Coming to know our Lord who paid for our sins on the Cross really is freeing. It was the main focus of my retreat, to truly ask ourselves and to believe, so that knowing who He is can truly show us who we are. Who is He? We may ask. The holy priests help us to see how Merciful He is. To see He is goodness itself. We often say to ourselves that He is merciful and good, how often do we believe this? For, we can not know ourselves if we cannot see through Him through the Cross, which is true mercy. The enduring Love of His Passion on Calvary showed a profound justice against all our guilt and shame of what could have been our punishment, yet, God freely and willingly gave Himself for us to give us the chance to live. He is such a Good Father.
How can we even hear His cry in our heart to meditate on this reality if not in the silence? Desiring to know Him is not in the noise. How often do we seek him in the silence of our hearts? In silence, we can uncover the “Little Way”of surrendering ourselves to the goodness of the Father, even in the midst of trials in the world. Our dear sister St. Therese battled illness up to her death and yet gave us her witness of a Little Flower being picked from the garden of sweetness, suffering, and silence. Today the loving faith of a daughter accepting her cross in knowing His supreme Goodness still gives us a taste of such loving fragrance by so many miracles attributed to her intercession. Guilt and shame often leave ourselves blind to this reality and Truth, so how genius is a Father of Love but to send us His son to show us the way to Trust in His goodness in the midst of trials or any sufferings. Yet how do we uncover this treasure? I recommend that we venture into the silence to reflect on how He purified us all by the price of His blood. During the silence and reflection we will be reminded of the Sacred Wounds and can hide in His merciful Love by the Sacraments. Then, with this silence of peace in our souls hidden within the Heart of Christ we can reflect on the gift given to us by our Lady. To be grateful and show gratitude of Her Son’s passion, to give us His pure heart and soul to enjoy playing with Him as the Infant Child in our hearts, or see that He has made our bodies holy by His passion in the Holy Face in seeing His scourging of His body covered in wounds for His Love. To see His sorrowful passion. What treasures!
How can we find such treasures and gifts, but to knock and seek them. Returning from the retreat house at St. Aloysius Gonzaga, Los Gatos, Ca, helped me to see and hear more of who God is. To truly see Him serve us within our priests, our laity, and in nature reveals His constant seeking of us. The retreat house felt more like a hermitage and Franciscan in spirit, by its camp-like environment and Chapel in the mountains. It was almost like a Portiuncula in California, the Church St. Francis rebuilt, and where St. Clare stayed. It’s small in nature but grand in its golden interior of all its treasures.
The retreat master, Fr. Asher was like a general prepping his troops with the stories and teaching of St. Ignatius and the spiritual exercises with parables and humor, which helped to remember and understand the lessons. Please consider making a retreat to the many different houses of the Society that host them and teach the spiritual exercise of St. Ignatius. It helps to find ways to listen and grow in the love of God. Also, consider supporting the Society in their efforts by providing these helpful tools to arm the faithful to battle in the witness of Charity, for God is Charity (1 John 4:8).
“ He that loveth not, knoweth not God: for God is charity.”
