It is finished. For months we planned a retreat for our Catholic Moms Group, and I am truly grateful. It went well. We had speakers, small groups, personal time, prayer, reconciliation, Mass and good food. We could not have asked for more.
I had a great group of volunteers/leaders who helped plan and execute the retreat and gave of their many talents. I was so amazed at the Lord’s work here. As I shared with the mom’s at the retreat, I had no confidence in my own abilities and talents to bring forth a retreat. I feared having to find speakers for the retreat, because approaching strangers is not my forte. I do not really know of anyone in our area who would be interested in speaking at a retreat. God had other plans. As I prayed at the beginning of the journey, “Let us be pencils in the hand of God, ” and I believe this came to fruition.
There were a few personal prayers I lifted up to the Lord prior to the retreat. One was that the retreat would go smoothly without a hitch; it did. I also prayed that the ladies would be touched by the Holy Spirit. This I will never really know how it was answered. Lastly, I prayed that things would go smoothly for my husband as he took care of the children for the day. It was his first day taking care of all three by himself. I think he was really nervous about taking care of a nursing baby. But everything went well. I came home to happy children and a tidy house. All my prayers were answered.
I would like to summarize a little bit about what I learned. The whole retreat was a Marian themed retreat. Our goal was to look at various ways we live out our faith and how Mary could be our guide.
First Theme: Charity – “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.” Song of Songs 6:3 Here I learned that God calls us from all eternity as he had called Mary for all eternity to be the Mother of God the Son. From the call, Mary submitted herself to God’s plan as we must submit to God’s plan for us. The way we can do this is to give our hearts daily to the Lord. Give ourselves completely in service to the Lord, in service to our families, in service to our communities. Mary’s example showed us that only in the greatest purity comes the greatest humility and the greatest charity.
Second Theme: Forgiveness and Reconciliation – “Bear with one another and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” Colossians 3:13. Forgiveness is a process in which you seek to root out pain and harms in your heart either by seeking forgiveness or forgiving. Our hearts are like wine skins, they can only hold so much before they tear. It is when we lay our burdens down and renew our hearts, that the channel of grace can flow easily into our hearts. Edith Stein said, “Some things that are inflicted on others are so horrendous that they are only forgiven when the victim prays for the victimizer.”
Third Theme: Sacrifice and Suffering – “For I know well the plans I have in mind for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare, not woe! Plans to give you a future full of hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 Have courage and hope that God makes all things work for good. Mary faced the greatest sacrifice and sufferings of all humanity and submitted herself to it with faith that what God desired of her would be good. She willingly carried Christ even though a being a pregnant, unwed woman could have led to her death. But she trusted God and Joseph took care of her. Simeon, the priest, told her her heart would be pierced by her child. When Jesus was sentenced to death she stayed with him the whole way and stood at the foot of His cross. She did not turn away from her suffering but embraced it, because there are good fruits in our suffering.
On a side note this speaker shared that she always does the “one” thing her husband asked her to do first. Then no matter what else happens in her day it is done. She knows that if he asks her to do something then it is on his mind and burdening him. This way she can take this burden off of him immediately. I thought this was great advice, because I never do the one thing my husband asked me to do first. I do a bajillion other things in my day and a lot them benefit my husband, but what does it all matter if at the end of the day he has that one burden still on his mind.
Fourth Theme: Prayer – “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done unto me according to your word.” Luke 1:38 Pray, but pray for God’s will. Be open to what God has planned. It is difficult for the seeds of sadness to take root in a grateful heart. The joys and sufferings of motherhood send us into the arms of the Lord to pray. We need to “Pray when it rocks and pray when it’s rocky.” And I’ll add pray just same when life is still. Every prayer allows grace into our hearts.
This is all I remember from the talks. I was a little groggy from allergies and medicine during the retreat. Actually, I still am. My ears are stuffed up, my nose is running and my lungs are weezing. I am grateful for these times in which I am given perspective. I am having a lot of sympathy for those with asthma and allergies right now.
It seems that all the speakers suffered some tragedies, like Blessed Theotokos, in order to bring us messages of God’s saving grace. Even if no one else was touched at the retreat, I was. This retreat has bore good fruit.
I also received a love letter from my husband as a part of the retreat. I haven’t receive a letter like this from Andrew in a long time. As I told Andrew when I returned home, “It was better than receiving a pair of diamond earrings.”
(The picture above is the rosary we gave to all the participants. It was handmade by a relative of one of the ladies. We all prayed the rosary together. I am not sure this retreat can be topped. But I will be praying, for bigger and better retreats in the future.)