Tag Archives: sacraments

Retreat Reflections- The Annunciation

This past weekend, I was able to attend a Women’s Retreat at Camp Covecrest in Tiger, GA. For those of you who don’t know, Tiger is a little bit on the map of Georgia, a stone’s throw from each of the Carolinas. It’s nestled in the North Georgia mountains in the Chattahoochie National Forest. In short… beautiful. Even if you are a non-believer, the setting itself is enough to make you consider that there might be a God!

The camp is run by LifeTeen, a Catholic youth ministry program started 25 years ago and the theme for 2010 is “Behold the Mystery.” Life is wrought with mystery… things that we can’t explain with simple words and that we have to take at face value and believe. During the retreat, we contemplated the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary, the first of which is The Annunciation. As chronicled in The Gospel of Luke:

26Now in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, 27to a virgin pledged to be married to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28Having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, you highly favored one! The Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women!” 29But when she saw him, she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered what kind of salutation this might be. 30The angel said to her, “Don’t be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31Behold, you will conceive in your womb, and bring forth a son, and will call his name ‘Jesus.’ 32He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father, David, 33and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever. There will be no end to his Kingdom.” 34Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, seeing I am a virgin?” 35The angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore also the holy one who is born from you will be called the Son of God. 36Behold, Elizabeth, your relative, also has conceived a son in her old age; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37For everything spoken by God is possible.” 38Mary said, “Behold, the handmaid of the Lord; be it to me according to your word.” The angel departed from her.

Our entire salvation rests upon Our Blessed Mother’s fiat. “Fiat” is a latin word that means “let it be done.” Each of the Joyful Mysteries can be countered by a bit of fear. Mary, a virgin, betrothed to Joseph, said “yes” to a mysterious pregnancy that she would surely be questioned about and chastised for. Depending on the severity of the opinions around her… she could have been outcast or even killed. But faced with all of those possible outcomes, she confidently said “yes!” She trusted in the Lord with all of her heart and knew that He would not let any harm come to her as she was carrying out His will.

What has the Lord been asking of you? Have you heard his announcement or has the world kept His voice drowned out? Personally, I find that it’s really hard to hear God in the everyday world and I like to visit Christ in the Blessed Sacrament to really, clearly and truly hear Him.

What’s been my annunciation? Not sure… I don’t know if I’ve received it yet or if I have, if I am stubbornly ignoring it. But I know that the Lord is patient and good and will keep asking until I say “yes.”

The Annunciation

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Sacrament of Penance… who needs it?? I do! I do!

I came home to the Catholic Church at Easter Vigil 2002. I was not engaged to a Catholic man, but I was dating one but marriage was not really on the radar. I was a senior in college and planning on Grad School so marriage was a thought but not the goal. I mention that because when I talk about my conversion, usually people assume that I converted for marriage or some “other” reason. Yup, there was another reason… God called me home.
I first became interested in the Church when I was in high school. I was raised Baptist and regularity attended Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Milwaukee, WI as a child. That is where the seeds were first planted and cultivated. In high school, 2 of my best friends were of other faiths: Lutheran and Catholic. I attended service with each of them, but the Catholic Church really spoke to me (Sorry, Laura!)
For me, and perhaps for others, the only “difficult” part of Catholicism is the Sacrament of Penance and the thing is that is really is not that difficult at all. Earlier, I wrote about the effect of Pride on our lives and the fear and trepidation that the thought of Confessing your Sins brings stems from the sin of Pride. We don’t want others to know that we are not *gasp* perfect and that we make mistakes and we surely don’t want that man in the Roman Collar to know!
Many non-Catholics (and some Catholics) question the validity of confession ones’ sins to a priest, after all, God is all seeing and all knowing so why can’t I just send up a prayer saying “Oops! My bad!” right to Our Heavenly Father Himself? Well, here are some things from The Catholicism Answer Book to consider:

  • When confessing to a priest, you are not talking to Father Insert-Name-Here, rather you are talking to Christ HIMSELF! A priest acts In Persona Christi and Jesus, through the sacramental ministry of the priesthood absolves us of our sins. (And if you are really shy about your sins, the screen is still there!)
  • The Sacrament of Penance is first and foremost a sacrament, an encounter with divinity and one of the ways that God communicates His grace to us.
  • By verbally confessing your sins to another living, breathing, tangible person, we are given the chance to practice the virtue of humility which counteracts the sin of Pride. Is it embarrassing sometimes to confess our misgivings and mistakes and the low points of our lives? Yes! But any sin in incredibly offensive to God, Our Father, and if you are a parent, you can especially understand the value of your children telling you the truth.
  • The Sacrament of Penance is also known as the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Sin separates us from God, it makes us unfit for the glory of Heaven; Confession clears your soul and you once again wear the white garment that you wore on the day of your Baptism.

Confession is not bad, in fact it’s good… no, it’s GREAT! Confession gives you the chance to get those demons off of your chest, the ones that nip at your heels day in and day out; the ones that sit on your shoulder and tell you that you are a bad person and that no one will ever respect you if you tell; it takes the power that Satan has over you away and restores the purity of your soul.

Given all of the benefits, one has to ask… who WOULDN’T want to go to Confession?

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