I chose the dull, gray background for the photo above as a symbol of what I have felt since the pandemic. The closing of churches, the lack of access to the sacraments, the burdensome requirements in place to function anywhere in society (with just a few exceptions), the inability to visit people in hospitals or nursing homes, and a laundry list of other things, presented some serious challenges to my ministry and my faith life in general. These obstacles resulted in the zapping of my spiritual energy. Based upon what I have seen on social media, I don't think I am alone in feeling a bit of desolation in my spiritual journey.
The question resonating in my mind for the last week or so has really caused me to ponder. How can I lead a retreat on this topic when I am struggling with the issue so profoundly in my own life? The answer is clear. I will be honest in sharing the struggle. I am a pilgrim on the journey with many areas of my life still needing significant growth. If I have to wait until I have mastered my walk with Christ before I can lead a retreat, it will be a long wait. It is my hope that we can grow together as we seek God's mercy and grace.
It is uplifting when a pastor recognizes the need for the continued spiritual nourishment of his staff. Through the years, I have had the awesome pleasure of serving numerous parishes and schools in leading retreats or days of recollection for the parish staff, the parish council, or the school faculty and staff. It has been a privilege to be invited into these faith communities to help stir up the flame of faith among servants of Christ who give of themselves so generously in our parishes and schools.
The photo below is a reminder of the last retreat I had the blessing to lead.
In March of 2020 I had to cancel a retreat with the deacons and their wives for the Diocese of Des Moines due to the pandemic. I hope we can sometime make it happen in the future.
Also in March of 2020, I had to cancel a parish mission with St. Peter's Catholic Church in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Maybe there will be an opportunity to reschedule that at some point as well.
It is my hope and prayer that Monday is the start of a new trend. I would love to begin getting back into parishes and schools with the Gospel message by leading a day of recollection, a retreat, a workshop, or a parish mission.
Please pray for our group that will be gathering on Monday.