This week Letitia reflects on our trip to Malvern Retreat House, outside of Philadelphia.
How was our trip to the Benedicta Institute and the Women of Grace Retreat? Beautiful! There are almost no words to describe how we felt after we took rest in our trip. Yes, in our busy trip we found a wonderful and peaceful rest along with an indescribable joy that comes with rest and peace.
The word rest has a few different meanings. Here are three different meanings from Meriam Webster: #1 death, #2 freedom from activity or labor and #3 peace of mind or spirit. In Pennsylvania, we found rest to be both #2 and #3. While freedom from activity or labor is a necessary type of rest, so is peace of mind or spirit. In fact, I would say that without peace of mind or spirit there can be no real or sustained rest from activity or labor.
We know that the Christian life on earth is warfare. Our very being as Catholic Christian women is to cooperate with God’s graces even though they may be hidden in our crosses. Our femininity is who we are, not what we do, and it is this femininity that God needs us so desperately to give to the world for the salvation of souls. During the last general meeting of the Second Vatican Council, December 8, 1965, there was a message given to women that was read by Raul Cardinal Silva of Santiago, Chile. The message was a plea to women. The letter to women cried out this message, “…the hour is coming, in fact has come, when the vocation of woman is being achieved in its fullness, the hour in which woman acquires in the world an influence, an effect and a power never hitherto achieved. That is why, at this moment when the human race is under-going so deep a transformation, women impregnated with the spirit of the Gospel can do so much to aid humanity in not falling.” To read the full letter you may visit this link. https://w2.vatican.va/content/paul-vi/en/speeches/1965/documents/hf_p-vi_spe_
So why did we take this trip? Why did we leave our husbands and children home and travel so far up north? Because we needed to be refreshed. We needed to hear the message again. We needed to rest both from the toils of our daily life and also from the business of our daily lives. In the peace and joy of rest, our mission became a little more clear, making it ever so easy to find the strength to go out and battle for the salvation of souls. The Benedicta Institute made clear our vocation to the ministry of women, and the retreat made clear the peace and joy that comes with resting. One thing that Johnnette kept repeating was that when we praise God, we cannot be anything but joyful. We did a lot of praising!
It is my hope, our hope, that in reading our blog posts that you too, find peace, rest, and clarity, even if just for a few minutes. We are also planning and scheduling more retreats for women. Everything we do is by request. When we are asked to do a retreat, know that they are free to the hosting parish or community. Yes, free! We do however, accept donations. We take seriously the call for women to aid humanity in not falling.
Here is another part of the letter to women which I will end with. “ Lastly, women in trial, who stand upright at the foot of the cross like Mary, you who so often in history have given men the strength to battle unto the very end and to give witness to the point of martyrdom, aid them now still once more to retain courage in their great undertakings, while at the same time maintaining patience and an esteem for humble beginnings.”