Christ is Risen! At the end of March 2023, I had the opportunity to attend the seminar “Fasting. Prayer. Silence”. On the first day of fasting, I realized how great my insatiability was, because the biggest thing I was worried about was whether I would have enough bread; I felt great anger why there was so little of it on the table, disbelief as to whether I there will be enough food for me.
But later I noticed that I don’t need much to be full; that very simple everyday food like bread and tea with lemon tastes amazing and that it doesn’t take much to fill you up; that my greed and gluttony lose their power when I begin to share with others what I have; I understood that in silence people become relatives and you can communicate with just one look, which can say a lot; I realized that until I squeeze a lemon for tea, it will not give its taste, just as a person without trials does not reveal his beauty; I felt that I could physically touch Jesus in the Eucharist; I realized that the first victory of Christ over Satan was actually during prayer and fasting – and this gave me the strength not to give up, because the temptation to go and eat was great.
As I looked at the steam rising above the hot water, I realized how short earthly life is – and this motivated me to prayer and renunciation.
During the retreat, I realized the importance of listening – how difficult it is to just listen. However, only in silence I had the opportunity to meet my true self and hear God.
It was especially valuable for me that I saw how the Bible comes alive in the silence of my heart: I noticed how during Eucharistic celebration priests go out to people and feed hundreds with the Living Bread, as it was during the multiplication of bread, and how during the Adoration every knee and every nation bows before Jesus.
Also, in the first days of the retreat, I began to feel strong physical pain – in my stomach, in my back. I had the feeling that my body temperature rose, but due to the fact that Father Yuriy said that it is through pain that the Lord can heal, I made a decision to humbly accept everything that would happen to me, and after two days the pain simply disappeared. In the depths of my heart I believe that the Lord has healed me and freed me from “being old” inside.
Every day we had the opportunity to be at the night adorations, but it was necessary to sign up for a specific hour so that Jesus would not be alone in the Most Holy Sacraments. Since there were a lot of “musts” in my life, I decided that I don’t “must” anything here, but I want to learn with God the mature awareness of “I choose.” And so I asked Jesus to wake me up at night whenever He wanted. For two days, He woke me up at exactly 3:45 a.m. and I went to the chapel where I simply stayed in silence. After that, I could not stop being close to Jesus, this gave me the opportunity to realize that God alone is enough in my life.
And the most important miracle that I could see during this retreat is Katya. Katya is a Russian girl, through whom the Lord healed the image of the Russian people in me. I cannot say that I hated the Russian people, but I did not have love and mercy for them either. At the Holy Mass, at the time when people make the sign of peace, I turned around two days in a row and saw Katja behind me, whom I shook hands with. On the third day I went to another part of the church and again, when the sign of peace was to be given, I turned around and saw Katja again. That same day, when Katja was coming back to the hotel, I followed her and watched her, who like a little girl was walking and jumping, looking at the sky. It was at that time that God poured love into my heart for Katja and for the Russian people as well.
Now I have a clear conviction that the Lord does not look at the person, but at the heart. And it was Katja who showed me what beautiful people there are among the Russian people – who do not want war and pray for its end – and how God longs for peace and love.
And the last thing to mention. The most important gift I received during the retreat is the gift of sincere confession. It was in the time of silence and fasting that God gave me the grace to see myself without hypocrisy and gave me the grace to accept the gift of repentance and to be freed from all burdens and weaknesses in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Now the most important thing for me is to be in silence because it is then that comes out of what my inner life is filled with. And silence doesn’t mean that nothing is happening around me. Silence became a reality for me when I realized that I wanted to listen to God and to my neighbor so that I could come more and more out of myself, to know the true God, my true self and my neighbor more deeply.