I think about the young people and core team members that were just on our Life Teen Spring Retreat last weekend and the real encounters with Christ that we had. There is a certain formula to retreats that makes them a great opportunity to grow in faith.
- We are removed from our usual surroundings and put in a common setting with other retreatants which fosters an openness to growth and relationship with the others there.
- We participate in shared experiences of fun and learning, further opening hearts to trust in one another.
- We hear from others about there experiences in faith and have an opportunity to break down the message and talk with one another.
- We take time to sit in silence and have concrete moments of experience with Jesus Christ in the Sacraments (confession, adoration, mass).
Most if not all retreats have these elements involved. Even Jesus went away to refocus and pray, so we should too. But just like all great moments and the prayer time in each day, they must end. Moses had to come down from the mountain, and sometimes it seems like we have to come down very far to get back to the day-to-day lives we are called to live.
But the spark should not be forgotten. We have been given great memories (some better than others) so that we can call upon our lived experience, so when things get difficult or boring, we can recall that we have been given purpose. We can remember that Jesus loves us personally and truly wants the best for us. So all those difficulties and trials in our lives are not just some kind of test, but they are an opportunity to lean on God. We do not go on retreats so that we can avoid all the difficulties of life, but we go on them so that life will make more sense and we can act upon the Spirit within us.
My encouragement for you all is to seek experiences of encounter with the Lord. In our chapel, at mass, at a bonfire with good friends, in a simple meal with family. These are gifts from the Lord showing us how much He loves us. So then, when we have a tough day and think poorly of ourselves, remember those moments when it seemed God was closer than now. Know that He is still by your side and still desires your happiness as He did in that memory.
Every day is a blessing, and when the world seems bleak, we must look to the greatest love story ever told and realize that it is still playing out today in our own walk with God.
May His Name be Praised every day of our lives.