The Farmer of Hearts Lenten Online Retreat was first launched in Lent 2020, when the global Covid-19 pandemic began. Since then, we have already launched three online Lenten retreats, and we are about to begin our fourth! For those of you who are returning participants, thank you for journeying with us in the past 3 years! If you are new to this retreat, welcome on board!
Together we have journeyed through a number of Lenten retreats with the following themes: “Farmer of Hearts” in 2020, “Our Journey Home” in 2021, and “Finding Order in Chaos” in 2022. We believe that this year’s theme: “I Thirst” will again resonate with many of you. It is because even though we are seeing the end of the tunnel of the prolonged pandemic, the whole of humanity, everyone of us, has suffered tremendously through this dreaded shared experience. On top of that, depressing events have been flooding the news, like the war in Ukraine, natural or manmade disasters, the mass migration of people due to geopolitical instability, the global inflation, the threat of recession and massive layoffs, etc. We are all wounded, in big or small ways, whether we are aware of them or not. We all carry in our minds, hearts and souls heavy burdens, unmet needs, anxieties about what the future holds, and so forth.
The condition of “I thirst” has become an “epidemic” in the present age.
Nowadays, not many people in developed countries have experienced real and prolonged hunger. But most of us, to different extents, have experienced the sensation of being thirsty. This body signal prompts us to take actions to prevent dehydration, which can be hazardous to our health or even our lives. Under normal circumstances, we will not allow our bodies to go without water/fluids for prolonged periods of time. However, we are not as vigilant towards our spiritual dryness. Sometimes, we would hide our spiritual conditions from others or even from ourselves, either knowingly or unknowingly. This situation is compounded by the chaotic and unpredictable conditions of the world around us, especially after the prolonged and dreadful pandemic. That is why Fountain of Love and Life has adopted the very words of Jesus on the Cross – “I thirst” – as the theme of this year’s Lenten retreat.
This year, we have made some changes to our 40-day retreat program. Instead of offering it as the 10-minute 6-day-a-week guided meditation in previous years, we have added some new elements, but without requiring you to commit more of your time. Besides listening to and reflecting on the retreat content, you are invited to live out what the Spirit has inspired you through your meditation, and to share and witness for Christ in your social circle.
This is how the above will be implemented: On every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, there will be a 10-minute guided reflection. As you follow the guided reflection, we urge you not to multitask, but fully immerse yourself in this sacred space. That is only 10 minutes of the 1,440 minutes in your day. Treat it as your little gift to God. On every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, the reflection content will be shortened to about 5 minutes. For the remaining 5 minutes, we invite you to reach out to a person inspired to you by God in your prayers. As you attend to that person, give your undivided attention to the needs of this person. If you give your all wholeheartedly, even a short 5 minutes can make a difference in that person’s life. On every Sunday, we encourage you to pray for ways to share with others your week’s experience, and if possible, in ways that maximize the impact of your witness! Also, offer all that you have learned, the fruits of your acts of love, and your own conversions to God at the Holy Mass.
We suggest using a journal to write down your thoughts and feelings, your experiences and your conversions, then share them with as many people as possible.
You will be surprised how, either through performing acts of love or through your genuine sharing, can touch and change people’s lives in amazing ways.
If you are up for a challenge, we encourage you to fully dive in by offering 15 extra minutes daily to encounter God by praying with the Bible, and spending 30 minutes in Eucharistic adoration on a weekly basis. We hope that through this Lenten retreat, everyone will enjoy the fruits God has in store for them.
Coming back to the theme of this year’s retreat “I Thirst”, we are not gathering here only to acquire the knowledge of how Jesus is thirsting for us and how much we are thirsting for Him. Knowledge and awareness are both important, but in the end, we also want to find a solution to the “thirsty” conditions, and we need to be part of the solution!
The Spirit is stirring us to quench our thirst and the thirst of Christ by moving beyond our own selves and self-interests by caring for the welfare of others.
You may have heard of, or even have personal experiences of how simple actions can make big differences in the lives of others: how a word of encouragement from a teacher has impacted a child for her whole life, how an unintentional word of kindness saved someone from killing himself, how a simple gesture of kindness makes someone’s day which would otherwise be miserable, how a smile contagiously brightens up every coworker in the workplace …
Never underestimate the impact of your small acts of love. The impact can be long-lasting and even life-changing! The positive impact of your acts of love may outlive you and may live on forever!
We call this the legacy of our five-loaves-and-two-fishes (5L2F) Moments! We all remember how Jesus used the humble offering of the little child to feed 5000 men and their family members! One small act of mercy can set in motion the “multiplication of miracles” through Jesus.
Here we want to define these 5L2F Moments as the times when our acts of love towards others “meet” with God’s merciful love for us. These are the moments when we accept God’s invitation to collaborate with Him through our works of mercy, which result in an unimaginable multiplication of our humble contributions.
Of course we cannot claim any credits. All glory be to God, as it is He who multiplies our humble five-loaves-and-two-fishes offering. But remember, He counts on us to initiate and set those miracles in motion! Looking back, all of us must have missed a lot of those 5L2F Moments in our lives. But instead of regretting, let us look forward and be positive that we can still initiate numerous such moments in our lives in the future!
If we all commit to doing that this Lent, imagine what a difference we collectively can make in the short 40+ days!
Let us all commit to fill this Lent and beyond with 5L2F Moments!
Do you feel spiritually dry? Are you taking your spiritual needs lightly?
Please review your past experience. Have you ever recovered from the troughs of your life because of others’ timely care or acts of love for you?
Merciful Abba Father, thank you for allowing me to re-examine my spiritual wellness in today’s reflection. You have reminded me of Your desire to multiply my acts of love to console others and to bring them hope. During this Lent, please help me use Your lens and Your ways to attend to others’ needs, in order to quench Your thirst and that of the world. For this I pray, in the Holy Name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.