Last Friday afternoon, six of us and three friends, travelled to St Benedict's School, Ealing, for the Youth 2000 retreat, about which I posted earlier. The retreats are based on the Forty hours devotion, combining traditional devotion with more modern liturgy and music, contemplative prayer, and catechesis delivered by excellent speakers.The Blessed Sacrament is exposed throughout the whole retreat, apart from the times when Mass is being offered.Confession is available from the beginning to the end. It is difficult to express verbally the transforming effect that Y2K retreats can have, but I believe the continuing Exposition and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, day and night, which follows from every Mass can open the hearts and minds of those present, filling us with His powerful, life-changing Presence. The importance of the Sacrament of Confession is clearly explained, possibly in a way that many have not understood before, and I would count myself among them; as Fr. John Edwards S.J. has said 'the sins that are confessed will never be remembered by God again, once confessed they are gone forever '.
But their effects can remain: we all can need to be healed from those effects, especially where they have caused us pain, or bad memories that plague us. One of the most beautiful and moving moments happens during the Healing service, when we are invited to touch the humeral, as the Blessed Sacrament is processed among the faithful to bless and heal them; just as the woman in the Gospel who suffered haemorrhages and believed that if she could just touch the hem of Jesus' garment, she would be healed. It is an intensely personal encounter with Jesus, the same Jesus who loves us from the beginning, and to the end.
All in all, a wonderful weekend; a chance to leave the world behind and focus on what's really important.