By Myra Starkey
April 25, 2017 at 3:18 p.m.
Updated April 26, 2017 at midnight
I am not a Roman Catholic. I was raised as a Southern Baptist in Lake Charles and still go to church almost weekly either at a Baptist or nondenominational/Bible church.
I have attended many Catholic Masses during the course of my life, but since I have never gone through catechism classes, I know that I don't fully understand the ceremony.
I have known many devout Catholics in my life, and I currently have a good number of very close friends who are Catholic. We sent our kids to Catholic high school. I say all this to emphasize my respect and admiration of the Catholic faith and its followers.
Taylor and I went to a Catholic retreat this past weekend at the Spiritual Renewal Center south of Victoria. It is owned and operated by our local Catholic diocese. It is a beautiful facility that sits on rolling, oak-covered hills overlooking the San Antonio River. There is a chapel, a great dining hall, meeting rooms and numerous guest rooms. It is a great asset to this area.
The conference was put on by Spirit Wind Ministries as it is each year at this time. The retreat leader was Father Ron Rolheiser, and he has been the featured speaker of the conference for many years.
Father Ron is a well-known author having published a dozen books and has been the president of The Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio since 2005. He is a great communicator with original ideas. His topics are serious and deep, but he is also humorous, which makes him great to listen to.
I'll tell you what he spoke about this year, although you will probably think it sounds sort of boring. You will probably wonder how I could stay awake listening to the topic.
Actually, I am just kidding. The title of the seminar was "Sacred Fire: A Spirituality of Sexuality." And no, this was not a sex therapy weekend.
Human sexuality is obviously a powerful force that influences a great deal of human behavior. It is not separate from our spiritual lives but rather intertwines with it and affects it.
It would be difficult to begin to even do justice to all the information he taught us, and so I won't try to summarize it. What I can say is that seminars like this make me realize that I usually go through life without taking time to think about the deeper theological issues.
What I see on television and in movies or read in magazines or the news is affecting my mind in ways it shouldn't. I don't often stop to examine why I think what I do. And what I think affects my actions and my relationships with other people.
The weekend was not all just education. We had three great meals a day, all prepared by the friendly and capable kitchen staff at the center. We had plenty of downtime to read, nap, visit with friends and walk around outside. It was a relaxing weekend.
The usual thing to do Saturday evening at this conference is to watch a movie together that relates to the topic. This year Father Ron selected "City Slickers." This is the Billy Crystal film from 1991 where three friends, each experiencing a mid-life crisis, go for a two-week adventure in New Mexico to herding cattle.
This may not seem like a big deal to someone from South Texas, but these are city folks from New York. They learned to ride and rope, sleep outside in tents, survive stampedes, cross rivers, deal with tough cowboys and in the end brought the herd home.
Making it through this trial really changed who they were, and it made them question what was important in life. For Mitch (Crystal), it was his family, and he returned to the city spiritually renewed.
I'm glad I got to go to the Spiritual Renewal Center with my friends this weekend. I realized I need to be more careful how I allow the world and popular culture to influence my thinking. There is still a source of truth that doesn't shift.
The cooks at the retreat center made the most wonderful biscuits. Upon my arrival in Victoria, I began to prepare a few old recipes to see which one was closest. I settled on a grandmother recipe with butter.
These are flaky because of the butter that is chopped and integrated into the flour.
Myra Starkey lives in Victoria. Write her in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77901, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.