Last Updated: Tuesday - 01/04/2011
March 19, 2001
Collins challenges women
At retreat, he urges them to teach faith, pray in front of the Blessed Sacrament
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
EDMONTON — The Archbishop of Edmonton called on women to pray more, to become engaged, and to learn and teach the faith.
Speaking at a women's retreat, Archbishop Thomas Collins urged women to pray before the Blessed Sacrament, to set time aside for prayer and to communicate the faith clearly to others.
Women should study the biblical parables and, like Jesus and the prophets, make use of parables to communicate God's message, Collins said.
"Our Lord came to teach eternal salvation so we need to communicate that message," the archbishop told the 220 women who attended the March 9-10 retreat at Providence Renewal Centre.
Why parables? Because parables are down to earth, clear and enjoyable, he said. "We can't communicate the Lord if we look like we have swallowed a pickle."
The archbishop's effective use of humour and acting throughout the session kept his audience engaged and laughing. He even sang a children's song from his childhood to make a point.
Parables lower people's defences and make them see truths that they don't expect, he said.
Most people clearly see with 20-20 vision the faults of other people but they rarely see their own faults. "A parable sneaks in through the defences and then bam . . . exposes the hidden truth in a clear way."
Collins gave an example. When David committed adultery with Bathsheba and ordered the murder of her husband, David didn't see or didn't acknowledge his grievous sin. After all, he was the king.
Nathan, the prophet, came in to speak to him. He could have said, "David, you committed adultery and you murdered Bathsheba's husband." If he had done so, David would have gotten upset and perhaps would have retaliated against the prophet.
Instead Nathan told a parable. "David, Oh mighty king," he said. "Once upon a time there was this person who took this little lamb from his poor neighbour and ate and took it for himself."
The story is clear and is not threatening to David, who says, "Oh, that person should be punished." And then Nathan said those "immortal words" that are at the heart of every parable: "You are the man." With the king's defences lowered, Nathan was able to convey the truth.
"A parable demands engagement of the mind and imagination," noted Collins. "It makes us think. It's an active engagement with the word of God."
At the Eucharist that followed, Collins called on the women to be perfect like the Lord. "The way to perfection is doing the little things, serving the Lord in simple, ordinary ways."
Suzanne McDonnell of St. Albert was happy she attended. "I learned that my prayer life should be more varied, that it's very important to continue our prayer life especially before the Blessed Sacrament," she said.
"He said that's one of the best prayers that we could possibly involve ourselves in. He just really encouraged us to what's important in our lives in order to grow."
Connie Hendrickson of Fort Saskatchewan said, "I find the archbishop is really leading the archdiocese and felt this (retreat) was a call to the women of the archdiocese to come together and start to serve more."
Dianne Bennett, who works and studies at Newman Theological College, said she came out of the retreat "with my eyes and ears opened. For me, this type of education is always emotional so I come out with tears on my cheeks and at the same time with a big smile on my face."
This is the second retreat of this type Providence Renewal Centre has run in the past five weeks. The archbishop led a similar retreat for men Feb. 2-3.
What led Providence to separate people across gender lines is the fact that far more women than men attend retreats, said program coordinator Glenda Carline.
"And so we wanted to have a retreat that especially invited men out and we had a phenomenal response. We had 175 men come to that retreat. We never experienced that before."
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