I would like to address two important spiritual events happening in our parish this fall – Spiritual Retreat for men and women. Retreats are a time away from our normal activities to spend time getting reacquainted with God, to examine the priorities of life and to make concrete and practical resolutions for improvement. Retreats can be a powerful step toward personal conversion.
Before Our Lord began His public ministry, He spent 40 days in the desert praying and fasting as a way to prepare for the important work ahead (see Lk 4:1-13). Those were days of retreat. During His three years of public ministry, Jesus would sometimes invite His disciples to "come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while" (Mk 6:31). Again, days of retreat.
This year, we have invited Pat Lencioni who is a founding member of The Amazing Parish Conference, which is attended by pastors, their core staff and leaders from around the world. Mr. Lencioni is a personal friend, a devout Catholic and author of books such as The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Five Temptations of a CEO, and Death by Meeting.
The theme we have chosen this year is: The Deeper Journey for men – from false Self to the True Self. You see, there are two fundamental ways of being human in the world: trusting in our human resources and abilities or radically trusting in God. The reality of the “false self”– this pervasive, deeply entrenched, self-referenced configuration of being as the primary context of our spiritual journey - is one of the hardest things for us to acknowledge. It is hard to admit that we are profoundly accustomed to a self-referenced way of being in the world that manifests itself in characteristics such as being fearful, protective, possessive, manipulative, destructive, self-promoting, indulgent, and making distinctions so as to separate ourselves from others.
What’s even more difficult, for us as Christians to acknowledge is the reality of a particular aspect of our false self that is even more subtle - our religious false self. Our religious false self presumes, because we are religious, that everything is fine in our relationship with God. Our religious false self may be rigorous in religiosity, devoted in discipleship and sacrificial in service - without being in loving union with God. We are preoccupied with the desire to be in the world for God, without a deep loving relationship with God. But the true self is called to be in God for the world, and this is costly. It requires the abandonment of the whole self-referenced structure of our false self and, especially, the religious false self. I am inviting all men of our parish both - CTK and St. Stephen, 18 years and older - to join this retreat with other men of our parish. God wants your attention. Everything else can wait.
The Men’s Retreat will take place on Saturday, November 11th at 9.30am to 4pm. We will have a teaching mass at 3.00pm followed by a fellowship time with wine and beer with everyone who is present.
The women’s retreat will be on Saturday November 4th from 9am to 3pm. The Presenter is Kathy Lorentz, Instructor of Religious Studies, Associate Director of Campus Ministry for Faith Formation, and TEDx Moderator. We will be giving you more information in the coming bulletin. Both retreats will take place at St. Stephen’s Parish Hall.
I am so grateful for our parish picnic which was attended by over 600 parishioners. It was so awesome to see so many young families. I thank our staff, volunteers, Knights of Columbus, Men’s fellowship, ICF and especially our school for defraying the expenses and helping to build one community, one family.