Merciful days in Duxbury

The five other postulants and I ventured to the Miramar Retreat Center in Duxbury, Mass., for a weeklong retreat before the start of the semester.

Father Bill Neubecker, OMV led the retreat. For the Year of Mercy, he had us meditate on Pope John Paul II’s 1980 encyclical on mercy: Dives in Misericordia. This is a powerful document that is one of my Year of Mercy goals.

Here are my favorite lines from the cyclical:

  • “Mercy is manifested in its true and proper aspect when it restores to value, promotes and draws good from all the forms of evil existing in the world and in man.”
  • “The cross is like a touch of eternal love upon the most painful wounds of man’s earthly existence.”
  • “That inscrutable unity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, in which love, containing justice, sets in motion mercy, which in its turn reveals the perfection of justice.”
  • “An act of merciful love is only really such when we are deeply convinced at the moment that we perform it that we are at the same time receiving mercy from the people who are accepting it from us.”

For this retreat, God treated my immediate and latest frustration with my CCD class (aaargh!). If you forgot how frustrating it has been for me, you can read about it here .   The link between mercy and justice in Dives in Misericoridia helped ease that frustration. Mercy is never a pushover. Correcting a student is an act of mercy.

Next, God began working on deeper questions. The biggest one that I had received before I left was whether being an Oblate of the Virgin Mary would give me the freedom to love God and love neighbor. By the end of the retreat, I was beginning to see clues to the answer. But I will be unpacking this question for the next few months.

The retreat center was very large to move around and find a quiet place to pray and read. I enjoyed the prayer room and the main chapel.

After lunch, I would walk down to the water. The center offers handouts with three options to the shore. On Tuesday, I attempted to find the first option and immediately was lost. I forgot that the retreat center has two driveways. Which driveway I walked down could affect everything. Sheepishly, I turned off the airplane mode on my phone and pulled up Google maps to reorient myself. Wednesday was much smoother although it’s a good 20-minute walk to the second option.

All of us drove to the third option at the end of the retreat. I had never been to the beach in wintertime. Snow and sandy beaches never mixed in my memories. But here I was, seeing snow by the seashore.

snow on beach
I found this long strip of snow on Duxbury Beach by Powder Point Bridge on Friday, Jan. 15, 2016.

The retreat center is sponsored by the Society of the Divine Word (or popularly known as the Divine Word Missionaries or SVD). I learned about the SVDs through the Holy Spirit Adoration Sisters (i.e. the Pink Sisters) in Corpus Christi. I had been familiar with the image of their common founder, St. Arnold Janssen. It was fun to read about his life during my last day at the retreat center.

When I came back to Boston, I received a newsletter from the Pink Sisters in Corpus Christi. The order had started the beatification process for its co-foundress, Mother Mary Michael. It makes me wonder when the Oblates of the Virgin Mary would have its first saint. (Please pray for the intercession of Venerable Father Lanteri.)

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