Community retreat reflects on how to avoid apathy, distractions with dedication and hope

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Lay Centre Community members during the retreat in Nemi
Lay Centre Community members during the retreat in Nemi

“Living Faithfully in Liminal Times” was the theme of The Lay Centre’s second semester community retreat. Led by Father Daniel Huang, S.J., a professor of missiology at the Pontifical Gregorian University, the retreat was a time of reflection in preparation for Easter. 

Father Huang invited Lay Centre residents to shift from a “hyperactive to a receptive mode of hospitality” and to make space for God in silence and prayer. The retreat took place at the Ad Gentes Centre, near Lake Nemi in the outskirts of Rome.

Father Huang recalled the words of Pope Francis – “We are not in an era of changes, but in a change of era” – made manifest in wars, the social divisions and polarization in the public sphere, as well as in the crises in democracy, ecology and health. These are times of “great insecurity,” he said, and the concept of “liminality” creates a sense of transition between the past and the present. 

Father Huang reminded participants that prayer requires attention. Entering a prayerful mode means turning one’s attention toward God in active pursuit of God. He invited community members to start the journey of becoming a “non-anxious presence,” despite the challenges and instabilities of today’s world. It is necessary to move “from fear to trust,” he said.

All are invited to bring peace into the reality around them, he said, for only a non-anxious presence can “reset the system” and help others to move from fear to trust. In this spirit, he invited participants to move from apathy and distractions toward dedication, from acedia, spiritual indifference and boredom to a joy and happiness that only God can provide.

The retreat was an invitation to move “from desolation to consolation,” expressed in hope and charity. Participants were encouraged to think about where they were in life and the transition they were living at that moment, and then to allow themselves to be illuminated by God on the way.

Father Huang said the risen Christ is the one who brings the fullness of consolation, for when he appears to different people in Scripture – as described in John 21 – he exercises his role of great consoler and offers forgiveness and redemption.

Contributed: Filip Veber

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