Virtual Retreat Creates Space for Reflection

A global pandemic and stay at home orders didn't stop the junior class from growing in IWA Spirituality Pillar. During Holy Week the whole junior class engaged in a "virtual retreat" choosing from a variety of daily activities that encouraged growth in prayer, learning about the faith, and spending time in nature or with family. They posted their experiences in a series of FlipGrid assignments to connect the sisterhood together during this difficult time.  As their teacher I was inspired by their stories of Holy Week and how much they interacted with each other by watching each other's videos and even commenting in their own about how a classmate's video inspired them. Check out some of what they experienced...

About Holy Week in General
"It's easy in a time like this say I need Jesus but I don't have him...but hope is trusting Jesus and having faith that He will be with us through this all." (Leah L.)

"I liked how the video explained [holy week] as a story and how the gifts of God are what He does for us...and with all this going on and not being able to physically go to class or mass I is difficult to stay focused on my faith. This brought it back to my mind that Holy Week is a really important journey we can't forget just because the world is in a bit of a sticky situation." (Katelyn B.)

"I watched the Holy Week on social media video... and the whole idea of having to continuously choose to follow Christ and being willing to follow Christ no matter what other people think about it...inspired me to treat my faith life like I treat my social media making sure I'm only following and posting the good." (Avery G.)

"It's unfortunate that COVID-19 has effected our religious experiences the way it has, but I think it is still such an experience too and it can strengthen our faith in everything" (Stephanie D.)

Extravagant Monday
"We've been having a lot of dinner conversations about coronavirus and politics and gas prices and [watching the video about extravagant Monday] inspired me to steer the conversation to talk about Easter and what we can do...and it was successful and we all enjoyed talking about it more than gas prices. So then I decided I could apply that to prayer. Even though going to mass and adoration and confession are not available right now, we still have the ability to fully put ourselves into a prayer and a conversation with God. SoI did that for extravagant Monday and it was really nice and peaceful and a change from everything that is happening, so I figured I would continue it for the rest of the week." (Anna C.)

Chrism Mass Tuesday
 "For the Holy Week Video I chose the Chrism Mass. It's a mass in Holy Week where all the priests gather together to renew the promises they made when they were ordained, which is really cool. I didn't even though that was a thing. And it's a mass where the bless all the new oils: the Sacred Chrism, the oil of the sick, and the oil for the catechumens. I chose this video because...I know Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, but I didn't even know that they do anything on Tuesday and I'd never heard of the Chrism Mass. It inspired me to pay more attention to what happens during Holy Week." (Alexandra (Sofi) O.)  

"Aloneness" Wednesday
"I prayed the Examen not necessarily over today or yesterday, I did it over the entirety of Lent. It inspired me to realize my faults and continue forward with a better relationship with God, better dedication to Him" (Evelina T.)

"I did all the activities for "aloneness" Wednesday and what I got from it and what really inspired me was the point of view of Judas. He put on this mask, which I think a lot of us tend to do because we don't want to bother people with what's going on in our lives, but sharing with others can help. That's important to take in because Catholicism is a community, we're a big old family. Mass is a community and that's one of the biggest celebrations we have. At Easter that's good to think about because sometimes we feel alone but we're never really alone, even if we don't have someone physically on earth to help us like a friend or family that understands us completely, there's always God and we can turn to Him. He understands everything; He gave His life for us; and He's with us in every moment, so we're never really alone." (Lindsey M.)

Holy Thursday
"I watched the Veil Removed film. I found it very beautiful. It was like a perfect illustration of how you would imagine heaven and earth coming together during mass...This inspired me to not take mass for granted," (Merissa D.)

 "My family and I did a family foot washing. At first I was really excited to do it because feet washing is one of my favorite parts of the Sacred Triduum in general because I really like the meaning behind it. My siblings were reluctant at first but after I got it started they started to get more into it. And I was inspired when they started to be the ones washing the feet rather than just watching. In the end all of my family had a lot of fun doing it" (Sofia G.)  

