“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
And have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget
I will never forget you!
(Isaiah 49, 15)
On Sunday, February 26th, the retreat for the fellowship recipients of the John Paul II Foundation ended. Young people who gathered in the Pliszczyn’s retreat home from Thursday were led through the spiritual exercises by Rev. Bartłomiej Król SCJ.
In human life there are no coincidences. Our daily choices, intentions and actions taken, even those less accurate or bad, are the results of a free will of each of us, which is a great gift of God. This free will does not mean that we are self-sufficient masters of our lives and we do not have to obey any limits. By a free will, we should understand that, first of all, God gave man freedom to make choices which he/she faces every day and mostly we need to choose between good and evil. God never said to a man that ‘you have to”, but “if you would like to”; he did not command, but gave freedom to choose: I can go to church on Sunday, or not; I can forgive the one who hurt me, or not; I can take care of the needy, or not. Unbelievable and inconceivable is that over each of our choice, even those which are bad, God is present – boundlessly loyal to man. The blood of His Son poured on the cross, which redeemed man’s sins and opened the way to salvation in heaven provides the proof of His loyalty and love.
“I’m a faithful God” – that was the theme of the second series of the retreats for the fellowship recipients, which were led by Rev. Bartłomiej Król SCJ. During daily Masses, adorations, conferences and meetings, we had the opportunity to ponder about fidelity through various questions: what the faithfulness means to us? Are we faithful to our homeland? Are we ashamed of our origin? Are we faithful to our daily commitments (putting our best to study and work)? Are we faithful to our closed ones (friends, family, acquaintances)? Of course, above all, there is the faithfulness to God, which manifests in our Christian attitude. The starting point of our retreat was our loyalty to ourselves and our faithfulness to God, who created each of us. An example from the life of David, chosen by God, shows that despite of his loyalty and integrity, he succumbed to sin, which he was trying to conceal and which was biting him inside, bothering and tormenting his conscience. This story provides a good lesson that we need to look at ourselves as an integral human being, from various dimensions, so at the time of our fall, we could stand in front of God and confess our weaknesses.
During our daily Masses, we read selected passages from the Wisdom of Sirach. The readings taught us to trust in God’s forgiveness, but at the same, to be afraid of our frequently falling into sins which always carry specific consequences. God speaks through Sirach also about friendship: “A loyal friend is like a medicine that keeps you in good health. Only those who fear the Lord can find such a friend. A person who fears the Lord can make real friendships, because he will treat his friend as he does himself.” (Sirach 6, 15-17). We cannot call our relatives as friends and allow them enter our lives in the same degree. Even in the closest relations between two people there is always something that you are not able to share with each other. In life of every man, Christ is the closest, constantly present and faithful friend whom he/she can entrust joys, sorrows and falls – all of our everyday life. One who found a true friend in life, a treasure found.
On Friday, during the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, we had a chance for the sacrament of penance and reconciliation. It was a special time to kneel in front of God and confess our weaknesses and failures. It was a time when we could call everything by its name and confess that to the priest, who is the mediator between God and man. Through confession and Holy Communion, we can depend and strengthen our relationship with Christ, the living God.
Transformed, spiritually renewed and full of strength, we returned to Lublin, to re-build our lives and to discover in it the will of our Creator. We are grateful to Rev. Bartłomiej for the fruitful experience during the retreat. We wish Rev. Bartłomiej God’s blessings in the daily priestly ministry and care of the Blessed Mother!
Photographs: Olga Ilczyna, Aleksandr Lewkowicz