[auth]This year's cenacolo retreat was one where Jesus showed me once again that He never leaves me and that my focus should be His faithful love. He opened my heart once again and by His grace I was able to see the many things he has done for me and that he continues to do over and over again. The retreat was a challenging one as the readings in Matthew clearly show we are walking a narrow road. However it is one which we'd gladly walk if we do it with and for Jesus- if we truly have a relationship of love with Him. It gave me the thirst to truly seek Him with all my heart and, like a child, obey my Father as He knows me and what is best for me. "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11: 29-30
The community weekend, with the challenging words of the Sermon of the Mount was a new invitation to draw closer to God and to trust all my life to Him again. God spoke to me directly through the talks, sharing, prayer, mass and the ministry session and I stand in awe of His faithfulness and infinite grace. It was a reminder that we are constantly in a spiritual battle and our aim is to spend eternity with Him in heaven.
This year’s retreat was an unforgettable one. It was one where God has once more come with power and yet also with His infinite care and gentleness. The teachings were so challenging and deep yet which filled us with hope and courage and faith in such a wonderful and amazing God! The Sermon from the gospel of Matthew really struck me as it addressed all areas and aspects of our lives and challenges us to be radical and wholehearted in our daily lives. The times of prayer and worship we had together as a cenacolo were also precious moments that I will always treasure in my heart.
‘Come Lord Jesus and choose what you want from my shop’ With the starting parable of the ‘Four Shop Keepers’ I was immediately captured and firmly set to do my best to prepare myself for the rest of the retreat. Indeed, the profound, interesting and spirit building teachings gave me not only a new vision of the inner heart of Jesus, but also a new will to use the Authority given to us by Jesus with more devotion and responsibility. The essence of prayer in my life was refreshed and my Trust and Faith in Jesus more strengthened. It was a retreat which I will not forget. Praise The Lord. Amen.
I could highlight many instances throughout the talks where a particular point that Andrew mentioned or a quote by our new friend ‘Erasmo’ struck a note deep within – but all I know is that deep down I came out of this retreat convicted more than ever that if I do not make the decision to pray every single day (and do it), I will have nobody to blame at the end of this journey but myself. And to top it all up, the only reason why to do it is not for what I am going to gain at the end, but only out of a pure and sincere love for God. It’s like knowing what the ultimate prize is about but working for it out of love for the Author of life and not for the prize itself or only for fear of not getting there.
C.S. Lewis sums it up nicely when he said, “If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this.”
It rarely happens to me, but this time I really wasn't looking forward to the retreat. I knew I was lacking in intimacy with the Lord. My thirst was not being quenched and the resulting exhaustion was effecting my relationships. It is easy to say "I have to be more disciplined in making time for the Lord."... easier said than done! To add to my frustration I knew that the time I spent at the retreat meant less time with my wife and baby... thus putting all the load on my wife. Becoming a father is indeed the most beautiful experience in my life however it comes with its responsibilities. Thus keeping a balance between my work, family and spiritual life and weekly school retreats is not easy!
During the weekend, taking in all the talks wasn't easy. They just confirmed that I was a Pharisee! I felt rejected by God and I felt hopeless. On Sunday morning, I shared all this with my cenacolo during the sharing session we had and I asked them to pray for me.
That same morning, as we prayed for the Holy Spirit, things changed. I was playing my guitar during praise and worship with Julian and in my heart praying " please come and take over once again! Please come as I can't do anything without you! my life is a mess without you!" At last it was my turn to be prayed with. The Lord touched my heart and I felt Him embrace me once again. After the session I rushed outside in the garden and cried! in my heart I prayed "Of course I love you Lord. Yes I Love you too!" that was my response. The shepherd had found his lost sheep!
Keith Sammut [/auth]