"So how was the retreat, Kenny?" I've been asked that so many times in the past 24 hours, and I've still to formulate a reply that does the experience justice!
On one level it was an amusing experience. I became a Roman Catholic for five days, surrounded by a mixture of nuns, priests and religious from all over who were fellow retreatants. I've said so many Hail Marys in the past week that they are coming out of my ears! The Masses were wonderful, and because of the tradition I come from, and my knowledge of the Roman Missal, I coped really well with that stuff, except when they went off into singing the Agnus Dei or the Sanctus in Latin and I realised my Latin was somewhat rusty! However, it was a joy to be able to receive Holy Communion with them all and made to feel a part of it all. Nightly Exposition and Benediction became special times and I longed again for that special holiness which so many modern liturgies have drummed out of us.
The best bit was the silence. The five days when not a word was spoken, (except in my chats with the Director), but only in praise and adoration of Our Lord. If that sounds pious, then I'm sorry, but it was a very real piety that permeated my soul and gave me a peace that passed understanding. Kinnoull is the sort of place where you catch that stuff. It's the sort of piety that you need to experience and drink in , especially if your ministry tends to focus on so any material and practical matters. We are always in danger of losing sight of the bigger picture!
The Retreat Director, Fr Ronnie McAinsh brought something very special to the retreat and to me personally. His experience, in Zimbabwe and elsewhere, and his qualifications as a practising psychotherapist, were all extremely relevant to me and many of the issues and problems I had been dealing with in my life and ministry were addressed and tackled. (I know that many of you think I should have visited a "shrink" a long time ago!)
So, back to the parish! Expectations that the "sermon" tomorrow will be an imparting of all the wisdom that I've "sooked" up since last Sunday. However, I don't know how much I can impart at the moment. Much of it is still swimming around in my brain and my soul, and I'm not really ready, or able, to articulate much! Some of it may never be spoken. I no longer feel the need to show a "naked" spirituality! Some things need simply to be pondered in the heart, as Our Lady did.
See, all these Hail Marys have had an effect on me after all!