This is a spectacular message of Pope Francis. “There is no perfect family. We don’t have perfect parents, we are not perfect, we don’t get married with a perfect person nor do we have perfect kids. We have complaints of each other. We were disappointed to each other. Therefore, there is no healthy marriage or healthy family without the exercise of forgiveness. Forgiveness is vital to our emotional health and spiritual survival. Without forgiveness the family becomes a theatre of conflict and a bastion of grievances. Without forgiveness the family gets sick. Forgiveness is the sterilization of the soul, the cleaning of the mind and the liberation of the heart. Who does not forgive has no peace of soul nor communion with God. The pain is a poison that intoxicates and kills. Save a wound of the heart is a self-destructive gesture. It is autophagy. Who does not forgive sickens physically, emotionally and spiritually. That’s why the family has to be a place of life and not of death; territory of healing and not of disease; stage of forgiveness and not of guilt. Forgiveness brings joy where sorrow produced pain; and healing, where pain caused disease.” Pope Francis.
Eileen Mathy and I had 10 directees. We had to move to a larger venue to accommodate this enrollment! We interspersed the presentations on Thomas Merton, Dorothy Day and Henri Nouwen with reflective activities – constructing a personal timeline, a tree of life, and composition of a prayer.
Beyond this we had multiple locations for directees to visit. A meditation space lit with candles and naturalized by river rocks, potpourri and sea sounds. A conference room was filled with panels on display about Dorothy Day’s life. Several small lounges were available for reflective time activities.
A breakfast of coffee and pastries began the day. A silent lunch was conducive to focusing on our themes. Quiet guided contemplation was experienced. Small displays of books were available for reading. Time to share one’s story was a part of this retreat.
Retreat feedback was given and the quiet reflective times were appreciated the most. Additional comments were “great hospitality and ambience” and “very spiritually enriching.” One final comment was “I feel a tremendous sense of the closeness of God to all of us.”
A fellow Spiritual Director stated “Bridget’s Brigid’s Well and Eileen’s Mathy House are warm welcoming places for those of us who would like ongoing spiritual companionship. This short retreat reflected that warm welcome in many ways.”