1. Saturday night our three sons, Eric, Stephen and Todd had a surprise retirement party for me at a local restaurant. The ruse was that Todd and his wife Lauren were taking us out to dinner. When we arrived I was greeted by my family, which included my brother Tom and his wife Karen, and our best friends Pam and Tony. Yes, I did not have any clue that this was going to happen. Afterward we came back to the house and enjoyed a beautiful and delicious chocolate cake baked by our daughter-in-law Christina. We stayed up until the early morning hours laughing about memories and things to come.
|Photo of the group taken by the waiter.|
|Me and my cake.|
2. Dee and I attended “A Busy Person’s Retreat” at our parish, the Church of the Epiphany. The retreat directors were Father Jude Sicilano, OP and Sister Patricia Bruno, OP. They were both excellent speakers. The scriptural reflection and meditation sessions were in the “Commons,” which is a large room next to the Church. The chairs were arranged in a circle with a small table in the center. The readings for the retreat were Mark 7:24-30, Mark 10:46-52 and John 20:19-24. Both directors took turns facilitating the sessions. The participants were encouraged to share their thoughts on the readings. In the evening there were Ritual and Prayer sessions. I attended two of the three sessions.
3. The first evening was "light." We all were given candles. The person in the first seat of each row had their candle lit by one of those assisting. Then that person turns and hands his candle to the person next to him. The person passing the lit candle then passes his hands over the flame, two or three times, welcoming the smoke as they cover their eyes. A prayer is silently said to themselves. This process is repeated until everyone in the church has made the blessing to themselves. Father Jude then asked everyone to slowly file out of their rows and we completed a large circle around the church. The lights were turned down. Four young girls, “the candle angels.” then completed a general blessing for the participants as the Cantor snag the blessing prayer.
4. The second evening was "bread and ministries." Various parishioners carried up a basket of bread that represented one of the ministries at our church. Liturgy, hospitality, choir, outreach, RCIA, community life and St. Francis Home were just some of them. Father Jude blessed the bread and then had the baskets passed to the parishioners. Each person took a piece of bread. He then said a prayer of thanks while we slowly ate the blessed bread.
6. Jesus and His disciples were leaving Jericho. He had a large number of people with Him so I’m sure they made a commotion traveling along the road. Bartimaeus heard them and shouted out to Jesus,
“Son of David, have pity on me.”
Those around him were embarrassed that this blind beggar was causing a disturbance. Keep quiet, stop calling out to Jesus! But Bartimaeus was persistent and continued,
“Son of David, have pity on me.”
Jesus told those around Him to call the blind man over. When Batimaeous reached Jesus he was asked what was wanted of Him.
“Master, I want to see,” was his reply.
Jesus told him, “Go your way; your faith has saved you.”
The blind man could now see, but did not leave. He followed Jesus.
Bartimaeous was an outsider, a sinner by Jewish standards of the time, so once again we have Jesus responding to those not acceptable to Jewish society. Father Jude suggests that sometimes we are blind to Jesus and fail to hear Him. Perhaps we should take advantage of the moment of realization that Jesus is present and open our eyes to Him. Don’t let it pass, grasp it and bring into your heart.
7. This was a beautiful and blessed week of Lent for me. Jesus, family, friends and Church all brought together. Thank you Lord.
Read other "Takes" at Conversion Diary.