This past December, St. George Parish held its annual Advent Retreat for the laity in Southeastern Utah. This retreat is part of the adult faith formation program designed by the parish and the Congar Institute. “Disciples Welcoming Their Master: Advent Once Again” was the topic of the retreat facilitated by Fr. Paul Philibert O.P. He is a Dominican priest who is part of our team of Resource Persons working with the Diocese of Salt Lake City in pastoral and spiritual formation for lay church leaders.
The retreat had a great response, one of the participants commented: “Much food for thought. Father was very good at helping create images to clarify various beliefs. One thought in particular resonates – we are called to be ‘ministers’ of the faith.” Many others had similar positive comments on the presentation. Fr. Philibert shared with us some of the reflections he presented in the retreat: “The Christian life consists of a series of conversions or ‘awakenings’ to the reality of God present among us. Our faith starts in childhood with the imitation of our parents’ and neighbors’ faith, grows into youthful questioning, and only slowly matures into a fruitful life of loving service based on our gradual awakening to God’s presence in our lives. God counts on us to be the ‘People of God’—people who are generous and merciful, faithful and loyal, compassionate and strong. It takes a lifetime to understand this and to learn how to be a ‘sacrament’ (a living sign) of God’s goodness for the world.”
Fr. Philibert commented that the context of Advent gave participants the opportunity to reflect on “what it means to be a disciple of this Son of God, the divine Word who became a pilgrim on earth to show us the meaning of our humanity. What is our ‘true self,’ the true meaning of our life? We only fully know this at the end of our journey on earth. But becoming a disciple and following Jesus on the path he took is the way to get there—to become fully what God calls us to be. This is also another meaning of Advent: awaiting the second coming of Christ who will finally reveal to us the full meaning of living in faith as disciples and friends of the Son of God.”