Friday, February 16, 2007

Retreat: Adoration Scripture

This is the fifth in a series of posts dedicated to the Sons and Daughters of the Light retreat. First was an overview of the weekend. Second was a lengthy and detailed recap of the events. This post is simply a selection of Scripture I meditate on during Adoration.

  • 1 Samuel 3:1-10, 19
    • Samuel sleeping in the midst of the Ark
  • 1 Kings 19:4-13a
    • Elijah hearing the Word of God in the silence
  • John 6:43-69
    • The Bread of Life discourse
  • Matthew 17:1-8
    • Transfiguration
  • Matthew 26:36-41
    • Jesus in Gethsemane
  • Luke 24:13-35
    • The Road to Emmaus

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Theology: C. S. Lewis Society at Rutgers

I went up to campus (Rutgers, New Brunswick) earlier than usual on Tuesday to see what the Campus Catholic Center was like, and as I approached the house, two doors down was the Campus Episcopal Center with an advertisement outside for a meeting of the "C. S. Lewis Society at Rutgers" that evening from 6:30 to 7:30, talking about Lewis's book The Great Divorce (0060652950). My fiancée and I had just seen a stage adaptation of the book performed at Theatre 315 in NYC (a theatre in partnership with the Salvation Army), so of course I was interested in attending the meeting that night. It turns out that the other seven people at the meeting had also been at that showing.

The next book on their schedule is The Abolition of Man (0060652942). I'll be making another early trip in a few weeks to attend that meeting.

Special Event: Fr. Cantalamessa at Seton Hall

Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, Preacher to the Papal HouseholdOn Ash Wednesday, Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, the Preacher to the Papal Household, will be at Seton Hall leading an "Evening of Spiritual Renewal". I'll be there, along with a couple people from my parish (one is currently in RCIA, the other is her husband who will be receiving confirmation) and a handful of people from the retreat I was on last month.

You can be sure I will have a notebook on hand and will be taking notes meticulously. I might even try to have an audio recorder with me. As my brother Charlie said, he's the preacher to the Pope -- he's got to be good. And indeed, he is. His web site has several of his homilies and talks, and posts many of them as well.

Just what the plan for the evening is, I don't know; this much I know: it will be Ash Wednesday, the start of the liturgical season of Lent, during which we prepare ourselves physically and spiritually for the commemoration of the Passion, Crucifixion, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. That alone should set the tone for Fr. Cantalamessa's talk Wednesday night.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Retreat: Christianity is a Marriage

This is the fourth in a series of posts dedicated to the Sons and Daughters of the Light retreat. First was an overview of the weekend. Second was a lengthy and detailed recap of the events. What follow are thoughts about the retreat from my own perspective and experiences.

Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready. (Revelation 19:7)

I betrothed you to Christ to present you as a pure bride to her one husband. (2 Corinthians 11:2)

Tracey talked about realizing that, instead of praying for God to be in her life, she should have been praying to be in God's life. That is, God is already in her life, He is in all of our lives, He manifest Himself in flesh in the person of Jesus Christ. What's remaining is for us to be in Him. God came to be with us in the flesh so that we could be with God in spirit.

Then she reintroduced us to the marriage vows: she read them as between God and us individually. "I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honor you all the days of My life." To hear those words coming from God, and then to say them back to Him, adds another dimension to marriage. Tracey used the example of her life being a marriage ceremony to Christ. She pictures herself maybe three-quarters of the way down the aisle.

So picture yourself in a church, whether it be a quiet chapel or a grand cathedral. You are walking down the aisle to Christ, to marry yourself to Christ and devote yourself entirely to him as he has devoted himself entirely to you. Christ is the Bridegroom, the Church is the Bride, and so all who make up the Church are spouses of Christ as well.

Picture the aisle of the church, with Christ at one end. He does not stand at the altar, he stands in place of the altar: he is the Priest and Victim. As you look to your left and right, you see row after row of pews. The walk down the aisle is not an easy one, because you must leave your burdens (to which you are so attached) behind to take up the yoke of Christ. How easy it would be to just stop and sit in a pew, instead of advancing down the aisle to Christ.

Don't let yourself be a spectator, a visitor, at your own wedding to Christ. Don't settle for less than Christ himself.

Retreat: God is Light

This is the third in a series of posts dedicated to the Sons and Daughters of the Light retreat. First was an overview of the weekend. Second was a lengthy and detailed recap of the events. What follow are thoughts about the retreat from my own perspective and experiences.

