Thursday, May 25, 2006

A follow up to 'A moment with Mary'

Well what do you know! I figured that post would be the first to get any comments. Props to Francis and Spooky for being the first ones!

Anyway, here's a little background on our retreat, where I took that picture of Our Lady's grotto. Part of our school's tradition was to hold an annual retreat for the graduating batch of seniors. This is usually done in March, but sources tell me that the school is considering moving the date to the fourth week of June.

The place was called 'Laguna Hills Study Center', which is a compound run by the Opus Dei prelature. The main residence of the Numers was around five minutes walk from the house we stayed in. Anyway, it was a beautiful, well-kept residence. There was a chapel inside, as is typical of the Opus Dei. The entire house was decorated sparsely, although not to the point of horror vacui. There were also various libraries containing all sorts of books, from the writings of Josemaria Escriva, papal encyclicals, and the occassional 'Confessions' of St. Augustine.

We stayed there for three days. There were no televisions or cell phones allowed. Even reading the newspapers was discouraged.

Our typical day would start at around 6:00 am. We used this period to freshen up, take baths, fix our quarters, and prepare for Mass. Before the Mass itself, there was a fifteen minute medidation at the chapel, led by our chaplain. Next, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was celebrated, followed by breakfast. Talks were given at around 10:00am to 12:00pm, at which time we would prepare for lunch. Before I forget, there was an average of five to six meditations per day, and I have to admit, I wasn't always paying attention [ mea culpa! ]. After lunch we would have a grace period, wherein we can engage in the activities we like. We also had the Via Crucis everyday; daily examination of conscience; spiritual reading; Rosary thrice a day; spiritual direction and lots of other pious activities.

Needless to say it was a thoroughly alien experience to most of my classmates. This was my first time to attend a retreat as well, but I already had an inkling of some of the things to expect.

Overall, it was a refreshing experience. I really felt rejuvenated after that, and I hope to be able to attend more in the future.

Some more pics:

Picture of the chapel where we held Mass, meditations, and Via Crucis everyday

This is the environment in which the grotto of Our Lady was located.

Interior of the Opus Dei center we stayed in. Note the spartan ornamentation of the room