"Abide in me": Our annual Men's & Women's retreats
It was such a gift to come together this year for our annual men's & women's retreats. We gathered back to back weekends for our retreats at St. Joseph's parish in Raritan, NJ as well having many join virtually. Reflecting on the verse from John 15: "Abide in Me, apart from me, you can do nothing", the retreat included a series of talks reflecting on how the Lord calls us to abide in Him and what that means. There was also much time of quiet reflection, Eucharist adoration, mass, corporate prayer time & fellowship with all who attended the retreats. Hearing stories & testimonies from retreat attendees, it is clear to see the Lord worked in the hearts of those who attended this retreats. What a gift. See Marty's reflection on retreats as well as two sharings from a man and a women who attended the retreats to see how the Lord spoke to them throughout the weekends.
Summer vacations are over, the new school year has begun, the autumn chill is in the air and our fall retreats are now behind us. If we are not careful, we can view our retreats as just another thing to mark off our calendar before moving onto the next thing. But that would be a mistake. The retreats themselves were just a few short hours for us to pause, to be renewed, to draw back the veil and gaze upon the glory of God before entering back into our normal day to day routine. But unlike us, our God is not bound by time or space. Recall the words of Jesus in John 15, “Abide in me, and I in you.” The Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit continue to abide in us and our triune God calls us to abide with him; to remain with him, to sojourn with him, to be one with him, long after the retreats have ended. He has not left us, nor will he ever leave us. At any moment of the day we can simply stop, pause and acknowledge the presence of God, around us and within us. We can ask to be drawn more deeply into that loving union. Such grace is available for our asking. Our God cannot resist this invitation. In fact, he, who is love itself, is pleased at this request and desires for us “to be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God”, as St Paul says in Ephesians 3:19. So, brothers and sisters let’s not wait until the next fall retreat or even our next set “prayer time” to spend time with our God. No matter the time of day or the current circumstance of our life, our God is waiting for us.
- Marty, Senior Coordinator of the People of Hope
Personal Sharing: Men's Retreat
"I've worked for the People of Hope four years this past summer after 11 years of teaching. A month after I started working was when Randy Knob reached out to me and said “I need something to do, can I help you?” and so I was like “I think so” and he said, “All right I'll see you tomorrow at 8 a.m”. And he would have stayed every day but he started with two days a week. I remember complaining to Sofia like “this is so much work to just think of things for him to do, just to delegate work”. So fast forward, I was driving to the retreat on Friday night and just unexpectedly began to think of our brother Randy. The last in person men's retreat. I delegated the whole weekend to him. I think I was giving a talk and he supported me.
For three years, I worked every week with Randy, our dear brother who passed away about a month and a half ago, unexpected and very very quickly. So he's been on my mind. He was a really good brother, I was able to I connect with him about a week before he passed and it was just very special. He was a holy, humble man. This surgeon who operated on my mother when she first started with cancer, he's walked with many of the men on this retreat, and I gave him the stupidest things to do. He painted, he fixed things, I'm sure he knew it was busy work at times.
“Lord, give me the grace to respond fully right now,” because now is what we have.
Sometimes it was busywork and sometimes it was more meaningful but he was humble and he served. And what I felt he would share, men we cannot delay and put off our full response to the Lord till tomorrow. We can't delay. I've been affirmed, I'm so grateful for this sacrifice and how the Lord has invited me to offer him my career and our family Life and my holy wife on this journey. I’ve been so affirmed in the richness and that at the end of the day by God's grace to the best of my ability that I can say, and be very confident that I'm in the Lord's will for my life today. And there were many years that that wasn't the case. And so I encourage us, don't expect tomorrow because we can't. So if there's anything in you that would delay a generous full response to the Lord, we have to address that and we have to say “Lord, give me the grace to respond fully right now,” because now is what we have. o let's not delay. And if there's something in you that is pushing off that generous, full response, then get a brother and get prayed with so that each day, each of us, at the end of the day can be very peaceful and say “I am in the Lord's full will for my life today.” Amen
- Tim, POH Member
Personal Sharing: Women's Retreat
"This morning I woke up with tears in my eyes. And I don't usually wake up at night crying but the reason I was crying is because of gratitude. I could see all your faces, all young faces here and I felt a little bit like Simeon in the presentation in the Temple because I felt like he must have said “we saw the Messiah, and I'm passing it on”.
And I have hope that we're passing on this life. All of us older ones here spent many years going to women's retreats singing “Faithful is our God '' & working to build this life together. I'm so grateful that you're here, you're hearing what you're hearing.
The second thing I want to praise God for is something that's been coming to me in during my prayer time, God gave me the gift one day to look at my life from his point of view, look at me from his point of view and it all had to do with the baptism of the Holy Spirit. And how he was waiting for the day to say yes. He had this awesome plan for my life just as he has an awesome plan for your life. My plan was very small, He was waiting for the day when I would just walk into that day of renewal and say “Yes, be Lord my life”. And He moved in, he moved in big time.
I felt a little bit like Simeon : “We saw the Messiah, and I'm passing it on."
And he did the same for my husband and we did a paradigm shift. And if it wasn't for that baptism of the Holy Spirit, that plan wouldn’t have happened, it just wouldn't have happened with the way we were living our lives. His awesome plan was to be open to life. We were married 3.5 years with no children. We laid our education down and gave our life to serve the Lord and this community. And it was an awesome plan. And I share that because He has an awesome plan for everyone in the room. And it’s just awesome, and it would have never happened if you had not been baptised in the Holy Spirit. And so, as us older folks now are moving on into older life, I don't know what God has for us but to keep on building in many different ways but also we're going to do it together. And we're going to get each other to Heaven and we're going to finish strong. Amen."
- Judy, POH Member