Good Friday
  "I did a black fast. I learned that without eating for a long period of time you start to obsess over food, like when is the next time I'm going to be able to eat. But I learned that you can take a step back and you're in charge and you're in control. But most importantly you realize God is the provider of all food. It's kind of like the 40 days in the desert and you put yourself in Jesus' shoes. And you pray and give it back to God and instead of filling your mind with the things of this earth, you fill it with what God has desired for you. I was inspired because there was a sense of not being in control over what or when I ate...and it makes you realize we're not fully in control over anything really and God is the ultimate provider." (Lily C.) 
Holy Saturday
"For Holy Saturday I wanted to make the resurrection cookies. It was inspiring that every single step had a new part of the story to go along with it. So they made something as simple as baking cookies even more interesting, which made it even more rewarding when I got to eat them the next morning. And then we did the Easter Vigil, and that's not something my family normally does...but we just wanted to try something different...and I thought that was a great way to end the night spending time with my family" (Jillian T)

Easter Sunday
"I watched the Bishop Barron video and it gave me a deeper understanding of Christ's mission and why Easter Sunday is so sacred. It brought me closer to God and felt a connection and I felt myself praying more and really reflecting on what the sacrifice and the resurrection of Jesus means...I hope everyone is doing well. Happy Easter. Christos Anesti! (Gia O.)

"For Easter Sunday I live streamed the mass from St. Martha's and I think it is really cool that we can still all come together at the same time that we would in the normal church. Even though we're not exactly together, we still have that community...I was reading through the spiritual communion again and I really like how it highlight how Jesus is always with us. Praying the spiritual communion helped me to recognize the importance of the Eucharist even more because you sometimes just go through the motions...but when you pray the spiritual communion prayer you are actually acknowledging Jesus coming into you and you are being a part of him and him being a part of you." (Maddie T.)

"My pastor's homily on Easter inspired me. He said joy can manifest itself in many ways and I think this is true for this time. So much bad news is happening about coronavirus and how it is effecting business, people, families...and I think it's important to realize even in this hard time there are still things that can bring us joy. And we are called to be an Alleluia people. I have learned from all this, as my pastor said, the Church is not just a building, it's the people who make it. The church is the family; it is the doesn't matter where we are, what time it is, what's going on, there's always an opportunity to grow in faith and an opportunity to be happy." (Lauren F.)

"I did the stations of the resurrection. When I read John 20:8, imagined being there at the site of the crucifixion and what everyone's emotions were as Jesus was being crucified. I imagined what Mary would look like and what his disciples would look like. I just imagined the whole scene." (Jada P.)

"My family livestreamed mass and at first, I'm not going to lie, it was kind of weird to be sitting on my couch and watching it on tv and going to mass with my dog. But afterward I thought it was really cool how our generation with the amount of technology we have today, we still have the strength to overcome those obstacles. Our church is so much stronger than what is physically in front of us. We still put God first and we find alternate ways to reach Him and rejoice in Him. We can cope with these really hard situations, like everything that is going on in the world, but can all still come together and livestream and celebrate a mass. Happy Easter!" (Anasofia A.)

"I think the thing we can all take away from this is that though we can't go to mass, we can still be there for our faith and still be present in it...and I know that the days seem to pass very fast, but we need to make sure we're not losing sight of what's important. I think the Triduum is so important and that is what I've learned and acknowledged through what we've been learning about in what I've been listening to and watching." (Holly Mc)

"I learned that hope is for everyone. No one is left out. And Easter is such a hopeful season. Jesus had this mercy to do what he did on the cross and he gave hope and possibility for everybody. And I reflected on that with a little prayer thanking God because its such a beautiful thing. That message of hope inspired me that nothing is impossible." (Victoria M.)

— Rachael Valka, IWA theology teacher

  • Spirituality