Businessmen's Retreat - 2002
September 20-22, 2002
Sponsored by Manhattan College

Conducted at the Passionist Spiritual Center
5801 Palisade Avenue, Riverdale, NY, 10471, Phone 718-549-6500

Retreat Links: [ Outline | KenM | BrBrian | FrPaul | FrJohn | RevOttoway | EdRiely ]

Visual Tour

Conference: "The Church, Recovering from Adversity"

Speaker - Fr. John Duffell

Fr. John is Pastor of Ascension Parish in New York City. 

Outline of Talk

  1. Introductory Comments
    1. How do we recover from the Sept. 11 attack?  What does it mean to be a believer?
    2. No adversity should separate us from God.  But God expects something from us: We must love God and others.
    3. On Sept. 11, everyone cared for one another as brother and sister.
  2. Trust in God
    1. The main thing that Jesus did for us was to suffer and die; but we don't always know what that means.
    2. Three illustrations:
      1. Brian Moore's novel about Judith Hearne who approaches menopause without a husband or children.  After rejection by a man, she goes berserk.  Upon recovery, the man returns, contrite, proposing marriage.  She declines by telling a story: the young person's anticipated perfect life often is not realized.  After discouragement, one is saved by receiving the spirit of who he or she is.
      2. John Shay's story of a young man attending his dying Father.  The son ends up urging his Father, in constant pain, to let go and die.  It's a constant truth: We must learn to trust God.
      3. In the Bible, the death of King David's illegitimate son, despite David's importuning God in sackcloth and ashes.  When his son died, he went to his wife, who conceived another son, Solomon.  When asked, David said there was nothing he could do about the death and that he must go on living.  We can retain life even in death.
  3. Forgiveness
    1. Jesus's comment that, if we don't forgive our enemies, we shall be judged and suffer.  The parable of the master and the debtor slave.
    2. Simon Wiesenthal's experience in the Holocaust: He was taken to a hospital in the concentration camp, where he heard a young SS officer's dying confession.  He wanted to have a Jew hear his request for forgiveness for his actions against the Jews.  Wiesenthal did not forgive him but simply left the room.  Wiesenthal had lost 89 members of his own family in the Holocaust.
    3. Some families have members who have not forgiven other members for years.  They cannot bring themselves to do so.
    4. But remember, when we do not forgive, Jesus will.
  4. Need and Desire for God
    1. Matthew: "He who would save his life will lose it; he who would lose his life for my sake will save it."
                     "Take up your cross daily and follow me."
    2. Thomas Wolfe's "Bonfire of the Vanities".  He was asked, if the '70's were the decade of the "me generation", what were the '80's and '90's?  Wolfe said "the money generation".
    3. Myself: After 20 years of counseling, I'm convinced that everyone has a desire for God.  But other things of life get in the way.  We need someone or something to turn on that switch in us.
  5. The Imperfect Church
    1. Take up your cross daily.  We need forgiveness.
    2. We, as a community of believers, are the body of Christ.
    3. The crucifixion scene is the best ecclesiastical image.  Jesus died between two thieves; there was no way to tell the innocent from the guilty.
    4. All families are dysfunctional; it's just a matter of degree and specifics.
    5. It's true in the Church, which is plagued by scandal.  We could not build another church without defects, and anyway, it would be our church, not Jesus's church.
    6. Song: " ... the Lord watches over me".  The question is, do you really believe it?
  6. Questions & Answers
    1. When we sin, we disrupt our relationships with the Church, with the community of believers.
    2. The prodigal son: Forgiveness is already there (the father rushed out to meet his son), but the sinner has to recognize his own place in being forgiven.
    3. The possibility of war in Iraq: Should we instead forgive?
    4. How could the Church leaders allow priests to abuse kids and then walk away?  Answer: They shouldn't have.  Note that child abuse is a common problem in America; it's not just among priests.  And it's not just paedophilia; it's also epiphelia.  Also, the Boston Diocese was given a model policy for dealing with abusers; but the diocese decided not to adopt it.
    5. Good and evil have always existed in the Church; and, like the crucifixion, it's hard to discern the evil sometimes.
  7. Breakout Session (Sal Pizzurro, substitute leader)
    1. Fr. Duffell's remarks were stimulating.
    2. His later remarks drifted from the main topic.
    3. God's forgiveness is unilateral; we have to decide to accept it, and in the right spirit.
    4. The Boston bishop violated secular law as well as spiritual/canonical law.
    5. Re Iraq: Should you do wrong to prevent another wrong?
    6. The Iraq situation has to do with the control of oil, not with pre-empting terrorism.

(The notes of this outline were taken by David G. Price.  They were wordprocessed by Patrick Lyons.
These notes may not be reproduced without the written permission of the presenter.

This page was last edited on August 09, 2003 by Patrick Lyons.)