Monday, October 21, 2013

On Retreat

I began early this morning with an 8:00 a.m Funeral, followed by burial in the still early-morning fog at the local Veterans' Cemetery, complete with Honor Guard, 3 Volleys, and Taps. That solemn duty done, it was time to travel to Lake Junaluska, NC, for the annual autumn retreat of the priests of the diocese. Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center is a 250-acre United Methodist Christian Hospitality Center, which has housed our diocesan retreat every fall since 2011. It's a beautiful place, just under 100 miles from Knoxville, well worth the journey. For religious, serving for the time being in Knoxville, it is a great privilege for us all to be included in the diocesan priests' retreat, to join with the presbyterate of which we are for the present a part in the this annual spiritual exercise which the Church's wisdom of experience has taught her to require of her clergy.
The retreat master's chosen theme for the week is Priest in the One Priest: Faces of that One Priesthood. His first conference tonight focused on The Priest as beloved and chosen son. Priests, he pointed out, are good at giving, experts at caring and providing for those in our care. (At least, we certainly hope we are!) What we need, however, is the virtue of receptivity and openness - the receptivity and openness of a "beloved and chosen son," the receptivity and openness to which the father challenged his older son in the parable of the two sons, when he reminded him My son, you are with me always, and everything I have is yours (Luke 15:31), if only the older son would accept and appreciate that about their relationship. 
In challenging us to pray thus in the heart of Jesus, the Son, he invited us to make our own the words of Saint John Eudes (1601-1680): "All that is his is yours: breath, heart body, soul and all his faculties. All of these you must use as if they belonged to you, so that in serving him you may give him praise, love, and glory" (Treatise on the Admirable Heart of Jesus).
We got a good start tonight. Tomorrow, we continue.

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