• January 13, 2012

The First Retreat of the Fraternity
of St. Maximillian Kolbe in the US

By Dr. Matthew Sutton

Saying goodbye to 2011 and wel­coming 2012, my family and I par­tic­i­pated in a two day retreat with the Fraternity of St. Maximillian Kolbe at the Heart’s Home in Brooklyn. The best part of the retreat was joining all of our friends at Heart’s Home for Mass at mid­night on New Year’s Eve. As the ball was drop­ping in Time Square in Manhattan, we were wit­nessing to the descending of God who became man for us. This was a joyous moment to cel­e­brate together.

Since this was the first retreat of the Fraternity of St. Maximillian Kolbe in the United States, it was very spe­cial. As this Fraternity begins to grow here, I think that many of us expe­ri­enced the grace that God is doing some­thing beau­tiful for Heart’s Home in the United States. During the retreat, we feasted with each other in prayer, friend­ship, and food. We joined together for mass, con­fes­sion, ado­ra­tion, rosary, and reflecting on how to deepen our com­mit­ment to a cul­ture of com­pas­sion.

My family joined the Fraternity very recently. We joined because even though I have not been a vol­un­teer for a Heart’s Home mis­sion, I have been touched by the charism of com­pas­sion and would like to enter into that charism more deeply and with com­mit­ment. We enter the Fraternity because today it is not enough to be a half-hearted Christian. The Fraternity helps us in our com­mit­ment to give every­thing everyday to God. Indeed, it helps us see that in prayer and action we can give “even more” because we have been touched by Jesus’ even greater love for us. The last reason why my family joined was that we need to sur­round our­selves with wit­nesses of heroic faith. We see in the mem­bers of Heart’s Home those who remember what St. Maximillian Kolbe did out of com­pas­sion for his fellow man. These mem­bers daily prac­tice that readi­ness for com­pas­sion. I love that my chil­dren are able to see this cul­ture of prayer and love, of fel­low­ship and faith.

In one of our con­ver­sa­tions during the retreat, I talked about the spir­i­tu­al­i­ties of the two Teresas—the great saint Teresa of Avila and the little flower Therese of Lisieux. The great Teresa chal­lenges us to give every­thing in an ascetical offering of life to live the heroic call of holi­ness. The little Therese chal­lenges us to trust every­thing in a child­like offering of life to live the beau­tiful call of love. I think that the Fraternity pre­sents to us these two Teresas. It encour­ages us to give every great effort to live obe­di­ently to the Lord and also to trust every small thing to the Lord who loves all in joy. To be a member of the Fraternity is in truth quite hard and quite simple because when you join you make this com­mit­ment "to answer to a more specific call by choosing to follow Christ through Heart’s Home, on a path of aban­don­ment and low­li­ness" (from the com­mit­ment to be a member of the Fraternity of St. Maximillian Kolbe). That is a beau­tiful call to accept. It is the call of St. Maximillian Kolbe who wrote that in our lives we must "draw close to the Immaculate, to make our­selves like Her, to allow Her to take pos­ses­sion of our heart and of all our being."

Read more about the Fraternity

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