Every year Build the Faith organizes spiritual retreats for men and women. This year the women’s retreat, in which I participated, took place on the first weekend of October.
In my case, the call to participate in this retreat was to serve. Even though there were forty women to serve, I had the opportunity to pray in front of the Blessed Sacrament for a good amount of time. I had so many desires and graces to ask for! I am so far from being the woman that God thought of when He created me! I saw the others so dedicated, women thirsty for God, who wanted to see Jesus and had so much to share. Some shared by participating in the groups, others in silence.
In our time of prayer during spiritual retreats, we look for spaces where we can reconnect with our most spiritual part in order to recover our inner balance. We need that space of connection with our inner selves and calm. That is why silence, where we get away from our days full of empty words, we are able to seek God, especially by reading his Word. In his Word, God reveals himself, becomes a companion on our journey, makes himself present in our lives, becomes a friend and manifests his will to us. During the days of retreat, we open ourselves to God and he makes himself present in our lives, giving us the opportunity to share in his life. Thus, what God wants when we retreat to pray and when we read the Bible is to make himself known and to enter into our history. Through temporary rest, whether it be three, five, or eight days of retreat, we go within ourselves to calm our minds and listen to God’s will for our lives.
If we take the time to observe, we discover that the body also reacts. It has sensations that we had forgotten such as a desired calm, the compunction of the heart, repentance, the desire to start again, as well as the tears and inner joy which are difficult to describe with words. Some of the women who attended the retreat this year expressed their feelings by saying that even their faces hurt from feeling so much joy. Others felt that the Holy Spirit was present in them in a very special way. Still others remarked that they felt a flame of love in their hearts, an inner transformation that was moved by the delicacy and attention of the team of volunteers at the retreat who served generously and tirelessly.
Remembering the benevolent and unconditional love of God the Father and Creator for our person moves us to reconsider our dealings with our brothers and sisters. The journey we undertake to the retreat house is an inner journey that leads us to the center of our being and enables us to live an inner transformation for which there is no turning back. The goal is the living and risen Jesus Christ who calls us and awaits us.
May the fruits of the annual retreat organized by Build the Faith bring us closer to God, our Lord, encourage us to read the Bible with docility and courage, help us to be attentive to the needs of others and make the concrete gestures that charity demands of us. May we, nourished by the Word and animated by the Holy Spirit, believe in the fulfillment of the Lord’s promises. May we be like Mary, the Mother of Jesus, who offered her life as a “servant of the Lord,” so that everything would be fulfilled according to the word that had been announced to her. She, who exhorted us to do whatever Jesus tells us, teaches us to recognize in our lives the primacy of the Word. May she, who prayed with the Apostles in the Cenacle that the Word might transform the world, give us the peace of the Lord always and on every occasion.
Paula Gomez Victorica was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She was a contemplative nun of the Order of Saint Benedict for 20 years. Since 2001, she has lived in Natick, Massachusetts.
Paula is a Certified Spiritual Director. She currently teaches Biblical Spirituality in asynchronous courses online at Boston College. She is the Coordinator of the Hispanic Community at Saint Ignatius Parish, Chestnut Hill, MA. She is also a Eucharistic Minister and collaborates in the pastoral and enrichment commissions in two parishes of the Metrowest.