Bethany Mom’s Retreat Yet Once Again, Seeing to Believe

Two weekends ago I was privileged to spend a couple of days at the beautiful Bethany Retreat House with a group of moms from St. Cecilia Academy and Overbrook School. We could not be more fortunate to have the Dominican Sisters teach our children as well as allow us the opportunities to spend time at their Retreat House. Since I was there two years ago, they have finished the new Chapel and Dining Room; both lovely, needless to say. It is a peaceful place to pause from our serving and sit at the feet of Jesus and listen.

Now that formalities are over, let’s get to the meat of the subject. I am constantly aware of the “signs” that I believe are sent from above to allow us to draw closer to Christ. Not like weird signs and wonders, but simple occurrences that pop up in front of our faces that make us just say, “Thank you Jesus, I do believe.” Ya know. Like, “walk with eyes wide open and receive all He has to give” type of gifts. Our retreat topic was “The Joy of Love – the Family as Icon of the Holy Trinity” given by Fr. Albert Trudel, O.P. and I have to admit was not what drew me to the weekend. And yet, as with most things those Dominicans pull me into, the talks were awesome. Fr. Trudel gently tied together an icon (a window to the soul), Rublev’s Hospitality of Abraham, also known as the Trinity, with the love we share with our children and our husband and the love of the Trinity. “As the Three Persons of the Trinity mirror the love of one another, so husband and wife and children should mirror love and help one another toward Heaven.” “Love is willing the good of the other as if it is our own.”  (Aquinas)

As I knelt in the Chapel, I noticed the image in the picture above behind the Tabernacle. If we look beyond the cross, to the shadows, we see on the top the clear image of a triangle and behind the corpus the images of three people on crosses. Is this lighting purposeful? The image on the left of the Son is clearer than the image on the right. Could be the good and bad thieves. Could be the Father (whom we see more clearly) and the Holy Spirit (He’s there but more difficult to make out the figure). I meditated on our lives with the Trinity, us two (husband and wife) with God in our lives. And then, us two as one, with our children and God in our lives. The reading this past week explaining, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh…This is a great mystery…” I meditated on Fr.’s words, “we find our life by giving it away.”

Now, I’m just saying, that when we participated in Eucharistic Adoration Saturday night, the shadows behind the crucifix were all gone except for one. For me, in my thoughts, it was clear that in the Eucharist, we are all one, just as the Trinity was joined as One Body inside that Monstrance. There is no separation between the Father and the Son and the Spirit as there should be no separation in the family. We are together in love. And yes, this is a great mystery.

Weekend Retreat – Bethany

Bethany Retreat is run by the
St. Cecilia Dominican Sisters and is located in Dickson, TN and every chance I get, I go. Bethany has been a true blessing, hosting weekend retreats for many of the moms and dads who have children in the Dominican run schools. Since I have a daughter at St. Cecilia Academy and two children at St. Henry School and I am an alumnae of both schools, this past weekend was my 4th time to participate. Some people need to sit and to listen and to pray more than others to “get it”. (But let’s not point fingers.)
The first time I visited the Retreat House, I spent time in one of the rooms (sister kept referring to them as cells over the weekend, which made us all laugh), snuggling in a glider, covered in a warm, brown, fuzzy blanket, watching the snow fall and listening. The picture on the wall was of  Blessed Imelda, patroness of First Communion. At age 9 she went to live with the Dominican Sisters and longed to receive Jesus in the Eucharist but was still too young. She prayed and learned to chant the office and became friends with the saints, preparing for the day she could receive Communion. “And so Imelda continued, with the intensity of a child, to get to know Jesus more deeply, and to desire Him all the more.” Since my first visit, I mentioned my desire to be in the “Blessed Imelda” room. The second visit, I was with Our Lady and than the San Damiano Crucifix. Both rooms had meaning for me at the time. But this time, as I walked up the sidewalk, Sr. Mary Ellen greeted me with a smile and “you are in the Blessed Imelda room this time, we made sure.” We both laughed. As it was mentioned by the sisters in front of a few other women, I shared a little of the story and asked who was in their rooms. Little by little, reports came in of the beautiful images, reminders, on the walls in the “cells” and the devotions. (I should have asked everyone.)
The weekend was incredible. Spending time with 18 women who share the same community and similar vocations was time well spent. I did nothing but learn from moms who had as many as 8 children to moms who had 1 child. I learned from wives about relationships. Most importantly I learned about mountaintop experiences, about the scene of the Transfiguration, when Peter tells Jesus he’d like to make three tents so that they can stay. And the truth is, we all felt like we would like to stay here at Bethany, with this mountaintop experience. But we were given the tools, and we were being told we needed to go and to spread the good news to our husbands and to our family and to our community, more in the way of example, less in the way of preaching. We must get back to reality and take what we had been given and share it with others. We had spent time listening at the feet of Jesus, we hoped we had “chosen the better part” and now it was time to get back to reality.
When I arrived home, one of the first emails I opened was from a salesperson and it read:

Hi, Julie!
The guys at Tiny Saints are rolling out a “special edition” Bl. Imelda Lambertini charm for 1st Communion season.
Now I ask you, what does this mean? I’m taking it as a sign that my weekend was something I need to seriously review and take to heart, deepening my desire for Jesus. (Or, am I to leave this crazy life and run to the convent?) 
Blessed Imelda, pray for us.