At 7:55 am on Saturday, ten men were gathered in front of the Youth House at St Mark in Plano. The group headed for the 8am Mass, which began their retreat.
The St Peter Chapter has long been dormant, but since February the Dallas arm of the Brotherhood has been reengaging in its mission. That work has now peaked with the first Kepha retreat in 3 years in the DFW metroplex.
Redemptive suffering is not a topic discussed much in our modern culture, which avoids any inconvenience at all costs. But it is a topic of immense importance for our spiritual growth. As was brought up in one of the talks, St Therese of Lisieux recognized that the little inconveniences and annoyances were her means of sanctification. When we offer up our suffering as sacrifice, we participate in Christ’s redemptive suffering on the cross and help bring grace to a fallen world.
The retreat opened with a talk on the nature of sacrifice by Josh Martin. He discussed what suffering was, and how, if offered in love, it can become a sacrifice. And, in fact, sacrifice is one of the outward signs of love in our world.
After the talk the Kephans prayed a rosary, followed by our advanced hybrid activity consisting of exercise, penalties, and aerobics (a.k.a. dodgeball). During dodgeball a priest from St Mark graciously heard confessions within the house.
The second talk, given by John Peter Yamauchi, focused on Christ’s redemptive suffering on the cross. He contrasted Adam, who to avoid inconvenience did not interfere with the fall of his wife and thus fell himself, and Jesus, who went far beyond anything that was required or even expected of Him to suffer and die for our sake. Adam’s avoidance of suffering brought incredible suffering to the human race; Christ’s acceptance of suffering brought incredible grace to the human race.
Lunch and a nursing home visit followed. At the nursing home Kephans visited with the residents (who were under the impression that we were a church choir) and sang hymns, including the first, second, and fourth verses of the Star-Spangled Banner.
Returning to the church, Kephans prayed a Divine Mercy Chaplet, played more dodgeball, and listened to the final talk given by Andrew Smith. Using sacrifice and Christ’s Passion as the point of departure, he challenged us to embrace the suffering and inconveniences that are sent our way as a means of our own sanctification.
While dinner heated up, the Kephans enjoyed more dodgeball. After a delicious taco dinner, the Kephans watched A Tale of Two Cities (1935) starring Ronald Colman. The film lead to much good discussion tying it into the theme of the retreat.
At 2am the men rose for Yawns, to pray for an hour before the Blessed Sacrament. After the Adoration, the current Kepha members renewed their pledge, then returned to bed.
In the morning, the Dads’ Discussion turned to Job and how he handled his suffering, and about God’s response. A breakfast of bagels followed, after which cleanup began.
At Open Mic two longtime Kepha participants made the membership pledge and became full members. Once that was done, the Brotherhood headed to Mass to close the retreat.
In all, 11 men made it to the retreat, including one who had never encountered Kepha before. Plans for the next retreat are already being drawn up, which will most likely be in August.