The Retreat can best be described as an in-depth soul-searching exercise on our personal relationship with God.
In the first session of our retreat we were reminded that God is merciful and we should be aware of this.
While we live in a busy, noisy and confused world, we should make time for God and try to connect with Him even in the midst of our crowded agenda.
Spending time with God should not be a calendar item but rather, by our commitment, it should become habitual. There are simple and practical ways to achieve this e.g. by getting out of bed fifteen minutes earlier or if possible just taking a quiet walk alone and listen to God. We were advised that we should “slow your life down and just listen.”
Spending time with God is continuous and one hour of weekend mass may not be enough to show our love for our best friend and Saviour who suffered the indignity and humiliation of death on the cross to cancel our debt of original sin. This was the ultimate expression of God’s love for us, of His showing His mercy for us and assuring us that there is no sin so grave that will not be forgiven and that we have the gift of eternal life if only we can make time for God.
We each have received a special gift from God but even if we do not know what it is, if we would listen and not be distracted by disturbances of the world and temptation, as Jesus was, in the desert, we may find out what it is.We should always also selflessly care for our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Session two dealt specifically with God’s unending mercy for us and that we should trust in His mercy. Even though we believe that Jesus died to save us, we seem to lack the courage to seek Him out when we need to. There are many instances in the Bible where Jesus talks about his mercy and tells us “do not be afraid.”
Why is it that we think ourselves unworthy to receive God’s mercy? Mercy is there for all who ask for it but we must not ask for it on our terms but leave it in the hands of God.
In our daily lives, we too should be merciful and forgiving. In Luke Ch. 6 we are told “to be merciful just as the father is merciful...” We were reminded of the story in which the master forgave his servant his debt but the servant in turn did not forgive the one who was indebted to him.
We must “do unto others as we would have them do unto us.”
We were asked to look back at our lives and think of a situation when we received God’s mercy.
Session three was centred on the call to repentance. We should remember that Jesus Christ died for us; he is calling us to holiness and to live our lives in His glory. Quoting from the Cathechism of the Catholic Church, we were reminded of the call to conversion and the opportunity to say we are sorry when we have times of weakness. God, in his mercy will always give us another chance.
The call to conversion however is not only about ourselves but to have us thinking on how we can serve God and our neighbours. We can answer God’s call: “here I am Lord;” help someone less fortunate; become the servant of others and recite often the “Jesus Prayer”:
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me a sinner.”
The Retreat ended with a Healing Mass.
The retreat was conducted by Deacon Ray del Castilho, Barbadian born and now living in Canada. He is married to Barbara, a Canadian born and has two daughters. He was ordained a Deacon in 2004 after four years of training, and assigned to his home parish, serving hospitals, nursing homes and mentoring aspirants to the Diaconate.
Deacon Ray, it was a privilege to have you conduct the Lenten retreat at St. Dominic’s Parish this year. We have had four days of inspiration, soul searching and receiving guidance as to how to have a better personal relationship with God.
We trust that God, speaking to us, through you, may help us in our daily lives.