Monday, January 11, 2010

Meditating on Comtemplation

First, I just have to say:


You and I both knew it was going to be good. Admit it. You knew it.

And, as usual, it wasn't in the way that I thought it would!

I thought it was going to be a time of discernment (again, I can't get out of my head these 'next big steps' that have yet to present themselves to me. How, then, can I possibly meditate on them, right? What's to discern? I'm so dense sometimes..)

The retreat took place at Melwood- a place that holds MANY memories for me and my friends from CUA. All of our undergrad retreats took place there and that ground is HOLY. LOTS of surrendering to the Lord has taken place there, LOTS of questioning and discerning, and LOTS of love.

(makes me think of the line from Arrested Development, but not really: Michael: "This family has a lot of lies." (or something like that, I'm paraphrasing) Lucille: "And a lot of love". Michael: "More lies".)

Except Melwood is something like: "This place has a lot of love." And a lot of memories. "More love." Awww...see, I can be sentimental!

So 14 of my most awesome friends who God totally wanted to be there this weekend gathered for a little more than 24 hours to be led on retreat by my spiritual director.

Father told us the theme would be focused on the Holy Family, with an emphasis on Joseph: "Adoring Jesus, with Mary, learning from Joseph". And he went onto format the retreat with his own meditations or themes from St. Joseph which came to six 'lessons' of St. Joseph: Prayer, Obedience, Compassion, Humility/Meekness, Chastity, and Transcendent Cause.

Father went onto talk about how Joseph modeled each of these virtues and we delved a little into what these virtues can and should mean for us in our lives to bring us closer to Christ.

We had a little bit of silent time in between each talk on each 'lesson' (much to mine and some of my friend's dismay. I mean, I was looking forward to some silent time, but I also didn't realize how tempted I was to just make little side comments to people in between transitions and stuff!) And we had Mass once each day, Praise and Worship Adoration at night, and Confession. Oh, and as my friend Christine pointed out, probably the most hilarious game of 'Crainium' every played.

While ALL of the lessons were much needed and gave me material to be challenged with and meditate on for weeks to come, Father gave us a challenge to resolve one goal going in the direction (or ambition) of one of these lessons. I, always, the over achiever, of course, couldn't pick just one!

The thing(s) or lessons that perhaps stuck with me the most this time around were in the very first talk on "Prayer". Father made the distinction between 'meditation' and 'contemplation'. I am pretty good at meditating- that is- analyzing God's ways, His works. However, it is contemplation that we all long for- the resting in His love, allowing ourselves to just get stuck in the thought of God- not analyzing-just loving and adoring Him. (Side note- I'm currently working my way through "The Cloud of Unknowing" which discusses this topic. Coincidence? Of course not!!)

So ambition #1- to do THAT more. Easier said than done! One of the things I did have a hard time transitioning from the convent with was the lack of time for prayer, so I am going to resolve to give myself an hour each day again, like I did back in the 'vent. I figure if I give myself more time, there is more opportunity for contemplation rather than my crazy, somewhat scattered meditations all the time.

My other ambition rests towards humility/meekeness, and I still have to meditate more on that, I think. I have one immediate goal, which I will keep to myself (somethings are just for me and Jesus ;) But Father, my friends, and I all discussed that prayer definitely feeds into this lesson. Father described humility as realization that we are NOT God and submission to HIS will. Meekness is submission to others. So yeah, I want to resolve to do that more, and prayer and contemplation- resting in HIm- will surely help me realize how BIG He is...ya know?

I said before that I had thought the retreat would help me in discernment- though as I also said, not sure in discernment of WHAT- and the talk on chastity helped me a little with that. We talked, of course, of what chastity means in the different states in life and how priesthood is an INCLUSIVE way of loving, and marriage (and even religious life in the way that you exclusively commit to one community) are EXCLUSIVE ways of loving. With the intent that that EXCLUSIVE love leads to loving others inclusively- does that make sense? Like that, committing ourselves exclusively to one person is our way of loving others better. So that was helpful to me to discern- do I desire to be single or consecrated and love inclusively or to be married and love exclusively? I can then better offer those desires to Him now, with that language which was helpful.

So lots of good, good stuff. It's a good start I think towards this new year of HOPE ;)


Tom Bailey said...

Proverbs 2:11 is something that pops into my mind as I read this. I like what you are saying here.

Thanks for sharing.

Tom Bailey

molly said...

Great to hear about your retreat! I was thinking/praying on it over the weekend.

Jeremiah 29:11 said...

You are AMAZING! The weekend was so wonderful. I am grateful for your gift of friendship and encouragement. :)

Kaitrin said...

SO glad for the re-cap! It was a wonderful retreat, and my journal full of notes is by my bed waiting to be re-read and waiting to give more hope :) It was lovely, lovely, lovely. great start to the new year!