Catechist Retreat 2018

Written by Fr Sean Cullen
Parish Priest, Bowral Parish

This year’s Retreat Theme was 1 Peter 5:7 ‘Cast all of your burdens on Him, for He cares for you’. Fr Sean Cullen has kindly shared his summary of the beautiful input we received as Catechists on the day.

The overwhelming theme of both these short letters of St. Peter is encouragement. The content of the letter is meant to both inspire and admonish the people who were trying to live as God’s people but at the same time felt an alienation from their previous religious roots and the society around them. Peter spells out what is required of Christians to live out their calling in whatever situation they find themselves. But over all of this hangs the possibility of suffering as a Christian. Encouragement to fidelity in spite of suffering is based upon the meaning of Christian existence. But sometimes we’re a bit reluctant to lean on God the way God wants us to. Why? What’s stopping us? Perhaps it has something to do with the image we have of God. It might be a ferocious image of God that we learnt in childhood, or an imagined image of God that we’ve formed from our own individual view of the world.

So before we can cast all our burdens on to God confident that He will look after us, we need a mature and appropriate idea of God in our hearts and minds.

God is prodigal. God is generous and unlimited in His mercy.

God is always invitational. “Do not be afraid.” When God breaks into our lives, they are His first words.The Gospel is meant to set us free from fear. You cannot be afraid of someone you love.

God respects our nature. God made us as distracted beings, so God is never angry with us for immersing ourselves into life.

God doesn’t demand a moral condition to be with us. When Jesus went to dine with tax collectors, prostitutes and other sinners, He didn’t demand that they clean up their lives first. He dines with them, and then a lot of them DO clean up their lives. Discipleship is a process of conversion – accepting that we are sinners and then accepting God’s mercy.

We are all anxious and fearful about many things – our health, our work, our future, the people we love. What diminishes our faith isn’t that we have these burdens or that we are worried about this or that, it’s the overwhelming feeling that God has forgotten us or abandoned us. We worry that we are not in safe hands, and that we are not being looked after. Faith doesn’t promise that we won’t have burdens to carry, but our faith does give us the assurance that God is good and that we can trust God and that God won’t forget us, and that despite all the evidence to the contrary, God is still in control of the universe.

Our faith says God is real and because of this, there is, in the end, nothing to fear. God is loving and forgiving and absolutely trustworthy. So, our tasks to surrender to that. We can “cast our cares onto Him” because our faith assures us that there is really nothing to fear. And we remember that the message littered throughout scripture is that whenever God appears, when heaven speaks to earth the opening words are: Don’t be afraid. I’m here. Be at peace.

This article is from the December 2018 CatechistNET