I’m Pauline and I attended CER #61 about a year ago. I am a convert, baptised when I was 18. When CER first started, my friends have asked me to attend, but I have always given excuses.
I am quite a perfectionist and I always like things to be in order. So, when I became a catechist, I make sure I prepare my sessions properly by reading and researching, making sure I know about what I am teaching. I know about Jesus and his teachings. I also make sure that when I encourage the kids to go for the Sacrament of Reconciliation, I will go for confession regularly too. But I was often confessing what I rehearsed the priest should hear. I did not have a true relationship with the person of Jesus.
So why would I need a conversion since I am already a convert and I am a regular catholic? I have to work and take care of my family. Where am I going to find the time – 5 full days is way too many days. I have a migraine, so what if I end up with a splitting headache midway through the retreat? I am a light sleeper and I got to sleep with strangers in the room; how to sleep if they snore?
All these ran through my mind all the time for the last decade until I joined the SaLT (Servers’ at the Lord’s Table) community. I like Archie’s homilies and I read his reflections, and every SaLTer that has attended CER has told me how great the retreat is, how it is not like any other retreat and I must go to experience it myself. Noticing their love for Jesus, I decided to give it a try. I managed to get in the retreat on the 3rd try.
At CER, I realised that I have so little faith. The moment I said yes to the retreat, God took care of everything, including not getting migraine attacks and only one person snored lightly.
In CER, I truly met and felt being loved so much by Jesus.
During one of the sessions on Jesus praying at Gethsemane, of which I am very familiar, I was moved to uncontrollable tears. Jesus was and is taking every bit of my sin upon him, the words “I am deeply grieved, even to death” (Mark 14:34) and as he prayed “ his sweat became like drops of blood” (Luke 22:44) has never been so real.
I am very grateful that Jesus takes me where and as I am and because of the awareness of His love, I am able to run to the Sacrament of Reconciliation each time and be loved again. The experience has given me the chance to encounter Jesus as a person, and no longer a result of “an ethical choice or a lofty idea” (Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI) and greater hope and purpose of what I am doing here. Post-CER, being a part of a parish community SaLT, where we share the Word of God and pray together, has helped me to continue my faith journey and I know that I am not alone in my pilgrimage here.
I earnestly encourage just any Catholic who has not attended CER to sign up and allow the God who created you with love, “even the very hairs on your head are numbered” (Luke 12:7), to enter your hearts to love you.