Jesus tells Simon to put out into deep water. What does he mean? He means we must be all in and fully committed if we are to evangelize as we are called to do.
About a year and a half ago we became involved in the parish’s marriage preparation program. It was being revamped and many changes were being made. Paul Fahey sent us an email explaining that they were making changes in the program and were looking for married couples who would consider helping out and our names were mentioned. We agreed to be a sponsor couple and as the meetings regarding this program progressed, there was discussion of holding a retreat for engaged couples, along with a pre-cana day, here at the parish versus sending them to another parish for “Engaged Encounter”. This would be the preferred option because those leading the marriage preparation program at the parish would know exactly what information the couples were receiving. It would also be a way for these couples to not only connect with each other, but to have married couples here at the parish that they could reach out to as well. This retreat seemed like a great way for couples to grow closer to each other and to see the importance their faith life would play in their marriage.
Along with being a sponsor couple we agreed to be part of the planning for this retreat. One thing led to another and we were asked to give a talk on our couple prayer life for the engaged couples. Although we had agreed to give the talk, there was a lot of anxiety about preparing it and then actually presenting it. We had doubts about our qualifications for giving a talk like this. Our life together has not been perfect, but we have learned the importance of keeping God at the forefront of our marriage and felt we were called to share our story in the hope of helping these engaged couples see the necessity of a couple prayer life. We have now helped out with this retreat and given our talk three times. We are part of the parish’s intercessory prayer team and on the marriage prep retreat in September we were given the opportunity to pray with people as well. Each time we have felt so blessed to be a part of this retreat.
We attended the first adult retreat two years ago and had a wonderful experience. We have continued to attend these retreats and are amazed at how the Lord works in everyone in a unique way. Hearts are open to the Lord to receive whatever he has to offer. It is so inspiring to see the transformation in the attendees from the beginning of the retreat Friday evening to the end of the retreat on Sunday.
Last spring Andrea asked those of us who had attended previous adult retreats if we would be willing to be part of the team for planning the adult retreat that would take place in September. The parish staff wanted to include parishioners in leadership roles for the retreat. This was a little overwhelming at the time since we were already helping out with the marriage prep retreat which was being held the weekend before the adult retreat. Although we had not fully committed to being on the team, we began to attend the planning meetings. The theme that arose was Back to Basics and possible topics were discussed for talks that would be given. Meetings continued throughout the summer. At the parish festival Dan was talking with Paul and saying that he felt the Holy Spirit was moving him to give a talk about discerning the will of God. The staff was excited about this and pleased that he was open to giving a talk. So much for the question of whether or not we would help out with the adult retreat! Dan prepared the bulk of the discernment talk and we both shared personal stories as part of the talk. We also had the privilege of being a part of the intercessory prayer teams at this retreat. It is such a gift to see people come forward for prayer and to intercede with the Lord on their behalf. The Lord once again prompted us to work through our fears and be a part of something that would help us grow in faith.
Matthew Kelly states that one of the greatest gifts we can give anyone is to help them develop a sustainable prayer life. Joining with our parish staff to lead these retreats has been a great blessing for us. We are helping to lead retreats as an act of love toward God and others. Love is truly love when it is self-sacrificing. We are working to turn our fears and lack of confidence over to the Lord and trust him to lead us so we can lead others and follow his will for us. If we fail to listen to the voice of God in our lives, we will not be used in the way he desires to use us. God pours His graces upon those who answer when He calls. God will be with you when you follow his will for you.
Are you willing to say “Yes” to God in all things? If so, you will be amazed at what he does in your life.
Lord, I desire to put out into the deep water and to radically evangelize in the way in which you call me. Help me to say “Yes” to you in all things. Jesus, I trust in You.