Samson Talks – All of the talks will present the life of Samson (retreat patron saint, from the Book of Judges, Chapters 13 – 16) in an effort to uncover an issue of abuse that will help the men on the weekend to identify and relate their own story with that of Samson. Samson was God’s chosen instrument who began the process of deliverance for His people from the bondage and slavery of the Philistines. Like Samson, abused men are strong men who are potentially in chains from their past, but God still wants to use them in a mighty way. Through the life of Samson, men may find the keys to their own deliverance.
Theology of the Cross Talk – The purpose is to set the tone for one of the major themes of the Samson weekend, which is God’s redemption of what is considered perhaps the greatest evil in a man’s past—his abuse. The cross was a symbol of evil prior to Christ’s redemptive suffering on a cross. This talk will explain the history of the cross and how Christ used this evil to summon forth the greatest good the world has ever seen. Click here to listen to a sample of this talk.
Cross Building – During this activity, men will participate in a guided reflection where they will meditate on their personal cross(es) in life. We then invite men to manifest this cross of pain and past hurts through the artistic construction of their own cross. Through this activity, men will be invited to acknowledge their cross, open their hearts to Christ’s mercy and forgiveness, and experience it profoundly by uniting their pain and suffering to Christ’s passion.
Cross Carry – Whenever a man is confronted with his own demons and feels like he wants to flee from the weekend or an experience from the weekend then the cross carry is his refuge. On the weekend, the men will have an opportunity to carry a cross whenever they choose. This is symbolic of the weight they have been carrying around since the time of the abuse. The cross is their strength and God wants to use their individual cross to bring healing and redemption. Life is a journey and the cross carry is symbolic also of the journey these men are on.
Stations of the Cross Building Exercise – The men will be paired into groups of two to build 14 permanent Stations of the Cross at the Discovery House retreat facility. This outdoor experiential activity is designed specifically to help each man enter more fully into Christ’s Passion, the theology of the cross, and their own story in an effort to bring healing in the place that the man needs most. Through bonding with another brother in the Lord in a sacred experience to give glory to God that will lead many others in future prayer, these men will have a profound encounter with God and be amazed at the healing that can come through meditation on the station as they build. Many will find a great connection with the station and find further healing of their abuse.
Group Cross Carry – Team members for the Stations of the Cross building effort will take turns carrying the cross to their specific station in preparation for their construction each day.
Simon of Cyrene Cross Carry – On Sunday, the men will draw on the story of Simon of Cyrene from Christ’s Passion. Knowing that they are departing this retreat experience shortly, men will have an opportunity to reflect through this activity how they need a ‘Simon’ in their life if they are going to continue to be successful in their journey towards healing and a life of freedom from their past abuse. Each man will choose a brother that they have bonded with on the weekend to be their Simon. Once at each station, the men who built the station will offer their own reflection based on what the building of the station did or meant for them.
Name, Claim, & Tame Bond Fire Gatherings – These bonfires will occur nightly and be an opportunity for men to lead with their weakness and share their story, perhaps for the very first time! Men will have an opportunity to listen to other men’s stories and make a connection with their own stories of abuse. The purpose is to allow the men an experience whereby they can gain strength over their past abuse. By naming their abuse, they take control over it. By exposing it, perhaps for the first time, they bring not only healing, but ultimately they identify and acknowledge that area of tremendous pain and begin to pave the road towards living in peace and eventual freedom. These bonfires will bond the men together tremendously and enable trust to grow on the weekend, which will enable even greater healing to take place.
Only as Free as our Ability to Forgive Experience – This is an opportunity on Saturday for the men to allow God to penetrate the most hardened place in their heart in relation to their abuse. Perhaps a man is unable to forgive his abuser or himself; this experience will draw each man to the healing power of the Eucharist to enable these walls to come down. Through guided imagery and reflection on poignant Sacred Scripture stories of Christ healing and forgiving those in need, men will find the necessary strength and support to begin to cross this bridge in their journey of healing. With priestly support and guidance, the Eucharist will be used to walk among the men and powerfully touch each man’s heart and provide them with a tangible and profound experience of Christ’s love and healing power.
Guided Imagery Prayer – The men will have the opportunity on the weekend to take advantage of this unique prayer experience. Retreat chaplains will provide the men time to have their traumatic memories skillfully guided towards healing. Through imagination and reflection, men can create once-and-for-all, through this prayer encounter with Christ, a new and permanent memory of their past that is filled with peace and joy versus anxiety and pain.
Twilight Stations Healing Reflections – Men will be led into a deeper understanding of their story and how Christ’s suffering and Passion can be a source of consolation and healing for them. These reflections will draw men into a specific area of healing and suffering based on the station men are visiting and praying before.