Regnum Christi

Fr. Jacques Philippe gives Lenten Retreat at Pinecrest Academy

Fr. Jacques Philippe, a French priest and best-selling author from the Beatitudes Community,  spoke to about 300 people at Pinecrest Academy’s Our Lady of Guadalupe Chapel on Wednesday evening. The Lenten retreat evening focused on interior peace and six attitudes that can be the friends or enemies of our peace.

With over one million copies sold in 24 languages, Fr. Jacques Philippe’s books on themes such as prayer, interior freedom, and peace of heart have become classics of modern Catholic spirituality.

The audience was made up of students from the school and their parents, as well people from the surrounding Catholic community and parish who had heard about the retreat through the parish bulletin or through social media.

Kathleen Nichols, a consecrated woman of Regnum Christi and Formation Director at Pinecrest, expressed the joy of the school at being able to host this evening of prayer and peace, and welcomed everyone who had come from the Cumming, Georgia area and farther.  Regnum Christi members Bruce and Marybel Carlisle greeted the attendees and moderated the evening, which was composed of a one-hour reflection from Fr. Jacques and 30 minutes of questions and answers.

Focusing on the season of Lent, Fr. Jacques talked about how we expect to know exactly what God wants us to give up in preparation for the Easter Triduum, but that often God has something else in mind.  He said that we tend to look at our Lenten plans as a checklist of things we need to do better to become holy, when really what God wants is for us to sit face-to-face with Jesus and be transformed by his gaze.

Often, he said, the conversion God wants for us is not that we work harder, but that we become more peaceful.  Paraphrasing the beatitudes, he said, “Happy are those who are able to receive the peace of God and share it with those around them.”

Fr. Jacques explained six concrete attitudes that either help us to become more peaceful or hurt our ability to accept Christ’s peace.

 

  1. Faithfulness to prayer: In prayer, at the feet of Christ in the Eucharist and on the crucifix, or with Mary in the rosary, we find peace. God is an ocean of peace. God is peace itself. Prayer brings us into deep contact with him and allows us to give him all the anxieties that get in the way of receiving his peace.
  2. Faith and trust: Reflecting on the Gospel story of the apostles in the boat during a raging storm while Christ was sleeping (Mt 8:23-27), we see that all that God requires from us is trust. Fr. Jacques reflected that perhaps our main sins are not the little things we do wrong, but our lack of faith and trust
  3. Pride as an enemy of peace: Pride is the attitude that says, “I am self-sufficient, I can take care of myself, I don’t need others.” Discouragement and the tendency to judge others are the hallmarks of pride. Pride discourages us because we see our inability to be perfect, and instead of giving ourselves to God with trust and humility, we try harder to succeed on our own, striving with ever greater anxiety.
  4. The capacity to forgive and ask for forgiveness: We are healed and find peace through forgiveness, whether in the sacrament of confession or when we forgive each other. This requires humility and can be very difficult, but God helps us when we ask him to.
  5. Welcoming your life as it is: Even if my life is not what I consider to be ideal or what I would have chosen, I need to embrace it and see the richness and opportunities to love that exist every minute. Often we hold up an illusionary “ideal life” that we strive for while neglecting to see the presence of God in the actual, real life he has given us.  This puts us at war with ourselves, and leads us to feel that we are never satisfied, carrying bitterness and resentment.  If we trust God, then we should trust the life he has given us, and that he is indeed present; he’s not far away in the clouds.  It is in our own concrete reality that we will find God, not taking flight to an imaginary ideal life or to a monastery (unless you are actually called to the monastic life…). Accept life as it is with a gaze of faith, a gaze of hope, and ask God to show you the thousands of possibilities to love everyday.
  6. Live one day at a time: Live in the present moment. Entrust the past to God’s mercy- even the bad parts. God can draw good out of anything.  Entrust the future to his care. Live each day with simplicity, avoiding the anxiety that projects us into the future where we worry about problems that may never even come to exist. This is simply doing what Jesus asked us to do when he said to you and to me,

“I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing?

Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore, do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

(Mt 6:25-34)

 

 

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Alex Kucera

Atlanta

Alex Kucera has lived in Atlanta, GA, for the last 46 years. He is one of 9 children, married to his wife Karmen, and has 3 girls, one grandson, and a granddaughter on the way. Alex joined Regnum Christi in 2007. Out of the gate, he joined the Helping Hands Medical Missions apostolate and is still participating today with the Ghana Friendship Mission.

In 2009, Alex was asked to be the Atlanta RC Renewal Coordinator for the Atlanta Locality to help the RC members with the RC renewal process. Alex became a Group Leader in 2012 for four of the Atlanta Men’s Section Teams and continues today. Running in parallel, in 2013, Alex became a Team Leader and shepherded a large team of good men.

Alex was honored to be the Atlanta Mission Coordinator between 2010 to 2022 (12 years), coordinating 5-8 Holy Week Mission teams across Georgia. He also created and coordinated missions at a parish in Athens, GA, for 9 years. Alex continues to coordinate Holy Week Missions, Advent Missions, and Monthly missions at Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Cumming, GA.

From 2016 to 2022, Alex also served as the Men’s Section Assistant in Atlanta. He loved working with the Men’s Section Director, the Legionaries, Consecrated, and Women’s Section leadership teams.

Alex is exceptionally grateful to the Legionaries, Consecrated, and many RC members who he’s journeyed shoulder to shoulder, growing his relationship with Christ and others along the way. He knows that there is only one way, that’s Christ’s Way, with others!