Holy Spirit inspired One Day Retreat in Canberra
About 70 people attended the retreat led by Fr Roni and Fr Joby on August 31 and the powerful anointing of the Holy Spirit was with us throughout the day.
The theme of the first talk by Fr Joy was on prayer. He posed the question: “How many of our prayers are answered in the exact way we want it answered?” Very few, because the blessing I pray for may not be the blessing I am in need of.
In the story of the four men who broke open the roof of the house Jesus was preaching in to lower the paralysed man before the astonished people were seeking physical healing. Jesus did not immediately perform the physical healing they were after. Jesus addresses the spiritual need of the paralysed man first (“your sins are forgiven”), and then heals his physical impairment (“get up and walk”).
We learn from this incident that prayer to be efficacious: (a) must end with “Thy will be done”, mirroring Jesus’ prayer in the garden of Gesthamani; and (b) our narrative in prayer must shift from “Lord, I have a problem and I know you have the solution” to “problems…I know I have Jesus”.
In the new narrative, our attention and energies shift from negative thinking (focus on our problems) to positive thinking (believing in Jesus, praising and thanking Him etc.). Striving sincerely to make our will to conform to His will requires all our strength.
When I participate in the Mass, I participate in His Will. Through the Holy Eucharist I empower myself to do His Will. God always answers our prayers, although it may not be the exact way we want it answered or the exact time we want it answered (see Jer 29:11; and Rom 8:28).
The focus of the second talk by Fr Roni was on holiness. He asked the question: Is there holiness in us? Are we all called to be holy? What is holiness? Holiness is not a perfect state, it is a journey of transformation. How can I be holy? There are few attributes we need to cultivate to become holy.
First, I can be holy in spite of all my human vulnerabilities and sins, if I have the nature to depend on God for all things.
We need to reject the idea that “I can be holy only if I am a good human being”. I am leading a holy life if I depend on God for all things. Second, cultivate the nature to begin again after we commit sin. When we sin, restlessness enters in us and we feel guilt, sorrow and depression. These are burdens that weigh us down.
Our tendency to wallow in guilt and sorrow leads us to commit more sin. When we make a mistake, admit it, and begin again. The moment I call on God’s name, I start again and I am leading a holy life.
When something goes wrong in our life (e.g., poor health, accidental death of a loved one, life’s struggles etc), the evil one attacks us through our negative thoughts to discourage us: “there is no God…God is not with you now”.
These negative thoughts steal our joy and weaken our faith as we wrongly believe that God has abandoned us. Third, overcome evil with good (1 Peter 3:9; Rom 12:21).
When you face rejection and persecution due to your belief in Jesus, rejoice and leap for joy. “Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven” (Luke 6:22-23).
Fourth, keep a thanksgiving heart always towards God. It is good to eat what is served on my plate (i.e., my life). The moment we look to the left and to the right (i.e., comparing with others), we sink into jealousy, sadness, and unrest.
Our inner eyes are no longer focused on the Master, but on the world…Peter sank as soon as his eyes wandered from Jesus to the water, the waves, the storm etc. Give thanks for the little things we take for granted (the air we breathe, the water we drink, eyes to see, ear to hear etc.).
Give thanks 24 hours, rejoice in God’s blessings.