Monday, January 15, 2007

The Retreat

I just wanted to let y'all know that the Beyond Cana marriage enrichment retreat was a huge success!

Personally, I have never seen any event with so many factors (flu, babysitters backing out, rain and threatened freezing weather, etc.) combining to make it extremely difficult for everyone who had committed to help.

Every single person on the retreat team impressed the heck out of Tom and me with their dedication and determination to overcome all obstacles. There were people leaving sick babies with parents and coming in to do their part before hurrying back to care for their little one. A very sick wife gave her husband her blessings to go and do his part. Rain came down in sheets, making two people's journey take two hours when it normally would have taken 15 minutes. One person's flight home arrived at 7 a.m. instead of the night before ... he joked that there is nothing like sleeping on an airport floor all night to give you a good presentation edge. I could go on and on (and in fact I see that I already have). It was almost like a comedy to see what problem was going to turn up next.

Tom and I weren't personally called upon to jump through fire to be there ... but Hannah and Rose made huge personal sacrifices for us to be there. We left for the retreat on Friday morning and she went back to college on Saturday. Her only hint of feelings was to cuddle with "Mommy" for an hour Thursday night. Rose was the victim of a fender bender on Saturday morning in the rain (no easy thing for a driver of only one month's experience) and refrained from calling because "you were on retreat." (Thank heavens she had access to therapists Ben and Jerry for help in soothing her jangled nerves before we called her at 9 p.m.) Yes, we were very proud of both and so I pass that on.

Every time situations were handled with good humor and grace, thinking only of others. Which is to say that we saw sacrifice being made by everybody for the good of the couples on the retreat and to do God's work. What a privilege to get to see it in action.

I looked at all that and thought how many adversarial conditions we were facing throughout. So I also thought of the great Adversary and how he might be involved in these problems. Naturally that led to thoughts of what a very great blessing from God this retreat must be in people's lives for us to face this much adversity.

Tom pointed out that it showed the huge difference already showing in people's lives and marriages for the team to go to those lengths to make sure it happened. As we both know full well from the difference in our lives after attending Beyond Cana in San Antonio.

We agreed that we are both right on this one.

We got to see the fruit of that determination yesterday morning at Mass. Those couples were glowing. That glow was from personal encounters these couples had with the Holy Spirit in their lives and in their marriage this weekend.

Thank you so much for keeping this event in your prayers. You made this possible by holding us all up to God. And we can't thank you enough.

Please continue to hold this ministry in prayer as our parish continues with it.

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