Today, people find themselves so busy that no one has time to do much of anything else. Society has placed an unhealthy amount of strain on all individuals, leaving no time to step back and examine their faith lives and relationships with God. The distractions that exist today are endless.
People must escape the chaos that exists in society so that they can nurture their relationship with God. All people, no matter what age, gender or financial background, must find time to retreat from their busy life.
Retreats provide a warm and welcoming atmosphere where all who attend will feel God’s presence and ministry alive around them. We must “retreat” from the outside world – be it merely for a few hours or for a couple of days – to grow closer to God in prayer. While on retreat, we should strive to find our place in our spiritual journey. We must turn away from all distractions and seek God’s voice because God communicates to us through silence and whispers, not through loud and worldly means.
Retreats provide an environment that allows us to unplug from the outside world and simply listen to and experience God and his creation.
Brother Martin High School stresses the importance of developing Christian values among the entire student body, and, as a Catholic school, encourages students to grow in their faith development through religion classes, retreat experiences, daily prayer and at schoolwide and class-level Masses.
Retreat offers a safe space
One of the most important events Brother Martin offers that contributes to the formation of strong Christian values in students is the overnight senior retreat at the Solomon Episcopal Conference Center.
This year’s theme, “Transitioning into Christian Manhood,” relates closely with the philosophy of the school’s namesake, Sacred Heart Brother Martin Hernandez, who stated, “We are not here to teach boys how to make a living, but how to make a life.”
On this retreat, seniors engage in discussion sessions that can help lead them into developing their own individual faith life. Also, seniors learn the importance of having dependable role models and male mentors for guidance and advice.
Seniors learn throughout the retreat how they can make a difference in the world. As stated in the homily of the retreat Mass presented by school chaplain, Father Paul Hart, class of ’70, we are called by God to love and serve our family, friends and neighbors. By serving as a mentor or by acting as a father figure to others, each one of us may have the possibility of making a personal impact on someone that lasts a lifetime.
Upon reflection, I can say that life is very much like a pendulum. Life, which can be complex and difficult to understand, can genuinely represent something quite simple and easy to grasp. In life, all people will feel the effects of the “pendulum” at some point in time. We have to live through defeat, loss and hardship to have the ability to “swing back” and experience victory, success and joy.
In life, the tough, negative moments are the moments that form one’s character. We must have the discipline to choose between what we want now and what we want most. In one of the meeting sessions led by the faculty and volunteers, we discussed five initiation truths. Although shocking at first, the five truths illustrate how we must live selfless lives by giving ourself to God and others in times of suffering.
Yes, life is hard but not with faith. Life is hard but not with hope. Life is hard but not with love. At night, we gathered around a campfire, where Thomas Moran Jr., former disciplinarian and Brother Martin faculty member, offered an inspirational talk about how seniors can lead the student body by staying true to our core beliefs and values. He challenged the senior class by asking: “What are you made of? Whose are you? Whom do you walk with?”
Every one of us is called to act as a servant leader of Christ. To do so, we must humble ourselves by choosing to put the needs of our neighbors first. We must make sure, not only as a school community but also as a global faith family, that our worldly affairs are decreasing, while Jesus Christ in our life is increasing. We must surrender what we want most in life so that we will have the strength to show compassion towards others. One’s life purpose must revolve around giving back to those who need us most. We must live accordingly to God’s word and strive to model our lives after his son, Jesus.
Brother Martin student Benjamin Chanes is a senior.