Christian schools catechists participate in a spiritual retreat in Taybeh

“One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

TAYBEH – As we prepare ourselves during this blessed Lenten season for the glory of our Lord’s resurrection, the Catechetical Office of the Latin Patriarchate in Jerusalem invited the catechists in the Catholic schools to live a time of reflection at a spiritual retreat, that took place in the village of Taybeh on Friday, March 8, 2019.

The location of the retreat was chosen according to the Gospel of John 11:54 when Jesus chose to come to this village before His Passion week started; as we read “Jesus stopped his public ministry among the people and left Jerusalem. He went to a place near the wilderness, to the village of Ephraim, and stayed there with His disciples.”

The day started with a meditating hymn, which focused on the theme of temptation; as the first part of our retreat, which was animated by Nadine Bitar, centered on the Biblical text of Matthew 4:1-11. Through reading the Temptation of Jesus in the wilderness, the interactive bible study  focused on the idea of temptation within the daily interactions as catechists with the students. The main discussion points for the first session were strictly focused on the following: 1. No one has immunity against temptation. 2. Temptation does not only come when one’s faith is weak. 3. The devil could use the Word of God to make you fall into temptation. 4. The only way to defeat temptation is by using the Holy Scripture, praying, and celebrating the Eucharist. The catechists were very interactive and have shared how they were able to deal with different forms of temptation in their education journey with their students.

The second part of the retreat, animated by Mariana Kanzou’a, dealt with the idea of Lenten fasting in both the Catholic and the Orthodox churches. The session focused on the meaning of fasting as learned in our church traditions; physical fasting and the fasting of the senses. The three main elements of our Lenten season are 1. Fasting, 2. Praying and 3. Almsgiving. Teachers were encouraged to help their students understand what Lent is all about and teach their students the right way of fasting. Looking over Pope Francis’ letter on this subject; teachers were encouraged to become like Christ. Just like how Jesus fasted, they are also asked to become like Him in order to deserve God’s glory. Moreover, catechists were given the time to reflect on some Lenten saying of our Saints. One cannot get the full spiritual experience of Lent without reflecting on the stations of the Cross; catechists also were given the time to reflect on the Passion of our Lord.

The day was concluded with meditating hymns and repentance time in the church followed by confession and celebrating Mass with Fr. Johnny Abu Khalil. The Catechetical Office has also recognized the importance of women in Catechism and since it was International Woman’s Day on the day of our retreat; each woman was gifted a candle with an empowering biblical text to help her through her educating journey.

Nadine Bitar Catechetical Office of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem