Retreat Notes 2015 Part IV

retreat notes

Sunday Morning
7:30 Rising Bell
8:15 Morning prayer and benediction
8:45 Conference
10:00 Mass
11:00 brunch–silence ends

Conference four dealt with one of the dominicans’ favorite things: contemplation. In fact, my favorite Dominican motto is “Contemplate and give to others the fruit of your contemplation.” Fr. C ran with this idea in his last conference. He also touched on the Dominican pillar of study.

  • “You have to be perfect to get into heaven. It’s the entrance requirement.”
  • Purgatory–fire of purification
  • We have to have a desire to intercede for others.
  • Practice of virtue–trial and error. The more you do it, the easier it is.
  • Flexibility and adaptability in prayer life
  • Study is meant to be lovely: good study pursues wisdom
  • Virtue is in the middle of two extremes.
  • “The happiest possible activity is contemplation.”–St. Thomas Aquinas
  • Practical intellect: Thinking about what you do
  • Speculative intellect: (or Contemplative intellect) Ponders the truth. Looks on God in a disinterested way.
  • Adoration is an extension of Mass
  • Have gratitude–this frees the soul to love God.
  • Allow him to make all things new.

Homily: Third Sunday of Lent Year B (Jesus overthrowing the tables in the temple)

  • Emotion is part of man. Passion drives us.
  • Being passionate about your task can be a good thing.
  • In the Gospel, Jesus is furious. “Zeal for God’s house” has consumed him.
  • St. Dominic witnessed by her fervor, warmth. He was intrepid. and compassionate.
  • He had “radiant joy in all circumstances”
  • Fervor of the Holy Spirit: Acts 18:25
  • Hate what is evil and hold fast to what is good.
  • “Be aglow with the spirit, rejoice in your hope, be constant in prayer.”
  • “Joy is the leaven which pervades Dominican life.” (One of the reasons I love being a Dominican) Joy and zeal give us strength to do God’s will.
  • Fervor enkindles the joy of the Holy Spirit.

Retreat Notes 2015 Part III

retreat notes

Saturday Evening
6:45 Conference
8:00 Exposition, Vespers, Adoration until 8:15 AM

Fr. C had been in the confessional for a long time that day–my conservative count was about three hours. So I imagine he was glad to get up out of the confessional room and stand up for a bit!

Conference Three Notes:

  • The three theological virtues (how God works in our lives): Faith, Hope and Love. “God Words in us without us.”
  • St. Augustine: The God who made you without you can’t save you without you. (Think about that for a bit)
  • We participate in our salvation
  • Mary has all the virtues perfectly. (i.e., prudence, justice, temperance, fortitude)
  • Her role for us is intercessory.
  • God works as a movement in our lives–how is he working?
  • God acts first. Everything that we do that is good is a result of His first act.
  • Surrender takes faith.
  • You cannot love what you don’t know.We have to get to know God.
  • God wants us to recognize what we need. He’s acting, but we can’t always see how he’s acting.
  • All grace is mediated.
  • Angels mediate grace/law/messages, in their Biblical appearances.
    • God chooses to have grace mediated (instrumentality). It doesn’t have to be this way.
  • Even when we’re in a spiritual desert, God is acting. He gives us things specifically for our good.
    • the desert is about conversion, which we all need.
    • Mary is fully converted. She had a choice, and she helps us with our choices.
  • God is knowable; He uses human instruments to be mediators of grace.
  • Mary: “Do whatever He tells you.”
  • We desire the good of others. We want our love to be effective and we get frustrated when it is not.
  • Feminine instinct: To anticipate someone’s needs and to do it gracefully. We live in accord w/ that instinct. Our generosity is reveled in our love for others.
  • Sin and the devil want us to cling to things/people. We have to turn and see what is truly attractive.
  • Mary is our hope.
  • Charity/actions reveal who we are. We are judged by our actions.
  • People in Heaven (saints) are active in charity. They intercede for us–they are superabundant in their charity.
  • “God can help us anonymously, but He doesn’t like it as much.”
  • Trust that God is acting in your life. Be patient, be ready, and don’t rush it.
  • Turn back to the Lord. Patience–God really does things.
  • Grace of charity speaks of real friendship.
  • God orders everything for our Good. He wants us to flourish.
  • Model the saints, admire them.
  • Acts of worship, i.e., adoration, help us get to know God better.
    • The first act of worship is adoration.
  • God wants to reveal himself to us.

