This Sunday, February 17th, the Home of the Mother community in Valencia (Spain) wished to begin Lent this year by giving to God a day of spiritual retreat and fraternal encounter.
This has been the best way to center ourselves in the most important part of this liturgical time: the conversion of heart. At 9 a.m., full of excitment, about 30 of us, from the Home of the Mother, the parish of Saint John Bosco (Torrente), the parish of Saint Pancratius and Saint Dionisius (the parish of the Servant Brothers of the Home of the Mother), and some others from around the area, left the Bethlehem convent (where the Servant Sisters of Torrente live). Our destination was the convent of Saint Joseph and Saint Anne in L'Ollería, about an hour's drive away, where the Servants of Our Lord and the Virgin of Matará (the religious family of the Incarnate Word) have lived for about a year and a half.
Once we arrived at the convent, we began the day in the best way we could: with exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, to ask Our Lord to bless our retreat, to pray Laudes, and to consecrate the day and our hearts to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
After reading the story of the death of Saint John the Baptist, Father Henry gave some points of meditation about how we must be witnesses of the Truth, being real men and women, real families and real christians. We had a time of silence for meditation and to accompany the Lord.
Then we prayed the Stations of the Cross, walking through a part of the garden where the sisters had marked each station with a rock. On the rocks there were sentences written to meditate the stations. We read texts from the Sacred Scriptures about the sufferings of Our Lord, accompanied by the meditations of Saint Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer. There was already an atmosphere of meditation and recollection. We had some free time to continue reflecting about all that the Lord was saying to us, and to finish off the morning, we returned to the chapel to celebrate the Holy Mass.
With the Mass, we finished the morning of silence and went to the dining room to enjoy time in community. Everyone brought a dish to share with the rest of the group, and there was truly an family atmosphere, with good conversations, much laughter, and at the end, we sang the hymn of Our Lady of the Helpless, the Patroness of Valencia.
But the day did not finish there. After lunch, we all went to the garden to pray the Rosary, walking outside and singing songs to Our Blessed Mother. At the same time, the two Servant Priests offered to continue hearing confessions, and many were able to clean their souls from all that might keep them from starting Lent well. We returned to the dining room to watch a video about Blessed Chiara Luce Badano. We were all impressed by her life testimony, and it inspired us to put all our efforts in the battle for our santification.
To finish off the day, which had been a gift from Our Lady, the sisters of the monastery received us in the locutory, and we were all able to talk with them. They told us a little bit about their community, their daily life, their spirituality and personal tesimonies. The comtemplative sisters of this community have the custom of praying and offering themselves for a particular intention in each monastery according to their charism, which is evangelization of the culture. In this convent, they never cease to pray that Europe may return to its christian roots. We thanked them for their generous welcome, for sharing with us their testimonies and for their prayers for the all of europe.
We all agree that it was ideal to begin Lent with this day retreat. Some who were nervous for the silence, because they had never done any other retreat of this kind, said that it seemed short to them, and were left wanting more. We thank Our Lord and Our Lady for the gift that they gave us of being able to spend time in silence to learn more about the great love that they have for us, and to spend a day full of joy with our community of Valencia. We hope that the words that Christ has spoken to each of us take root in our hearts and that they may give fruit for the eternal life.
Servant Sisters of the Home of the Mother, Valencia,