"It seems strange to say, but what can help modern man find the answers to his own mystery and the mystery of him in whose image he is created, is silence, solitude -- in a word, the desert. Modern man needs these things more than the hermits of old." Catherine Doherty

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Our biggest and most fun filled retreat as of yet!

It was a dark and stormy night, on Friday the 13th when our group of retreaters from 
Christ the King parish in Burlington VT., (the BYA, the Burlington Young Adults) made their way through the blizzard and howling winds to The Mary Theotokos Spiritual Retreat center.

With a flashlight directed at our sign, truck loads of sand shoveled out on the driveway, and a few extra plow runs, all nine pilgrims made it safely to the main house, through the pitch black and blinding snow squalls. 

The next morning we were able to welcome everyone properly!

They had come for a weekend of outdoor adventure, prayer and fellowship and we were happy to see them.

Once they settled in they got right to work, unpacking, putting away their food stored in the retreat kitchen, but first there was time for a prayer of thanks in the Chapel for a successful arrival.

Another exciting aspect of this group was that not only did they represent our largest retreat so far, but they also represented our youngest retreater to date.


After a good night's sleep the group began with morning prayers, a retreat meeting and breakfast. How easy it was for us that they eagerly prepared their own foods with their own supplies!

And what a blessing for the group that one of their retreat leaders, Edward, the mastermind behind this event is not only a gifted family ministry administrator but he is also an accomplished chef!

These wonderful smells permeated the entire house, and it was difficult for me to stop from dropping in to see, "if they had everything the needed?", especially when the bacon quiche was ready!

Every meal brought with it, prayer, laughter, and heart warming fellowship as this group broke bread together.  
Everyone seemed to enjoy the food, and we even enjoyed the left overs,..very generous guests!

However, Maria was content to eat her socks from time to time.

With their nourishment taken care of there was time for other activities. We often saw hunched figures daring the elements, ( it was mostly a below zero weekend) to run though the high winds both day and night for prayer time at the Chapel, or separating into small groups at various locations for quiet conversation, and also those who would escape alone for quiet reflection. The main reason to come to The Mary Theotokos center, to find quiet time with God.

But after some time with God, it was time to find other ways to celebrate life.

The group decided that aside from X country skiing, and hiking the many trails that sledding was a main goal for the day. Again let me point out that it was so cold this weekend, that the tractor fuel gelled up and it had to wait a few days in the meadow to thaw out. But cold would not deter these adventurous young adults.

First, a few lessons were offered in sledding and leaping through snow drifts unharmed.

During this lesson time, others went outside early to place themselves at strategic areas 
for a snow ball ambush!

The attack worked and the others accepted the ambush with humility and laughs.

Then it was time to sled and in this event, the girls showed their courage, 
searching for the most challenging hills!

Without fear of injury, they really threw themselves into the activity, defying gravity with the reckless of abandon of those with true faith.

The thrill of victory!

The agony of defeat!

After a long day of sledding, snow shoeing, X country skiing and much more fun it was time to return to the house.

The long walk back does offer some peaceful views!

After another meal and time for prayer it was time to break out the board games. In this case it was a round of "cranium", where verbs like, "to Hula" were put to the test!

After the game it was easy to tell from the cheers who won the championship title!

All in all it was a great group to host. Really kind, respectful, faith filled young adults with so much warmth and fellowship to share. They came to share their faith, their laughs and their time together, drawing closer to God in the natural beauty as well as in moments of silence and prayer.

And as I looked through the pictures of this event, I was struck by one picture in particular.

Here at our center named after Mary, the Mother of God, on this retreat weekend, with all of its fun and prayer, we were privileged to witness that sacred relationship of mother and child in the house as well.
How fitting.

Truly a blessing and a blessed event for all.

Thank you to the all the retreaters from Christ the King parish family ministry in Burlington, VT.

You brought so much love and faith into this house. 
Your group is truly a sign of hope in these times.
Stayed tuned for the next event, from

The Mary Theotokos Spiritual reater center

Pax et Bonum