Lent Retreat 2015 Part II

retreat notes

Saturday Afternoon

1:15-2:45 Time on your own/confessions in Chapel
3:00 Conference
4:15 Stations of the Cross
5:30 Dinner

Conference notes:

  • Fr. C opened by talking about our friendship with God and how we relate to the saints. How can we restore our relationship with God?
  • Sin causes chaos in our lives, and we need to restore us. Confession is a great way to do this. We need God, and in the sacrament He provides Himself to us in a unique way. Don’t rely on guilty feelings to tell you something is wrong.
  • We can cling to guilt: God doesn’t want that! He doesn’t want us to have extensive guilt.
  • The spiritual life has its ups and downs. There’s a seasonality to it, just like with weather. We have times where we’re receiving lots of consolations, and times when we’re in the desert, so to speak. But God wants to restore us in a non-mechanical way.
  • Remember, God is forming us into His image. He has a plan for each of us that is unique. But He’s most often doing it with subtlety.
  • Mary was a sinless person. But she wasn’t boring. Grace is a lively thing. It’s very creative. “The holy life is a creative life.”
  • God wants us to see how He’s called us to perfection, and how to live in the Fullness of Life.
  • Mary’s maternity and virginity go together. The virginity is representative of the perfection of religious life. (Fr. C also noted that no one is married in Heaven.)  He also noted that the term “virginity” Isn’t used to apply to men.
    • What does it mean to be pure?
    • Purification of the heart: routine of life makes you more and more in tune with God, leading to peace and freedom.
    • We receive grace: reception is what we can do. We can be hospitable to it!
    • There is a loneliness to virginity. But as Mary waited on the Lord, we (in that position) teach ourselves to wait.
    • St. Thomas Aquinas: “All relationships we have in life are forms of friendship.”
    • God establishes these relationships in us. Confession is an act of friendship.
    • We need our friends.
  • Maternity: the generosity of women. You don’t have to have children for this to apply.
    • the love of women, how we relate to the world.
  • Hope speaks about clinging to God as a present helper.
    • It’s a passion.
    • We should pray for the grace of Hope.
    • Hope is “The willingness and the ability to be surprised by love.” 
  • Confession trains and humbles you.
  • Only cling to God.
  • Some things women do that are not helpful: passive-aggressive behavior, clinging to things (i.e., grown children).

Lent Retreat 2015 Part 1

retreat notes imag

Friday Evening
6:00 Welcome
6:30 Dinner
7:45 Mass
8:45 Vespers
9:00 Confessions 

This retreat was held at St. Therese Retreat Center, which is administered by the Diocese of Columbus. I’ve been to several retreats there, and it’s always comfortable and welcoming, and about five minutes from my house, which is a plus. Another plus is that the priest giving the retreat is also a priest at my parish, so I knew it would be good preaching.

The theme for the retreat was “The Virtues of Mary”, but that covered a lot of not-so-obvious applications, as you’ll see.

This was a silent retreat, but that doesn’t mean from the start. Silence started after dinner. I had some lovely ladies at my table and I enjoyed talking to them. We had a mix–one girl had just graduated from Notre Dame and is getting married in April; another was an African immigrant (not sure which country), and she wore fabulous outfits; two other ladies were from my parish, and one was a grandmother. We were quite a mixed group at our table!

This retreat was a little different than in the past. Normally, there’d be a retreat conference given the first night, but Fr. C used his homily at Mass as sort of a mini conference, which I found really useful. He did this throughout the retreat, so everything was consistently woven together, instead of the Mass homilies being one thing, and the conferences another.

(Retreat lingo: conference is a talk, normally about 45 minutes to an hour, on the retreat topic du jour.)

  • We need to constantly open our hearts to the words God is speaking to us.
  • Mary brings graces to us–grace as a human face, not something that we can’t see.
  • Grace moves, touches, embraces us.
  • Hospitality means that we receive the things that are sent to us well, in a sense of generosity of spirit. We have to be humble and surrender to what we are sent. This does NOT mean crazy spring cleaning (here Father told us about spring cleaning in his house as a kid); it means the opposite. We should decrease activity, and decrease busy-ness. We should still our hearts.
  • Don’t allow yourself to be frustrated: just let it happen. It’s about God’s actions, not yours.
  • God does what He says He will Do.
  • Father asked us to consider what we want, what we desire. What do we need to ask God for?
  • “Hope is the only theological virtue that pertains to you.” Faith is outwardly directed (faith in God), and charity (love) is the same way. But hope is what we do to/for ourselves. It’s self-directed.
  • We struggle to obtain holiness, happiness, joy, but by surrendering to God, we receive the knowledge of Him. When we open our hearts to the Lord, we can transform our lives and remove the baggage that’s there. Allow God to form our hearts to desire Him, and our happiness and our holiness.

