From the Desk of Julia Marlin
This past February, I had the opportunity to spend Mardi Gras in Louisiana visiting friends I had met at the 2022 GIVEN Catholic Women’s Leadership Forum. We celebrated with festivities the weekend before, but on Monday we took an 8-hour road trip up to the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, Alabama.
We made it to the shrine late Monday night and settled in for our 2 ½ day retreat – spending all day Tuesday and (Ash) Wednesday at the Shrine. A phrase that has continually come up in my prayer this year is to “be still.” It became especially evident over the course of those few days. I was finally able to just stop and rest outside of the busyness that I continually fall into.
In the Psalms, God says to us, “Be still and know that I AM God.” (46:10) I just needed to carve out time to sit, still, in front of the Blessed Sacrament and adore how much love God has for me. What better place than at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament where the Poor Clare Sisters offer 24-hour adoration of our Lord? I didn’t need to travel hundreds of miles to do so though. Christ is present here in our own chapel – exposed in the Blessed Sacrament on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I could even go to St. Catherine of Siena in Horsham, if I wanted to make a midnight visit with Jesus in their 24-hour adoration chapel.
Amid anxiety and the stress of today’s society, we are reminded by the Israelites that, “the Lord will fight for you; you only need to be still.” I struggle with what direction God has in store for my life. Instead of worrying and complaining to friends, I need just be quiet, to offer up the anxiety, and listen to what God has to say to my heart – in the silence. He is not asking that I sit back and wait for an answer though. His response will be revealed as I continue to try and live out his mission in my daily life. We are not meant to try and fit God’s mission into our life, but to live out his mission and form our life around it.
The theme song of my personal retreat was Be Still by the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart in Los Angeles. I listened to it on repeat for at least 3 hours – meditating on a different set of lyrics each time it played. The one that continues to stick with me is:
You calmed the waves,
You ruled the sea,
Now to my heart, you speak,
‘Do not fear; be still.’
There are things that will be out of my control and things that I will have to face that I may not want to. All I need to do, though, is stop and recognize where God is in my life. He is standing right beside me – a quiet support and a loving warrior. I need to turn towards him and ask for his assistance, for his peace, for his courage. His love is so great that he is willing to wait for my request, rather than interfere with my choice to choose him first in my life.
Not everyone can get away and spend time on a multi-day retreat, but we can make the effort to retreat on Sundays – to make it our day of rest, to be still and just take a break from the busyness that we drown in every other day of the week. What would happen if you took fifteen minutes or half an hour today to just sit and be still? What would be different about those quiet moments, if you spent them in front of the tabernacle or the Blessed Sacrament? I invite you to find out.