[1 John 4:8]
Augustine of Hippo
Why? For God is love [Love is God]. What more could be said, brethren? If nothing were said in praise of love throughout the pages of this epistle, if nothing whatever throughout the other pages of the Scriptures, and this one only thing were all we were told by the voice of the Spirit of God, For Love is God; nothing more ought we to require. Now see that to act against love is to act against God. Let no man say, I sin against man when I do not love my brother, (mark it!) and sin against man is a thing to be taken easily; only let me not sin against God. How do you not sin against God, when you sin against love? Love is God. Do we say this? If we said, Love is God, haply some one of you might be offended and say, What has he said? What meant he to say, that Love is God? God gave love, as a gift God bestowed love. Love is of God: Love IS God. Look, here have ye, brethren, the Scriptures of God: this epistle is canonical; throughout all nations it is recited, it is held by the authority of the whole earth, it has edified the whole earth. You are here told by the Spirit of God, Love is God. Now if you dare, go against God, and refuse to love your brother! In what sense then was it said a while ago, Love is of God; and now, Love IS God? For God is Father and Son and Holy Spirit: the Son, God of God, the Holy Spirit, God of God; and these three, one God, not three Gods. If the Son be God, and the Holy Ghost God, and that person loves in whom dwells the Holy Spirit: therefore Love is God; but IS God, because Of God. For you have both in the epistle; both, Love is of God, and, Love is God. Of the Father alone the Scripture has it not to say, that He is of God: but when you hear that expression, Of God, either the Son is meant, or the Holy Ghost. Because while the apostle says, The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us: Romans 5:5 let us understand that He who subsists in love is the Holy Ghost. For it is even this Holy Spirit, whom the bad cannot receive, even He is that Fountain of which the Scripture says, Let the fountain of your water be your own, and let no stranger partake with you. Proverbs 5:16-17 For all who love not God, are strangers, are antichrists. And though they come to the churches, they cannot be numbered among the children of God; not to them belongs that Fountain of life. To have baptism is possible even for a bad man; to have prophecy is possible even for a bad man. We find that king Saul had prophecy: he was persecuting holy David, yet was he filled with the spirit of prophecy, and began to prophesy. 1 Samuel xix To receive the sacrament of the body and blood of the Lord is possible even for a bad man: for of such it is said, He that eats and drinks unworthily, eats and drinks judgment to himself. 1 Corinthians 11:29 To have the name of Christ is possible even for a bad man; i.e. even a bad man can be called a Christian: as they of whom it is said, They polluted the name of their God. Ezekiel 36:20 I say, to have all these sacraments is possible even for a bad man; but to have charity, and to be a bad man, is not possible. This then is the peculiar gift, this the Fountain that is singly one’s own. To drink of this the Spirit of God exhorts you, to drink of Himself the Spirit of God exhorts you. (Ref: CatenaBible.com).
After reading St Augustine’s explanation of God is Love, I hope it sparked the fire to venture out of your comfort and into the mountains of Los Gatos or a retreat house to find who God is, like going up the mountain of faith. The reflection and question that rose up in my heart during the retreat was, “ Let me know You, so that I can know myself, “ may I ask God to show me who He is? It seems so simple. God is simple, in telling us to ask He will show us that God alone is always willing to do the best for us. I believe we can see this when we look through the Cross for all things, that in the Cross we can see that He willed the best for us, redeeming us and saving us. I learned, only His grace can sum up the Law, which is Charity. The Love that wants the best for the Beloved, to become united to the greatest of ends which is God: Charity.
It is hard for us to explain the Love of God, for the world that we live can be unforgiving and changes us for everything it wounds us with. It can be difficult to understand the price that was paid on the Cross, like in the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10: 29-37) St. Augustine said, “The two pence are the two precepts of love, which the apostles received for the evangelising of the world, or the promise of this life, and of that which is to come.” Then to realize this parable is followed by another story of Martha and her sister Mary, when Martha was anxious and worried about being helped when her sister Mary sat with Jesus. How many of us become anxious about being helped and worried about all that is happening around us? Do we make the time to just sit at His feet in adoration of who He is? It is a good time spent for us to see through the way of the Cross, which He paid to purify all we had lost by our sins, so that we can walk towards His heart in becoming Charity and walking by faith (1 Cor 5;7) become true soldiers of Christ, instruments of Peace, witnesses of His Merciful Love. Trust comes with the relationship we build and Love allows ourselves to give of what we have received, but we have to accept to be Loved.
It takes the virtue of humility to trust and grow in faith. To have faith we will be helped, and accept the challenges if we let ourselves. Attending the retreat helped me to grow spiritually and provided more tools for my apostolic mission. I recommend to all to pray and to attend this year a retreat house, below is the link for your review of dates for the Society retreat houses.