By MARINELLA LENTIS
For The Catholic Week
MONTGOMERY — More than 90 women from Montgomery, Prattville, Millbrook and Auburn gathered at Holy Spirit Parish on April 14 for the annual women’s Lenten retreat.
This year’s theme was Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s exhortation, “Be Holy, Be Saints,” and the guest speaker was best-selling author Lisa M. Hendey.
The retreat started with Mass celebrated by Holy Spirit Pastor Fr. Wayne Youngman and was followed by breakfast and talk by Dene Galloway, a St. Bede Catholic Church parishioner and military wife who will soon leave the River Region to follow her husband onto his next assignment. Galloway talked about four different tools we can use to help us in our spiritual journey toward sainthood — vocation, prayer, detachment and redemptive suffering — and how “each is an avenue God uses to draw us to His most precious heart.”
Galloway encouraged women to embrace their vocations and use them for what they are —saint-makers
“We were given our husbands, children and those of you in religious life, sisters, to help refine us and help us to become more like Christ through the opportunities they present to us every single day,” she said.
Hendey spoke on the theme “The Grace of Yes.” Hailing from southern California, Hendey is a wife, mother, founder and editor of CatholicMom.com, which celebrates motherhood, and an author of over a dozen books including the children’s series “The Chime Travelers.”
“It is good that you have taken this time for yourselves to grow in your faith journey, to grow along your path toward sainthood,” Hendey stated.
She continued by explaining that the title of her talk came from one of her books in which she contemplates what it means to give our “yes” to God by looking at Mary’s Fiat.
Each person is called give her “yes” to God, not in the same way as Mary, but that’s what each is called to as a saint-in-the-making.
If we accept, that means revolutionizing our “yes” to the world around us.
“We as women have the gift of turning this secularized culture around,” she said.
What is needed in order to do this are a radical openness to God’s will for our lives, an unfailing generosity and a daily renewal of our “yes.” This takes humility and this is why the sacrament of penance is so important, she added: “to save souls we must be holy. God doesn’t use dirty tools. He wants to take us, His beloved, and embrace us, even in our brokenness.”
Hendey also discussed how easy it is to give God our “yes” when everything is going smoothly and life is absolutely perfect.
“How do we give our ‘yes’ when life is hardest” she asked her audience.
Emotions ran high in the room as she discussed personal stories of hardships and suffering.
“There are a lot of things in our relationships that might challenge our ability to say “yes” to God but our job is to love, right now, to give our ‘yes’ to love,” Hendey said. The Scriptures verse that would give her the answer on how to say this “yes” is 1 Corinthians 13:4 and she offered it to all the women in attendance “for all the ‘yeses’ in your life that are hard, the ones that you don’t want to give, the ones that seem too big.”
She said that the grace of the faith journey is that we don’t walk it alone. She encouraged everyone to look around and see that we belong to a communion of saints-in-the-making: “If you’re somebody who feels utterly burnt and alone in your journey, I ask you to look around again and see the communion of people that want to walk this with you because that’s what the church is. Church is the Eucharist, the true presence of Christ within us and so that’s what we have to offer to each other. When we love, we can and will change our world. So are you ready to do it? Are you ready to go out and give your ‘yes?’ ”