September 17, 2017 –“ Women of the Word Toronto” – Conference: LOVING
Silence…a difficult concept to understand when there are 300 women in a room, yet that was all I heard…silence. Beautiful, peaceful, and loving silence.
It’s been over a week now that WOW T held its conference: Loving! A day-long event with a mass celebrated by His Eminence Cardinal Collins, and featuring presentations by Dr. Josephine Lombardi and Celeste Giraldo Estrada.
In a room of 300 beautiful women, a “personal” retreat that truly inspired my soul.
Its’ impact is still holding strong in my heart. Three hundred beautiful daughters of God searching for the truth – for some rest from the busyness of life, for some guidance, and above all, for some spiritual nourishment. And it all came to be, as the beautiful statue of Mother Mary watched lovingly over the room, each of the candles were lit, and the vases of beautiful roses: containing one rose for each guest to set her intention in front of our blessed Mother – all of these tangible beautiful elements to add to the peaceful and inviting ambiance.
It is the “silence” of the day that continues to come to mind. The beautiful “hush” over the room as Cardinal Collins came in and it continued through the celebration of the Holy Mass, even as Cardinal Collins’ spoke his homily – he chose to start talking about a beloved storyteller, Jane Austen, and those characters she brought to life: (including, much to his dismay, the groveling ”Pastor Collins”) who, in the end, were all released from their life ordeals by the gift of “forgiveness”.
However, it was the true concept of “forgiveness” in our spiritual life, that of our Catholic faith that really touched my soul -- concepts I have heard over and over again – but the way he spoke those steadfast words to focus on the concept of “forgiveness”, which, above all is found in the gift of the sacrament of reconciliation! Never undervalue that! His words were spoken with the utmost humility and affection, a loving father to his children, a stalwart shepherd towards his flock; telling us to love God, and to love others (see the face of Jesus in everyone you see), and to love ourselves, words that brought the authentic spirit of “grace” and “joy” to the room – as if I’d heard them for the first time. How blessed were we to have Cardinal Collins celebrate Mass just for us that day – a veritable gift!
Praise God! After the Holy Mass, the committee members of WOW T joined as a group to thank His Eminence Cardinal Collins – tears streamed down my cheeks to no end – there was no stopping them! The tears were a reflection of the humility and happiness I felt as I looked at each of our guests in the room – they were feeling the same thing I was!! As they looked at His Eminence and at each of the women standing next to them or across from them – they knew, and I knew that the room was filled with the most beautiful gift of “grace”.
Throughout the day, our speakers continued to expand and demonstrate the true scriptural meaning of “loving” within our real world experiences…
Dr. Josephine Lombardi spoke of the essence of loving by “gaining spiritual maturity”. We need to understand what has created each of our unique behaviours and how we can gain basic life skills to “knowing” God, “knowing” ourselves, and the power of forgiveness. This is how we will learn how to love God, love others, and love ourselves. All these elements will be integral on how we can be “the best version of ourselves.”
Celeste Giraldo Estrada focussed on a deep and dedicated prayer life. Through anecdotes of her own daily life experiences and those of saints, she focussed on the importance of ensuring that we dedicate a specific “time” to prayer – we need to dedicate time to building a relationship with God! It is conducive to the consolation of God’s love and trusting in God’s providence.
And as I continue on my daily journey, for a brief moment there was silence in my soul...and I continue to be forever humbled and grateful to have the honour to be a part of WOW T! To have the privilege of attending these events; where I can be witness to a room of women, who like me, seek spiritual nourishment and want to experience just a few moments of beautiful silence in my soul.