Last week, I posted about the upcoming “Abide in Me & I in You” free online mini-retreat, led by Sr. Kathryn James Hermes, F.S.P. on SmartCatholics.
The retreat is happening this Saturday, April 23, at 3pm Eastern.
In case you’re still on the fence about joining in, I thought it would be helpful to talk to Sr. Kathryn about the perspective she will offer in this retreat. Read along for our quick Q&A, and consider whether the Spirit might be moving you to meet God through this retreat experience.
WPI: There is so much going on in the world, from wars to the lingering effects of the pandemic to the structural inequality, loneliness, and consumerism plaguing our society. We all, too, have our own individual grief and losses to cope with. God can seem far away. How can those who may already feel exhausted and tired by the Christian call to be salt and light for the world or who are having a hard time knowing God really cares for them find renewed energy for prayer?
Sr. Kathryn: I have been there so often. I live with epilepsy and am a bit of an existentialist when I try to understand the world and life. It can seem like just too much to handle, way beyond our power to deal with. One thing I am learning at this point in my life is that God doesn’t want me to figure everything out and solve the world’s problems. He wants me to be faithful to his love for me. He wants me to give him permission to have his way with my life. When we do he can pour his graces into the world. And what the world really needs is more of God’s power and mercy.
What has really helped me in prayer at times like this is to create guides for my own prayer. So when I am overwhelmed, tired, or just not quite feeling loveable and loved, they become like a lattice. My thoughts and emotions, desires, and conversations with God weave themselves through this prayer support. The guides I create always are rooted in the Word of God and lead me to slow down, rest, and trust. In the retreat, I’ll be sharing these prayer supports and meditations.
WPI: Both from the retreat description and reading a bit of your own story and work, it is clear that you are rooted in a peace-filled and restful orientation, rather than one occupied with effort and striving. Can you speak a little about your overall outlook and how you got there?
Sr. Kathryn: I have spent so many years trusting in my own self-sufficiency, and that isn’t a peaceful place at all. I’m too often like Peter at the Last Supper when he declared to Jesus: “I will never betray you. I will die for you.” But what Jesus really wants is our love. At the charcoal fire on the shore of Lake Tiberias Jesus asked Peter: “Do you love me? Do you really love me?” It’s really about love. Today I am still tempted to think that I’m the one doing things and to take credit for them, but am more and more learning to acknowledge that it is only because of God and through God that I can do anything that is good. Prayer that acknowledges that “we can’t pray on our own” and that it is the Spirit within us that is praying brings us peace and rest.
WPI: Who do you imagine this retreat is for? Describe the person who might be ready to learn how to allow Jesus to abide in them.
Sr. Kathryn: I feel like answering this by saying, “If you feel curious, a fire in your heart, a desire for God’s love and comfort, follow your inspiration.” Really it is for anyone Jesus is calling to his most tender heart. But, as you said above, we can find ourselves not feeling anything, not desiring anything. We can get kind of stuck in a malaise where the Enemy keeps us away from what could bring us life and hope. If that is you, the retreat is definitely for you! It is easy and will over nine days give you the support you need to be able to respond to the grace of God and Jesus’ tremendous love for you.
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Rachel Amiri is a contributor and past Production Editor for Where Peter Is. She has also appeared as the host of WPI Live. She is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame with degrees in Theology and Political Science, and was deeply shaped by the thought of Pope Benedict XVI. She has worked in Catholic publishing as well as in healthcare as a FertilityCare Practitioner. Rachel is married to fellow WPI Contributor Daniel Amiri and resides in St. Louis, Missouri, where they are raising three children.