Our Lenten Retreat 2024 was a weekend of prayer

Pope Francis has declared 2024 to be the “Year of Prayer” in preparation for the 2025 jubilee. Our Lenten Retreat 2024 held at St Luke’s Retreat Centre fitted squarely into this. Prayer and Reflection were at the forefront of this weekend dedicated to the theme of the Veneration of the Holy Face of Jesus.

Father Craig Holmes and Father Theo April, both Diocesan priests of the Archdiocese of Cape Town, explained the Holy Face Devotion to us in a series of talks. Our 19 participants of the retreat came from all over South Africa: from Cape Town to Bloemfontein and even Lesotho. The Holy Face devotion was new to most of the participants who learned during the weekend that the primary purpose of the devotion is to make reparation for sins against the first three commandments: Denial of God, Blasphemy and the profanation of the Holy Name and Holy Day.

The development of the Holy Face devotion, as was explained over the weekend, came about through the appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ to a very devout and humble Carmelite sister in the years 1843 to 1847: Sister Mary of St Peter. Our Lord established eight promises to all those who would lovingly make reparation to His Holy Face and His Holy Name. The revelations were recorded by Sr Mary of St Peter in her autobiography called “The Golden Arrow”.

Over the weekend everyone prayed several times the Litany to the Holy Face of Jesus, the Golden Arrow prayer, and a prayer for our country in community with all retreat guests. The retreatants spend an hour in front of the Blessed Sacrament and had opportunity for confession on Saturday afternoon. Holy Mass was celebrated on both Saturday and Sunday. During breakfast and dinner, the great silence was observed while one of the priests read from the book of Sr Mary of Peter. On Saturday evening, everyone watched the movie “The passion of Christ” in the Main Hall of the Retreat Centre with a special focus on the Holy Face of Jesus and the evening concluded with more prayer and entering the great silence.

I woke up feeling the presence of God. 

One of the discussions centered around the five faces of Christ: The Face of the Incarnate Christ, the Face of the Child Jesus, the face of the Transfigured Christ, the Face of the Anguished Christ and the Face of the Glorified Christ. The two priests that led the retreat patiently answered all questions and asked the retreat guests to reflect on which face of Christ is most prevalent in their life at the moment.

In between the conference sessions, the retreat guests had opportunity for private prayer and walks on the grounds around St Luke’s. One of the retreat guests remarked that she woke up “feeling the presence of God” that day. Although the programme for the weekend appeared to be a full programme, the guests felt a sense of refreshment and rest, not only in their spiritual life but also in their bodies. The food in between the session which is prepared freshly in the kitchen at the Retreat Centre complimented the sessions. 

We here at St Luke’s Retreat Centre hope that you will join us soon for a weekend of prayer and rest. The schedule for more upcoming retreats organized by us, will be released very soon. Check our website https://retreatcentre.org.za for more information.