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Spring Retreat with The Little Flower

Fr. Matthew Flatley

March 2017


Contemplative Outreach of Central MO (www.cocemo.org) is hosting a Spring Weekend Retreat with St. Thérèse of Lisieux April 21-23, 2017 and all are invited and encouraged to attend. Our retreat will be held at the delightful little Franciscan Retreat Center, IL Ritiro (www.il-ritiro.org) in Dittmer, MO. The retreat will be presented by Fr. Matthew Flatley, the Coordinator of COCEMO.


We will share Centering Prayer in community, learn the precious wisdom, which this youngest Doctor of the Church has to teach us, and soul-friending will be available. You’ll also have the options of massage therapy and gentle yoga classes will be offered. A mini-introduction to Centering Prayer will be available for those new to this way of praying.


St. Thérèse, also known as The Little Flower is one of the most extraordinary mystics in the church. She was a Carmelite nun belonging to the same order as her namesake, St. Teresa of Avila. She has probably had more influence on the church at large than any other saint except possibly St. Francis of Assisi.


A short time before she died in the Carmelite convent of Lisieux, at the request of the prioress who was her blood sister, Thérèse wrote the story of her life. This was published privately for a limited audience after her death but soon spread throughout the universal church and has become one of the great spiritual classics.  Thérèse is best known for what has been called her Little Way. Like Julian of  Norwich, she believed that the people of her day lived too much in fear of God as a judge. She saw God rather as a loving father and maintained that the God who became a little child cannot possibly be someone to be feared. Rather he was to be recognized in the intimacy of his love which was manifested to us in Jesus.


Thérèse recognized that she could never be perfect. She was indeed hypersensitive to her little faults and imperfections. She realized she could never approach the heroic sanctity of the great saints. She was only able to do little things for God. She realized that God would be very pleased with the little things of his child. Her Little Way consisted of a commitment to the small, menial tasks of her life in the convent and to her relationships with the nuns of her community and the people she would contact through them. Herein would lie her sanctity. Her Little Way was simple and direct but called for strong determination and fortitude. She resolved to do everything, all the little insignificant tasks in the convent, for the love of God. She would love everyone she came in contact with and make a special effort to be loving to difficult or unlovable people whom she recognized as being the ones who needed love the most.


This is the appeal of St. Thérèse to the world even today. Everyone is capable of following her Little Way. It is a way of trial and error, of darkness and light, of joy and suffering but most of all, of loving in the concrete situation of one's daily life. Her little way of practicing heroic virtue is a way that is open to everyone, carried out in the everyday situation of daily life. The Little Flower teaches us … “Miss no single opportunity of making some small sacrifice, here by a smiling look, there by a kindly word, always doing the smallest thing but doing it all for love.”


Our retreat will begin on Friday, April 21 with registrations beginning @ 4:00 p.m. & dinner @ 6:00 p.m. and it will conclude on Sunday, after the Eucharist and Noon meal. To register or obtain more information, please call COCEMO @ (573) 864-1097 or E-mail to: cocemo1@gmail.com. Our fee is $195- all inclusive. A $50-deposit will secure your reservation. (Limited space. Private rooms with shared bath,meals, bedding & towels provided. Partial Scholarships are available.)


Fr. Matthew Flatley has had a daily practice of Centering Prayer for over 20 years. He has served as the Coordinator of Contemplative Outreach of St. Louis, and currently is the Coordinator of Contemplative Outreach of Central Missouri. He also serves on the National Faculty of Contemplative Outreach, Ltd. on the team that presents  The Living Flame Program.

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