Let's get right into it, shall we? The first part of this post was all about the reception, and a little talk. The second day, a married couple made Temporary Promises and three people made Final Promises. In case you are wondering what this means, the The Lay Dominicans of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist in Pensacola, Florida posted this to their site:
The Temporary Promises is a three year period where you are expected to live as a Lay Dominican and continue to grow in formation with the Order. If you decide after three years that you would like to make a permanent lifelong commitment to a vocation as a Lay Dominican, you will then take Final Promises that are permanent for your lifetime.
I arrived for the first talk at 9AM on Happiness. Fr. Rick began with a joke about Dominicans, Jesuits and Franciscans to get the ball rolling, and get us to laugh. Apparently, they always start with a joke like this and it's all in good fun. I learned that St. Dominic was called "The Joyful Friar" because he was known to hum in the streets and be full of joy and happiness with anyone he encountered. He would also spend his nights in prayer for sinners, and was even known to be weeping for them too. I took very few notes, and mostly of the quick funny bits he said because you almost can't believe a Friar could be so funny. We all put people of "the cloth" at such high, elevated places, but they really are human, and humans are very funny.
Within his anecdote that included Dominican Sisters of the Holy Rosary in Hawthorne, NY on a Gravitron, he noted their great joy in the midst of their vocation. These sisters work with terminally ill cancer patients. He tried to share a sense of what their "day after day" was like and always, joy.
Just when I thought he was going to make a great connection to being rooted in faith like a Gravitron ride, all he said was "in case you were wondering, the habit words fine on a Gravitron". Can you picture it? He then spoke of a famous marketing campaign that he thought of while on the Ferris Wheel with the Mother Prioress of the order. As he looked down at the carnival he thought to himself.
A ride on the Ferris Wheel $1.50 The cost of a corn dog: $2.00 Knowing the joy of the Gospel: Priceless
He then mentioned going to Papyrus to get a a card to thank the Sisters for their hospitality during his stay there for three weeks and found one with the state of New York with a simple phrase that stayed with him:
So sure, work can be boring, your parents won't stop interfering in your life, your husband can get on your nerves, the children can exhaust you in ways you didn't think possible, but there is still happiness in that because they all help you find God - and there really is no rest until we are at rest in Him. Isn't that something? Fr. Rick said we, as humans always think of God in the abstract: "God loves us, God loves the world" but if we shift that a little and say "God loves me, God loves my family" it brings closer to Him in these moments of difficulty to be something we can make more tangible.
And that was just the first talk! While not in the exact order the day was laid out (forgive me, I don't have the agenda with me), let's move on to Profound Silence which happened after lunch. Twice! I know you can't wait for that, because like I noted yesterday, I cheated.
My other Lay Dominican brothers and sisters, were staying at the retreat house for the weekend. This meant, they could go for a walk and shower before the next talk, take a nap or just read in their rooms. Not this Lay Dominican. I mean, I could have sat in my car for two hours and napped, but is that really why I'm there? And can you picture me, mouth open, lightly snoring with my hair blowing from the a/c cranked up. I can too, and that's not a good look.
I made my way to the chapel where that beautiful mosaic is and sat on the farthest side from the door out. I did this for a few reasons. I didn't want to be tempted to leave the chapel and find something to do, and because it was Mary's side.
I thought that by sitting in front of her, I would be calmer and more prone to hear whatever it was that God would say to me as I sat silently. The pews were hard wood and not very deep. This meant, for the first 30 minutes, I was uncomfortable and shifting quite a bit as I prayed the rosary to myself. I was alone in the chapel and knew that I had to find the silence. I noticed the patterns of gold against blue in the background of this pattern, imagined the laying of each tile and the work, and care it took to plan and place each one. The painstaking attempt at perfection in pattern and maybe that was all I was supposed to get at first. Looking back, isn't this how creation may have been for God? Loving over each shade of blue, and their all different, but they had to create a beautiful tapestry of overall blue - and only a master tiler could do that.
I journaled for a bit and wrote absolutely nothing of note except for this:
What comes from such profound silence? You realize that your internal chatter is nonsense and you have nothing really profound to listen to "inside" the silence. You lean that you don't do it enough and you've forgotten what His whisper sounds like.
All is not lost, friends. Stay with me.
It was 3 o'clock and that meant Divine Mercy Chaplet, Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and praying the Rosary Dominican stylie. Yes, I prayed the rosary twice in one day! Glory be, people! That was all fantastically beautiful and rich. I imagined all of our prayers and intentions wafting up toward His heart. Lovely. And then, more Profound Silence.
This time, Fr. Rick was hearing Confessions too. Ahh yes, the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I wasn't planning on making confession. I didn't have anything to confess, and besides, Profound Silence. So I sat there, alone again at Mary's side and the confession thing kept bugging me. The internal chatter went something like this:
I have nothing to say, so what I gossiped at work, I can confess that at home. What else? Let's go through the checklist, I have a checklist for everything, why? Who needs a checklist to make confession? I do because I'll gloss over...
and then, just then, I grabbed my bag, the special pear I'd picked for Mike at lunch (because he's not going to want another chaplet from the gift shop) and got in line to confess to Fr. Rick. I was about to break Profound Silence with Confession. Come on? You really think I was chatting it up with people in the hallway?
Fr. Rick was giving a "Retreat Special": no matter what you confess, your penance will be a Hail Mary. "Good luck knowing your penance before you confess, I would take me up on it" he said.
This is where I will leave you. Imagining me, on a line 5 people long, swaying in Profound Silence.
I share my confession - yes! I will share it with you, tomorrow as well as a little something about Miracles, Balance and some thoughts from the Q&A session.
I didn't plan on a three-parter, heck it may turn into a four-parter, but I want you to experience all of it before my memory erases it. As Fr. Rick would say "and that's a good thing".