God is light and in him is no darkness at all. (1 John 1:5)

The title and theme of the retreat was "Sons and Daughters of the Light". At first, I thought it was a rather "enlightened" title, slightly pretentious. But that disappeared completely when Sam gave his introductory talk on Friday night. We weren't going to the retreat to identify (and separate or sequester) ourselves as "Sons and Daughters of the Light", we were at the retreat because we recognized ourselves as the adopted sons and daughters of God, the True Light of the World. The weekend was an opportunity to renew the recognition, to remember our responsibilities, and to strengthen one another in our lives of faith.

Light receives a lot of attention in Scripture, from the first book to the last. Genesis 1:3 tells us that God began creation of the universe through the Logos, His Word: And God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light. That this word that God spoke was indeed His Word, Saint John attests to in the opening verses of the gospel (John 1:1-5,14):
In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God;
all things were made through him,
and without him was not anything made that was made.
In him was life, and the life was the light of men.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it...
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth;
we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.
These words clearly identify the Word of God to be that which was made flesh in Jesus Christ. So Jesus, the Word of God, the Logos, is also the Light of all creation. And as God is one God in three Persons, God is Light. In his transfiguration, Jesus's face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light (Matt 17:2). In the last book of the Bible, Revelation, in its final chapters, John describes a vision of the new Jerusalem, the new holy city of God (Rev 21:1-2,22-23):
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband... And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine upon it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb.
And then again in Rev 22:5 he writes And night shall be no more; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they shall reign for ever and ever. The Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, the perfect sacrifice, is Light, the same Light that founded the universe, the same Light that the darkness will never overcome.

Jesus identifies himself as "the light of the world" (John 8:12; 9:5) and says we can become "sons of the light" (John 12:36). But Jesus also says that we are the light of the world and that our light must shine so that others may see the good we do and give glory to our heavenly Father (Matt 5:14-16). It is important to understand that we are the light only because he is the light: we do not shine, but Jesus shines in us, since he is the source of all our good works. The moon does not shine of itself, but reflects the light from the sun; it is likewise with us. As Saint Paul wrote, not I, but the grace of God which is with me (1 Cor 15:10).

This quest for finding the source of the light was an issue of contention in the early church. At the beginning of that same letter, Paul asks the church in Corinth if Christ is divided: For it has been reported to me by Chloe's people that there is quarreling among you, my brethren. What I mean is that each one of you says, "I belong to Paul," or "I belong to Apollos," or "I belong to Cephas," or "I belong to Christ." Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? (1 Cor 1:11-13) In identifying themselves as belonging to anyone other than Christ, they were identifying the source of their new lives as that other person, not as the only one through whom we are made new. It would be the same as me saying I am a "Father Bob-ian" or a "Bishop Paul-ian" or even a "Pope Benedict-ian" rather than a Christian. I might follow their examples (just as Paul offers himself as an example in Phil 3:17), but I do not belong to them instead of Christ. The Franciscans do not "belong" to Saint Francis of Assisi, they follow his model, the way in which he belonged to Christ.

So now I ask you to imagine yourself in the vastness of space. You are staring ahead, and can see objects in your vision that appear to be giving off light. But as you near them, you notice they are not the source of that light, they are only reflecting it. Behind them is the same darkness you see in front of yourself.

So you turn towards the source of the light. It is a powerful light, with an intensity in its brightness far beyond the objects'. In its light you are illuminated, and you see yourself as the light sees you. You notice, then, when you turn aside from that light, there is shadow; if you turn your back to the light, you cannot see it (though it can still see you), and you see only your own shadow, your own voidness of light.

So you turn towards the source of the light. You recognize that it must be the source of all light, the source of everything. But it is brighter than your eyes can handle. You hold up your hand to shade your eyes. You squint. You close your eyes, but the light still permeates your eyelids. You can't ignore that light. But it is too bright for you, so you turn away from it and focus your attention on some other objects on which it shines. Then you notice that some of these objects do appear to be giving off light. Unlike the other objects which shone only where the light touched them, these objects are illuminated from every angle. They do not hurt your eyes to look at, but as you look closer, you become alarmed. They aren't giving off the light, the light appears to be passing right through them, as though they were only transparent objects with no substance.

