Directors / Administrators of Religious Instruction of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia had a two-day retreat at Malvern Retreat House. The web site links that we discussed during the day can be found here.
The notes from that retreat are below…
A copy of the 2nd Conference Talk is below:
If we look at the Scripture readings from the Feast of Corpus Christi, we see the following passage:
….and blessed be God Most High, who delivered your foes into your hand.”
What are your foes? What problems do your foes present to you? What is the SOURCE OF THE PROBLEMS? What is the ANTIDOTE TO THE PROBLEMS? Who are the EXAMPLES OF HOPE in the face of the problems? What is the DIRECTION OF HOPE away from the problems?
SOURCE OF THE PROBLEM:
What are your personal foes? Self image, body image, addictions, blindness, reputation, lusts, fears?
What are your professional foes? Discouragement, frustration, lack of vision, lack of leadership, lack of communication, appreciation, support?
We focus so TIGHTLY on problems. We focus to TIGHTLY on the the day to day which causes us a certain amount of fear. We feel fear for several reasons:
- The first reason is because we either are – or believe – we are in danger. Something is threatening our survival, our finances, our family, our health, our job. This is perfectly natural and reasonable.
- The second reason we feel fear is because we feel that we are disconnected from our Source. Here, too, when we feel disconnected, isolated, unheard, unseen, shameful, guilty and alone, fear is a natural and reasonable response.
- But then there is another fear that can arise when we are challenged, when God asks us to intentionally enter the dark place, a place of the unknown. Here we can’t always tell the difference between a natural kind of fear and the fear that arises when we we decide, or we have been asked by God, to grow.
From the (Prayer of Pope Clement XI:
Teach me to obey those on authority, serve those under my care, look after my friends, forgive my enemies.
Let me be alert to tame my natural instincts, foster the life of grace, keep your law and win salvation.
Teach me how trivial worldly interests are, how momentous the Kingdom, how brief temporal concerns are, how lasting life eternal.
ANTIDOTE TO THE PROBLEM …
… is the belief that GRACE IS AVAILABLE versus the “scarcity mentality.” Ever notice that when a priest talks about tithing, the response he often gets is, “Gross or net?” Is our attitude about giving out of a sense of fear, out of a sense of want, out of a sense of need – or out of a sense of abundance? Look at the Gospel reading from Corpus Christi (Luke 9:10-17) about the miracle of the loves and the fish. The Disciples were worried about what they had – or didn’t have. Their thoughts and actions would always run to the end of their earthly capacities. They kept coming from a “scarcity mentality.” What they needed was faith – something beyond what they could see. Sure Jesus offers us plenty of physical food but he asks us to focus FIRST on the Kingdom – on the spiritual food.
He’s already got it all, scarcity’s a myth. Look at that word, “scarcity.” Where are your living? Are you living in the “Kingdom” of God (a place of love) or are you living in “scare – city” (a place of fear)? Love is the opposite of fear.
We read in Matthew 6:25-34…. “do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own…. “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.”
EXAMPLES OF HOPE:
- When he first arrived in Boston, Archbishop Sean O’Malley was seen one day at a local grocery store with a rented truck asking people (who were exiting the grocery store) if they would be willing to donate just one item to the poor. He already knew where the abundance was.
- Pope Francis has become and example of not wanting to live destitute or in squalor but certainly considering how to live a simpler life.
- Mother Teresa was known to say, “God has LOTS of money.”
- People have witnessed the generosity of people in some poor inner city churches where they seem to proportionally give so generously. They HAVE to give because they know that, having so little, its the only way to receive. They’re ALL IN. “I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you,” I Corinthians 11:23.
DIRECTION OF HOPE:
Consider what Rick Warren talks about in his “Purpose Driven Life” or motivational speaker and “Chicken Soup” author Mark Victor Hansen. What about miracles? What about considering something so BIG, so momentous that we can’t imagine it. Mark Victor Hansen says, “Try something so huge so that it absolutely has to fail (unless, and ONLY unless, The Lord intervenes).”
Or how about this motivational speaker from about 2,000 years ago….”Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” John 14:12