21-28 November 2022
Guided by Rev. Fr. Sebastian Painadath SJ & Rev. Sr. Rose Pudukadan
A retreat using Indian contemplative methods was organized by NBCLC from November 21st to 28th, 2022. The retreat was formally inauguratedFr. Nysson Lukka, Assistant Director, NBCLC. Fr. Sebastian Painadath SJ and Sr. Rose skillfully guided the retreatants. The group of 14 participants consisted of religious from various congregations and lay people.
The first part of the retreat was guided by Sister Rose. She enunciated how meditating Jesus’ prayer one can enter into deeper contemplation. She detailed how the chanting or repeating the name of Jesus could assist in bringing a distracted mind to focus, quieten it and enable a deeper experience of God. Working of the mind based on the five components: manas (a lower mind), ahamkara (the sense of I-ness), citta (the memory bank of the mind), buddhi (the evaluation and resulting decisions) and atman (the innermost aspect of consciousness) was detailed. In order to experience the inner light, she said, the self has to move from consciousness to sub-consciousness, from chitta to mystical union with God (Paramathma).
The second part of the retreat was guided by Fr. Sebastian Painadath. He explained at length the history of contemplative prayer, the highest form of Christian prayer,which aims to achieve an intimate spiritual union with God. This, he said, led to the monastic life as the Desert Fathers began to seek God, through constant prayer. He spelt out, eventually how this resulted in meditative practices. He explained that these meditative practices included reading; meditating, praying and contemplating resulted in the highest form of prayer, which was obtainable only beyond the meditation stage. When this form of prayer is practiced, he asserted, that the animosities and resentments that exist among people or religions can be obliterated and that it permeates peace, harmony and compassion in the society.
Fr. Sebastian further explained the ‘Divinization’ of humans based on the writings of the church fathers. He delineated on the “Mystery of the Holy Trinity” drawing inspirations from the Gospel of St. John and his analogiesto Word (the divine LOGOS- the Word that was with God and that was God), Well (God’s fountain of life) and River (God’s life-giving presence).Fr. Sebastian candidly shared his own prayer experiences, and as a true Guru, guided the retreatants to go deeper into meditation to experience the mystical union with God through intuitive faculty without evident rational thought or inference. Both the resource persons clarified the doubts of the retreatants drawing insights from the Scriptures and the writings of the contemplatives.
This retreat guided every participant to enter into deeper consciousness by stilling the mind, with the desire to cultivate and nurture an intimate relationship with God. It taught the efficacy of silence and the significance of praying quietly and in solitude. It revealed how to experience the true joy of prayer. At the end of the retreat, that joy was palpable in all retreatants.
The staffs of NBCLC, under the Directorship of Fr. John Baptist, deserve our sincere thanks and appreciation for their commendable and laudable efforts in organizing this retreat. Both spiritual and temporal needs of the retreatants were fully taken care of!
21-28 November 2022