This week I’ll be leading a retreat at Cape May Point, NJ on the Atlantic Ocean. Jesus told us to proclaim the gospel to the “whole world.” I’m sure that includes the Jersey Shore! This week-long retreat is being held at St. Mary-by-the-Sea, the retreat center of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Philadelphia. It’s located right on the ocean! Last time I was there I could see dolphins from my bedroom window! If you would like to see this lovely place, go to their website: www.stmarybythesea.org.
But recently I was told that there will be ninety people on this retreat. Ninety! The large number made me nervous. I moaned to myself, “How can I possible reach all those people?” I shared my concern with a nun friend of mine, Sister Cora. She said, “Melannie, why don’t you get nine Notre Dames to pray for this retreat. Each one can pray for ten retreatants.” I liked her idea. Immediately I felt as if a load was being lifted from my shoulders as I began to look for nine sisters for this “special prayer task.” (Sister Cora was my first recruit!) I had no trouble finding the other eight. Everyone I asked said yes. They all seemed eager to pray for their ten retreatants.
Why am I telling you this? Because this experience taught me (or re-taught me!) two lessons. First, I must hand over the fruits of this retreat to the Holy Spirit. Yes, I will do my part, but the real work of the retreat is God’s responsibility. Not mine. Secondly, the experience reminded me of the power of prayer. When we say to someone, “I’ll pray for you,” we are not giving mere lip service. We are doing something—something beautiful and positive. Prayer is very real. Something happens when we pray for one another. A bond is created between the pray-er and the pray-ee. Power goes forth. Sometimes we actually feel the support of other people’s prayers—even if they are miles away. It’s as if energy passes between us and among us. Have you ever experienced something like this?
When I get to Cape May I will give the retreatants a list of the nine SND’s who are praying for them. Knowing these sisters are praying for them is sure to be a source of encouragement for the retreatants. It has already been a source of encouragement for me!
(You are most welcome to join in prayer for this retreat? It runs from July 10-17. Thank you very much!)