Dear Hearts Aflame participants,
A week ago today, we completed the ‘beginning retreat’ at the Hearts Aflame gathering, and I headed back home to the parish.
I want to take this moment to offer an encouragement to all who were a part of the Hearts Aflame 2013 journey. It was a pleasure and a privilege to be with you for the time of retreat last weekend. Thank you! I have remembered you all in my prayer in the week since.
Chances are that these ten days of intensive retreat, reflection, Catholic friendship and learning, have been both demanding and inspiring for you all. Now you return home to people and to environments that may not be as Christ-centred as the Hearts community.
This is a challenging transition.
But it is an essential transition. We can’t all live in Marton forever! And who of us wants to camp in a boarding school for the rest of our lives! It is important that we return home to our homes, families and study and work. This transition home is a key part of the Hearts Aflame process.
Eliot wrote this poem soon after his conversion to Christianity. He was deeply aware that renewed encounter with Jesus had changed him. He was now different. Yet he still had to live in a world that was the same as before.
This is the challenge for all of us who have been encountered by Christ.
This challenge is the heart of the Christian faith: to know that in whatever circumstances we find ourselves, grief or hope, loss or abundance, friendship or loneliness, life or death, whatever circumstances, God is with us. We are never alone.
Whatever your circumstances as you return home, in your homes and families, workplaces or study, these circumstances are simply the pathway that God allows you to walk, that you might journey more intimately with Him now and into eternity.
So my prayers continue with you all as you journey back home. You are not alone.
Please keep me in your prayer too.
Jesus, who walked with you through the Hearts Aflame experience, is now journeying with you as you return home with hearts renewed.
Fr. John O’Connor