I was invited to a retreat last weekend. I didn't really know what the retreat was all about but I thought I really needed a break so I decided to join anyway. Apparently, the retreat, which was sponsored by Notre Dame de Vie, was all about prayer symbolically represented by quenching one's thirst by meeting Jesus at the well.
It was a new experience for me since the community espouses the importance of silence within the halls of the retreat house. They believe that one can be in communion with the Spirit through silence. For someone who really loves to talk, it was awkward at first. But after a while, silence becomes your company - in everything that you do, like eating, washing the dishes, walking, etc.
There was one session facilitated by Fr. Em (short for Emmanuel) which was all about prayer. Initially, i thought i already knew everything there is to know about prayer. I mean, at a very young age I was already taught how to pray. By sharing the story about Jesus and the Samaritan woman, Fr. Em presented a new aspect about prayer, which gave me food for thought throughout the retreat. Here are a few points that he raised:
- In order to pray, one must have the will to pray. One must learn how to pray.
- According to St. Therese of Avila, prayer is nothing else than the close sharing between friends. This means taking time frequently to be alone with him whom we know loves us.
- Each encounter with Jesus is a prayer.
- Notice that Jesus met the Samaritan woman at a well in the outskirts of the town. This could mean that if you want to have a special encounter with Jesus, you need to get out of the noise.
- It is also possible to meet Jesus daily, even in ordinary places.
- There was also a verse about Jesus becoming very tired from the journey - he can empathize with our weaknesses.
- One doesn't have to wait until you feel worthy in order to pray. Even sinners can meet Jesus in prayer.
- In the dialogue between Jesus and the women, both friends are thirsty when they came to the well. Jesus starts the dialogue in prayer. And he is waiting for you at the well.
- Its a comforting thought that God desires us and prayer is an encounter of God's thirst for us.
- When he asked the woman to give him a drink, it was the love of the woman that he was seeking. Jesus is thirsty for our love.
- Love is giving and receiving. We just have to allow God to love us. God is waiting for someone who will accept his love.
- For us to accept his love, we have to enter into the covenant and open up our hearts to him. Although, God respects your will to accept or reject his love.
- St. John of the Cross declares that: "It should be known that if a person is seeking God, his beloved is seeking him more."
- The Holy Spirit is the living water.
- There are several wellsprings of faith such as the Word of God and liturgical prayer within us. Faith is something that belongs to us. It can also be a talent that one can exercise through actions. Do your little acts of faith and at the end of the dialogue, Jesus reveals himself.
- We cannot measure God's presence according to our own feelings.
- True adoration is the movement of body and soul. ad- to want and oration-oral. It is an act of bringing or giving oneself to God and to come to him in a free and personal way.
- If you want to discern your vocation, start doing / fulfilling your eternal vocation and your practical vocation will be revealed.
Let me end this with three statements. I came... I saw... I left..
I came... not knowing what to expect from the retreat.
I saw... a different aspect of prayer and a contemplative attitude towards it. I realized that a lot of people are also thirsting for more of Him, including me. And our thirst can only be quenched in prayer.
I left... with a lighter bounce to my step knowing that my God is just waiting for me to come to him in prayer.