The retreat began by Provincial Sr.Rose Ezarath inviting all the retreatants to wish and bless each other so that we may be a blessing to one another. She exhorted the sisters to keep exterior and interior silence so as to be attentive to the Spirit who speaks to us more strongly to attain configuration with Christ.
The retreat preacher Fr. CT Varghese SDB began the retreat by inviting the retreatants to take a glass of beer. Everyone was surprised at it but it was very different type of beer. The beer stands for Bible which will enlighten us, the Eucharist that will strengthen us and reconciliation that will free us to make a good and fruitful retreat.
He insisted on prayer which will help us to overcome all struggles in life. Our prayer must be simple and that will lead to a life of joy. Prayer and faith go together; one cannot exist without the other. Fr. Varghese exhorted us to be religious who are alive, vibrant and vital. Lack of prayer causes lethargy, indifferentism, lack of interest and dedication. We need to bring God into our life. Our ministry and Apostolate will be dead without God.
Another point the preacher insisted on is to focus on Jesus. When we focus on ourselves we are a failure. We face many difficulties in life because of our self centeredness. When we focus on God, all problems will easily be overcome. Focus on Jesus means to live in His presence.
Other key ideas which he dwelt were: Developing relationship with God; God predates our life and purpose before we were born. None of us are accidents in the world. God planned the purpose of lives so I must be a happy religious. Ask in faith and act in faith. Seek for neighbours who need our help, search for the young who are with us and around us. Knock at the life of people, who need our help to come up and grow in life. Leading people to Jesus is our mission. Many people are driven by guilt, resentments and anger, fear materialism, approval, position and power. If these are driving our force, they will destroy our lives. We must be driven by pastoral conversion. Knowing the purpose of our life gives a boost to our life, simplifies our life, focus to our life, motivates our religious life, and prepares us for eternity. At the end of our lives we have to answer God to these questions.
- What did you do with my Son Jesus Christ?
- What did you do with the talents, opportunities and relationship?
- What did you do with your neighbour?
One of the meditations was based on Jesus’ answer to the Apostles who were anxious about their greatness and who is the greatest. The greatness of a person according to the heart of Jesus is to have humility of heart, willing and not self seeking. Jesus allowed the apostles to learn from their mistakes. We need to detach ourselves from earthly things in order to attach ourselves to Christ.
The life is a rehearsal of the life to come which has no end. We cannot understand eternity but we can enjoy an unbroken fellowship with God which will lead us to eternity. He further delved into the need to see life from the view point of God. Life is a test, God continually test people. He tests our love, faith, obedience, integrity and loyalty. Life on earth is a trust. We are filled with talents, energies. We never own anything for ourselves. He wants us to use them for others. Life is temporary. We must make the best use of our life and consider ourselves as travellers passing through this world.
The reason for our being is to give glory to God. The whole creation itself is a glory of God. The best glory is seen in Jesus. We are commanded to recognize Jesus and live for the glory of God. It will be a great sin if we do not give glory to God. We can give glory to God in various ways: worshipping God, loving people, becoming like Christ, telling other about Christ, our apostolate, our involvement with our young, a committed life as consecrated people, and accepting our sisters. Every vocation is a gift of God; we cannot send away any vocation. We need to foster and nurture each vocation. What blocks us is our selfishness and pride.
Smile of God is the goal of my life. So the important task is how to please God. We can please him in various ways: when we love him supremely, trust and praise him completely, thank him continuously and use our abilities and talents fruitfully like Noah of old. We came to know the secret of how we can become best friends of God and the heart of worship is surrender “. Surrender is not the best way to live; it is the only way to live”. We are made and formed for God’s family. We become members of God’s family through faith in Christ his Son (Baptism). All believers become our brothers and sisters and the church becomes our spiritual family. We have the privilege of having membership in our unique Salesian family – Daughters of Mary Help of Christians. When we live enthusiastically our identity as FMA, we will have many followers, many vocations.
The thermometer in Kurseong dipped down day by day yet the temperature within each one of us kept rising to find what matters most in our life. It is love. “Life without love is worthless”. Love hits the priority. Love for God and his people. Love is the secret, surest and shortest way to the Father.
Thanks to our spiritual guide Rev. Fr. CT Varghese sdb and the personal accompaniment of our dear Sr. Provincial Sr. Rose Ezarath. We cherish our moments of relaxation with Jesus. We received five times a day His blessings through the retreat preacher imparted to us after every exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. We did include all our community members to receive these blessings.