Above all the graces and all the gifts of the Holy Spirit which Christ grants to his friends is the grace of overcoming oneself, and accepting willingly, out of love for Christ, all the suffering, injury, discomfort and contempt.
Francis of Assisi is purported to have spoken these words “one day in winter, as Saint Francis was going with Brother Leo from Perugia to Saint Mary of the Angels, and was suffering greatly from the cold.”
In this story, we find one of the poverello’s principle insights: his awareness of God’s grace in all circumstances, good or bad. The capacity to be aware of this grace and to respond with gratitude, he called true or perfect Joy.
Spiritual joy is not the same as what the world calls pleasure because it is not conditioned by ephemeral or external events. It rests within and is a sign that Christ lives in us.
Direction of retreats and missions is available by contacting Deacon Richard Boileau, sfo. Please state the location and dates proposed as well as the nature of the group involved (religious organization, church, etc.)
(1) Advent: A Journey
(2) Advent: Epiphanies in our Lives
(3) Calvary and Beyond: A Lenten Journey
(4) Brother Sun, Sister Death
(5) Finding True Joy
(6) Finding True Joy in Ministry
Other topics include
(1) The Historic Francis
(2) The Evangelical Saint of Assisi
(3) Dialectic and Foundations: The Conversion of a Penitent
(4) Franciscan Doctrine
(5) Francis: The Great Communicator
(6) The Cry of the Poor
Advent: A Journey
Advent: A Journey is a retreat program or parish mission designed for presentation during the holy season of Advent. It invites believers to set aside time during that busy period to make a clear decision about the meaning of their lives and to understand the nature of Peace and Joy that is the promise of the Good News of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Our objective is to help people to open the priceless gift we have already received from a Savior who understands our human condition and teaches a way to transform darkness into light; anxiety into peace; and sadness into joy. It is also to experience the goodness of God who so loves us that he sent his Son, who entered our world in such incredible simplicity and humility to rescue us from fear and illusion.
Mary and Joseph journeyed. The shepherds journeyed. The wise men journeyed. We too journey. We are pilgrims…persons who journey to a sacred place …to a place deep within ourselves …a place where we might see in our soul the likeness of God …a place of encounter with Christ …a place of free and full union with our brothers and sisters …a place of perfect joy. It is a long journey. It is a journey into the light of day, then into the darkness, and finally to the Light that inhabits the darkness…a Light that can never be diminished by darkness.
The journey inward …Prayer: We become reconciled to ourselves and discover Christ within.
The journey outward …Community: We fulfill our Christian identity in otherness.
The journey home …Joy & Peace: And this experience of God’s love transforms us.
During the weeks leading up to Christmas, we become distracted by innumerable tasks. Come away to quiet moments of prayer, music, and spiritually nourishing reflections. Embark on a journey of discovery, walking with the Lord. During this special time, the divine gifts of love, peace, hope and joy will be revealed to your heart so that they can be shared with others.
“ I loved the sharing, the unity, and the focus on Christmas…I believe that this will help me with my surrounding in celebrating Jesus’ birthday…Thank you for this beautiful Mission.”
“ So much care in preparing for this sacred time. I thank you; the Holy Spirit speaks to hearts through you.”
“ An intelligent, well thought out, well organized presentation, a very meaningful message.”
“ I enjoyed the time I took to attend this mission, to be quiet in prayer during this busy time of year and to listen to the beautiful teachings we heard each night of the mission.”
“ I retain the concept of a “Journey”: that we each are on our private journey of discovery with the Lord. I found this a most thoughtful and provocative lesson.”
“ I loved the variety, lectures, reflections, prayers and music. I also enjoyed the analogy of the Bible: Road map. I have been reading it and I believe this book (this Word “this Word”) is making changes in my life.”
“ The journey outward was very powerful, leading to enthusiastic discussion after-sharing over coffee and then sharing beyond over community… excellent.”
“ I most appreciated the planning of the Mission and the build-up to our last evening of reconciliation; the obvious deep thoughts and dedication to the material; the historical information and putting us in the setting of the time.”
“ I learned a lot about the different forms of prayer a lot about St. Francis and also the word “simplicity” that really stayed with me. You speak so well, your timing is perfect, not too long; you truly have a gift to “speak” to others. Thank you.”
Advent: Epiphanies in our Lives
Epiphanies in Our Lives prepares participants not only for the feast of the Nativity but also the feast of the Epiphany, which reminds us that from the very beginning Jesus was someone to be personally experienced. Epiphany also points to other encounters that have the potential of rearranging our ways of relating to him, and even our understanding of the purpose of our life.
The feast of Epiphany is a call to think about all of the mysterious and wonderful ways in which God appears in surprising forms. Indeed, if the God of the universe can be manifest in a helpless baby in a poor stable, then we better be ready for God just about anywhere and in anybody. We had better open our eyes and heart wider, and brace ourselves for something wonderful at the most unexpected moments and in the oddest of places.
This mission has been planned to appeal to parishioners but also to friends and family who do not come to church regularly. Christ is for everyone and we urge you to extend this invitation widely among the people that you know.
The format consists of three evenings with a mix of teaching, witnessing and a variety of musical styles.
Calvary and Beyond: A Lenten Journey
Christ is the model for full and wholesome human existence, much of which is summarized in the Paschal Mystery: His victory over evil. At Gethsemane, we are aware of the pervasive presence of darkness and anguish in human existence. At Golgotha, we are reminded of the constant presence of loss and the need for faith in a higher purpose. At the tomb, we see how no transformation is sudden and frequently it is shrouded with uncertainty. Finally, at Easter we reap the joyous fruits of hope and the difficult but necessary discernment that leads to Light.
First Part: Journey to Gethsemane
- In anguish, we are at Gethsemane, aware of the pervasive presence of darkness in human existence.
- We learn that faith is the antidote to anguish and prayer is our connection with Christ who embraced Sister Death.
- We respond by deepening faith and prayer …and by being attentive to the details of our human and religious experience.
Second Part: Journey to Golgotha
- Faced with life’s many losses, we are at Golgotha, reminded of the constant presence of little and big deaths.
- We learn that Christ-centred hope is the antidote to grief and we are one with others ravaged by evil, such as the poor and Creation.
- We respond by opening our hearts and minds to spiritual transformation …and by being reasonable in understanding our experiences, becoming more like Christ.
Third Part: Journey in Darkness
- In our great loneliness, we are buried with Christ, shrouded with uncertainty.
- We learn that we must choose between despair and hope for the promises of new life.
- We respond by choosing hope over despair and reconciliation over alienation …and by being responsible in our judgements regarding people and events.
Fourth Part: Journey into Light
- In time, with God’s grace, we reap the joyous fruits of hope and the difficult but necessary discernment that leads to Light.
- We learn that the Resurrection is our assurance that if we die with Christ to fear and illusion, we are born into a joyful and eternal communion through the exercise of divine and human love.
- We respond by investing in charity (caritas) and discovering there the true joy of full communion with God and Creation. Then we can say with Paul, Death, where is your sting?
“ These four evenings enforced the fact that I want to be closer to the Lord.”
“ My attention and spirituality was completely immersed in the Mission. Wonderful and with deep feelings and love.”
“ Thank you so much. You are sent by God to enlighten my cross.”
“ The entire journey was enjoyable and inspirational.”
“ I appreciate your sharing and will continue my journey of faith with the knowledge of your wisdom ringing in my thoughts.”
is designed to help people involved in ordained or lay ministry fortify or regain energy and motivation on their apostolic work. We focus on the sources of joy, strategies to maintain it and the attitudes needed to serve with a renewed spirit.