So you turn towards the source of the light. You want to see the truth of the matter. You resolve yourself not to shield your eyes from its intensity. You circle the light, and find it shines in all directions. All the while, you never take your eyes off it.
Have you ever stared at an active incandescent light bulb? At first, all you see is a glowing bulb of light. But the more you stare, the more your eyes adjust to the brightness, and you can begin to see the internal workings of the bulb: you can see the filament, the individual complexities that make the bulb work.
Your eyes begin to adjust to this powerful light, and you begin to see inside of it. It is not some unformed cosmic lump, it is a precise and defined entity, though you cannot seem to bring yourself to define it. You see into the light and recognize that the light sees into you. It is a living light. Father, Son, and Spirit, it lives: the very nature of its infinite existence (the Father), the filament inside which seems to be shining directly at you (the Son), even the very waves and particles of light which emit from it and permeate you (the Spirit). No longer is it just "some light", it is the light, the only light, the Light of all creation. You hold your hand up, and are surprised that you can see the back of your hand -- the side facing you, not the light. You are suddenly afraid you are becoming transparent, that the light is just passing through you.

So you turn towards the source of the light. And all at once you feel that the light is not passing through you, it is living in you. It is not passing through you, it is refracting inside you and shining out from you in all directions. You have not lost your substance, your substance has been illuminated.

As Paul's letter to the Romans states (1:19-25), the evidence of God is all around us. But the revelation of who God is, not just the Creator but our Father, and the revelation of the Trinity, is not something you just stumble upon. If it was easy to discern that, Israel would have recognized Jesus for who he was. Sometimes, noticing the light is not enough: you must observe the light.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Liturgy: Youth Masses, pros and cons

Katerina Marie over at Evangelical Catholicism wrote up a post on "Youth" Masses. Yes, I've just come back from a Young Adult retreat, and yes, the music sung at Mass was primarily CCM (with the exception of a few hymns sung during Exposition and Benediction), but I feel I should weigh in on the matter, lest my personal stance be mistaken or assumed away. What follows is an expansion of the comments I wrote in the aforementioned blog post.

First, as someone else stated, "one Mass for one people should suffice". Now, I grew up on the Novus Ordo Mass; I have never (yet) attended a Traditional Latin Mass, nor a Mass of any other Rite (such as the Byzantine Rite) although I am eager to do so. I have seen excerpts of TLMs, and I have read its Missal, and I can see things I appreciate in it, but there are also parts of it that confuse me (such as why so much of the Mass would be said silently by the priest) and parts that raise some theologically-deep questions (such as why the congregation does not partake of both Species, Body and Blood). One practice I have recently taken up after reading a commentary on the TLM is this: I no longer chew the Host, but let it dissolve on my tongue to the point where I can simply swallow it. There are multiple reasons I find this particular process superior to my previous one:
  1. it distinguishes the Eucharist, which is spiritual food, from bread, which is material food
  2. it keeps me from rushing, physically and mentally, through the Sacred Mystery
  3. it is more scrupulous (although I am not overly so) in its care of the Host
    1. I should add that I receive the Eucharist in my hand, a tradition which I hold to be supported by Church Fathers, and one that, if done reverently, does no disgrace or disservice to Christ
    2. I may one day (or many days) receive on the tongue, but I have never had my questions about the worthiness of the tongue over the hand to receive Christ answered, so while I admire the practice, I do not understand it to be "better"
  4. it instills the sense that Christ is permeating my body
To get back to the point, I have seen the Novus Ordo Mass carried out with varying levels of reverence, and I understand that the TLM makes it hard for such a variance, but I don't think the Novus Ordo is inferior (as some people do). But I do not think that, for all that is different between the two rites, that the Novus Ordo is a fundamentally different Mass from the TLM.

I've never been to a "rock Mass" or an equivalent, where I felt uncomfortable with the music, but I do feel weird singing CCM songs at Mass. I have a fondness for more traditional liturgical music, although my only exposure to chants is quite limited. I like the organ. I like the piano as well. I don't have a problem with guitars and drums, it's just that CCM songs seem foreign to me at Mass (perhaps because so little of it is overtly Catholic, although I would have to say all the songs sung at Mass this past weekend were in line with Catholic theology).

I was glad to see such devotion paid to the Eucharist; it had been some time since I'd participated in Adoration, and seeing such respect for and belief in the Real Presence rejuvenated me (although I met my breaking point at 3:00am). There was no doubt in my mind that my fellow Catholics on that retreat saw nothing less than the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ on the altar, in the hands of my brother Fr. Charlie, and encased in the Monstrance. I was glad to sing Tantum ergo and "Holy God, We Praise Thy Name". Call it "that old-time religion", but it moves me in a more profound way than most CCM does.

