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Catholic News Herald

Serving Christ and Connecting Catholics in Western North Carolina

120817 advent retreattGREENSBORO — Advent has begun, and amid the busyness of the holiday season, a group of women in the Triad recently gathered for a retreat designed to help them focus during Advent and prepare their hearts for Christmas.

Regnum Christi of the Triad offered an evening retreat Nov. 30 entitled “Women’s Advent by Candlelight,” an evening of reflection, prayer, fellowship and food. Regnum Christi is a Catholic apostolate under the auspices of the Legionaries of Christ comprised of lay, consecrated and ordained members.

Patty Disney, a Regnum Christi team leader who helped to organize the retreat, hoped participants would take with them a sense of peace and calm throughout the holiday season.

In a world that does not value faith in God, women must be encouraged to live their faith each and every day, Disney said. This retreat was an opportunity to gather together, share prayer time and offer support to one other.

Throughout the evening, women were encouraged, inspired and reminded that to share the spirit of Advent in their homes, they must first create a sacred space within themselves for prayer so as to deepen their relationship with God.

The evening began with a reflection offered by Father Paul Buchanan, pastor of Our Lady of Grace Church in Greensboro, where the retreat was held. Father Buchanan invited the women to what he called “a bit of Lectio Divina,” an invitation to listen with hearts, minds and imagination to key moments in Scripture that reflect the expectant joy of Advent: the Annunciation, the shepherds’ encounter with the angels, and Mary and Joseph finding Jesus in the temple. Be receptive to God’s will and His love for us, just as Mary was, he told the participants, and ask her to help guide them throughout Advent. Like Mary, we may not understand all of God’s plan for us, but as we wait for the coming of the Lord, Mary waits with us, he said.

Catherine Vendetti, a young lay missionary for Regnum Christi who travels throughout the Southeast offering spiritual talks and presentations, was the keynote speaker for the retreat.

Vendetti used selected scenes from the 2006 film “The Nativity Story” as a framework for her presentation on three ways to let oneself be loved: loved by God, loved by oneself and loved by others.

Some people, she said, feel starved for the love God offers because they don’t give themselves time to build a relationship with Him. Mary’s relationship with God certainly didn’t start with the appearance of the Angel Gabriel, she said. Rather, Mary’s prayer life and her constant attention on following God’s will in her life demonstrated her closeness with God.

To respond to God’s call, Vendetti said, one must create an interior life of constant communication with God through regular prayer. While cooking, cleaning or shopping, Vendetti suggested to the participants, keep one’s mind and heart on the baby Jesus as if they were preparing for their own baby’s arrival.

Loving oneself, Vendetti also noted, can sometimes be the most difficult thing to achieve. Evaluating one’s own expectations is a good place to start, she said. Ask yourself: Are those expectations reasonable, good and true? Do they result in feelings of the worth and dignity that God has bestowed on you?

Vendetti concluded with encouraging the women to let themselves be loved by others during this Advent season. In giving love to others, they must also allow others to reciprocate and share their love in return.

“We were created in the image and likeness of God. That means we were created to love and be loved as the Holy Trinity loves and is loved,” she said.

To learn more about the Regnum Christi movement in the Diocese of Charlotte, go online to www.rcgreatercharlotte.com.

— Annette K. Tenny, correspondent