By Liberty Joy Demol
CFC SFL USA
Over the years, there was not a Lenten retreat I miss. Growing up in a Catholic community, schooled in a Catholic university, and spent the neophyte years of my teaching career in a Catholic school, spiritual and conscience exhumation and examination has always been a part of my life. However, due to inevitable circumstances, this had to stop—for a moment.
A week ago the Singles for Family and Life (SFL) took a turn from a usual busy weekend to take a tour, quest, or journey into the Lord’s vineyard. The scene was not appealing, rather it was appalling. The wilted vines, rotting fruits, and barren land seemed like it was already an almost abandoned garden. But how is it that the Lord wanted me here? Why would He invite me in a forsaken garden? And then, as I remained in there for the next twenty-four hours or so with the other SFL members, I have come to a painful realization that He brought me and showed me how I have been without Him. He knew that I have been longing to be pruned and groomed and now it was the best time to do it. In the important time in His year–Lent. His simple message was to prepare me for His greatness that I may bear the fruits that He promised. Thus, He called us to retreat in His vineyard.
Lent is an important year in the Church calendar. This is when we prepare for the coming of Christ on Easter. Lent is when we receive renewal. But to be able to do that one must surrender oneself through penance to the Lord to be able to receive that baptism, the renewal. The SFL Vineyard Retreat on March 29-30 was God’s way of preparing us for His coming on Easter.
The vineyard retreat which reeled off with the theme Remain in Me was taken from the gospel of John. All the four talks centered upon one constant reminder: to remain in Him so we may bear the fruits of the Holy Spirit. It was as if a calling from God to be with Him, to come back to His vineyard where we were supposed to grow fruits through Him and in Him. In His vineyard, He wants us to retreat and surrender ourselves to Him, to recollect our doings-good and bad, to repent on all those we did wrong and to reflect on His goodness. All these we needed to go through in His vineyard so that He can reveal Himself to us as our vine keeper. By retreating, recollecting, repenting, and reflecting, He will be able to prune us and cut off some parts in us that caused us to be barren.
Pruning and cutting did not come easy nor was it exciting. Most of us have lived with these excess baggages like our sinfulness and deliberate ignorance of God’s presence in our lives like it was part of our routine. Giving it up and revealing it through the Exposition of the Eucharist and Confession was difficult especially that shame-who abandoned us during our sinning, came to accompany us during this time. But as the scripture says in John 15:2, “He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and every one that does, he prunes so it will bear more fruit.” The Father wants us to reveal these things to Him so that He can reveal Himself to us. He does all these things to bring us goodness and to make us worthy of His blessings—the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Finally, cutting, pruning, and weeding are God’s way for us to be prepared in the Easter of new life as we begin a rebirth of our faith alongside the resurrection of His Son, Christ Jesus.
Tags: catholic community, catholic community for singles, catholic group, catholic group for singles, cfc sfl, cfcsfl, committed servants weekend, God, jesus, jesus christ, prolife, prolife singles, singles for family and life