When it comes down to it, I'd rather hear and sing more traditional, liturgical music at Mass. There was nothing during the retreat that I took offense to -- let me make that clear. And let me also say the parish I grew up in had a "folk Mass" with guitars that I enjoyed. Then again, the songs were all songs I knew already (albeit with an organ or piano behind them). It's just that there's a weirdness I feel when singing CCM songs at Mass.

The heart of the matter is that I don't think we need to concoct a Mass (a "liturgy lite" as I refer to it in my comments at Katerina's site) to cater to younger Catholics. I think more time should be spent focusing on proper catechesis, on teaching the liturgy as it is and fostering respect for it. I don't deny that younger Catholics can feel out of place and un-attended-to, but Youth Ministry needn't avoid the liturgy in reaching the younger generations. It should embrace it and make it embraceable to a group that may need extra assistance in finding the beauty and grace in something that might seem "old".

G. K. Chesterton said that we don't need a church that moves with the world, we need a church that moves the world. I recognize the truth of that statement when I consider the various compromises and changes being found in other denominations these past several years (such as renaming the Persons of the Trinity to be politically correct). When the Church becomes just an expression of our temporal fancies and preferences, the Mass ceases to be the vehicle by which God invites us to share in the Holy Sacrifice of the Lord.

(If anyone is reading this and thinking I must be a hypocrite for admiring the Novus Ordo, I'm afraid you're mistaken.)

Retreat: Recap

This is the second a series of posts I'll be dedicating to the Sons and Daughters of the Light retreat. First was an overview of the weekend. This post is a lengthy and detailed recap of the events. Next will be a personal entry that approaches the retreat from my own perspective and experiences.

If you know the last names (or the correct names, if I've made errors) of the people mentioned, please email me or leave a comment here so that I can edit the post.

The weekend began with a simple wine-and-cheese social. Once the majority of the attendees showed up, there was a brief ice-breaker: a Bingo sheet with 25 squares (the center one was free, "like grace") containing descriptions of people ("is a Giants fan", "is a lector", "lives the farthest away", etc.). People swapped papers with one another, signing off on a square, until someone had scored five in a row. Simple but effective. Once the ice had been broken, we braved the outdoor ice -- temperatures were definitely below freezing -- to walk to the (heated-but-chilly) chapel for evening Mass.

In the chapel Sam Chey (Youth Minister at Guardian Angel parish in Allendale, NJ), one of the coordinators of the retreat, gave the first presentation, an introductory speech. Sam asked us what the Church offers us. He cited the all-too-familiar example of a "cradle Catholic" (one brought up in the faith since birth) who wonders why he (or she) keeps going to Mass week in and week out. It seems like "young adults" (which here applies to people in their 20's and early 30's) are the overlooked and underappreciated members of the Church. We're not the only ones who noticed this, which is why the USCCB developed the Sons and Daughters of the Light Pastoral Plan for Ministry with Young Adults a decade ago.

Sam spoke his own words as well as those of our Evangelists. Jesus, the Word that was with God in the beginning and is God, is the light [that] shines in the darkness, and [that] the darkness has not overcome (John 1:5). Jesus, true man and true God, is the Light of the world. As brothers and sisters in Christ, and the adopted sons and daughters of God, we are brothers and sisters of the Light, sons and daughters of the Light. Sam called to mind the models of St. Mary and St. Joseph, as well as the rocky example of St. Peter. This weekend would be one of reflection, reverence, redemption, and rejuvenation.

Once Sam was finished, we prepared to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass (the Memorial of Saints Timothy and Titus, bishops). My brother, Fr. Charlie Pinyan (pastor at Guardian Angel), was there that evening to be our celebrant. His homily derived primarily from the Gospel reading (Mark 4:26-34), about the seed of faith. He talked briefly about the history of the CYO Retreat Center and the chapel, about the faith that lead to their construction, and the faith that allows them to remain in use today. Then he talked about our own faith, grown, we know not how, from a seed planted many years ago, that brought us to the retreat.

Mass concluded with Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. We sang songs of worship and listened to Scripture and silently adored the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ. After about an hour of Adoration, we returned to the Retreat Center. Shortly afterwards, in the downstairs chapel, began the overnight Adoration. Nearly a dozen of us took turns in front of the Holy Eucharist, praying, genuflecting, prostrating, or just being in the presence of Christ for an hour at a time.