These are things I think we all need to remember on a daily (if not hourly) basis. Fr. C touched on some very important things here, things that we often forget. He asked us to ask God how He wants us to transform our lives, and focus on what He wants to give us.

After Mass we had vespers, and after that, I went to bed. I usually don’t go to confession the first night, because I like to use that time to sort of get into the retreat spirit and think about what the priest has presented to us already.

Saturday Morning

7:30 Rise
8:15 Lauds in the chapel
8:30 Breakfast
9:15 Conference #1
10:30 Rosary in chapel
11:15 Mass
12:15 Lunch 

I was, amazingly, up at 7 AM. My room was close to the chapel and the bells rang at seven, which was a nice way to wake up. So I got dressed and had some time in the chapel before the tabernacle before we prayed lauds. I had found a lovely prayer card with a quote from St. Catherine Laboure in my Bible:

Whenever I go to the chapel, I put myself in the presence of our good Lord, and I say to Him, “Lord, I am here. Tell me what you would have me to do.” If He gives me some task, I am content and I think Him. If He gives me nothing, I still thank Him since I do not deserve to receive anything more than that. And then, I tell God everything that is in my heart. I tell Him about my pains and my joys, and then I listen. If you listen, God will also speak to you, for with the good Lord, you have to both speak and listen. God always speaks to you when you approach Him simply and plainly. 

So I took St. Catherine’s advice. It went well. (Maybe more on that later!)

Fr. C’s first conference covered a lot of ground. Notes:

  • We want to know Mary better and understand who she is. No one is more beautiful in creation than Mary.
  • What is virtue? A good quality of mind by which one lives righteously, of which no one can make bad use
  • We can’t love what we don’t know. We have to know God to love Him.
  • Virtue speaks to our dignity and witness. It just works. The more you practice it, the easier it gets.
  • Letting go defines love.
  • Mary is the image of human perfection: she’s what we should imitate, because she’s the perfect example of what God wants us to be.
  • Virtue speaks of happiness. “Blessed”=”happy” in translation. It’s the same word. So “Blessed art thou”=”happy art thou.”
  • God wants us to flourish and be happy! He wants us to have the fullness of life.
  • Fr. C the segued into a point about freedom. God gives us freedom, but there are two kinds: Freedom of indifference: our ability to choose, and freedom for excellence: freedom is in the intellect, for flourishing.
  • When God speaks of freedom, He speaks of what is real. Freedom is the pursuit of happiness, but happiness at the level of flourishing.
  • God has created us with a purpose. He’s painting a picture of our lives, and we have to surrender to that.
  • Grace speaks of elegant movement. It’s not just a gift we get, it’s how God animates you.
  • Contrast of Mary and Eve
    • Vanity
    • Superficiality
    • Seduction
    • Imagination: Dreaming too much that we forget what is real (i.e., reading too many romance novels.)
    • Shopping: thinking that things will make us happy.
    • Emotions: emotions are good but we have to control them, channel them to be effective.
  • Fr. C told us he’d taken dancing lessons as a kid (“I went because there were girls”; in the South, this is a thing, apparently.), and so God is our dancing partner. We don’t want to step all over Him.

At Mass, we celebrated Sts. Felicity and Perpetua, early martyrs who died in 203 AD. Father reminded us that the saints are our heroes, and we should want to imitate them. They inspire us, teach us how to be more like God. God gives us the means to live out the life He has planned for us.

Daybook No. 92


(More on grace later in this post, y’all)

Outside my window::

It’s WARM!!! It was brilliantly sunny most of the day but now it’s clouding up a bit. But it’s still warm! My bedroom window is open! The snow MELTS! I rejoice. 🙂


A J. Jill jersey skirt with an asymmetrical hemline; a long-sleeved gray t-shirt (v-neck) from Eddie Bauer. This is one of my favorite outfits. Earlier I had on a pink and coral scarf but that went off when I had to cook dinner. I don’t want to set myself on fire.

In the CD player::

I had Surfacing in yesterday because I needed to sing to some nice songs. 🙂 🙂 Nice meaning with a decent beat. First sunroof opening of the year? Cause for celebration.

In the book pile::

Own Your Life: Living with Deep Intention, Bold Faith, and Generous Love
Death On A Friday Afternoon Meditations On The Last Words Of Jesus From The Cross
A Breath of Snow and Ashes (Outlander)
Be Holy: A Catholic’s Guide to the Spiritual Life
That last one?I love it. I read it on a sort of regular basis, and it always goes on retreat with me. I highly, HIGHLY recommend it to all people. It’s one of my favorite books ever.

