A PRAYER RETREAT WITH MARK
DURING this “retreat” time this past week, the words “Colossians 2:1” flashed in my heart one morning.
For I want you to know how great a struggle I am having for you and for those in Laodicea and all who have not seen me face to face, that their hearts may be encouraged as they are brought together in love, to have all the richness of fully assured understanding, for the knowledge of the mystery of God, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (Col 2:1)
And with that, I sensed the Lord asking me to lead my readers in a spiritual retreat this Lent. It is time. It is time for the army of God to put on its spiritual armor and be lead into battle. We have been waiting in the Bastion; we have been stationed on the wall, “watching and praying.” We have seen the advancing army that now stands at our gates. But Our Lord did not wait for His enemies to conquer them. No, He went down to Jerusalem of His own accord. He cleansed the temple. He rebuked the Pharisees. He washed the feet of His disciples, and instituted the Holy Mass. He entered Gethsemane of His own will, and then surrendered it completely to the Father. He allowed His enemies to “kiss” Him by betrayal, scourge Him at will, and sentence Him to death. He picked up His cross and He carried it to the Summit, as though holding aloft a torch that would henceforth lead every lamb into the chamber of resurrection, of freedom. There, at Calvary, taking His last breath, He exhaled His Spirit into the Church’s future… into the present moment.
And now, brothers and sisters, my weary companions, it is time to catch this Divine Breath of Jesus. It is time for us to inhale the life of Christ so that we too may rise from our flesh, rise from our apathy, rise from worldliness, rise from our slumber.
The hand of the Lord came upon me, and he led me out in the spirit of the Lord and set me in the center of the broad valley. It was filled with bones. He made me walk among them in every direction. So many lay on the surface of the valley! How dry they were! He asked me: Son of man, can these bones come back to life? “Lord God,” I answered, “you alone know that.” Then he said to me: Prophesy over these bones, and say to them: Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Listen! I will make breath enter you so you may come to life. I will put sinews on you, make flesh grow over you, cover you with skin, and put breath into you so you may come to life. Then you shall know that I am the Lord… I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath entered them; they came to life and stood on their feet, a vast army. (Ezekiel 37:1-10)
This retreat is for the poor; it is for the weak; it is for the addicted; it is for those who feel as though this world is closing in on them and their cries for freedom are being lost. But it is precisely in this weakness that the Lord will become strong. What is needed, then, is your “yes”, your fiat. What is needed is your willingness and desire. What is needed is your consent to allow the Holy Spirit to work in you. What is needed is your obedience to the duty of the moment.
I have asked—no, I have begged—that Our Lady will be our Retreat Master. That our Mother would come and teach us, her children, the way to freedom and the paths to victory. I have no doubt that this prayer will be answered. I have cleaned my slate, and will allow this Queen to impress her words upon my heart, to fill my pen with the ink of her wisdom, and to move my lips with the love of her own. Who better to form us than the one who formed Jesus?
Perhaps you are thinking about giving up chocolate or coffee or television, etc. But how about fasting from wasted time? We say we have no time to pray—but easily spend that time perusing social networks, Facebook walls, mindless websites, watching sports and the like. Commit, with me, to just 15 minutes each day, preferably before school or work, before the kids wake up or the phone starts ringing. If you begin your day by “seeking first the Kingdom of God”, I promise you, your days will fast become “out of this world.”
And so, I invite you to join me by clicking the Category link on the sidebar that says Prayer Retreat and begin with Day One.
As I was writing this out, an email arrived from a reader with a word she received in prayer. Yes, I believe this is from the Lord:
The Kingdom comes, all else does not compare, ready yourselves. Before an army takes over an enemy there is one last, final battle, the fiercest of all. This is where heroes rise (Saints), where the least become the greatest, and those who were considered worthless are most important. They become the stronghold for faith, the remnant. Brothers & Sisters gird your loins, don your armor, take up your sword. The casualties of this war are not losses, but victories; the greatest gift is to lay down ones life for another.
The Battle belongs to the lord.
She included a link to John Michael Talbot’s song “The Battle Belongs to the Lord.” It is anointed. I include it below for you to pray with today as a pre-Lenten battle-cry.
Spread the word. Tell your family and friends. Do it as a family after supper. Post it on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Linkedin… go into the by-roads and alleys, and invite the poor, downtrodden, and weak.
And please, pray for me. Never have I felt more incapable of anything.
You are loved.