The Knights of the Cross was a two day retreat organized by the CFCI community for the covenanted Singles (men). The event started on 23rd of September 2016, where all the guys gathered at Snehadaan, Bangalore. We began with a night of ice breaking games and fellowship. The next morning, all the knights of the cross were up, ready to get trained for the battle.
24th of September was a day of fasting, abstinence and sacrifice and the knights prepared themselves for all that was to come their way. The day commenced with a powerful praise and worship and then an insightful teaching by Biron D’souza. He gave us all insights about the differences between men and women and how God created us all in His image but different. He also discussed how we should behave with and around women. We realized that it was not enough to treat them as equals but also that we must remember to be aware of the way God has made women- unique and different from men in accordance with His plan.
We also got a very clear understanding as to what the Lord wants from us as men of His Kingdom- for us to be Priests, Prophets and Kings and lead His people closer to Him. Biron very beautifully talked about our call to holiness and chastity. God has given us the gift of sex and we learnt how to respect this gift and to use it for the Glory of God’s kingdom. We got a clear picture of how much God loves us and with what care He created us.
After a round of sharing we were back for the second talk by Prajwal Pinto who spoke about the silent cries which we suffer with due to lack of love from various sources. He also talked about facing failures in life and other things that might have happened in our pasts which have created barriers round us that prevent us from receiving His grace. We were made aware of the various ways we react due to this and how those instances have shaped our behaviors and actions. We were reminded that we were all made to love and to be loved, and that there is a root linked to the past that connects to the current state of our life.
After a beautiful round of sharing, we were back for a talk on how God wants to set us free, given by Jimmy Xavier. We learnt about the five keys to freedom and how to receive the love and grace of God to the fullest. The 5 keys are as follows:
- Repentance and Faith – We were called to turn back to God, and offer up areas of ego, pride, judgment, fear and self-pity at the foot of the cross and truly experience His love and acceptance, and discover who we really are.
- Forgiveness – We got to know that unforgivness is one of the biggest barriers to receiving the love and grace of God. Difficulties that arise when we have been hurt affect us and cause us to display fear, pride and to take revenge. This hurts is hurts us. Due to this, we may get the notion that we will not or never be able to forgive. But no matter how difficult it is, we need to forgive and love one another, as unforgiveness is a baggage we carry that will affect our relationship with the Lord.
- Renouncing the work of your enemy – Here, we renounced the works of the evil one and we learnt to repent as our words have power. This happened in our one on ones where we declared and renounced everything into which we were misled into by Satan.
- Standing in the authority you have in Christ – We learn to stand up for the Lord and our faith as we were given authority by the Lord Himself, as His children. Receiving God’s blessing on your identity and destiny: We got to know that God loves us and wants us to be closer to Him. He wants to fill every emptiness that we have in our life and close the gaps and loop holes through which the enemy can enter.
Knowing the 5 keys all the knights were geared up and strengthened to enter into battle.
After a fruitful time of adoration and a heartfelt confession, we had our one-on-ones with our group heads where we shared our lives and we renounced the work of Satan in our lives.
The day ended with a time of fellowship and a barbecue night of fun and fellowship around a camp fire. The knights were given a feast by the couples and made to feel like kings, and we are indebted to them for their love and care for us. We also had a time of honoring each other.
After a good night’s sleep the knights were back in action, starting off the day by praying the Rosary and participating in the Holy Eucharist. After a sumptuous breakfast, we were in for a superb talk from Joshua Cordeiro on how to build a strong relationship with the Lord. We learnt how to discipline ourselves, and the importance of being disciplined in our daily lives. We learnt about the BRACE map (which was very important in the path for discipline)
B – Bible reading
R – Rosary
A – Adoration
C – Confession
E – Eucharist
Biron clearly told us in depth, of the importance of the BRACE map, Personal prayer and all we need to do to build a strong relationship with the Lord. He also took us through the mortification of the body where he explained to us about fasting, abstaining and to sit prostrate in front of the Blessed Sacrament and kneel during rosaries and time of personal prayer. We got a very clear picture as to how our sharing and trust should be within our households and how we should be accountable and back each other up by praying for each other constantly, and leading each other in the path that brings us closer to the Lord.
After that we had an amazing session from Gerard V S A on discernment and how to discern and rely on God for the decisions we take. He clearly explained in detail the 11 step process of discernment.
- Identify the decision
- Formulate the issue in proposal
- Pray for openness to the will of God and freedom from prejudgment
- Gather all the necessary information
- Repeat the 3rd step
- State the pros and cons
- Do an evaluation of the pros and cons
- Observe the direction of your will.
- Ask God for consolation about the preferred option
- Trust in the Lord and make the decision
- Confirm the decision
Gerard gave us insights on how to discern to avoid acting on our own and based on our emotions.
The last teaching was given to us by Joshua on brotherhood, and how we as brothers in the community are accountable to and responsible for each other. We got to know about the difference between various types of friendship (Friendship of Utility, Pleasant friendship and Virtuous friendship).
We also learnt of the various elements that break the bond of brotherhood such as self-interest, focusing on negative traits, misuse of the tongue, false identity, cliques, unhealthy competition etc.
Joshua clearly explained to us how we can build each other up and strengthen the bonds of brotherhood and practice virtuous friendship in the following manner.
- Keeping in touch regularly
- Deep sharing
- Being accountable
- Importance of fraternal correction (giving and receiving) with love and with the main aim of building one another in the path of holiness and bringing each other closer to the Lord.
After the wonderful session, we had a time of deep sharing, exercising what we had learnt, in our sharing groups.
We then had a time of sharing where all the knights testified about their lives and their experiences at the retreat. We were then anointed as knights of the cross after taking an oath, armed with rosaries and St. Benedict’s medal.
We ended the retreat with a blessed time of praise, and went out into the world armed and ready for war.
We truly are co-heirs with Christ. Humble because he uplifts us. Weak because he is our strength, as men not of the world, but of God, made by him, for him. Walking in his freedom with his whole armor to protect us. Knights of the Cross. AMEN!