First and foremost, a big thank you to our SIC Formation Team led by Anthony Sta Maria and to Brother Gerard Choo SJ for initiating and conducting an online retreat titled “Sacred Story” as part of St Ignatius’ Feast Day and St Ignatius Church (SIC) celebration. Special thanks to Mary Kamala, former Head of SIC Formation Ministry, for inviting me to the retreat.
The retreat started on Thursday 22 and ended on Sunday 25 July 2021. SIC Formation Team member Agnes Tee diligently sent me reference materials soon after I registered on 3 July 2021. The manual “Sacred Story: Yours, Mine, Ours, Ignatius’ of Loyola and Christ’s” by Br Gerard has 21 pages. An introductory video on St Ignatius of Loyola followed on 10 July 2021. These two and other documents that I received daily from Agnes anchored the “Sacred Story” retreat firmly on my mind, heart and spirit.
On the first day of the retreat, one thought that came to mind and stuck on me ever since is to “Listen to our Lord, Jesus. No matter how different from human logic what Jesus said is; accept Jesus’ words because His words are divine and not human.” This retreat opened my eyes to my “cannonball moments”, moments when something dramatic occurs that changes the otherwise normal course of my life. I visualised a cannonball having the chance of going 360 degrees in different directions and in three different planes like a sphere.
Jesuit Brother Gerard Choo (top left of above screen) provided spiritual direction to participants throughout the retreat which was conducted via Zoom.
Thanks to our Lord that He is by my side always, in calm and rough waters. Otherwise, I would have drowned. During the reflections, I perceived that “Cannonball moments” can also be simplified by associating each cannonball event with a certain parameter, for example, my relationship with (1) God, (2) the Church, (3) the family, (4) friends, (5) career, (6) finance etc.
Another concept I have is that Time connects one cannonball moment with another. Thus during the passage of time, our Lord communicates with us on various courses of actions to take. God gives us the free will to choose. Our decisions will have a bearing on our life, ups or downs, temporal and eternal. One can use the path and destination of the cannonball moment to warn, motivate or inspire others like what we learnt from the Sacred Story of St Ignatius of Loyola.
Throughout, I was alert to messages from the Holy Spirit, especially during breakout sessions when we shared personal experiences related to “Cannonball Moments”, “Our Landscape” and the “Beatitudes”. Here I must thank the three sisters who with me, shared experiences and thoughts with each other in Chatham House fashion.
The retreat was conducted during EMCO, an extremely difficult time especially for the organisers, our SIC Formation Team. Despite the challenges, a full house of 95 parishioners was able to communicate virtually with each other, to meditate and to deepen our relationship with our Lord. Thanks to God for such a wonderful blessing. I strongly encourage our brothers and sisters to participate in the same retreat when SIC Formation Team organises another again.
Feedback from Participants
“The retreat was excellent. More participation should be encouraged through further broadcasting. There could be a few hundred people attending such a spirit-filled retreat with such solid materials and an excellent presenter who went in depth on the topic of discernment with succinct videos, contemplation and lectio divina exercises. A big thank you to Br Gerard and the organising committee”.
“Overall a peaceful and pleasant retreat. Able to recall cannonball moments and witness its impact towards my spiritual journey with Jesus. God has also revealed to me His divine grace all along my life”.
“This retreat is good and helped me to see my need to improve. Thank you and praise to you Lord Jesus Christ”.
“I thank God for this retreat which has helped me move into a deeper relationship with Christ. Thank God for Br Gerard for blessing me with his gift. Overall, very well organised. I look forward to more retreats to journey into my deeper being”.
“I found the retreat very fulfilling spiritually”.