Penned by : Benita Joseph
Mark 6:31 – Jesus said to them, “Come away with me. Let us go alone to a quiet place and rest for a while”.
Our Lenten retreat for this year started on March 25, 2023 Saturday at 9:00 am sharp with holy rosary and continued with ‘Praise and Worship’ songs. The theme for our retreat was “I am revelations of Jesus”.
Our preacher was Fr. Amalraj Savarimuthu, who came all the way from Philadelphia. He enlightened us on the depth of God’s word.
Fr. Arul Yagappan gave us his spiritual support and Fr. Lourduraj Alapatty gave us a brief talk about Lenten spirituality.
Fr. Amalraj shared his thoughts over 3 sessions.
Session 1 – I am the Bread of Life & 1st pillar of family life
Father kept us engaged with many interactive questions and inspiring stories. With brief introduction about the importance of family life, he walked us through the history of mankind from creation to present and how God created us to be united as a family. He showed the parallelism of Jesus in the New Testament and Joseph in the Old Testament.
Session 2 – I am the Good Shepherd and 2nd pillar of family life
After a short break, we continued the retreat. With great conviction, Father taught us the love that binds the trinity (Holy Spirit) and the family too. He showed us the power of positive talks by the experiment of Japanese scientist, and the snowflake pattern in frozen water that was positively influenced. Time just flew, when we were reminded by Vijayan that it was lunch break.
Meanwhile, in our fellowship hall, our little children were kept engaged with stories of God’s love, importance of Lent along with activities with crafts and acts too. Thanks to volunteers and kid’s ministry coordinators (Maria & Joyce).
Way of the Cross
Our kids were the super stars. They sang hymns in the church and then dressed in the right costumes, portrayed and wonderfully enacted the Way of the Cross, which for sure will be etched in everyone’s memory forever. It was very meaningful as they took us all through each step of Jesus’s journey to crucifixion! Thanks again to Maria, Joyce and parents who were actively involved.
During the afternoon session, we had a separate session for the little kids (split into 2 groups age-wise) in the fellowship hall. The youth ministry – session lead by volunteers Chris Peter, David Savariyar, Jessica Antony and coordinated by Vidya, was conducted very effectively. They spoke and taught about LENT.
Chris spoke about ‘Charity & Almsgiving’ and had a LENT Bingo which the kids enjoyed. David lead the group speaking about ‘Fast & Abstinence’ and moving away from distractions to get closer to God. Jessica spoke about the importance of Prayer in our daily lives and how we can talk/chat with God and then ended with an activity where children colored a heart shape paper and wrote down who they wanted to pray for.
Feedback – All of the youth-leads kept the kids engaged so well, that, the kids did not want to leave the hall when called to take pictures.
Thanks to our potluck coordinators (Nirmala Francis and Genrose) we had a sumptuous lunch with so many varieties. The menu was very thoughtful and yummy! Children had special treat too. Yeah, it was Pizza. Thanks to our volunteers who helped in setting up the lunch and clearing it.
Session 3 – I am the Light of the World and the 3rd pillar of family life
Retreat continued post lunch with further enlightenment about the sins in our society and how all the root cause starts from family. Those goose bumps moment came when Mama Mary, the epitome of God’s creation was glorified as the supreme creation of God the Father, Mother of Christ and spouse of Holy Spirit, the complete ‘Unity in Trinity’.
As always, all good things must come to an end. We all were energized, empowered to love our family and most of all, trusting in the goodness of our Savior.
Finally, Father was felicitated by RTPCA’s president Mr. Joseph Prem Anand, bringing an end to the wonderful Lenten Retreat.
Excerpts from retreat:
“I am” – the word itself is a present tense, which gives the assurance that our Lord is always present as revealed by God to Moses from the burning bush. When Jesus said “I am the bread of life”, he wants us to have an intimate relationship with him, specially through ‘Eucharist’ – He wants to be with us.
The uniqueness of Trinity – God the lover, Jesus the Beloved, Holy spirit the Love.
The uniqueness of Mother Mary. Daughter of God the Father, mother of Jesus Christ and spouse of Holy Spirit.
How do we prepare ourselves to receive the bread of life? Are we worthily receiving the Eucharistic Lord?
Importance of Family:
- Family is the First sacrament – instituted by God himself.
- Stay together as a family always. The love between the spouses helps the families and children to be disciplined in faith.
- Love giving, Gratefulness, faithfulness and forgiveness makes us grow as a family.
- Fatima’s 3rd secret – the final attack of the Satan would be against families.
- We are made in the image of God and called to love others.
- Forgiveness – always put yourselves in other’s shoes and genuinely feel sorry for what you did. Rectification of our sins is a must.
- Joy is always the presence of God in our sufferings and not the absence of sufferings.
- Focus on God always, so you don’t get distracted (e.g. David’s story)
- Do what you can do and God will do the rest (e.g. Raising Lazarus from dead. He asked them to remove stone)
- Never distrust the Lord. Always believe in his Goodness (e.g. Eve was tempted by Satan by sowing doubts, ‘Did God really asked you?’
- Money is always the opposite of God. Teaching our children to convert money to Joy by converting them into charity.
- Bethlehem – house of bread
- Bethesda – house of Mercy
- Miracle fruit – Fruit that makes whatever we eat for the next 2 hours (sour, salt) sweet. So, trust in the goodness of the Lord, which can turn all your bitter experiences into sweet ones.
- God’s name is Mercy.
Finally, have a Beer every day! Yes, you heard it right.
B – Bible E – Eucharist E – Evangelize R – Repent
Some feedback on the retreat!
“Engaging”, “Messages deep and powerful”, “Well Organized”, “One of the Best”“Great Renewal for families spiritually”, “Very interactive, peaceful and prayerful”