Monday, December 17, 2007

Retreat on the Isle of Wight

The Isle of Wight—a perfect place to get away from the hustle and bustle of London life. Only a few weeks ago, I had the privilege to spend some time with a mix of retreat-goers from the University of Notre Dame and the Newman House.

Amid the flurry of deadlines, papers, and progress exams to partake in, the retreat wasn’t exactly situated at the most opportune time. It seemed ludicrous to take a break at this point in the term, especially when you’re being shoved around by London time, otherwise known as super-duper fast time. Before you know it, tomorrow is upon you. It’s like traveling on the Eurostar at the new St. Pancras station—before you know it, you’re in the heart of Paris. However, even with all the important tasks in my personal ‘To Do…’ list, I am grateful that I took the time out of my schedule to spend a weekend with some very beautiful people at the Verbum Dei Retreat Centre.

Our days at the retreat centre were filled with an eclectic blend of fun games and spiritual activities. There were times to bond with others and times to reflect upon our personal life. We even had the chance to view The Needles, located on the western coast of the Isle of Wight. Although the entire time at the Isle of Wight was memorable, I do have a number of personal favorites. They include: Saturday morning Mass, in which we were greeted with radiant sunshine allowing us a glimpse of the beauty and tranquility of the Isle’s countryside; saying the rosary in multiple tongues, which included Arabic, French, Spanish, Tagalog, Polish, and English; playing ‘Mafia’ and this ridiculously fun game called ‘Family’; and participating in the Sacrament of Reconciliation led by Father Peter on Saturday evening.

However, the true beauty of the retreat lay in the idea that it prepared us for the Advent season. The retreat made you stop for a second to reexamine your life and to realize that the new Liturgical Year was imminent. Where am I in life? What will I do during this new year? Where is God present in my life now? These were just some of the questions that stemmed from the retreat. What began as a series of questions became an ongoing dialogue with the conscience.

In summary, the retreat was a true blessing that came at an opportune time. I cannot thank the Sisters of Verbum Dei enough for all that they did for our group. Not only did they welcome us with open hearts but really set the tone and the stage for the spiritual portion of the retreat. I must also send my love to the students of the University of Notre Dame. They were a great bunch. I will never forget their company, their insights, and of course, the fun games I learned from them. As I proceed in taking my seat in the high-speed train called ‘Life,’ I’ll be sure never to forget my first retreat at the Isle of Wight. I surely can’t wait until this train stops there again.


Sunday, December 02, 2007

At the beginning of Advent, from Cardinal Newman

What may be the destiny of other orders of beings we know not;—but this we know to be our own fearful lot, that before us lies a time when we must have the sight of our Maker and Lord face to face. We know not what is reserved for other beings; there may be some, which, knowing nothing of their Maker, are never to be brought before Him. For what we can tell, this may be the case with the brute creation. It may be the law of their nature that they should live and die, or live on an indefinite period, upon the very outskirts of His government, sustained by Him, but never permitted to know or approach Him. But this is not our case. We are destined to come before Him; nay, and to come before Him in judgment; and that on our first meeting; and that suddenly. We are not merely to be rewarded or {4} punished, we are to be judged. Recompense is to come upon our actions, not by a mere general provision or course of nature, as it does at present, but from the Lawgiver Himself in person. We have to stand before His righteous Presence, and that one by one. One by one we shall have to endure His holy and searching eye. At present we are in a world of shadows. What we see is not substantial. Suddenly it will be rent in twain and vanish away, and our Maker will appear. And then, I say, that first appearance will be nothing less than a personal intercourse between the Creator and every creature. He will look on us, while we look on Him.