My words or his voice?- Introductory talk

I have resisted the urge to bring to a pen and paper to a retreat, I just carry my Bible. I usually end up taking one thing away from a retreat; even that for me is often a challenge to live in my daily life. Sometimes that one line from the preacher is a gem that I believe was sent by God just for me.

Over the last few years, as both a seminarian and priest, I have made copious notes that the preacher has shared during a retreat. I believed that these notes would help me one day when I had to preach a homily or give a talk. That was a big mistake, because all I did was write notes which I never looked at again and when I did want to refer to them, I could not recollect where I wrote them.

The greatest disadvantage in being so absorbed in writing notes was that I focused on the preacher not on my God. Is that not how we determine which retreat or talk or spiritual seminar we go to? Yes, a good speaker is always a delight to listen to but the question we must ask ourselves is how different am I since I heard the preacher? Has my life changed since then or was that retreat just a flash in the spiritual pan?

So we pick preachers who we think are eloquent, or entertaining or vivacious; yet the ones God picked were stutterers and stammers and uneducated men, to site a few characteristic. What a retreat really needs is some direction and may I stress on the ‘some’ and that’s what a preacher does; gives it direction and not fill it with noise.

In these days to come you will hear My Words but I pray that you will hear HIS VOICE. It is God’s voice speaking to you that will make the difference in your life. If you walk away with one thought that motivates you to be a better disciple of Christ, then how blessed you are rather than having sheaves and sheaves of notes in your retreat diary.

The last time I made a retreat the preacher was eloquent beyond words and his retreat was deeply based on scripture. I can’t for the life of me, remember anything he said except one incident that he shared. This incident concerned his life and helped me put my past, present and my future in perspective.

The retreat director shared his experience about being elected vice provincial of his congregation. He said that he knew that by the next day the votes would all stack up in his favour. That night he sent an email to his spiritual director asking him if he should accept the post, should he win the election. The response of the spiritual director has made the greatest impact in my life. He said to the priest, if you have had anything to do with this election then say NO, for this is not the will of God and you would certainly fail. But if you have nothing to do with influencing this vote and you are elected, know this is what God wants from you.

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