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Retreat Conference #2 given Mother Shirley-Anne
(Easter Retreat 2001 HOLY SATURDAY)


"IN THE LIGHT OF TRUTH WHAT IS GOD ASKING US TODAY?"

by Mother Shirley-Anne

This is the title of my talk this afternoon

This is indeed a very personal and deep question, which we must ask ourselves - for each soul will measure their response in the manner in which they are prepared to give. What is God asking of every individual? Nothing less than total recall or unconditional surrender to the Will of God in all things. Conformity to the Divine Will is what God asks of us. What does it mean and how do we know God's Will in our case? These question might rise in our minds. We want to do God's Will but it so often clashes with our own. We are quick to profess that we are here to do god's Will and yet we continue to put limitations on our offerings. Naturally we fail to do God's Will when we sin. It is hard to grasp, but no one can really arrive at living in God's Will in its entirety without first putting in the hard work of practising the life of virtue. Once our foundation in virtue is strong, then we can take that step higher in the Spiritual realm. We can then forget our own will and live in God's Will.

Picture a balloon floating in the air having no direction of its own, but to that which the currents of the air direct it. Likewise we, like that balloon, must flat and allow ourselves to be wafted gently in the particular direction the current of God ordains. This is true freedom; this is true alignment with God's Will. Herein lies the secret of true happiness of a soul. As I have said, one doesn't suddenly become an expert in doing God's Will. No, we are all sinners and fall, repeatedly, which indicates we fail from time to time, one might say, from minute to minute - but no matter, we pick ourselves up and try again.

Many of us here have been through a similar initiation, or introduction, to the devout life - to quote the title of Saint Francis de Sales' famous book. We have been given a similar basic training so to speak. Many of us, some years back, heard of the Apparition of Our lady of the Ark. I, myself, found it hard to comprehend that Our Lady would appear in Australia. Why, it's miles away from anywhere; nobody ever comes here. Our Lady only appears in Catholic countries - Europe, South America. Hardly anyone knows of Australia - so far away from the rest of the world. It was a strange way of thinking, but I think many of us thought along these lines. We certainly wouldn't be on Heaven's visiting list! However, be that as it may - we found our way to a prayer group, and after the initial shock of acclimatising to an unfamiliar diet of copies prayers, we actually found ourselves unable to break the ties that bound us to this new way fo life - the ties of a child for its Mother.

We have found Our Mother in a more substantial and true way - so we couldn't throw in the towel. We managed to stay in our groups for years. We learned to love prayer and gradually found ourselves gathering numerous devotions, chaplets and the like. We went to vigils, prayer days, stood outside abortion clinics, and it was in this company that we found a little nucleus of hardened prayers.

A step further on to the Holy Grounds, answering the call and joining the Order. These stepping stones to sanctify, ordained and provided by our God gently leading us on the upward path to the place He had prepared. Now we have arrived at the Order of Saint Charbel, the new form of Consecrated Life, which in times to come, will be the light of the world. There we are again back in basic training but with a wealth of treasure in our minds and hearts. Here God is inviting us to "come, follow Him". As He invited the rich young man of the Gospels, He invites us. Are we like that young man turning aside because we cannot detach ourselves from our goods, and our wills? Or are we going to be like Saint Matthew whose heart leapt with joy to hear those words: "Come, follow me!"

This Holy Order is not readily understood, even by some who profess the vows and wear the Scapular. If it were so, this Order would already be flowering in its Apostolic Mission. However, until we truly imbibe the Motto: "Give all, receive all!" the battle of "wills" continues. God gives freedom of choice. He respects the free will of His children. Our wills which we long to give to God, are still wrapped up to a degree in self. Heaven's Plan is still in operation awaiting more serious commitment and effort from its chosen ones.

The strings that attach you to the human element are cut - so now, like Isaiah the Prophet of old, you hear the voice fo God, and reply: "Here I am, Lord, I come to do Your Will!" This statement from your heart penetrates the Heart of God as sweet fiery darts of love - the music of love. Now what pleases God more than anything else is to hear His creature say: "Jesus, I trust in Thee; I have confidence in Thee!"

Many, many times we say: "I only want to do God's Will!" - but our actions and tongues belie our words. Our hearts say yes, but our heads say no. What is to be done? We look to our Heavenly mentors for advice and direction. How many times has Heaven said - practise the virtues, life in the Divine Will? How many times have we been told to re-read the messages for various reasons? The Words of Heaven are goldmines - they are our signposts to sanctity. There is hardly a subject not covered, to instruct us. We have a Rule and Constitution. We have our Mass, our Sacraments, our Community prayers. We are a Religious family. Look to the structure of your own families. In order to progress in a normal way, a family must have order, routine, security, stability, direction, discipline, respect and above all, love. If a family lacks these basics, disorder abounds. In the same way, we of the Religious family, ned the same components in order to flourish and advance - adherence to the Rule and Constitution, the routine of prayer, the Line of Grace, the respect for every individual as a soul beloved of God, and as a brother and sister in Christ.

