Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God!”
I was asked to write about my Conversion Experience Retreat (CER) and I thought that this Psalm 46:10 is most apt to summarize what I have felt at the retreat.
I first heard about CER from a life coach who is also a Catholic, and he told me that many people experienced life-changing moments at CER. However, what stuck with me though was that there were rumours that Fr. William Goh would no longer be the spiritual director, or the whole CER might come to an end. Fr. William Goh was at that point of time just about to be appointed as Archbishop.
I didn’t think much of it till in April this year. A friend went for the CER#39 and came back telling me that I should go. She even went to stand in for me to ballot for CER#40. As things went, God probably didn’t think I was sincere enough to get someone to “stand in” for me!
Then came the ballot for CER#41, and I managed, by God’s grace, to go for the balloting. I had three appointments on that day, but amazingly, one by one the appointments got cancelled or postponed and I ended up not only attending the balloting, but went on to the Church of the Risen Christ for the Charismatic conference and thereafter to a Mass celebrated by the Archbishop.
I got into CER#41. The other friend, who is the baptized Anglican Pastor, was on waiting list and eventually didn’t make it to CER. To him, (and we are good friends), he had an explanation why I got in and he didn’t – that the only reason was because I was a greater sinner, and I needed CER more.
Well, in a way, he is right.
Greater sinner not in comparison with him. But God knows that I am a sinner, and I needed the CER.
I actually had no idea what to expect for the CER, for my friend who had attended CER#39 didn’t want to let me know what to expect, except to “go with an open mind”.
Then there were some mature Catholics who scorned at the CER – and it was only much later after my CER that I found out that most conservative Catholics looked upon the Charismatic renewal movement with suspicions.
In fact, Fr. William Goh said in one of his talks that people think only “the wounded, the desperate and the mentally unstable” attendsCER!
Wow! I didn’t know all these! After all, I was only baptized as a Catholic barely a year ago!
But I think ignorance is bliss.
Because I could then really go to the CER with no burdens whatsoever, no pre-conceived ideas or expectations, and truly with an open mind.
Before I went for the CER, I already knew that I would encounter Jesus.
Looking back, I realized it is because I had gone for silent retreats at Seven Fountains Spirituality Centre in Chiangmai before, and I had already experienced God there, especially at my first retreat there, when I wasn’t even a baptised Catholic. I went there on the recommendations of a dear friend, and (again!) went there without any expectations or knowing what to expect!
Which explains why I went there only for 3 days, essentially meaning I spent only 2 nights there.
To others, I was “wasting my time” because a silent retreat normally takes at least 5 days! Or so I was told.
But God knows better. 3 days are more than sufficient.
The first day, tears flowed because I immediately felt God telling me that He loves me, despite me being such a sinner.
Day two is also full of crying, for God says take heed, all I need is His Grace and Mercy.
Day three is extreme peace and calmness – and now I know, God is saying “Be still and know that I am God!”
Coming back to the CER – many of my retreat mates talked about experiencing God “in the spirit”. Some heard angels singing, others heard God speaking to them directly.
It was as if, God in all his might and power and glory, must manifest himself in such dramatic ways for us to be in awe of His presence.
And perhaps it is necessary for some to experience Him this way.
But for me, God came in among the stillness and silence.
God is there, when I sang the songs (many of these I got to hear only for the first time, but by His Grace I was able to follow the singing) – for tears flowed down and my heart was touched.
God is there. . . when I was at the adoration room, in all quietness.
God is there . . . when a few of us men sneaked out for supper, and fellowship.
I was certain I will encounter God during the CER. The question is what was I supposed to do when I encounter Him?
Prior to the CER, I was carrying such a heavy burden, that I felt too ashamed to be in His presence.
And after the CER, I knew God is saying, “Be Still and know that I am God”, to surrender to Him.
As I submit and surrender, and trust in all His Glory and Grace, I will have no fears.
Thank you God, for allowing your humble servant to be touched once again. It is a journey. I will fail, for I am a sinner. But You said it is okay, as long as I continue my journey towards you, and not away from you. That I keep trying, even if I failed, and one day, I may, by Your Grace and Mercy, be nearer to the standards you set forth for all of us.
In Jesus’s most holy name, Amen!