Sr. Marla Lang, FSPA, gives a talk to women attending the Superior Diocesan Council of Catholic Women’s Lenten Retreat on Feb. 2 at Holy Family Catholic Church in Woodruff. Sr. Anita Beskar, FSPA, also helped direct the retreat, titled “Mary’s Witness to Women of Today.” (Submitted photo/Credit: Lynn Neeck)

God graced the Northwoods with sunshine and warmer temperatures as 51 women gathered Saturday, Feb. 2, at Holy Family Parish, Woodruff.

Women from all parts of the Diocese of Superior, Diocese of Madison and Diocese of La Crosse attended the Lenten retreat sponsored by the Superior Diocesan Council of Catholic Women.

The Lenten Retreat was designed for contemplation, reflection and quiet meditation. Sr. Anita Beskar, FSPA, and Sr. Marla Lang, FSPA, from the Marywood Spirituality Center, Arbor Vitae, were the presenters. Both sisters helped attendees broaden their understanding of who they are in relation to Mary, who also had human struggles.

Sr. Anita started the morning Scripture readings reflecting on “Mary as Parent” with the words of Simeon: “sword shall pierce,” “a sign of contradiction” (Luke 2:33-35); the boy Jesus in the temple: “Why have you done this to us?” (Luke 2:44-5, 48-51); and the feast in Cana: “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servers, “Do whatever he tells you” (John 2:1-5). Attendees were asked to contemplate and reflect on how and what Mary felt when she heard these words.

Sr. Marla gave the second presentation for the morning, “Mary: Mother at a Distance” with readings reflecting on how Mary felt with Jesus’ rejection at Nazareth from Luke: “Isn’t this the son of Joseph?” (4:16-22, 28); with Jesus and his brothers, again in Luke: “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the Word of God and act on it” (8:19-21); and with Peter’s denial: “You are not one of this man’s disciples. Are you? “Peter said, “I am not” (John 18:25-7). Sr. Marla focused on the words from the prophet Isaiah that Jesus read in the synagogue on the Sabbath day.

Sr. Anita presented the afternoon program with Scripture readings and discussion centering on ‘Mary in Grief,’ with readings from Luke 23:48-9: “All his acquaintances stood at a distance, including the women who had followed him from Galilee and saw these events”; John 19:26-7: “When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother: “Woman, behold your son.” Then he said to the disciple: “Behold your mother”; And John 19: 30, 33-4: “One soldier thrust his lance into his side and immediately blood and water flowed out.” Attendees were to reflect on times when they experienced grief in their lives, keeping in mind that death is not the final end, but reflecting on the realization death has the potential for new life.

The day culminated with discussion of Mary, how she continues to be a witness to every woman today – a model of compassion and a woman of the Gospel – as she helps us become true disciples of Christ. Participants were then invited to pray together the “Litany of Mary of Nazareth” and, if possible, take part in reconciliation and attend Mass celebrated by Fr. Aaron Devett.