Sunday, March 15, 2015

Consolations and Challenges

These past few days have been filled with consolations and blessings. I co-directed a retreat for the Magis North group at Cornwall-on-Hudson at Isaac Jogues Retreat House in New York. The group was finishing their multi-year program with one final retreat and commissioning. I was certainly blessed to be among a group of people totally committed to bring Ignatian spirituality to others.

The graces grew as the retreat progressed. By the end of the second night, participants bonded extremely well and continued their exploration of being enriched by one another. It is unfortunate that these rich times together have to be curtailed by other pressing schedules. On the final morning, the group was very attuned to one another. They had certainly become Friends in the Lord.

I took a risk on this retreat. As I talked about prayer, the uses of many senses and various ways to express oneself, I showed my recent paintings as a way prayer is communicated through artwork. Fortunately, I was well received and it opened up discussions on many levels.

Isaac Jogues retreat house is near West Point Military academy. It is nestled into the tall hills that overlook the Hudson River. I was happy to spend some time with the Jesuit Community, which is part of the new province. The grounds were populated by deer and wild turkeys. During the evening, coyotes howled outside. Aside from their occasional calls, I had the best nights of uninterrupted sleep.

From their, I joined my community at Campion Center for our annual day of prayer and afterwards we dined together at a terrific Italian restaurant in Boston. It was a very nice day.

After saying the 8:30 mass, I hung around to hear the confessions of young candidates who are soon to be confirmed in the faith. It gave me enough time to make it to my next parish call to say mass in Spanish. I feel so bad at times because I rehearse the homily and then I don't deliver it as easily as I rehearse it. Anyways, I'm becoming more and more comfortable.

I was surprised to have four baptisms after mass. I had no preparation at all and I could not even practice pronouncing new words. The worst part of it is that I could not lift my eyes from the pages to gaze at the parents or children because my eyes were wedded to the text. I had to be very attentive to the choices in the text so I did not unnecessarily slow down the baptismal rite.

Anyways, it was a blessing to receive four new members into the faith. I can tell I'll be exhausted during Holy Week.

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