The day began with the Morning Prayer and the Reposition of the Blessed Sacrament. A handful of Salesian Sisters led the prayer. After breakfast, we met in the desert -- one of three beautifully-decorated rooms on our floor of the retreat center -- for some songs of worship. Then came the second presentation of the weekend was given by Tracey Vieira (Associate Director for Retreats and Spirituality for the Newark Archdiocese). The theme was Marriage, but it was on a completely different level than any of us were expecting. Tracey, a 20-something who isn't married and admitted the material was foreign territory to her, talked about marriage to Christ. This concept transcended Matrimony and the religious life: it was about surrender to Jesus, accepting him not just as the Husband of the Church, but as your Husband. Tracey started by reading Isaiah 54:1-8, where God speaks of the great compassion with which He accepts Israel. She described the book of the prophet Hosea, where Hosea learns what the relationship between God and Israel is: God instructs Hosea to marry a harlot, an unfaithful woman, whom he shall love despite her inconstancy.

Tracey then applied the Scripture to her own life. It is one thing, she said, to pray that God be in your life. It is another to pray that you are in God. God lived with us, in the flesh, as Jesus Christ: now God wants us to live with Him and in Him. She talked about how hard it is to give yourself completely over to Christ; she described herself as having one foot in and one foot out, for fear of devoting herself completely and failing. She likened her life to a marriage ceremony to Christ: she's somewhere down the aisle, maybe three-quarters of the way. Then Tracey explained "marriage to Christ" in the simplest way possible, using words we'd all heard before, but giving them an entirely new context.
I, God, take you, Tracey, to be My wife. I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honor you all the days of My life.

I, Tracey, take you, God, to be my husband. I promise to be true to You in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love You and honor You all the days of my life.
Tracey described the assurance of knowing that God will love us and honor us all the days of our lives -- indeed, for all eternity, as God is timeless -- and the recognition that we are making the same promise to God.

At this point, we had intended on having Saturday morning Mass, but due to difficulties in finding available priests for the weekend, we made different arrangments. Christy Guerra, who also runs the Young Adult fireside Bible study held at the Retreat Center, had made Rosaries for everyone present out of twine. We were then led in the Rosary, meditating on the Luminous Mysteries, by Aida Flores de Leon. After completing the Rosary, we split up into four groups and met in separate rooms to share among ourselves our thoughts about the morning's activities, as well as the theme of the room we were in. Then we all gathered together in the Desert again to share things brought up in our small groups.

(A brief word about these rooms. Three of them were wonderfully decorated (by Sr. Nivia Arias, Eileen Guerin, and Craig Johnson) in the style of the desert, the temple, and the gardens of Eden and Gethsemane. The fourth was the fire-side room.)

After this, we had lunch, followed by an hour of free time. During this time, our two guest speakers for the afternoon arrived, Liliana Soto (Coordinator of Evangelization in the Archdiocese of Newark) and Al Forsythe (Director of the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry). Two musicians, Raphael Giglio and his wife Aly, also arrived. Raphael, the concert coordinator for Star 99.1 FM (the local Christian radio station), and Aly were there to join us in praise songs and attended the afternoon sessions.

The next presentation was in the Temple, and its theme was Mary, Daughter of Light. Liliana spoke of Mary, both the Mother of God and a daughter of God, devoted to His will. She read Luke 1:26-38 to us and focused on two phrases: "Do not be afraid" (Luke 1:30) and "May it be done to me according to your word." (Luke 1:38). Then she showed us five containers of decreasing size, that fit one inside another, which represented the typical concerns of a young adult: our family, our career, our relationships, our finances, and finally (in the tiniest box) God. Placing the boxes inside one another, we see how God should be at the center of all our concerns.

She followed that by explaining how to follow the model of Mary:
  • Surrender to Christ,
  • Obey him,
  • Form a Relationship with him, and
  • Trust him with
    • Humility,
    • Praise, and
    • Joy
She mentioned the hard times that Mary had to endure because of who Jesus was (alluding, I believe, to Simeon's prophecy to her that a sword will pierce through your own soul also (Luke 2:35)). Liliana spoke with wisdom when she said she would rather suffer in God's will than out of it.

She closed with two passages from Scripture. First, Jeremiah 29:11-14, where God tells His people of the plans He has in store for them, a future of hope, where we would seek Him with our whole hearts and He would hear our prayers; and second, John 10:10, where Jesus tells us that he does not come to take life, but to give life in abundance.

