Our Advent Retreat through the heart of Veronica Touhey
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The tables were set as only the RC ladies know how, white linens and runners, simple yet elegant décor. The coffee and tea was ready and set aside in one corner, hot and fresh. Tima, our local Women’s Section Director, greeted everyone at the door with the kindness and love she always resonates. The morning munchies were carefully displayed on white tablecloths, a beautiful banquet just asking to be eaten. In another corner, a special guest smiled eager to share the St. John’s Bible, a work of art and of theology which brought together the ancient techniques of calligraphy and illumination. The print was on loan for this special visit as one more gift from our Lord to celebrate the day ahead. http://www.saintjohnsbible.org/
The room buzzed with camaraderie and joy. We were thirsty and hungry for God’s grace to prepare our hearts for the season ahead. Christ’s heart was moved by our neediness and desire to be there. How heaven must have been smiling as we were gathered in his name. We made our way to the church to listen to and receive God’s word and the Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist. Each of us had a different focus or concern that we brought with us that day. Each one of us was undergoing different circumstances and situations that only God knows and how they affected the complexity of our hearts and minds which would give us a different grace and experience of the retreat. In His omnipotence He knew our thirst and from the first reading Isaiah 30: 19 He responds: “Truly, O people of Zion, inhabitants of Jerusalem, you shall weep no more. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry, when he hears it, he will answer you.” The message was clear in the theme throughout the day. His Mercy and His love provide for us, for he is our Shepherd, he will guide us and he will Shepherd us.
Fr. Todd in the wisdom and depth that he brings to every talk brought to life our beloved Psalm 23. The meditation broke the Psalm into two parts.
“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in right paths For His Name’s sake.”
It personally penetrated my heart in a wondrous way as I put to close a period of healing in my life and moved forward into a period of peace and love. As many of you know, I have suffered since childhood from depression and as the words of the meditation began to flourish in my heart I was reminded of the changes that have occurred during this period. He has provided me, guided me to a deeper understanding of my sins and taught me the miracle of gratitude. In gratitude I have found green pastures. In love and patience, I have sat with Christ beside still waters. Through his mercy and healing, he has renewed my soul, all for his name sake. How Great is our God!
What struck me even more was part II of the meditation.
“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil, For you are with me. Your rod and Your staff – they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies, You anoint my head with oil, My cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life. And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord My whole life long.” [Psalm 23:1-6; NRSV]
I reflect back on the darkest moments of my life. Moments of great fear, loneliness and despair; when I was truly lost and in my mind beyond reach, Christ was right there beside me. He reminded me that I had nothing to fear if I had only looked I would have seen him. His staff comforted me and guided me back to him. Only when I acknowledged him was I able to see the table he had before me and the anointing I had and would continue to experience. Surely his goodness and mercy have and will follow us all the days of our lives, for we are no longer the lost sheep mentioned in the gospel, Matthew 9:36. We are now his apostles. Our Shepherd has gone out in search of each one of us and brought us back. Not only in his coming at Advent where he pursued his people to save us and bring us back to the Father but he has also seeks us out individually in each of our lives. He has restored us into this family of Regnum Christi so that we may see the light and go out as his apostles did to seek out the lost sheep in our circle of loved ones and those we encounter every day. This Advent, I ask you to reflect on this question that Fr. Todd asked in his meditation, “How has Christ pursued you?” Time and time again God has sent his grace into your life. What are those moments? When you see the Lord in his manger, so innocent and fragile, give thanks and praise that he has come seeking us out and leading us back to him, Our Divine Shepherd.
About the Author
Veronica Touhey Recruitment Coordinator Regnum Christi Ontario