Last Saturday was a very special day some of us parishioners, who
gathered together in Kirchberg to enjoy an unusual Christian experience.
It would be quite possible to spend some years, as many of us do,
working in the institutions which are sited on the plateau, and watching
the architecture evolve, without ever being aware that below the
Philharmonie, down the hill to the south, there is a seminary, whose
chapels and meeting rooms are ideally suited to Christian purposes,
which is set in very extensive wooded country, equally suited to
rambles, peace, reflection and prayer.
This was the perfect place for the pre-Advent retreat, which was
attended by 13 of us who enjoyed the opportunity
of learning, discussion, peace and prayer which the retreat provided.
Its theme was Advent, and the conferences, discussions, prayer and
meditation were centred around the theme of renewal, and the liturgy of
the Sundays of Advent (and particularly of the imminent first Sunday).
To this end we were fortunate to have Père Maurice Gilbert, who is a
member of the Society of Jesus (and an Old Testament scholar) as retreat
leader; his reflections, stimulation and (occasionally) provocation, to
use his own word, gave the happy few much to think of, to think about
and to pray about. For this participant at least, there was enough
material in these sessions to ensure that the times of silent
reflection, reading and prayer woven into the programme passed without
dragging, even though such things are not so common in our everyday life.
It should be so; the very term “retreat” implies an unusual withdrawing
from those preoccupations which fill our minds during the days of our
ordinary live. The final Mass (of the first Sunday of Advent) in the
evening, celebrated in the intimate surroundings of the chapel, was an
appropriate and peaceful culmination to an unusual and enriching day.
Many thanks to Marcella McCarthy for organising this enriching day, and
bringing us all together to enjoy it.