Discovering the Face of God by Hanny Consolacion
27 March 2010 – Couples for Christ (CFC) Bermuda held its 2nd Annual Lenten Retreat at the St. Theresa Cathedral Hall, conducted by Fr. Joseph Palubeski (Fr. Joe), the CFC’s Spiritual Director. Thirty-one participants joined in this year’s Lenten Retreat; an increased attendance from last year’s as the CFC continued to open this Lenten event to all CFC and non-CFC members. Light inspirational music set the tone for an entire day of relaxed ambience aimed to reflect in silence. As in last year’s, participants along with Fr. Joe, were seated in a circular fashion encouraging attention during talks whilst fostering interaction.
Fr. Joe opened the Retreat with an illustration of the masks of theatre/drama – frowning vs. smiling. These two images symbolise the most common unhealthy and healthy images of God. He then pointed out that people tend to shift their image of God as they grow/mature. “When we were young, we tend to look up to our parents and look at God as the Higher/Supreme Being. But as we grow and mature, we tend to look down to our parents and eventually God’s part in our lives becomes smaller and smaller,” he explained. He added that as people encounter life through childhood and puberty, they form certain healthy and unhealthy images of God. Fr. Joe then identified the four
common negative images of God: a demonic judge; a god of death; an accountant; and a taskmaster. Fr. Joe invited the participants to recall their own negative images of God, write them down on a piece of paper, and throw them into the bin as a gesture to release oneself from those negative images and to foster instead positive images of God. He explained that, opposite the four common negative images, God is the God of mercy and love, the God of life, the Good Shepherd (Caretaker), and is the God of fruitfulness (Maker/Creator). From among these, participants were encouraged to adopt their own positive images of God as one of the mechanisms to a stronger faith in and relationship with Him. As the Lenten Retreat was also a day of fasting, Fr. Joe and the participants shared a simple lunch with bread snacks, juice and water. The Retreat then went onto a presentation of some of the most important segments of the film “Passion of the Christ”. Scenes from Christ’s agony in the garden of Gethsemane, His ordeal with the Pontius Pilate, from His carrying of the cross until crucifixion, and to His resurrection were shown. As a continuance of last year’s Lenten Retreat talk regarding Observance of the Holy Week, the participants were invited to reflect on the eight days of the Holy Week celebration (i.e., Palm Sunday, Chrism or anointing of the Oil, Holy Thursday (Last Supper and washing of the feet), Good Friday (Crucifixion and death of Christ), and Easter Sunday (Feast of the Resurrection of Christ)) and seek their own positive image of God in the Holy Week celebration.
The Retreat concluded with the Sacrament of Reconciliation received by the participants.