Written by: Michaela Mencacci
What do you think of when you hear the words, “Father’s house?”
Do you think of God? Of peace and quiet?
On the weekend of February 2-4, a small group of students and FOCUS missionaries attended the Father’s House retreat in Wimberly, Texas and received tons of peace through meditation, and prayer.
The students and missionaries who went were Brittany Betik, Abbi Vinci, Amanda Graves, Jake Olson and Megan Callaghan.
“The retreat was focused on [our] relationship with the Father and getting through the battle for [our] souls and safely into the Father’s House,” Abbi Vinci, student at Stephen F. Austin, said. “The retreat itself was one based on personal meditation and relevant talks.”
The students were able to build their relationship with God and find inner peace within a busy spring semester.
“I love retreats because they are a great time to get away from the world and re-focus on God,” said Brittany Betik, SFA student. “I definitely needed to do that … amidst this crazy semester of student teaching. I also really wanted to see some of my friends from SFA and hang out with other Catholics who also wanted to grow in their relationship with God.”
The retreat was meant “to learn and experience the Father's love for us. Not [as] humans, but as individuals,” Amanda Graves, FOCUS missionary, said. “Me, Amanda, knowing that I am loved by the Father and that I am good.”
The students were able to stay at a jewish camp in Wimberly during the retreat.
“We stayed at Camp Young Judea in Wimberly, Texas,” Betik said. “It was a really beautiful camp, full of open spaces, trees, lots of deer, some super annoying geese and even a hidden tree house you have to cross a stream to get to.”
Along with the beauty, “there were plenty of benches and areas to sit and meditate or walk around with all the people you know [or] met there,” Vinci said.
The retreat had keynote speakers and meditation time for all of the students.
“Generally, we had a 45 minute talk, 50 minutes to work through a meditation, and 45 minutes for small groups,” Graves said. “The meditations walked us through the battle of mission and how crucial it is to remain looking at the Father in the midst of the battle.”
“One of the speakers described [Campy Young Judea] as similar to Jerusalem.” Betik said. “I’ve never been to Jerusalem so I cannot testify to that myself, but it sure felt like what I imagined Jerusalem to be. Sunday was especially beautiful because the sun finally came out and the weather was glorious!”
Everyone from St. Mary’s who went all said they would definitely go again.
“The talks will never be the same and even with the same meditations you are never in the same place and God wants to show you something new each time,” Vinci said.
A lot of the student’s said that the meditation time was their favorite part of the retreat.
“My favorite part of the retreat was all of our meditation and prayer time,” Betik said. “We had several self-led meditations where we got to go off by ourselves and enter into these moments in time with the Lord and let Him move in our hearts and minds.”
“Meditations are my favorite thing because I do better with pictures than with words and Ignation meditation is my favorite prayers,” Vinci said.
Throughout this meditation time, the students and FOCUS missionaries were able to experience God in a very personal and intimate way.
“I was able to learn how the father loves me and who I was created to be,” Graves said. “I know that the Father's love is endless and that he will always have gifts to give me.”
Here are some things that our students and FOCUS members from St. Mary’s want to tell you after attending this retreat:
“We are good. The Father has made every single one of us good & with his love. He wants us to abide in him. The more we busy ourselves with the temptations of society, the less we are able to receive our true identities as daughters and sons of our Father in Heaven.”
As a student athlete at SFA and a child of God who is working to become a saint in the kingdom of Heaven, I have to stay fit: physically, mentally and spiritually. Just like the holy trinity, I believe that the mind, body and spirit are connected in the same way. God created our minds in which he uses as vessels of communication, Jesus gave his body to grant us eternal life, and the Holy Spirit always dwells in our souls. To effectively be fully open to the way, the truth and the life, we need to keep our minds, bodies and souls fit and clean so that we can become the people God created us to be.
Most of us know how to exercise the body and the mind - with extensive training. We have spent years in school to improve our scholarly thinking, and with the use of the internet we could all find answers on how we could stay physically fit. So how do we train the soul? The answer lies within each of us. Me? I'm just now finding my personal workout routine, and it works out all three: mind, body and soul.
I could define my whole workout in one word... Cleansing
Recently I have been given the challenge to stay away from a select group of foods for six months. Due to certain health issues that could become more of a problem for my future self, my doctor recommended that I take a food sensitivity test.
My results came back a little daunting…
Some of the ingredients and foods I have to cut from my diet are:
High Fructose Corn Syrup, Cane Sugar, Random food colorings, Soy, Wheat, Rye, Barley, and Yellow Squash.
I've lost the privilege of being able to eat anything I want, whenever I want. I now have to plan, prepare and clean every time I need to eat. This gave me and my college-wired brain a huge shock. For the first time in my life I have consistently been checking nutrition facts in everything that I eat, which has been an enlightening experience to say the least.
What I have noticed from my first two weeks of staying away from all processed foods is that I have had more energy, have not gotten any stomach aches, headaches, or migraines, felt more productive, lost a few stubborn pounds and have felt all-around better. This new found natural way of living has boosted my happiness, which shows from the inside out. I have had less anxiety, less anger and a lot more peace. Peace of mind, body and soul.
Sugar is something that has always been a part of my life. It was like a drug, of sorts; addicting and pleasing to taste. I am now learning to walk on my own without using the crutch that sugar gave me. Almost everything I ate had sugar in it, and although it will be hard to eliminate in my diet, I believe that God will fill the empty spaces where sugar resided with the graces that were always meant to be there. If we take out the bad things in our lives, it will leave room for the Lord to work through us.
Most of us live a very fast-paced lifestyle, working hard today so we can have a better tomorrow. This same way of living could also be used to grow stronger in your mind, body, and your relationship with God.
To achieve this I have been journaling a lot more, reading the Bible and going to confession regularly. In doing this, I have been cleansing both my mind and soul of worldly thoughts and feelings. These exercises have helped free myself of a lot of extra weight that have been building up for years. With the help of my new routine, I have been shedding the intoxicating pounds of self-abasement and it has been truly liberating. My self-love has grown and has encouraged my acceptance of Christ’s pure love for me, and for the whole world.
Our body is a temple that has it’s fair share of upkeep. I have found a workout routine that works for me in a way that I never expected. It may seem simple, but it is effective. Here are some steps to help find your own personalized routine:
Wishing you all many blessings and good luck to everyone on their road to fitness!
Thanks for reading,