“Come, let us return to the LORD, For it is he who has torn, but he will heal us; he has struck down, but he will bind our wounds. He will revive us after two days; on the third day he will raise us up, to live in his presence. Let us know, let us strive to know the LORD; as certain as the dawn is his coming. He will come to us like the rain, like spring rain that waters the earth…” (Hosea 6:1-3)
On March 1st, we had our Ash Wednesday mass in our chapel together with all the Brother and Sister communities of Ein Karem to mark the beginning of Lent. On the following days – March 2nd to 4th – the Novitiate community had our Lent retreat in our house with Fr. Kamil, a Jesuit priest. We had an input in the morning and afternoon about few themes: renewal or rethinking of our religious life, the growth of our vocation and other topics related to Lent, and most specifically on conversion in which we were invited to reflect and meditate upon Scripture.
Fr. Kamil shared that people experience different levels of conversion even though we understand that they are all about the conversion of heart. He added, the conversion can be about deepening my relationship with God and allowing God to take action in my life, or it is about doing things without desiring anything in return. Conversion is also considered as miracle where our lives are in constant change because of God’s intervention in them. Sometimes it even happens in a radical way, like Paul’s conversion. When we think about Lent as a time for conversion, we take this time to pray and reflect on our sins and limitations. However, it is not in an effort to beat ourselves up about how sinful we are, but rather to try to reflect on our own patterns or ways of sinfulness; on things that allow us to be drawn away from God.
Therefore, Lent is a great opportunity to get in touch with our own conversion stories, and the ongoing conversion that following Jesus involves. Fr. Kamil invited us to recall and meditate on the “gospel of my life”, in every stage of our life journey where we have seen and experienced God’s own initiative and constant love so that we can experience the gift of forgiveness. We were invited to be aware of the elements of conversion that abound in our lives – to pray for the chance to respond to a deep relationship with God through Jesus Christ and our Brothers and Sisters in our daily life.
Our retreat concluded with mass on Saturday afternoon followed by entry to Sunday (prepared by the Brothers) with all the community of Ein Karem.
Maria O. Malau, Novice NDS
March 3, 2017