God is the Truth; God is the Life - and we have our very Jesus. We follow the way for that is our path ordained by God. Where Jesus has gone we will follow, but we follow in a more perfect way if we align our will with His. Sometimes we look around us and we see much that is not in conformity with the Constitutions of the Order. Why is this so? Is it because souls are not truly committed to their vows, or is it that we don't have a clear understanding of what we have promised? Or is it that we don't have a clear understanding of what we have promised? Or is it because we choose to do what we want to do rather than accept what God asks of us? We have been given so much and what does god ask of us in return? He asks us to live in true freedom, that is, to allow Him to direct us in our life according to His Will.

Now Heaven always provides if only we are docile and attentive to the voice of the heart. Late last year, we of the Second Branch, along with four members of the Third Branch, were given an insight into the loving care of the Heart of Our Lord. Our Lord, Himself, arranged how this little group would go on Retreat and He Himself would be the Director. Of course we had no idea of this when first it was mooted that the Nuns should have a little break - a holiday - after a busy year. The seven of us made our plans. We would have a lovely rest, rest in the gardens, quiet times, prayer times, a sedate and restful recovery time, physically and spiritually. But Our Lord had other Plans for His Spouses - much better Plans. Far from our mental picture was the reality of those ten days. Our Lord was going to instruct us in our Spiritual journey, and we were to become even more aware of the Order of Saint Charbel, not just as a finite way of life, but that it is so ratified in Heaven. Our Heavenly family of Charbelites who assist us, daily wear the Habit of the Order. In vision they display their unity and respect for this Institution by their Heavenly garb. Doesn't this say something to us? We have a Charbelite family in Heaven everyday to assist us to progress in virtue, and to follow them to the heights of perfection. Well, we had no sooner arrived at this Home of the Holy Ghost in the late hours, and we meet a man of singular courage and virtue. A man who at the present is the Holy Ghost Community. With one helper he runs the large store and the home with only the Grace of God and his complete trust and confidence in the Providence of God. Such a fine example of the motto of the Order.

The first vision given by God was a very sobering one:

[ text here ]

Our Lady then greeted us:

[ text here ]

Then daily we were instructed on the virtues necessary for our Spiritual advancement: love, prayer, penance, humility, patience, tolerance, poverty, chastity, obedience, faith, hop, charity, confidence, suffering, prudence, justice, purity, modesty, detachment, attitudes, piety, fortitude and temperance. Heavenly directions, loving counsel, and encouragement. We were given the way. We were given the way. Now as we have here with our Retreat, there are a number of speakers; like we had talks and directions from God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Ghost, Our Blessed Lady, Saint Joseph, Saint Michael, Holy Bob and Holy Shirley. Night after night we were given these sublime counsels in preparation for what? We didn't know at that stage why we were being so blessed, but we came to realise that God was moulding us in a certain way and was impressing upon us the reality that we in our Community are all one family, one family of God. He was gently trying to get this point across: we are not individuals treading the narrow path to Heaven - no, we were a family commissioned to care for one another, to support each other, to help each other so that we in the Charbelite Order might become the solid foundation for the development of the Work of God in evangelisation in these end times. We are all one family, each has his place in this family - not one more than another. We are all necessary cogs in the machinery of success. If you have read of these Heavenly lectures then I urge you to re-read and re-read them.

I will mention some extracts from the Teaching/Learning lectures on Poverty, Chastity and obedience, for this is so relevant to us in this Religious Order.

POVERTY, CHASTITY, OBEDIENCE

The Love of God for His children is complete. He is an indulgent God. He knows that all work and no play leaves us dull and mentally bogged down. No, He gave us little treats: movie world, a visit to the city, a drive, our reunion with the family and friends, even our favourite pastime - that is amongst the ladies - a visit to the op shops, and most of all, a venue for the travellers to spend time in each other's company, to get to know each other better, to witness true love and self-sacrifice in their Community, for we saw the reality of true charity in te way the former members of their Community gave of themselves in love and respect and appreciation by their hard-working brother. They wished to lighten his load, and most of the time took up duties behind the counter to help him.

I could speak much ion the gift of God to us in January, but time prevents it. But the reality remains. We are all one family and we have to perfect this in our minds if we are to go forward in Truth, for that is the Truth. It is the Word and desire of god. Heaven is amongst us, helping us, guiding us. We must remain vigilant, forsaking our will, practicing the virtues and listening to the voice of God.

Remember, we need to walk the rope mentioned in the vision. We can do it, or we can make hard work of it, or we may not even try. It depends on ourselves. If we put in the effort, the prize is ours, but remember, no cross, no Crown. Our way is Jesus; our way is the Cross. so let us keep company now with Our blessed Mother Who so desires this unity and love amongst us.


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