Wednesday, October 7, 2009

God's Extravagant Love

By Sr. Mary Jo Chaves

I have just recently returned from giving a retreat at San Damiano Retreat Center in Danville, California with Sr. Celeste Clavel, another member of our staff at the Franciscan Spiritual Center. It is a retreat that we have given many times across the country. The official title of the retreat is: God’s Extravagant Love: Reclaiming the Franciscan Theological Tradition.” It is indeed an experience of God’s extravagant love!

When we arrived on Friday October 2 we were greeted warmly by the Franciscan staff at the Center. We spent the afternoon preparing our room for our presentation. Franciscan hospitality surrounded us with abundance. One of our own sisters, Sr. Kathleen Moffatt, from Philadelphia was there to make the retreat and she immediately jumped in to help us set up.

It was quite an honor to have Kathleen with us since she is the general coordinator of this particular retreat. At the invitation of Sr. Kathleen eighteen Sisters from our own community as well as from our heritage communities gathered in Philadelphia in 2004 to create this experience. After three years of study and meetings we launched the program, expecting it to end after 12 presentations. Much to our delight it was enthusiastically received by Franciscan participants all around the world. Sr. Celeste and I found ourselves in Danville to share once more the treasure that this retreat is.

It is an introduction to three major themes from the Franciscan Theological Tradition:
• The Primacy of Christ and the Mystery of Love
• Creation
• Dignity of the Human Person

In Danville, 30 participants listened, reflected and shared their own experiences of what it means to be loved extravagantly by our God. Their faces were filled with light at the conclusion of the retreat. They packed their bags to return home with a “new lens” on their lives, one that enabled them to see with new eyes their own value and worth as well as the value and worth of all of creation.

Sr. Celeste and I intend to give this retreat at the Center here in Milwaukie in the spring. You might want to consider it for yourself. We can promise you that you will leave the retreat feeling very Franciscan and even more convinced that the Franciscan movement has a very significant role to play in redeeming and healing our 21st century world through living and sharing the abundance of God’s extravagant love.

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