Around the house::

It’s so much easier to keep the place clean when it’s easy to take the trash out. Really. No snow? No drifts? Straight shot to the dumpster. 🙂 I changed the filter in my vacuum, swept the kitchen floor, and am mopping after I finish writing this.

From the kitchen::

Dinner was Rachael Ray’s leek-y chicken with a rice pilaf. Normally I’m not good at cooking rice, but this was great–it has white wine, chicken stock, thyme, and lemon zest in it, along with a shallot. Win. basically the only thing I needed to buy for this recipe was the chicken and the leeks!

Rest of the week–Black Bean and Rice “Stoup”; Garlic Roasted Chicken with Rosemary and Lemon; Luna Marinara (Friday lunch), and taco bowls. Yum.

Pondering//Retreat Notes:: (One of many to come, I’m sure)

There’s a lot I could say about this retreat. And I will. But in re the photo at the top of this page, I have this from our retreat director:

“Grace doesn’t just sit on a shelf. Grace is mediated, grace is given, grace is asked for, and grace is used! It’s not just something in a box.”

The theme of the retreat was the Virtues of Mary, but we talked about a lot of other things as well. Stay tuned.

Plans for the week::

Holy hour on Wednesday, lunch with my Dad on Thursday, and not sure about Friday 🙂 Going to see Donna del Lago on Saturday!!! Yeah Bel Canto! I can’t wait to see this opera. It looks like a gorgeous production, and I adore Joyce DiDonato.

Photo I’m sharing::

Tiff at I at the Columbus Hofbrauhaus.

Tiff at I at the Columbus Hofbrauhaus.

Seven Quick Takes No. 70



Happy Friday y’all! I am happy because it is going to warm up! It’s going to be in the 50s all next week! This deserves italics, people. Yay!!!!! I am so excited! Bring it!


I am also excited because I’m going on a silent retreat this weekend. I love silent retreats. They are necessary to my spiritual well-being. This one is being preached by one of the Dominican friars from my parish, so I’m definitely looking forward to that.

If you’ve never been on a silent retreat, I highly recommend it. The silence isn’t really that scary. 😉 And the spiritual fruits are amazing.

I have a whole category called “retreats”, so if you want to read more about them, click on the link at the bottom of the post, where the tags are.

(And if you have prayer requests, hit me up!)


I’ve been knitting a lot this week. I’m about to finish part 1 of a housewarming gift, and I’m determined to learn how to purl. At one point, I knew. Then I forgot. I want to fix this quickly.


My first Real Housekeeping article went up this week! I am very excited to be writing with these lovely ladies. Need a great dessert recipe? Head over there. 🙂 


I’ve got a few books to take along on retreat, but one of them, sadly, is not A Breath of Snow and Ashes, which is the sixth Outlander book, and where I am in my series re-read. I just don’t think that’s appropriate, right? 🙂


Are there any books that you’ve started and just can’t finish? For me, it’s War and Peace. I’ve tried it twice now, and I just can’t. I even (I say this with shame) bought Sparknotes for it. And still, nothing. As the Emperor said to Mozart, “Too many {words}.” I know there’s a new film adaptation coming, so maybe I’ll watch that and then feel like I can tackle the book? (That’s how I tackled Bleak House, after all. I like Esther a lot, but there’s a huge amount of “Too many words” territory in that book.)


Also–do you stop reading a book once you’ve started it? As in, do you give up midway through as a matter of course (if you’re not interested), or do you plug away to the end?

Retreat 2014 notes

I made my annual retreat over the past week. I say “annual”, and usually it is, although there are years where all I get in terms of retreat are my Lay Dominican chapter’s day of recollection around St. Dominic’s Day on August 8. Not that that’s bad, but it’s not the same as a weekend retreat, especially a weekend silent retreat.




This year I attended our Diocesan Council of Catholic Women’s retreat, led by Fr. Ezra Sullivan, OP, who is stationed at St. Gertrude’s near Cincinnati (where our province novitiate is). The theme of the retreat was “Mary, Mother of Sorrows/Mother of Grace”, and how those two titles aren’t mutually exclusive.

As much as I love to talk, I also love–crave–the silence of retreat. How is God supposed to be heard over the noise of daily life? Remember, Elijah didn’t hear God in the earthquake. He heard Him in the “still,small voice” (1 Kgs 19:11-13). The silence isn’t absolute. It usually starts after dinner on Friday and then there’s an optional Saturday social, with the silence ended after Mass on Sunday. You can also ask questions during conferences. But, in general, silence is the rule, so that everyone can spend time immersed in God, listening for His voice, and spending time in prayer. Continue reading