For Monica, coming together to watch the Exercises is the chance to experience that "someone thinks about me."
These Fraternity Exercises for me were such a gift! What was most evident this past weekend is that truly I am accompanied, in every step of this human journey, even as I participate in the gesture of the Fraternity Exercises on Zoom.
Last week I was deciding with a friend of mine in our Fraternity group what to do for viewing the exercises: "Should we get together with just our Fraternity group or should we invite those who don't necessarily have a group of Fraternity and are alone to watch the Exercises?" I was grateful for this question because it helped me look for the reasons why we should gather together in the first place and then in turn welcome others to come with us. When I spoke to my husband and our Fraternity group prior, they both reminded me that Father José had encouraged all of us to pay attention to and accompany those who do not belong to the Fraternity or do not have a group of Fraternity.
The desire to seriously follow the exercises and to share with others this great opportunity kicked off our weekend! But then, of course, reality hits! On Friday night our dishwasher broke and we were exhausted from a week of work and our five super active kids. At 8 p.m. that night my husband went to buy a dishwasher, and in my heart I was disappointed because all I wanted to do was put the kids to bed and watch the intro of the Exercises.
To my surprise, after taking care of the dishwasher and the kids, my husband still wanted to watch the introduction. And so we did! We sang the "Regina Caeli" in our kitchen and we followed the songs as well. I was moved to tears listening to "Monotonously Rings the Little Bell." I was moved when I felt described by Carrón in his last point on expectation. I found myself looking, wanting, yearning to hear how Carrón was going to answer the question "Is there hope?"
Saturday morning we attended a viewing organized by our CL Community secretaries Sabrina and Laura at Sacred Heart Parish (where the Saint Charles Borromeo priests welcomed us in their parish hall). I was so moved because again I saw that I am taken care of. I am accompanied. Someone thinks about me and plans a gathering where I can go with others and follow the Exercises! It was very simple and yet both my husband and I saw that watching the retreat with others helped us concentrate and focus better on that moment (and not the dishes and laundry and more chores we have to do at home!).
When I returned home our babysitter wanted to know what kind of retreat I was at. . . so I tried to explain what the Fraternity Exercises were and she responded to me: "You are the first person I meet who is not weird and who pays a babysitter so that you can go on retreat with your husband!" Her response touched me because again it made me aware of the gift of the Exercises and the possibility of participating fully in this gesture.
Saturday evening we invited some friends from our Fraternity to come over and watch the second lesson--we wanted to be accompanied again! Sunday afternoon we gathered all the children of our Fraternity group at our house while the adults in our Fraternity group together with some other friends in the community gathered to watch the Final Assembly outdoors at Miriam and Gabriele’s house. I was moved that my friends opened their house, prepared coffee and cookies for us all, and wanted to follow this gesture with me. What a grace to be accompanied, to be taken care of and to say "yes" to this embrace!
Monica, Boston, Massachusetts