Life went on the normal way for many, until this weekend. Fun, laughter, friendship, reconciliation, forgiveness and healing-these were some of the many emotions felt. Burdens felt light and sorrows washed away.
The Christian Life Seminar (CLS) held on June 14-16, 2013 at Snehadaan, Bangalore was a breath of fresh air to the tiresome and incessantly challenging lives of many Singles and Couples-a true experience of God and his endless love.
It all started with a session by Gerard Anthony on The Father’s Love Saturday morning. He began by asking the participants to ponder on the things that bring happiness in their lives. He questioned them whether receiving the things they desire, truly satisfied them. He answered this by saying that only God can bring lasting joy and happiness. He stressed the need to believe in God’s plan for their lives as he has the best in store for all.
I alone know the plans I have for you, plans to bring you prosperity and not disaster, plans to bring about the future you hope for. -Jer 29:11
The participants were then split into different groups headed by a mentor to share how they have experienced God’s love in their lives and the times they have not.
This was followed by a session on The Work of Salvation by Kim Xavier. During the session, Kim emphasized that Jesus took a human form and died on the cross taking away our sins. She explained that we are born sinful by nature and therefore we continue to sin. However, by Jesus dying on the cross we are redeemed from this death and decay, thus becoming sons and daughters of God. Along with his crucifixion, we have also been crucified and restored to life.
Of his own free will he gave up all he had, and took the nature of a servant. He became a man and appeared in human likeness. He was humble and walked the path of obedience all the way to death – his death on the cross. -Phil 7-8
Following this the groups split up to share areas of their life where they found it difficult to allow Jesus to be the Lord of their lives.
The following session on Sin began with a very thoughtful saying – The world we live in has lost its sense of sin! The session emphasized that sin is the only thing that keeps us away from God. This session given by Prajwal Pinto for the Singles and Jimmy Xavier for the Couples, spoke about the two kinds of sin-Mortal and Venial. While mortal sin is one that destroys the grace in a soul, venial is one that weakens the grace in a soul. They stressed the need to turn away from sin and come back to God.
God’s anger is revealed from heaven against all the sin and evil of the people whose evil ways prevent the truth from being known. -Rom 1:18
The participants were then handed a sheet containing different areas of sin that helped them in the examination of their conscience. The participants got into their groups to discuss areas of sin that they discovered through the session.
Having learnt about God the father, his work of salvation and how sin separates man from the love of God, the Couples and Singles were then up for an amazing experience. Having been placed in front of the Blessed Sacrament, they were asked to call to mind anything they wanted to tell their parents and could not tell them in person. They were asked to come forward to the statues of Mother Mary and St Joseph placed in the chapel and silently speak out their woes. Once they had done this, they had a warm hug awaiting them from the volunteers.
The day ended with the holy rosary prayed in a very beautiful manner. The participants walked through the venue praying the rosary and taking turns in leading the prayer.
Sunday morning began with a wonderful session-Repentance and Faith, which stated how repentance can bring about salvation from sin, Satan and death. Vinitha Selvan, who took up the session stressed that repentance was not feeling sorry for oneself. She distinguished between Godly sorrow and Worldly sorrow saying that Godly sorrow brings life while Worldly sorrow brings death. She spoke of Faith, a belief in the good news of salvation. She summed up by saying that repentance and faith can bring new life.
For the sadness that is used by God brings a change of heart that leads to salvation-and there is no regret in that! But sadness that is merely human causes death. -2 Cor 7:10
At the end of the session, the groups gathered together to share the challenges they face in repenting for their sins. Following this, the participants met their mentors for a one-on-one session to discuss their lives and its challenges and to seek help in the areas they struggle. The participants then received the sacrament of reconciliation. The CLS came to an end with the celebration of the Holy Eucharist.
At the end, the participants came forward to share their experience at the CLS and to praise God for his abundant mercy.
Kids of the participants also had a program too parallel, with different activities, action hymns and games to know more about God’s Love, and Who is Jesus?.
And thus began the journey to Discover the Greater Love, and its continuing.
Were you a part of this expedition? Then do share your experience in the comment section below.