Sunday, November 26, 2006

Deus Caritas Est... Who Am I?

It's been a week since Aggie Awakening 78 took place in Somerville, Texas, but I'm still reminded of the thrilling weekend it was.

The retreat, which has been a fixture at Texas A&M (and St. Mary's) since the early 80's, is now the largest running Awakening retreat in the nation. Visit the Aggie Awakening history page for more information.

Anyway, back to the actual weekend. This past semester has been my 7th Awakening to be a part of (either as a retreater or staffer), and each time it seems to get even more special. For the fact of the matter is that each time you staff a retreat like Awakening is, you learn something more of what the retreat is about and a little more about yourself. For me, the weekend was an affirmation of some things I've read and spoke about with others, but it was also a wake up call for me in certain areas.

I've staffed now six times, and this time—like two times previous—I was a table parent. Being a table parent involves, I think, a little more preparation than a few other staffs (there a handful staffs in all), most importantly, because of the focus solely on the retreaters at one's table. This focus can be a good thing, since it's the spiritual uplifting that we are called to work with on this retreat, but at the same time things can be lacking for those involved... namely sleep.

Fortunately the Lord graced me with enough sleep... and energy... to be ready for the weekend physically. Yet, there are two other components needing preparation for retreats like this: emotional and spiritual preparation. Why emotional? Well, if you cannot become a fortress of emotional strength for your retreaters then the weekend is lessened for them. And spiritual? In the similar vein, a person on spiritually soft footing shall not provide sound bedrock for the retreaters to reside upon.

The retreat itself was a blessing though. It was a coalescing of friends, a common cause, a love for Christ, and a passion to bring that love to the retreaters.

Aggie Awakening 78 Backdrop
Each retreat has a theme, something to focus on or bring focus to for the weekend. This semester's was "Deus Caritas Est... Who Am I?" This theme, based on 1 John 4:16 and Pope Benedict's first Encyclical letter of the same name, was a beautiful way to tie in a lot of what the retreat covers in a different light... a light that has been on my mind over the past semester, especially.

Although the fun-filled, spiritually-renewing weekend is over, the energetic buzz that I felt—akin to one of the tongues of fire received by the Apostles on Pentecost—has diminished some, but I feel that with the retreat, a quiet peace has been given to me. For this, among so many things, I feel so thankful for.

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