Saturday, November 11, 2017

A Weekend Retreat in Gloucester and an Introduction to Our Lady of Walsingham

We had a delicious meal at Sal's by Victor in Williamsburg.
Back row: Nora and Nancy
Front row: Susan, Eileen, Kami, and me
I’m so glad I went!  After having an accident at work on the previous Thursday, I considered staying home from the retreat.  Once I went to the chiropractor to adjust my seriously sore tailbone and had a Patient First doctor tell me that I don’t have a concussion and that my finger is badly sprained, but not broken, I was still unsure of what to do.  It had been a long, trying day, and I didn’t feel like packing when I got home.

Fortunately, after a rest, some dinner, and some reassurance from my husband that I would benefit from being with my Christ Renews His Parish (CRHP) sisters for a weekend, I got my things together.  I worried I wouldn’t be able fit all that I was bringing into my friend’s vehicle since four of us would be riding out there together with the usual overnight stuff, plus supplies, and lots of food. 

What I should have worried about is getting there.  We inadvertently took a roundabout tour of several Richmond ghettos on our way back to 64 East, and that was while using a GPS and with a navigator.  I’ve been down streets I hadn’t even been lost on before, and that’s quite a feat!

The beautiful farmhouse we rented in Gloucester had four king-size beds and several sofas to sleep on.  There were two bathrooms in the house, both of them downstairs.  It was nicely decorated, very clean, and walking distance from the water.  We had access to the longer of the two piers, which had a few wooden benches on it. 

On Saturday, we sat there to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet and the Rosary.  The weather was nice enough when we got there on Friday to have the house windows open.  Kami and Eileen had arrived first and dinner was on the stove when we finally pulled in. 

We had an abundance of food, which is often the case when we all get together for a potluck, and certainly for a retreat.  The homemade meals and snacks were all delicious, and we had plenty of leftovers.  As per usual, we ate our way through the weekend. 

I’ve only ever been on one outside of church retreat with my CRHP sisters.  I treasure that experience of prayer, community, fellowship, and discussion centered on the Blessed Mother and inspired by a book I recommended for the occasion called Walking with Mary: A Biblical Journey from Nazareth to the Cross by Edward Sri.

I’m encouraged God is still able to work through me each time someone reminds me that I was the one to introduce them to the Divine Mercy Chaplet.  One of the leaders of the Divine Mercy Cenacle that has formed at our parish was serving on team with me when I suggested we sing/pray the Chaplet on our upcoming weekend.  She and many others on the team had never heard of it before.  Some had, but many were still reluctant to add it to the weekend’s schedule.  We did end up including it, and I’m told that they’ve prayed it on every single CRHP weekend, men’s and women’s, since then.  What an awesome Holy Spirit incident!

The week before we gathered, one of our CRHP sisters who had intended to join us for the retreat passed away suddenly and under uncertain circumstances.  Lately, I have gotten into the habit of praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet for the peaceful repose of a person’s soul when we have found out someone we know has passed away.  We shared what we knew of our friend’s death, prayed together for the peaceful repose of her soul, and determined that even if the family doesn’t do something at St. Michael to remember her, we will.

When the leader of the Divine Mercy Cenacle was looking into nearby shrines we could visit as part of our retreat, she came across the only national shrine in our Diocese, Our Lady of Walsingham.  I’d never heard of the place or of that title for the Blessed Mother.  There is a replica of the statue in Walsingham, England, at The College of William and Mary.  On Sunday morning, we packed up and went to the shrine in Williamsburg for 11am Mass. 

I was drawn to the statue of the Blessed Mother holding Baby Jesus, but equally as compelling was the chapel filled with people.  There were a number of college-age musicians and singers, altar servers, and lectors.  After attending a university (Hollins) with a very small Catholic Campus Ministry (CCM) and sharing a campus minister with another bigger school down the road (Roanoke College), I was ecstatic to see so many college students gathered for a Sunday morning Mass on campus. 

I recognized their priest, Fr. Glass, because I’d met him when Kevin and I had gone to visit our seminarian brother in Christ John when he was doing his summer assignment at St. Bede’s.  I was incredibly jealous when I picked up a bulletin and saw all of the CCM activities they had planned. Not only did they have plenty of opportunities for daily Mass, Adoration, and prayer, but they also had a number of wholesome social gatherings on the calendar. 

Saturday night my CRHP sisters and I played a game called The Game of Things.  “Things you should not do at a funeral” was one of the writing prompts.  I’d never played the game before.  I’m pretty sure I ended up with the lowest score since everyone could usually guess which list was mine. After all I’m a writer, the youngest one there by at least 15, maybe 20 years, and I like to use my active imagination to make others laugh.   

After Mass on Sunday, which included an inordinate amount of incense for a Mass in ordinary time, we went to a wonderful Italian restaurant called Sal’s by Victor.  The food was scrumptious!  Following our last meal together for the weekend, we made it from 64 East to my doorstep with very little fanfare.  I am so glad I went on the weekend!  I had no idea how desperately I’d needed some time away with ladies who know me and still love me.  I felt refreshed and rejuvenated.  It was the right amount of prayer, faith discussion, relaxation, catching up, and downtime for me.  

Lord, thank you for the gift of these women, for allowing us to come together with the purpose of growing closer to You in all areas of our lives. Amen.
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