Retreat for girls in Virginia, USA, April of 2015.
The day after Easter Sunday, the Lord sent the community of Servant Sisters of the Home of the Mother up north to Virginia. They packed what they needed, piled up in a 12 passenger van and along with the candidates, Klarisa and Ruby, headed off for Virginia. Their main destination was Virginia, where they met with 26 middle school girls that attend Holy Child Catholic School in Potomac, Maryland. The first thing they give up? Their cell phones.
“Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.”
The Servant Sisters and the girls headed off in the bus to arrive at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church, where there is a Charity Food Pantry that feeds the homeless. The girls made lunch for the homeless, served and talked with them. The girls experienced exactly what the Lord talks about in the Gospel: “Give and it shall be given unto you: good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over...” (Luke 6:38)
“Come away and rest for a while.”
The climax of the retreat began. The Lord doesn’t need a lot of time to transform a soul. When He sees an open heart before Him, he does not hesitate to enter into that person’s life and transform it. He cleans the soul and returns her to the innocence of a child of God through the Sacrament of Confession. In the Eucharist, he is truly present and he makes his presence known to us and invites us to look at Him and let ourselves be looked at by Him. In the Sacrifice of the Mass, He gives Himself to us as food for our souls, so that we may advance in the generous giving of ourselves in the service of our brothers.
Through the generosity of Father Sly, the girls were able to approach the Sacrament of Confession, spend time face-to-face with the Lord in Eucharistic Adoration, and attend Mass and receive Jesus Christ in Holy Communion. The Servant Sisters of the Home of the Mother prepared them for Confession, gave them points of mediation on really how to pray, and spoke to them about St. Maria Goretti and the value of having a pure heart. With a clean heart full of love for the Lord, we headed back to the campsite. There was plenty of time to play hard in a pick-up game of basketball, pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, and then have a hearty dinner, with songs included.
“Do you think you can love without sacrifice?"
After dinner the girls were impressed by a few short films that provoked a lively discussion regarding true love and the fact that sacrifice is inseparable from a genuine self-giving. We ended the day with S’mores around a bonfire, and discovering that we are loved with the Maternal Love of the Blessed Mother, who always wants to lead us to Her Son.
“Freely you have received, freely give.”
Day 3 begins with a “good morning,” followed shortly after with a “good-bye.” Experiences and graces were shared in a short assembly. Many experienced the freedom of not being attached to their cell phone and made the resolution to only use it at a certain time of day. Others shared how the retreat helped them see the importance of a close relationship with the Lord. The majority experienced the strong and sweet grace of the Lord in the Sacraments of Confession and Holy Communion. “One of the best experiences of this retreat was to be able to go to Confession, and to make a good confession. That’s something I want to do from now on-to go to Confession frequently".
With hearts full of gratitude, the Servant Sisters head off again the 12 passenger van.
“Divine Mercy in my soul.”
Divine Mercy Sunday was right around the corner and the Servant Sisters weren’t so far from the Divine Mercy Shrine in Stockbridge, MA. Within two days we arrived there, along with thousands of faithful from all over the world. A constant stream of faithful approached the Sacrament of Confession, which was being offered by hundreds of priests. Timothy Cardinal Dolan celebrated Mass, which was followed by the Chaplet of Divine Mercy at 3:00, the Hour of Mercy.
It is not easy to entrust oneself to God's mercy, because it is an abyss beyond our comprehension. But we must! ... "Oh, I am a great sinner!" "All the better! Go to Jesus: He likes you to tell him these things!" He forgets, He has a very special capacity for forgetting. He forgets, He kisses you, He embraces you and He simply says to you: "Neither do I condemn you; go, and sin no more" (Jn 8:11) — Homily of Pope Francis on March 17, 2013