We had a wonderful retreat together. Our treat was themed “Set me as a seal upon your heart” – a captivating scriptural verse from the Songs of Solomon/Song of Songs 8:6.
We’d like to share with you some highlights of our retreat as led by Fr Carl Telford SM, which you can also find in our December 2022 newsletter: “Mystical Love of our Carmelite Saints“
This retreat is a chance for us to spend time to ask God the courage to love him above all; to put him first in our hearts and to drive those who hate him to understand our joy of belonging to Jesus. This retreat is a chance for us to be a little child in the presence of God – to love God first and to depend on him. It is a time to accept that God loves us. It is a retreat of thanksgiving and gratitude – looking at the benevolence of God. “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (Jn 15:13) God is going to unveil his face to us. It is up to us to see him in our prayers. The most important thing about this retreat is our prayer time. “Never have too much confidence in God.” (St Thérèse).
God is a provident God – all-wise and all-giving. He has a plan for you in this world and in eternity (theo-drama). Pray to ask him what is his plan for you in this world (your ‘call’) and to carry it out – a small part in the theo-drama. It is not all about me – about me being in charge and in control, about not wanting to learn and being envious of others’ successes. This is pride (ego-drama).
Prayer helps to protect us from sin. Serious sin is not weakness. Sin is deliberate. It is in the will, not in the mind. It is our choice of evil, despite God’s loving plan. It is choosing ourselves above God (pride) and going against God (disobedience). But God gives us his grace and his mercy. “Nothing offends our dear Lord so much as to doubt his mercy.” (St John Vianney)
St Thérèse died in great spiritual darkness. We are asked to accept the sufferings in our life (they are great treasures). Abandon yourself to God and rely solely on him (on his sustaining grace), not on your own strength. Entrust yourself
to him and ask him to use you for others. The cross was the most abysmal suffering of humankind, so God knows what you are suffering. Accept your own suffering and share the suffering of others. Unite your suffering with that of Jesus on the cross. And thank those who are praying for you.
This is the great virtue that St Teresa writes about. It is the opposite of pride. However, it is not so much a virtue as a choice. It is a person – Jesus. And this is a gift for others – this example of Jesus’ humility: “Though he was in the form of God… he humbled himself and became obedient unto death…” (Phil. 2:6-8). St Thérèse talks about becoming a little child so that God can pick us up. I cannot save myself. Save me, Lord!
“Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner.” (Luke 18:3)
Make yourself little, like Jesus – like Jesus, in his 30 years in Nazareth, like Jesus, hidden in the host. Be little, be poor, depend solely on God, pray to God, like Jesus prayed to his Father. Do not seek to be valued, thanked, appreciated… instead, serve at the Lord’s table, hidden. You will be at peace when you are in the place God wants you to be. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt. 5:3)
Jesus saved the world by being humble. He took the last place. He died the humblest death of all. He made himself little for love. You’ll only find him if you become like a little child, with the heart of a child. The devil wants to make you proud with the knowledge you have. Instead, be little, do great things for God in a little way. Allow God to use you. Listen to him. Be willing to learn through trials and humiliations. Pray to depend solely on God. God is God and we are not God.
“The red-letter day will come, not when you love God, but when you realise that God loves you.” (Edith Eger) Jesus loves and accepts you just as you are. You don’t have to change, to be better, you have his love already. He would have died for you if there had just been you, a sinner.
We’re delighted to share with you some of what we learnt on retreat. Perhaps you can join us at a future retreat?
Blessings in Carmel.