Praised be Jesus Christ!
In November, Pope Francis came out with an apostolic exhortation entitled, "the Joy of the Gospel" in which he encouraged Christians to be open to experience Jesus Christ in deeper ways in their lives. In the document he stated that, "the joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness, and loneliness." He then went on to say, "I invite all Christians, everywhere, at every moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day." What a great/challenging call we have from our Holy Father Francis. I wonder how many of us really want to go deeper with Jesus, though. Are you content with where you are? He has so much that he wants to give but we expect so little from Him at times. We must have big expectations and desires for God because he desires to fulfill and even go beyond them.
As a parish, to respond to Pope Francis' call of a "deeper encounter with Jesus," we are setting up opportunities this spring for various groups and individuals from the parish to retreat away from the world. A retreat is actually a military term that is used to describe a period of stepping away to rest and receive nourishment. You could say that the lives we live in the world are our "battles" and that the time we get away to pray are our times of "retreat." If you think about it, our whole lives are battles. There is always a problem that comes up at work, in the family, or with a friend. And on top of that, all our schedules are so crazy that often times we don't even know where we are going at times. We need times when we can just get away from all of this and allow God to speak to us in the silence and to restore us. A retreat is a time to detox from everything and just be in the presence of God so he can do as he wills and direct us where he wants us to go.
You would be surprised at all the things God will say to you when you really listen to Him in prayer on retreat. I ask that you would prayerfully discern if God is calling you to attend one of our retreats. It's not a question of if you need one or not. The real question is whether you will acknowledge and make time for something that is so crucial. The truth is that we were not made to constantly be in battle. We need times of rest. This is made in our nature and is even found in the Scriptures. That is why God gave us Sunday. Man was made to have time set apart each week for rest and worship of God so that we could go out the remainder of the week and serve the Lord with all his strength and fervor. Without this rest, we easily can become burned out and then are no good to our family, friends, or Church community.
We will be offering a variety of opportunities for retreat that fit people's varying schedules. These range from day retreats on Saturday afternoons to full-weekend retreats. All of these will be at an off-site location. We will begin these in February and go through May. More information will be given at a later time concerning major details of all the retreats that we are offering. I would like to close with the words of Pope Francis when he said, "how good it is to stand before a crucifix, or on our knees before the Blessed Sacrament, and simply to be in His presence! What then happens is that afterwards "we speak of what we have seen and heard to others around us" (1 Jn 1:3). On retreat, I believe we get the opportunity to do just this; we see and experience God moving in ways we normally do not stop to think about and then we can go forth to tell others about what we have experienced. God is extending himself to us and wants to go deeper into our hearts. Are you ready to go deeper? I pray that you and I can both say "yes" to the invitation of greater intimacy so that we can experience the "joy of the Gospel which fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus!" God bless!
Director of Evangelization