“Pay attention! Your life is not an endless series of open doors!
Listen to your heart! Do not stay on the surface, but go to the heart of things!”
– St John Paul II 

I like to challenge myself and go out of my comfort zone. 

However, lately, I had been comfortable with my messy life. I would frantically run to work in the morning, scamper to do my errands and slept scantily at night. I was at a loss! This cycle was slowly eating away my happiness. I needed direction. Get my stuff together. One night, while scrolling thoughtlessly on Facebook, I saw a post on Grace & Silence Retreat and believed this is the challenge I desperately needed!

To my horror our mobile phones were taken from us at the retreat.

We had to be silent all the time. The silence forced us out of our comfort zones. Often, noise is a means for us to run from ourselves. Silence enabled us to go within ourselves and find a remedy for stress and anxiety. Silence helped us focus on what is significant. (Tidings Magazine June/July 2017)

Matthias Stomer’s The Annunciation

Vocation – “our own unique love story with God.”

Sr. M. Rebecca, a Schoenstatt Sister of Mary, led us to understand Mary’s free Yes to God. Mary’s vocation came to her as a surprise. However, she was listening. She was in prayer. She heard God call her by name. Mary pondered and reflected carefully when the angel Gabriel said she was to be the Mother of Christ and did not rely on her emotion but thought about it wisely. God waited for Mary to choose His plan for her freely. As women, we are encouraged to discern God’s plan for our lives like Mary and to respond “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” (Luke 1: 38)

There was a compelling testimony that got my attention.

It went something like “God, here are all my plans. Everything seems to be working out and falling into place. I want to check if this is Your will for me.” However, be prepared to hear God’s answer. He is full of surprises. We may find ourselves at a crossroad! Sr. M. Rebecca shared that crossroads are God’s way of letting us act on our free-will; God humbles himself and waits for us to choose His plan. 

Shoenstatt Shrine Photo from www.schoenstatt.org.au/

Hours of Silent Time – seemed like an eternity.

During the silent time, we asked God what He would have us do. We wrote all of our fears on a journal; such as troubles at work, difficulties in our family and our relationships. After pouring out all our miseries to God, we prayed to the Holy Spirit and Mother Mary to be with us so we can open our hearts and pray: “Speak, Lord, Your servant is listening” (1 Sam 3:9)

Quoting Fr Robert Pelton, I heard “Jesus asking me to let go of regret and desire so that I could follow Him to that deeper place.” He urged me to choose love again and again in spite of how weak I am, stained with sins, weighed down by troubles and sighing with sorrow.

Instead of “How to get the man of your dreams” I read “The Story of a Soul”

Unexpectedly, St Therese of Lisieux’ words gave me comfort and hope. Like her, I wondered why God had preferences; why He blessed others abundantly while many poor die without hearing His name.  I was keen to know how God enlightened St Therese on this mystery.

St Therese saw that every flower God has created has a beauty of its own.

The splendour of the rose and the lily’s whiteness do not deprive the violent of its scent nor make less ravishing the daisy’s charm.  So in this world of souls, God’s living garden, it pleases Him to create great Saints, but He also created little ones. St Therese saw even further: that God’s love shines out just as much through a little soul who yields entirely to His Grace as it does through the Greatest.

Photo of the Schoenstatt Shrine by Siobhan Page

We ended the retreat with Mass celebrated by Fr Anthony from St Francis Xavier Parish, Armadale. We were free to talk amongst ourselves and got our mobile phones back – cries of joy!  

In silence, God speaks the truth which cannot be ‘seen zoned.’

His love demands a reply. My rating: 10/10. I highly recommend this retreat to anyone who is willing to test themselves; to face the dreaded silence that our noisy modern society so despises.

Women Silent Retreat Days at the Schoenstatt Shrine:

  • 1st September Saturday 9:30 am – 4:30 pm
  • October, November- TBA

To RSVP, please email sr.rebeccasampang@gmail.com.

Written by Marian dela Fuente. Marian works as a multimedia designer for CYM. She loves pop culture, board games and her big family.

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