By Natalie Salameh
On Sunday, May 25 to Monday, May 26, the Maronite Servants of Christ the Light hosted an overnight retreat for young women at the Mother of Light Convent focusing on the theme of God’s sacrificial love for each of us. This retreat was an opportunity to carve time out of busy schedules and recharge with the Word of God, and rediscover the meaning of true love.
It’s very easy for us today in our fast-paced, modern to lose the meaning of true love in our lives. As Sister Therese Maria explained in the retreat’s first presentation, we are all too familiar with the fleeting and superficial love offered by the world. This is glaringly obvious whether we pick up a magazine or turn on the television. We live in a culture of individualism; it’s all about “me”, “my” and “I”. In our world, we are offered the “Hallmark” idea of love.
But what of Christ’s love for us? Christ was nailed to the cross with open arms and hands; he only knew how to give, not to give and take. This is the true, real and meaningful love that we are all searching for in our lives.
The women were able to see how Christ demonstrated true love in the Scriptures in a lectio divina (divine reading) on the Gospel scene of the repentant sinful woman who bathed the Lord’s feet with her tears and was forgiven her many sins (Luke 7: 36 – 50); and the First Letter of John, reminding us that God is love, and he who loves is of God.
In the evening, we watched the movie Frozen, and afterwards gathered around a bonfire discussing the film’s themes of sacrificial love and self-offering.
The next day, we delved into Pope Francis’ latest encyclical, Evangelii Gaudium (the Joy of the Gospel), in which the Holy Father warns us to beware of jealousy, enmity, division, vendetta and so forth. The Holy Father reminds us that we are so fortunate Christ came and gave us the “Law of Love”. He says:
How good it is to have this law! How much good it does to love one another, in spite of everything. Yes, in spite of everything! (#101)
That is after all, how God loves us! Despite our deficiencies, limitations and imperfections, he still gives us the supreme and awesome gift of being called sons and daughters of God.
Fr. Ed Nedder, Pastor of St. George Maronite Church in Rhode Island, was also in attendance to offer the Mystery of Penance and the Divine Liturgy. The retreat concluded with a walk on the beach. There is often no greater reminder of God’s love for us than the creation he has given us to enjoy.