Reflections on the St. Blaise Men’s Retreat (Part 1)
On February 2nd, Andy finally got his “ring.” It should have had a bird wing on it instead of an arrowhead but I won’t go there…. Meanwhile, another “contest” was occurring during Super Bowl Weekend. It wasn’t a contest about a “bowl.” It was a contest about souls.
About 170 men were at Malvern Retreat House for their annual St. Blaise Retreat Weekend. The Theme was “Stress, Sanctity and Speaking With God.” Several men from St. Monica and the Holy Name Society attended. Twice as many men from St. Monica attended as compared to last year. This was a promising development.
The men who did attend enjoyed the weekend, the talks and the fellowship. Let them tell you a bit about their experience during the weekend.
Joe probably shares the sentiments of many men in the parish (especially those of you who have not yet gone on a retreat… hint hint..).
“If you had told me last year a 3-day men’s church retreat was in my future, I would have told you, “I think not. Not me! ” For over a year now, the best way I can describe my journey as a spiritual “Catch Up”. It first started by returning to the church regularly. It was here that things started to fall in place. Mass became intriguing. Homilies from Father Fitzgerald and Father Zlock started to touch my soul.
It was at Mass one week that I heard Fr Zlock say “Sunday is not enough.” The church bulletin had a couple of options that I started looking into. The first one was TMIY (That Man Is You). After exchanging a couple of emails with Tom McGurk he encouraged me to come once and find out for myself. I’m now attending my 3rd semester, I’ve met some great guys at my table including you.
It was here I started hearing guys talking about the upcoming retreat. A few months later I saw something again in the bulletin called Alpha. I was encouraged to come. This turned out better than I thought. We met some other great people. We enjoyed asking “real” questions about our faith. We got honest answers from Father Zlock. Of course, the free lunch helped too! Now my wife attends the women’s “Walking With A Purpose” that she learned from others at Alpha. It is something that she looks forward to it each week.
Dave commented on what he felt was a “spirit-filled weekend!” Father Zlock first provided background. He gave an in-depth overview of the state of our Church. He highlighted the spiritual demographics of a typical parish. He showed where most parishioners are in their journey with the Lord. This was important because the Catholic faith is about “discipleship.” This is a path one which followers of Christ journey. The path leads to becoming “Disciples.” Disciples are people who focus on a relationship with Jesus Christ. This leads to growing into becoming “Apostles.” Apostles focus on making other Disciples.
Prayer intimidates many people. We don’t know what it is. We don’t know how to do it. We worry about “doing it wrong.” The many types of prayer confuse people. On Sunday, Father provided some very practical advice on ways to pray and how to improve our prayer life. It lessened the anxiety about prayer. It also provided great advice and insight!
Saturday afternoon was inspirational. We starting with Matt Lozano after lunch. Matt talked about his ministry, Unbound, Heart of the Father. He pointed out the tricks of the evil one and his ways of keeping us bound or slave to our sins. Matt led an exercise on how to proceed through the Five Keys to freedom:
- Repentance & Faith
- Father’s Mercy
Working through these steps, we can be delivered from Satan’s bonds and experience true freedom.
Saturday afternoon Mass was one of the best I ever experienced at Malvern. Much of the credit goes to Deb Rojas, the Director of Liturgy and Music from St. Monica. Jacques Gordon also helped in leading the singing and musical accompaniment. Who knew that St. Blaise Men could sing as well as they did!
There will be more comments, insights and reflections from the men next week on my website. I recommend taking a look at them. You will be inspired.