SUMMARY OF THE RETREAT WEEKEND
Mass (7:00 PM)
The evening began around 7:00pm with Mass in the Chapel. My brother, Fr. Charlie Pinyan -- pastor of Guardian Angel in Allendale, NJ -- said Mass for us. It was the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, Apostle; Fr. Charlie's homily brought to our attention not just the conversion of Saul, but also the further conversion of Ananias, the Christian in Damascus who was chosen by God to seek out and baptize Saul. We are called to deeper conversion, we who are already Christians, we who already know Jesus Christ and serve him: sometimes this means doing things we never expected God to ask of us (as in the case of Ananias), and the result is that we learn to trust God more. Fr. Charlie consecrated an additional host, for the purpose of Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament that evening (and again on Saturday).
Social (8:00 PM)
After Mass, we gathered upstairs for some light refreshments and some socializing. We were randomly paired up by being given pieces of paper with a number on the back -- both 1's got together, both 2's, and so on; each pair talked for about ten or fifteen minutes, at the end of which we went around the groups introducing the person we'd spoken to. (Hi, Jeanette!) We also put our pieces of paper together: the numbers were written on the back of a sheet of paper, and fit together like a puzzle. Once the puzzle was completed (minus a large piece in the middle, which someone accidentally threw in the garbage after he was done talking to Jeanette), one of the retreat organizers, Sam Chey (who is also the Youth Minister at Fr. Charlie's parish) re-introduced us to the retreat. The puzzle was the invitation to the retreat we had each received: we had received the invitation, and we had responded to it. (There were about 20 of us on the retreat.)
Introduction (9:30 PM)
After Sam's brief introduction, we went back downstairs to one of the meditation rooms (the Well) for the first talk of the weekend, also by Sam. The theme of the retreat was "Ascending - The Journey from Good Friday to Easter Sunday", and Sam opened the weekend by speaking about the various ways our bodies are injured, and the way our body recovers: scar tissue. But scar tissue is imperfect: it doesn't have the characteristics of true skin, it's not as soft or supple. To overcome this problem, doctors resort to skin grafting: that is when real skin is taken from elsewhere on our bodies and transplanted at the site of the injury, so that it can grow and give us new skin again. When our hearts are injured, when we undergo spiritual damage, we run the risk of simply growing "scar tissue", but this leaves us with a heart that is not a true heart, a stony heart, not soft like flesh. It is then that we must implore Jesus, the Great Physician, to work his great miracle of healing upon us: to graft his True Flesh and True Blood into our own, and to effect not only the healing of our sinful nature, but of our wounded hearts as well. "We pierce Christ with our sin", Sam said, "but he pierces us with his grace."
Taizé (10:00 PM)
After Sam's talk, we stayed in the Well room -- designed to call to mind the meeting between Jesus and the Samaritan woman (cf. John 4) -- for some Taizé meditation. There were symbols of Good Friday and Easter Sunday in the room: a velvet robe, a crown of thorns, nails and a hammer; an empty cross draped with a white stole, the Scripture accounts of the Resurrection. There were also various prayers and Scripture passages written on placards throughout the room.
Adoration (10:30 PM)
After a period of silent prayer, we moved into the Chapel for exposition of the Most Blessed Sacrament, accompanied by the singing of O Salutaris Hostia, followed by Night Prayer. We stayed in silent Adoration for at least another half hour after that. Towards the end of Adoration, we voiced our prayers and petitions before the Lord out loud; I began chanting Jesu, Dulcis Memoria (since January is dedicated to His Holy Name) and was pleasantly surprised when Craig (a former seminarian) chanted along with me. (I have recently become drawn to Gregorian Chant, and brought a booklet of chants I had selected which were appropriate to Adoration.) We had no priest or deacon with us at that hour, so the Most Blessed Sacrament was reposed without Benediction.
The morning began with Morning Prayer (as all mornings should!) followed by breakfast. After some songs of worship in the Seashore room, we moved to the Vineyard room, where Fr. Brian Page (associate pastor at Our Lady of the Lake in Verona) entered to present the first of four talks he would give that day.
Laborers in the Vineyard: Meaning in the Midst of Labor (9:30 AM)
Fr. Bryan prefaced by introducing himself and having some of us introduce ourselves to him. He began his talk by reminding us that between every beginning and ending point, there's a path in between; he used an example from his life. He used to "know" (so he thought) how to put up sheet rock, but his method involved approximations, multiple cuttings, and shaving the sheet rock down so it would fit. When he went to New Orleans to help rebuild recently, he saw the experts at work: making their measurements, taking a straight edge, and cutting along that line. The sheet rock simply snapped where they cut, and it fit perfectly.
Along our path, we make decisions. "The word decision", he explained, "comes from the Latin dicere: to cut away." Every decision means we "cut away" some other path we could have followed. This means every decision involves a commitment. When it comes time for us to decide, we need to know some things. First, we need to know what we want: if we don't know what we want, we won't know it when we see it. Second, we need to know what we don't want: if we don't know what we don't want, we won't avoid it and choose what's right instead.
(More to come.)
Rosary (10:30 AM)
Mass (11:30 AM)
(Fr. Bryan's homily recap goes here.) After Mass was lunch; lunch was followed by about an hour of free time, for prayer, reflection, or repose.
The Parable of the Prodigal Son: The Other Brother (2:00 PM)
Bible Study (3:00 PM)
After we got back into one large group, we briefly shared from our small faith sharing groups and from our Bible study groups. Then we went had dinner at 5:00 PM, followed by Evening Prayer at 6:00 PM.
"Peter, do you love me?": The Road to Fidelity (6:30 PM)
A Well in the Desert: Restoring Fath (8:00 PM)
Confession, Adoration, Night Prayer (8:30 PM)
Entertainment (10:30 PM)
I don't know!
I don't know!
A big thank you to Sam, Tracy, Fr. Bryan Page, Fr. Charlie Pinyan, Sr. Loretta, the rest of the Salesian Sisters, the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal who showed up for Adoration and Confession, Fr. Carlos Viego, and everyone else (like Craig and someone whose name I can't remember right now) who helped set up the meditation rooms.