Monday, January 11, 2010

The Jesus Retreat

What an incredible weekend that was!

I experienced the Jesus Retreat, a charismatic gathering focused on perpetual Eucharistic adoration and the praise and worship thereof. This was my Christmas gift from Michael!

The retreat was held at Black Rock Retreat Center, a wonderful place in the serene woods of Quarryville, PA.

The beautiful building we gathered in has exposed beams and lots of cozy fireplaces. Surrounding it are lots of little cabins that are nestled among the trees.

The last time I had been there was back in June 2007, when I attended Christopher West's Head & Heart Immersion graduate course in the study of Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body.

As usual, I was the last one to arrive on Friday night. Once there, I was so joyful to see more faces than I ever expected to recognize! Even though I had a cabin with very friendly roommates, I slept both nights on the floor of the chapel wearing my daytime clothes, figuring that to be around Jesus longer could only be beneficial! I have always wanted to sleep in His Presence like that, and this gave me the opportunity I had been waiting for!

Other than being with Jesus this weekend, the most special event for me that weekend was completing my Consecration to Jesus through Mary in the style of St. Louis de Monfort.

I completed the 33 days of extended prayers and preparation and managed to time its completion in such a way that I would finish it at the retreat.

Since the formula for the consecration is that you go to confession, attend Mass, and receive Holy Communion on last day of your preparation, I made my pledge on Saturday, January 9th.

To make this pledge is to become a slave to the will of Jesus and His Mother Mary, and it is tradition to express this with a simple iron chain around the ankle or wrist.

My wonderful friend Melanie knew that I would be making my consecration at the retreat, so she brought with her some iron chain links and two pairs of pliers. I was soooo excited to have her put it tightly on me! The chain can obviously not be removed from my wrist unless great effort is made, and it is my hope to wear it my entire lifetime.

Thirteen links surround my wrist, and this is a great Marian number because Our Lady would appear to the peasant children in Fatima on the 13th of every month.

Father Kevin, who lead the amazing retreat, is also consecrated to Jesus through Our Lady, and his chain is worn and dull from the passage of time.

My dear friend Melanie's chain is likewise rusted and worn, and I look forward to when mine is the same condition! I was so excited to have it that I eagerly told others about the significance of my non-jewelry "bracelet." Others, who had already completed their consecration, then asked Melanie to visually "enslave" them also, giving a visible to sign to what was already a spiritual reality for them.

Each year of my life, I must renew my consecration with the same 33 days of prayers and preparation.

Please pray for me that I may more closely imitate Mary's complete submission to God's will. May her fiat be my inspiration to always say "yes" to Him!