Yesterday was our homeschool retreat to the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament. Our Lord did not let us down. One cannot help but be swept away in the beauty and peace of the Shrine. We enjoyed an inspiring talk on the Feast of the Divine Mercy and our Lord’s generous gift of mercy by Fr. Miguel. He even asked our children to respond with the corporal and spiritual works of mercy – and they knew them!! Thanks be to God, a lot of them have been preparing for their diocesan religion exam, and so this information was fresh on their minds. Then Fr. offered the Sacrament of Reconciliation (though it was not scheduled) and we flocked to him!!
God’s graces were already evident by the time we went to Mass, but I was completely unprepared for what was to come. I’m certain God’s timing had everything to do with this, but as we were walking from the Piazza to the Lower Church for Mass, Fr. Fox turned to me smiling and asked who these beautiful children were (there were oodles of kids running around the piazza – we had to let them run sometime!) I replied that we were all members of the Immaculate Heart of Mary homeschool group. He lit up. Anyone who knows Fr. Fox knows that he has an extraordinary affection for homeschoolers. He wanted to visit he said, but he was due on the altar.
He took time in his homily to offer some priceless gifts to us homeschoolers – the gift of encouragement. I don’t know how he did it, because I know he didn’t prepare his homily to address a group of homeschoolers, but he managed to weave a beautiful tapestry of encouragement addressed to the children which offered such welcome validation to the parent. He affirmed our duty as parents to educate, and he offered such consolation by acknowledging the dangers outside the home. He embraces the beauty that is homeschooling, and he said so. It felt so good to hear this. Homeschooling is always a gift to me, but there are times when I overcomplicate it, question too much, begin to feel like I’m drowning. My soul felt completely buoyed up because here was a priest standing on the altar of God, loving Him, adoring Him, reverencing Him, and validating the vocation of homeschooling. God is so good!!!
Then, as if that were not enough, Fr. offered some gentle formation to our precious children. He related his formation as a young boy, how the sisters reminded him to say “My Lord and My God” when Jesus is raised at the moment of consecration. He spoke of the presence of our Lord. He told the children that they too should look up at Jesus at that moment and say “My Lord and My God.” What gems of instruction these were! I know seeds were planted.
After lunch and some gift shop time, we went down to the Lower Church again for Exposition and a blessing with the Blessed Sacrament. The reverence and beauty of these moments were overwhelming for me. Children are so visual – I AM SO VISUAL! God’s blessing seemed to seal our day. The families visited in the piazza for awhile before we parted to go home. More than one person told me that it was hard to leave – they wanted to stay – I felt the same way. I know that was due to the extraordinary pull of our Lord exposed and adored perpetually. Still, He had to send us back to our vocations, back to the daily duty.