By Natalie Salameh
On Saturday, March 22, the Maronite Servants of Christ the Light offered a retreat for the parishioners of St. Joseph’s Maronite Church in Waterville, Maine. The focus of the retreat was the gospel parable of the Prodigal Son emphasizing the theme of repentance and coming home to the love and security of our Father’s tender care.
The morning opened with a meet and greet of the retreat participants, followed by the praying of our Maronite Morning Prayer (Safro) led by Father Larry Jensen, pastor. Mother Marla Marie began the day’s first reflection followed by a Lectio Divina (Divine Reading) on the parable. She explained that the younger prodigal son and the self-righteous elder brother both lived in the same house with a compassionate and loving father, but neither of them really knew their father. Both brothers were too closed in on themselves which prevented them from having a meaningful relationship with the father.
The parable of the Prodigal Son calls us all to a deeper conversion. Mother Marla Marie was able to assist the retreat participants in applying the parable to their own personal spiritual journey. How many of us go to Church every Sunday because we are “simply doing the right thing” or “fulfilling our obligations”, but not really experiencing the tender embrace and mercy of our heavenly Father?
The afternoon of the retreat included an hour of adoration before the Holy Mysteries, with a deeply prayerful and meditative reflection on the sorrowful mysteries of the rosary. The retreat participants were also able to celebrate in Saturday’s Vigil Liturgy of the Prodigal Son, followed by a lentil supper with lots of sharing on the day’s thoughts and reflections.
Here are some thoughts from some retreat participants:
“We had such an enriching day! The talks led to a very deep scrutiny of the Prodigal Son parable. This was richly enhanced by the quiet personal meditations throughout the day and in our Rosary prayer which made it truly a retreat in all our senses. I am positively changed and more closely bonded through this experience with my parish family”. - Lyn Rowden
“The Sisters’ presentation opened up more dialogue among the Lebanese and non-Lebanese attendees which led to sharing questions and answers among the participants”. -Joe Rowden
“It was a very valuable retreat; it helped us as individuals and as a parish to develop a greater understanding of our Lenten practices and sacrifices”. -Emily Fournier
A big thankyou to all retreat participants for their efforts and contribution on the day, especially to Fr. Larry for his warm welcome and hospitality. We truly felt at home.
For those interested in holding a similar retreat for their parishes, please contact the Maronite Servants of Christ: firstname.lastname@example.org.