… He is quite the character and I always enjoy his homilies.
This time, he told us of a man from one of his parishes he was assigned to in his youth, who when as a new priest to this parish, was confronted by a cantankerous man who demanded he “get rid” of all the people whom he considered unsavory and unworthy of their charity. Of course, this would never happen, instead, Father chose to work on helping the man see these “freeloaders” for the people they were…
In the end, the man began volunteering (though he still grumbled a lot) at the soup kitchen. Over time, this man’s character and attitude changed so much that a representative from each of the groups he found distasteful on the Father’s first encounter with this gentleman, served as a pallbearer to his wife, at her funeral. Isn’t the God wonderful how He works in all of us? God is good!
We said the Rosary a few times. What did you expect? It is a Catholic retreat after all. Would it truly be a retreat without praying the Rosary..? (This catholic mom says “No”.) We also had Adoration. Adoration isn’t something I really learned about as a child. I don’t know why. Either my parents never took us, or our parish really didn’t hold it. I’m thinking it’s probably the former rather than the later, but either way, as an adult, going to Adoration is something I look forward to. If you’re unfamiliar with Adoration, check out this post from Life Teen: A Beginner’s Guide to Adoration.
The retreat was held at the Roslyn Retreat Center in Richmond, Virginia. It is a beautiful property. I awoke our first morning there and felt as though I’d awoken in a Jane Austen novel. If I didn’t have to attend Mass, I’m pretty sure I would’ve gotten lost among the fog and hills.
In the evening we relaxed