A while back when at a social gathering of Catholics from throughout the diocese, I was talking with a group of people and the subject of our ministry here at Immaculate Heart Retreat Center came up. And something very interesting happened. An individual in the group commented that, “He didn’t need to go to Immaculate Heart because nothing was wrong with him. He wasn’t broken and didn’t need any help.” I smiled and moved on, and thought Wow! Is that the perception of our Catholic Community at large? It is true that we are a healing place for those whose lives and spirits are in pain. They come here seeking the Hope, Peace, and Healing that are found at IHRC. But, Immaculate Heart Retreat Center is so much more.
Immaculate Heart Retreat Center is a place where you are challenged spiritually. It’s where you are challenged to discern your relationship with God to be retrospective and ask the hard questions: Who am I? What am I? What is God challenging me to do with my life and in my relationship with Him? We are made in God’s image and likeness so therefore we are wonderfully made for God is in us. We are in Him. This is profound. Our world today does all it can to rob us of our holiness to capture us and shape our concept of ourselves in the material world that is around us. “For those who live according to the flesh are concerned with the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the spirit with the things of the spirit. The concern of the flesh is death, but the concern of the spirit is life and peace. For the concern of the flesh is hostility toward God; it does not submit to the law of God, nor can it; and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” Rom 8: 5-8.
A retreat center is a place where we can escape the trappings of our worldly existence and have the time, peace and tranquility to rediscover who we are as God’s children. “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received a spirit of adoption, through which we cry, “Abba, - Father!” “The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” Rom 8: 14-16.
Nowhere was this calling of the Spirit more apparent to me that when I visited the Bishops’ Room here at IHRC where an Icon retreat “Portal to Eternal Life: Writing Icons through Prayer” was underway. The Bishops’ room was filled with 15 people, including the priest, Fr. Dennis Day, from Sandpoint ID, who all spent five days working on writing icons. They focused on the spirituality of iconography through reflection and prayer. This was a new experience for me to see how creative art could be the focus for a retreat. When I went in alone in the final two days of the retreat, I saw the beauty of the artwork and prayerful feeling of God’s presence. I saw in every one of them a certain peacefulness and prayerfulness, and how each of the participants created something beautiful. These icons will be used to help people in their faith journey. What a wonderful way to pray! Come write an icon in July 2015!
Throughout 2014, we will be offering many programs and retreats that will challenge you to reflect on your relationship with God and strengthen your spirituality. Come visit us and allow the Spirit to work in your heart! I also ask that if you have not yet made your end of year gift for tax purposes to please support us. The Spirit is here waiting to challenge you. Are you up to the challenge?
God Bless you and your families.
Your servant in Christ,
Deacon John Ruscheinsky