Naturally, there was more to the retreat than was recounted in previous posts. However, Noman was busy praying, reading and attending sessions. Just in case you might like to know, what follows is a digest summary.
Fun fact: Men spend 2.5 minutes per day talking with their wives.
Re: The universal call to holiness (Mt. 5:48): In order to make it personal and real, it's important to realize that the task of a life is to become the person that God thought of when He created me. We are each priests of our own existence insofar as we are free and self-determining beings. It is our choice to become friends of God, or not. To become one, it helps to have a micro-level plan addressing how we shall live each day so as to be in conformity with God's wishes. Traditional means proposed by the Church include mental prayer, daily mass, penance, visits to the blessed sacrament, praying and contemplating the mysteries of the rosary. Of course there are more. But the aforementioned are a great place to start. To use a dated example, these daily norms are like a row of telephone poles upon which the wires carrying communication rest. Our daily norms of piety carry the conversation we keep up with God. The more ambitious in this one becomes, the more important it is to find a "coach."
Re, Work: Jesus Christ spent 30 of his 33 years on earth working quietly, thereby dignifying and supernaturalizing it for all people. The example of his hidden life should move us to become contemplatives in the middle of the world.
Re, Apostolate: Every person that we meet on earth will die. Means that we can use to help them get to heaven include making them an explicit intention of our work and prayer; appealing to each one's guardian angel; working well, with competence; being a good friend; and organizing activities, e.g., discussion groups.
Re, The Cross: Christ suffered, and loved us through it. Imitation of Christ requires that we do the same. John Paul II gave the world possibly the greatest public example of suffering in history. Right until the end, he showed us how to handle it. Some crosses are involuntary; life imposes them on us, e.g., work or family problems, financial crises, aging, betrayals, calumny. Some are voluntary, taken on in order to be free, e.g., smiling when something annoys us; denying oneself a second helping, or desert; going to bed and rising at fixed times; order. Perhaps the most interesting are the crosses we bring upon ourselves, e.g, in business or personal relations; out of stupidity. Regardless of how the cross enters our lives, we must be willing to suffer if we aspire to do great things.
Re, The Four Last Things: Death, judgment, heaven, hell. Our lives are measured by time, which is limited. The task for each person is to bring his life to fulfillment in that time. While each of us celebrates a birthday, there is also a day on which we will leave this earth. We pass it each year without ever marking, or even knowing it. How will God receive me? Be serious, but don't fear, as Christ wills all of us to be saved, and will help us if we let him. Yet, he speaks of hell 25 times in the gospels, and uses parables strongly suggesting that many if not most people will go there. When you think of it, there would be no point to human life if we couldn't choose to reject him. Heaven should be filled with people that we helped get there, waiting to greet us.
Re, The Eucharist: It is what makes us a Church. Jesus alluded to it 11 times in the gospels, and he lost followers every time he brought it up. John Paul II proclaimed a year of the eucharist towards the end of his life. He didn't live to see its conclusion. Pope Benedict ended the year by writing about it.
Re, Parenthood: What will our children learn from us? Where will they go when they die? We don't raise children; we raise adults. Husband and wife play Simon of Cyrene to one another, and the children are Alexander and Rufus who became Christians in later life because of their father's example.
Noman says there was much to contemplate, and bring home.