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What a blessing it is to have our Catholic faith, isn’t it?  Having just left another mountain top experience at the Discovery House Palm Sunday weekend, I can tell you that God is truly remarkable in His constancy and faithfulness.  We were once again reminded that we are “not to be afraid or terrified…for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6).  Even though the issues that the men brought to our Samson healing weekend are as unique and varied as the men themselves, God does not change.  His Holy Spirit was present and moved the men of Samson VII’s hearts.  Our brother Jesus, entered into our collective pain, trials and struggles and revealed to us that He has been there the whole time.  What a gift is the knowledge that our Lord Jesus has truly been present in the midst of our deepest wounds.  What a gift is the knowledge that our Blessed Mother has also been interceding on our behalf as well.  We took great comfort and strength in these truths this past weekend and we draw on them as we re-enter our lives post retreat.

Here are some personal takeaways from this past retreat in the hopes of capturing for you some of the glory still being manifested in my mind and heart:

chef1.) God provides–always!!!  Never doubt this men.  With no chef to fulfill the food duties for Thursday and Friday’s meals, we had an immediate answer in brother Chris Tray’s superb YES to fill the role.  It was delicious Chris.  Thank you!

2.) God uses our brokenness to help others.  This is becoming a maxim for us at the Samson Retreat program.  From the leader team to our attendees, this fact holds true throughout our weekend and it is something we each must remember as we engage our families, friends and communities.  Be not afraid!  Your story is your gift to the world and the Church.

3.) A willing and contrite heart, God will not spurn (Psalm 51:17).  God’s mercy is infinite and His greatest attribute (St. Faustina’s Diary).  We learned that forgiveness is one of the greatest blessings we could receive and give to another.  We recognized that forgiving ourselves is the hardest thing to do!  Don’t give up, God is waiting like a Father with His arms wide open for your return.

4.) Our crosses are each unique and glorious.  Making a cross is one thing, but carrying it is quite another.   At times, this might seem a simple concept like our building cross activity on Friday.  Taking up the cross each day when we are tired, and beaten up by life, may seem like an unbearable burden.  It is then that we must remember to persevere and press on, yet always on the look out for our Simons.

5.) The Holy Spirit whispers to us.  “Speak Lord, your servant is listening” (1 Samual 3:10).  Whether it is in the theme of our station we were assigned, the big brothers around us, or the word(s) that pierced our hearts, our God is still speaking.  Are you listening?

6.) God’s healing is instant!  It was for those Jesus cured when He walked the face of the earth and it is for us today.  Claim your healing!  Believe in that healing!  Live that healing!  Cease in your doubt and believe that He has touched you.

7.) There is a little of each of us in the story of Samson (Judges 13-16).  Where do you fit in his story?  The carnal pleasure seeking side?  The self-righteous arrogant side?  The wounded and abused side?  The strong and courageous side?  The vulnerable and grief stricken side?  The great love and sacrificial side?  Wherever you think you are, know that God wants to use you.  Empty yourself and ask Him to use you for His glory and not yours.

8.) Our story is not devoid of meaning.  The facts of the past we cannot change.  They are written and it is finished, but God can use all of these details to bring about a great good.  Don’t believe it?  Remember what happened on your Samson weekend!

Much to be thankful for this Easter!  Easter JesusI know my Good Friday meditation and thoughts will contain each of you this year.  The pain that I nailed to Christ’s cross has faces and names.  Thanks for sharing your story with me and enabling me to walk with you.

In Christ’s healing love,

Mark Houck