This past weekend, I had the beautiful opportunity to attend a retreat hosted by Blessed is She and it was such a joy to be there. The retreat was centered on a passage from Isaiah, chapter 31, and the theme of Beauty for Ashes.
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,
Because the Lord has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”
I had never been to a retreat before and was just so thankful that I had this opportunity. I didn't really know what to expect coming into it but I found myself surrounded by so many genuinely loving Catholic ladies and felt so wrapped in Christ's love all day. We were all given a flower crown at check-in and, all day, I kept feeling so in awe of how beautiful we all were. Creations of God, made in His image, literally wearing crowns of beauty instead of our ashes. Such a simple image, but such a strong reminder of His love.
I had Augustine with me and he was loved on and cuddled and rocked by so many different mamas. We had the joy of listening to several different women speak, & we were filled with food and fellowship. There were priests there throughout the day to make the Sacrament of Reconciliation available to us, a vigil Mass was held, and after dinner we were given the gift of almost an hour of Eucharistic Adoration. It was literally like a dream to be able to just get up and walk to confession, to have a conversation of grace with such a kind priest and to be absolved. To go to Mass without trying to manage two kids, and then to be able to give my heart in undivided attention to Christ in Adoration. At one point, when the priest was holding up the Eucharist I looked down at Augustine as I held him in my lap and he had his chubby baby hands folded and his eyes fixed ahead so sincerely - he was gazing at Jesus. In his own little baby way, I think he was praying.
If you are ever even potentially able to possibly maybe go on a retreat, go. It will heal your soul & fill you up so you can go back home and serve your family.
I'm just still beaming from this weekend. I have the laughter of new friends in my ears, the images of Christ in my head, I have my flower crown hanging on my wall, I have my heart so so full from all of it. It was just such a good day.