The Corona virus outbreaks have been all over Asia since the beginning of this year. After carefully evaluating the situation and having a well-prepared protection plan, we decided not to cancel and still hold the scheduled Christian Meditation Weekend Retreats in February and March. Fr. France De Ridder (CICM) titled the retreat topic as “Grace: God’s Healing Energy”.
The February retreat was very special. It was specifically held for members of the Taipei Truth Lutheran Church. It was a first time experience of a retreat for all the 26 participants most over 60 years old. To be honest, it was really difficult for them to be in the silent retreat and to keep from talking to each other all the time. However, they are all truly invested no matter for lesson, meditation, divine office or group discussion. After the retreat, they have shared feedback about how impressed they were. As Lutherans, this was a learning experience of a Catholic-run retreat and they are deeply touched and would like to practice meditation in the future.
The March retreat has been held in a smaller size than usual since the outbreak of the virus had gotten worse. We only opened 12 slots for people and each had get their own desk for lesson, meal and pray. We planned to keep the distance between each person for more than one meter apart. We also canceled Lectio Divina section and switch into 15 minutes individual talks with Fr. France De Ridder. We encourage people to use the unique opportunity and have confessions. It was the first-time experience of a retreat for 6 of the 12 participants. During the retreat, it was really quiet. It might have been because we required all attendees to wear facial masks all the time as part of the protection protocol. By the end, we had more people share their experiences than the past retreats. People were again deeply touched, finding the experience profound.
The virus affected Lent this year and is still affecting the coming events. Most mass and events gatherings in Taipei have been cancelled. We were lucky to be able to have the chance to be in the same church and be part of a retreat. It was a very big gift. In keeping with the retreat title we remain in the Grace of God and keep the gift by meditation.