There was plenty of prayer, good moments to connect with the brothers, curious dreams, and wonderful food. I wrote to my mother that it was a little ironic to make a retreat during Lent at a place where the food was so good, but that the brothers seemed to manage the cognitive dissonance pretty well.
The two daily conferences, often following the readings from the Office of Readings each day but also making use of the letters of St. Pio, were given by Fr. Luciano Lotti, OFM Cap. He was good, and when he was in lecture mode I was able to understand just about everything. When he got into anecdote or funny story mode, not so much. Here he is:
At the end of the retreat, he gave us each a copy of his new book, The Affective Life of Padre Pio: The interior world and the care of souls in the journals of his spiritual daughters. So that should be an interesting read.
In my prayer during the retreat, a simple intention kept coming back to me:
Lord, may I seek you as I once did.
Perhaps coincidentally but also perhaps because of my reflecting along those lines, it also occurred to me during the retreat that I had passed the point at which I had spent the larger part of my time on earth since my baptism. So whatever is made of it, there's no denying that this religion business has come to define me. Certainly it's true on the outside; I am baptized, now having spent more time on earth as a Christian than not, a professed religious, and a priest. I enjoy the intense privileges of living under the same roof as the Blessed Sacrament and in the town where Peter and Paul were martyred.
But does this journey define me inside as much as it once did? It's a hazardous thought. On the one hand, it could be the desire of the flesh to run back to the fleshpots of first fervor, to the consolations given to beginners, to the time when every material thing associated with the faith was like a new toy, etc. But on the other hand, there is a need to keep purifying one's intention, to keep renewing and deepening one's guard of the heart, to repent anew of pet obstacles and comfortable compromises that one has allowed to make a comfy home in the heart and mind.
So I tried to make that my prayer. Better, I tried to let go and surrender to the prayer that the Spirit willed to make in me, that I might let go of the distractions and stupidities that I have allowed to accumulate in my consciousness over the years and which have weakened my desire to seek God and him alone. Lord, may I seek you as I once did.
Here are some new friends I made on the retreat. The first is Frate Leone (i.e. Br. Leo), who seemed to have a fervent devotion to the Franciscan cord.
"We tried to sits. We didn't fits."