By Ian Chadwick
The subject retreat ran from Sunday, February 27th. to Wednesday, March 2nd. 2011. It was held at the Mount Carmel Spiritual Centre, Niagara Falls, Ontario. I attended, as has been my habit for several years. I subsequently claimed, and was reimbursed, 80% of the $325 cost.
It was, essentially, a pre-lenten retreat, and even though it was not billed as such this year, that is how I used it. The architecture at Mount Carmel is monastic but the atmosphere is very much one of hospitality. In the same way, the Lutheran community, with their natural discipline, are nevertheless truly welcoming to their Anglican partners. The retreat is therefore quietly intense and cheerfully relaxed.
This year the Spiritual Direction came from Bishop Susan Johnson and Archbishop Fred Hiltz with assistance from Bishop Walter Asbil. The theme of their reflections was “O Blessed Communion” through which they variously threaded ideas on spiritual renewal, more rigorous discipleship, and our clergy relationships………and suggestions as to how these elements might best be reinforced and expressed.
I took notes and found later that I was drawn back to them repeatedly during the Lenten exercises I prepared in my Parish. Too often the day-to-day busyness of the church denies us the time to open our minds to new ideas and our repertoire becomes stale. Listening to the Bishops and hearing my colleagues react to what we had heard provided a rich source of fresh thoughts; which I very much appreciated. The people in the parish seemed to appreciate it too.
Unfortunately, parish obligations called me away from the retreat to two weekday morning services and the fact of two funerals on the Thursday and Friday of that week (and the necessity of meeting with one of the families on the Monday evening) caused some considerable disruption to my retreat time. But that’s how it is. Nevertheless, the retreat again proved to be essential preparation for Lent; and I am grateful for the time I was allowed.
Ian Chadwick, Rector at St. Alban’s, Beamsville.
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