As the deer panteth for water

P1120476r P1120714rP1120464rHere is a photo I took after prayer one morning in the main chapel. At Seven Fountains Retreat and Spirituality Centre, one has several places to visit for adoration, and to spend quiet quality time with the Lord. There is the main chapel where Sunday masses are celebrated both in Thai and in English. There are three more places for adoration of the Eucharistic Lord – in the old wooden chapel, and in two other buildings, named after Jesuit priests – St Ignatius of Loyola and St Peter Favre. The building I stayed in is named after St Ignatius himself, and so it is not surprising to see images of St Ignatius here and there. Here is where the retreatants gather for evening mass each day. We had Fr. David who is so knowledgeable  and I learnt many things just by listening to his homilies. Our masses took about forty to forty minutes sometimes. Two seminarians on their month-long retreat took turns to select a gathering hymn and a recessional hymn , and also selected people to do the first reading and the responsorial psalm. I could see how earnestly they put their hearts in what they were doing. Praise the Lord for Brothers Gabriel and Nicholas!

In fact, time given to pray and to reflect is much appreciated. One can really pray unceasingly and it is not too difficult to do that in a spiritual haven like this popular retreat centre. A  retreat, as Fr. Paul said, is a special time of grace, and indeed, it is always for me a great vacation. Jesuit Fr. Thomas Green wrote in his book that one ought to really relax by enjoying one’s vacation with the Lord. I realise that it is so true and how does one help to fulfil that? Well, simply by staying focussed on the Presence of the Lord and  by taking time to be mindful and to do all three things as well as possible:  eat well, sleep well and pray well. Seven Fountains provides all these and more. The gardens and the tasteful display of religious objects and especially works of art  are really inspiring.

Each morning and at many other hours, during this year’s visit, I had to climb up three flights of wooden steps, either to go to my room or to leave it to go elsewhere.  Although it was tough having to lug my luggage upstairs when I first arrived, I soon began to thank our Lord for his perfect choice. I got plenty of exercise in the end and that helped me to keep fit. After all, I had plenty of time to sit still often but also, thank God, to walk much. Praise the Lord!

Today I managed to finally complete my review, and thank God for giving me the grace to do so. While I did not go through all the scriptures or try to pray with them again, I was so happy to acknowledge  what I had been given during the retreat. To re-live those moments was just so enriching and so delightful. It was really good, in fact. Praise the Lord! Now what is left for me is to continue to enjoy the grace so generously bestowed upon me, and to be available to serve the Lord. Yes, that is what one is called to do – to imitate the Lord Jesus who came to serve and not to be served.


The day the Angel came. . .

AR4A3232This is from a stained glass window in Inner Mongolia. It is apt that one takes a second look at it. The Angel Gabriel comes to the Blessed Virgin and she says those marvellous words of her: Let it be done unto me according to thy word.

Life was never the same again for Mary. The day she gave herself completely to our Lord, she gained heaven. Total giving. Not half and half. God is not interested in fractions or percentages. God sent Jesus, His only begotten Son. God gave the Best Gift of a Saviour without holding anything back. What about us?

We are too good at calculating, are we not? We ask ourselves first: what will I  get out of it? Is this a good deal?

If we would but stop to consider who is sustaining us from moment to moment, giving us life even if it is for a brief span of time on earth, we might perhaps seek another response to the call of God.

May our Blessed Mother intercede for us!