I was blessed to attend a one day Advent retreat put on by the Office of New Evangelization of Youth and Young Adults (ONE) for the Archdiocese of Boston. This retreat was for anyone involved in youth ministry within the archdiocese. Our retreat director was Fr. Matt Williams, the Director of ONE and what a spiritually powerful retreat it was!
This retreat was completely structured around Advent with a focus on the word “come”. It gave me a new appreciation for the meaning of the season. It began with a reading from the Song of Songs 3:1-4. This passage speaks about searching for God, and when he is found, bringing him into the deepest, most private place in the house. We then had a silent meditation around our readiness to bring Christ into the deepest, most private place in our hearts, in our souls. Am I ready? What’s holding me back? That was followed by a discussion that Jesus wants all of us, not just the perfect parts and that we need to remember that we need to bring everything, including the good and the bad, to God. He wants us all!
Do you have any sense of how much the Church uses the word “come” in its prayers during the season of Advent? The Liturgy of the Hours uses the response, “Come, Lord Jesus”. Various antiphons, readings and Alleluia versus of the Masses throughout Advent all ask our the Lord to come. Just look at the O Antiphons for a perfect example of the Church, as the bride, asking her bridegroom, Jesus, to come. What a great image!!
Lastly, we focused on part of the nativity narrative from Luke (Luke 2:1-14). We had another terrific period of silent prayer to meditate on the scripture passage. Silence is underrated, by the way. What a wonderful opportunity to put oneself there with Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus. From the journey to Bethlehem, to the birth and the message of the angel to the shepherds, it gave me an opportunity to appreciate what people must have felt, not only emotionally, but physically as well.
In between all of that we had Mass, opportunity for the Sacrament of Reconciliation, lunch with friends and a sharing circle to round the day off. I’m so glad I went. The Lord spoke to me in a very special way at the retreat, not only through Fr. Matt and the other participants, but directly when in silent prayer. He knew what I needed (no surprise there) and showed me the way, not only for my ministry, but for me as well. I really need to make time to go on retreat more often, or at least find more opportunities for silent prayer during my day. Did I mention that science is definitely underrated?
Until next time, keep sharing the faith.