With the blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan Basilios, ACOY NSW held their annual retreat themed ‘Stand aright, stand with fear’ from March 1st to 3rd, which catered for 75 young men and women at the Antiochian Village in Goulburn.

We were blessed to have H.E. Metropolitan Basilios, Fr Deacon John and Dr. Mario Baghos each present a spiritually fulfilling and enlightening talk.

His Eminence hosted a Question and Answer session in which he discussed many topics, one of which included the importance of partaking in the Divine Liturgy and abiding by the etiquette of the Church. We were also very blessed to have Metropolitan Basilios join us for the Saturday and Sunday, in which he provided counsel for many of the youth as well as presiding over Great Vespers, Small Compline, Matins, and Liturgy accordingly.

The weekend featured two keynote addresses:

Fr. Deacon John explored the liturgical significance of what it means to offer ‘A mercy of peace, a sacrifice of praise’, in response to the invitation to ‘Stand aright, stand with fear’. This talk delved into the importance of our sacrifices to God, and demonstrated how even the earliest offerings, from Cain and Abel, were calling for God’s movement in our lives and how our lives should always be one of steadfast response to ‘Stand aright’ and accountability, rather than one of scapegoating and disobedience.

Dr. Mario Baghos discussed how we can learn to stand well through continually offering our lives to God. He also discussed how once we start fighting our own desires and our own will (i.e. through the example of food), our lives redirect from one of pride to one of self-sacrificial love for God. He also explored the original fall of man through Adam and Eve’s transgression, our subsequent redemption through Christ (New Adam) and the Theotokos (New Eve); and also explained the life of St Polycarp of Smyrna, how he became a living sacrifice through his own self-sacrificial love for God, through his continual struggle and eventual martyrdom.

In addition to these amazing talks, several workshops were conducted, which included the attendees discovering the fierce challenge of what it means to be still in the fear of God and how we can learn to stand well in silence. Additionally, the youth were able to apply the knowledge they acquired from the talks by exploring what it means to ‘stand aright, stand with fear’ through the lives of the Saints (such as Saints Cyprian and Justina, St Panteleimon and St Paisios).

Overall, it was an extremely blessed and inspiring weekend for all those who were fortunate to attend. We pray that the lessons learned from this retreat will carry well on into your spiritual journeys.