We then returned to the Desert for Al's very personal talk on Joseph, Son of Light. He spoke to us of his childhood, how his father played an important role in his life, guiding him and supporting him. He related to St. Joseph, a man who does not appear to be revealed much in Scripture; but Al thought otherwise. God would not have chosen just anyone to be the foster father of Jesus, and the man Jesus grew into depended on his earthly upbringing as much as his being God in the flesh. What we know of Jesus should reflect, at least in part, on his parents. Joseph was visited by an angel of the Lord on three occasions and obeyed what was commanded of him, that he should accept Mary as his wife, that he should take his family and flee to Egypt, and then that he should return to Israel, to Nazareth. Joseph was a man of faith and humility, putting God first in his life. He was a man of compassion and prayer. Jesus's own person reflects these characteristics as well, demonstrating the important role a father -- whether biological or adoptive -- plays in the development of his children. The virtues a man of God should strive for are: patience, humility, simplicity, obedience, servanthood, purity, modesty, committment, humor, faithfulness, and prayerfulness.

Once again we split into our groups for private discussion. In addition to the two presentations, we had another conversation piece: a short story titled "The Tea Cup". The story presents a beautiful teacup that recounts its tumultuous history, starting as a red lump of clay, ending as a delicately-crafted teacup. The moral is that all our trials and tribulations make us who we are, and it is God who is there alongside of us carrying us through them. We convened again in the Desert to share our small group conversations, and then went to eat dinner.

Between dinner and the scheduled Bible study, I led a group of about a dozen in Evening Prayer. We concluded right at 6:00pm, when the Bible study began. We split into three groups (led by Christy, Candace Tarabocchia, and Katie Daily) and focused on a number of Scripture passages relating to reconciliation. We all gathered for one last large group sharing before heading out to Chapel for Mass.

Fr. Charlie, who had returned to Allendale to fulfill his pastoral duties (in a one-priest parish), came back in the evening, shortly before dinner, so that we could have a vigil Mass. We started with an hour of Eucharistic Adoration and the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The readings for the Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Jer 1:4-5,17-19; 1 Cor 12:31-13:13; Luke 4:21-30) recounted Jeremiah's call to be a prophet before he was even born, Paul's beautiful exposition on love (agape), and Jesus's rejection from his home town of Nazareth. Fr. Charlie, in his homily, connected all three readings to the vocation of love to which we are all called. The people in Nazareth rejected Jesus because they failed to hear what he spoke to them in love -- Fr. Charlie likened it to our tendency to ignore parts of Scripture that admonish behavior we'd rather continue doing, and to only pay attention to those parts which praise behaviors (we think) we embody.

After Mass, we returned to the Retreat Center for an evening of musical entertainment by the Giglios. One of the participants on the retreat, Christina Albanese, who has a CD (Undivided) and a collection of original songs to her name, played for us as well. There was also overnight Adoration of the Eucharist in the downstairs chapel again.

After Morning Prayer, Reposition, and breakfast, we met in the fire-side room to sing a few songs of worship. Then five participants, forming a Young Adult Panel, came up to introduce themselves and talk about their Life in the Light:
  • Lee Ann Aguila, who had attended Rejoice! 2006 last April, and works with Savannah Sights, a charity organization that works with blind children
  • Eric Cruz, a member of the Charismatic Catholic covenant community BLD (Bukas Loob sa Diyos, Filipino for "Open in Spirit to God")
  • Mike Temple, a member of the Catholic covenant community People of Hope
  • Raphael Giglio, who returned to Christianity after a rocky youth thanks to his Jewish grandfather who told him one day that he'd "found the Messiah", and is the Executive Director of Autumn Blaze, as well as Star 99.1 FM's concert coordinator, and the Minister of Music at Zarephath Christian Church
  • Aly Giglio, who talked about her long years of single-hood where she learned to direct her passion to Christ (much in the same way Tracey talked about) and wrote a nightly journal composed as a letter to him
In sharing their stories, the panelists also hoped to inspire interest in us for the programs they are associated with, as well as Youth and Young Adult ministries in our own parishes. We had a brief period of question-and-answer between us and the panel, and ended the retreat with group prayer. After that, there were a few announcements. Sam received an icon of the Madonna and Child from Sr. Loretta DeDominicis for his work in organizing the retreat, and Christy received one as well for her hours spent making the Rosaries for us. Finally, we cleaned up our rooms, ate one last lunch together, and went our separate ways.

Time to start letting our light so shine before men, that they may see [our] good works and give glory to [our] Father who is in heaven. (Matt 5:16) Since the Father brought us to this retreat by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, then let us, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, bring Christ with us.