Graces Beyond Imagining

Long-time friend and volunteer of the Center, Carol Buono, reflects on a recent Directed Retreat experience

Carol with some of the Handmaids on the Center StaffSome of us speak to God at church, on the beach, in nature or in our homes. But many times, in order to really hear and listen to His voice speaking back to us, it helps to find a place away from all of life’s distractions. I have received such blessings being given the opportunity to have met the Handmaids of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and visiting St. Raphaela Center, which offers various types of retreats as well as many other programs, helping us to feel the presence of God.

Just recently, I went on a directed retreat because I felt the need to be away in a peaceful, quiet place. To be still and to listen is a challenge, and I knew I would need some help. I thought, what better place than to be guided or directed by one of the sisters at the Center? Yes, the house is full of spirit and has a quiet reverence that gives the visitor a feeling of goodness and warmth; but it is in the chapel that the Blessed Sacrament is exposed daily, a wonderful opportunity to sit in prayer with Jesus. It is truly a time for conversation. I prayed for the grace to listen.

The past few months had been difficult, and my retreat experience was far from what I had anticipated. Much to my surprise, I received the grace of joy and the revelation that God loves me, too, just as He loves all of us. This time I believed it.

I had a lot of help and guidance during that week, which made me think of the way a mother takes her child by the hand and quietly, gently supports the first couple of steps. I am grateful and thankful to those who helped me have such a meaningful experience on this retreat. I am especially grateful to God.

I read somewhere a saying about grace, simply stated but profoundly felt:

“Grace meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us.”

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