“Solitude, Silence, and Constant Prayer” was the clarion call and heralding words that Fr. James Mathew sdb, the preacher. He put us on a strong platform at the start of this Annual Retreat to ascend the ladder to sanctity and transformation, leading us into the silence of the manger with the Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes to enter into the depths of our inner selves.
There were 52 participants of the Kolkata province gathered under the mantle of Our Lady of Bandel for the Mount Tabor experience to taste the sweetness and the goodness of the Lord and rest in His abode. Days of grace followed when we were made to reflect and contemplate the humanity of the Incarnate Word made flesh in the silence of the crib and to really recognize Him, know Him, be with Him and contemplate Jesus until he becomes incarnate in us. Like the attitude of the 3 wise men on their journey seeking Christ with our whole heart to offer Him profound adoration, total surrender and ready to return to a new way led by the star through Scripture and led by the cave through wisdom.We were made to realize that the day we feel love in our heart, then God lives in us. A strong conviction that surfaced was that if we lived by the Spirit we would be guided by it, even just calling upon the most powerful name of Jesus. Mt. 16-17.
The Feast of the Holy Family enabled us to see how this family after the example at Bethany, to wait upon God’s Word and to be doers of it not merely hearers. A strong conviction “Where your heart is there is your treasure”, Col: 3:17-17 enabled us see where our true treasure lay. The dynamic conversion of Paul on his way to Damascus and embrace Christ fully thereafter was an invitation for us to know that Christ lives in me and I in Him. LOVE TRANSFORMS EVERYTHINH. LET GOD LOVE YOU. This was soothing balm to truly understand that Jesus always looks on us with love and we would change (Samaritan woman) for He says ‘Come unto me and I’ll give you rest’ Jn. 1-2 ; Jn.15-15.
Our wish for the New year 2017 culminated in the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, as we celebrate the 100th Year of the Apparition of Our Lady of Fatima- to allow Jesus to penetrate and possess our whole being so completely that our life too may radiate his light and love to all, with an attitude of gratitude to our Blessed Mother at the start of this New year in the Spirit of the Magnificat.. The Eucharist, source and summit of our spiritual strength, freeing us from every bondage led us to understand how each of us could become a real presence of Jesus for the young, needy and the poor with the same passion of Mother Mazzarello, Don Bosco and St. Mother Teresa of Kolkata.
“Look at Jesus” helped us ponder deeply the power to forgive, that God turns everything for good unto those who love Him (Joseph- Genesis) and the power to return to our original innocence and become like the image of Jesus. Act. 25; Act. 7-54. A home driving thought worth mentioning was to feel the presence of God in all situations of life and this awareness is brought about through Holy Scripture as in the case of the disciples of Emmaus. “Allow yourself to be loved by God “came all through this retreat.
Praying the Chaplet to the Divine Mercy was an awareness of God’s presence in our lives and to surrender totally to Him in complete trust. Time spent before the Eucharistic Lord was strengthening moments fully exposed to His Divine love, simply to meet the Lord in silence in the calm and peace of Bethlehem. Sharing of anecdotes, incidents and testimonies by Fr. James were realities in themselves and great lessons to learn from. The sacrament of Reconciliation was a trustful encounter with the faithfulness and the mercy of the father renewing our participation in the mystery of Christ’s death and resurrection, reconciling us with our brothers and sisters in the Church.
The good nights of Provincial Sr. Rose was illumining and took us to renew our commitment and fidelity in our consecrated life as we reflected on Articles 34,39,42, 44, 48 and 50 of our Constitutions and on The Profile of the FMA. “Let God’s Word illumine us” she said recommending us to do with us what he wants not what we want, as would a painter on an empty canvas.
Finally as we came to the close of these days of intimacy with the Lord, it was a provocative interrogation to leave with: “How will I know that God’s increasing in me and I’m decreasing? It’s when I know how to accept and manage problems, difficulties, sufferings and allow the Spirit act in me. Renewing our vows we asked the grace “To choose holiness – perfect love and consecrate us in the truth”.
Now all good things did come to an end with a jolly bus ride to the Kuti gardens at the close of this retreat , all enjoying in a cheerful mood and as in a family….the boat ride and the train ride, the ‘ clicks’ in all directions and the good meal together. It was a happy day out.