• 100 Years at Epping
  • 100 Years at Epping
  • 100 Years at Epping
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Monday, 30 May 2022 12:15

Parishioners enlivened by 'Breathing in the Spirit' retreats

Fr Gilbert Carlo SVD Breathing in the Spirit retreat 450Parishioners from a group of small parishes across Melbourne took part in a six week ‘Breathing in the Spirit’ Lenten retreat offered by Divine Word Missionary priest Fr Gilbert Carlo, with many saying it was a life-changing experience.

Fr Gilbert says he chose small parishes like St Timothy’s in Vermont South, St Luke’s in Blackburn South, St John the Baptist at Ferntree Gully and St Peter’s in Epping, where parish retreats had not taken place for decades.

It was not known how many would attend, he says.

“When the retreat took place, the parish priests were surprised to see more than 50 parishioners attending in a small parish like St Peter’s at Epping and St John the Baptist at Ferntree Gully,” says Fr Gilbert.

“One couple said they had been longing for meditative retreats for years. They did not know they could practise yoga with Christian prayers.

“Another elderly couple said: ‘We should’ve learned this way of prayers and meditation and concentration way back in our childhood or early adulthood. All our life we struggled with concentration. We attended church services and said our prayers just in a mechanical way without proper concentration. The Breathing in the Spirit retreat has helped us to focus on our breath and experience the presence of God’s Spirit in our in-going and out-going breath. It is also helping us to be healthy physically and spiritually’.”

Fr Gilbert Carlo Christian meditation yoga 450Along with the parish retreats, Fr Gilbert offered a one-day retreat at the Janssen Spirituality Centre at Boronia, which was attended by 12 participants.

During the retreat he asked those taking part to take a comfortable sitting posture, close their eyes gently and be aware of their in-going and out-going breath.

“As you breathe in and breathe out, experience LIFE – the life-giving Spirit of Jesus – in your breath, in every pulse and vibration and in every cell of your body,” he told them.

“Experience the presence of Jesus in your whole body and soul with a grateful heart for the gift of life.

“If you wish, you say ‘Jesus’ quietly in your mind with every inhalation and exhalation. Gradually you may stop your mantra and just enjoy ‘Breathing in the Spirit and Resting in the Spirit, just like a little baby in the arms of parents or like a person who enjoys swimming in the cool water during hot summer days.”

Fr Gilbert says his guided meditations are firmly embedded in Scripture.

They include Romans 8:26-27: “We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” As well as Psalm 46:10: “Be still and know that I am God.” And Matthew 6:6: “When you pray, go to your room, shut the door and pray to your Father who is invisible.”

Fr Gilbert says that following the success of the Lenten Retreats, he is hoping to hold more ‘Breathing in the Spirit’ retreats in Melbourne and other locations.


TOP RIGHT: Fr Gilbert leads a 'Breathing in the Spirit' retreat in Melbourne.

BOTTOM LEFT: Fr Gilbert engaged in Christian meditation.

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In the spirit of reconciliation, the Society of the Divine Word, Australia Province, acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea, sky, and community.

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