Mothers understand what waiting expectantly for a gift entails, as we have all had to persevere through nine months of pregnancy before meeting a new little one or work patiently through months, even years of paperwork and waiting for an adoption to be completed, but the joyful hope and longing are rewarded with a gift that far exceeds our expectations! So lavish a lover and a gift-giver is our God!
Each time MIHC presents a mothers retreat, our Lord comes through with graces that leave us in awe of the good things God wants us to receive from him when we open ourselves to receiving them. The Mighty Is Her Gift retreat in DFW was no exception, and perhaps the anticipation was even greater due to the fact that we first planned the event for March of 2020. Eighteen months later, we finally shared a beautiful day at St. Rita in Dallas with mothers of all ages and experiences coming together. A remarkable number of babes in arms were with us making for a lot of cooing and baby passing that provided a special nourishment for all. As I saw my friend swaying with her grandson while his mother knelt in adoration during the holy hour, I realized that this young woman had not even conceived this child when the Lord had planted the seeds for this retreat in the MIHC ministry. Even despite pandemics, hurricanes, sub-zero temperatures, and dozens of other unexpected curveballs, God has his timing right, and he gives his gifts in all circumstances. God works with a divine economy on an eternal timeline.
During morning Mass, Father Josh Whitfield, the pastor of St. Rita, encouraged the retreat participants to open their hearts to the working of the Holy Spirit in their lives—”to make their roots grow deeper and their branches extend further.” After Father’s beautiful exhortation and the perfect start to any day, with Mass and the reception of our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, mothers were thrilled to be together to receive the messages during the talks given by Rebecca Sanford and Emily Glicksman—that each of us is greatly gifted by our almighty God and that each of us is a unique, irreplaceable gift God is giving to ourselves, our families, and the world. Later, Annie Muller elaborated in a serious and personal (while at the same time light-hearted and vastly entertaining) manner on many of the ways God sustains us through the gift of the Church—through sacred Scripture, through the sacraments, through community with the communion of saints on earth and in heaven, and in particular, through the Blessed Mother. Cistercian priests were on hand to hear confessions throughout the day, which also included times of personal prayer, group discussions, intercessory prayer with small prayer teams, and a Holy Hour. The day ended with a panel discussion by the speakers, which was extra fun given the multi-generational nature of our grouping.
It was so rejuvenating to be able to join together for an in-person retreat, and it was vastly apparent that our Lord, the giver of all good gifts, was present in and among us. One other bonus gift the Lord has brought out of the past year and a half of waiting was our team’s ability to record this retreat package, “Mighty Is Her Gift,” in an audio retreat format, so that mothers who aren’t able to attend in-person or who would like to hear the talks again or share them with a friend can download the talks along with conversations between the speakers and questions for personal or group discussion at www.mightyishercall.com. We are so grateful for the opportunity to give Catholic mothers support, encouragement, and community through our retreats and on-line forums. Thanks be to God.