| These Retreat
Conferences begin with a short introductory prayer followed
by a thirty-minute conference based on the Spiritual Exercises
of St. Ignatius. Though the retreat was shared with seventy
men at the Jesuit Retreat House near St. Paul, Minnesota, the
spirit and direction of the retreat is for women and men of
all Christian faiths.
This retreat may be made in a variety
of ways, by individuals or a group:
- over a 3 day
- over 14 days,
one conference a day
- over 14 weeks, one conference a week.
LISTENING TO THE RETREAT CONFERENCES:
To listen to one of the conferences,
simply click anywhere on the icon of a control panel, under each
of the conference headings. Your browser should automatically
begin to play the recordings. If
nothing happens, then you may follow the instructions here.
A Spiritual retreat is an opportunity to undertake a journey
that can lead us into that most special place in our life –
our interiors. The interior journey, or the journey to
discover our most intimate self, is indeed a privileged event.
We discover God at the very center of our being, but that
daunting discovery has a fearsome dimension. Can I identify
the hunger and thirst in my life that can be satisfied only
by God? And, can I discover, too, the many ways that
I try to fill those hungers and thirsts with things that do
not really satisfy them? These are some of the questions
that I bring as I start a retreat and my hope is that I discover
at an even deeper level God’s goodness towards me.
Lord, send your Holy Spirit to guide me along the path
of discovering you in my life. Help me to be open to
your word that comes to me in the scriptures. Be with
me on my interior journey.
we only had eyes to see, we would see the wonders and beauty
of God all around us. I certainly admire those who are
so open to God’s presence in their lives. They seem to
be able to tune in to the discovery of God’s loving hand in
their everyday lives. What a blessing that is!
We, too, can be encouraged to make that same discovery.
How often do we take the time to advert to and be grateful
for God’s very clear care and loving concern for us?
Rummaging around in my graced life history is one way to be
drawn to deep gratitude for God’s constant care for me.
Who am I? What am I made of? What are my qualities
– my strengths and weaknesses?
Lord, you have made me wonderfully and amazingly.
Help me to realize the wonders of your relationship with me and
to be drawn to deep gratitude for your life-giving presence to
me. Open me to your challenge to grow as a person of faith,
hope and love.
My image (understanding) of God is a
very important part of how I live my life. I am invited to grow in
my understanding of who God is for me. As a person of faith I am called
to growth and development in how I see (understand) God. Is God a taskmaster,
a judge, an officer of the law, an angry parent, a puppeteer, or a cruel
enforcer? None of these images of God tallies very well with the biblical
understanding of who God is.
In the scripture God IS love, and there are multiple expressions of that
love. In the Prophet Hosea, God deals with his recalcitrant people
not with cruel punishment but with inviting and encouraging care: “I will
draw them with human chords, with bands of love; I fostered them like one
who raises an infant to his cheeks.”
Lord, help me to know you for who you are, and not as my shifting
and false images of you would picture you to me. Keep me always open
to your loving care. Let me learn to simply receive your love as a
child soaks up a mother’s care.
Lord, my God, you called me from the sleep of nothingness merely
because in your tremendous love you want to make good and beautiful
beings. You called me by name in my mother’s womb.” The words of this prayer remind us that God so wonderfully
blesses us; and yet, so often our response to that great love
of God is to run far away. I desire to know how I run
from God and what are the obstacles I put in the way of God’s
forgiving and loving presence at the very center of my life.
Help me to know your will for me, dear God, and to be open
to doing that will. Be with me as I seek to know and
respond to you.
need to be reminded that for the most part, God comes to us
in very ordinary ways. The ordinary events of our life
are the normal avenue of approach for God to enter. We
miss that when we think that the relationship with God is somehow
so special that it takes us out of our ordinary experience.
Relationship with God doesn’t take us away from ordinary life;
rather it makes our ordinary life extraordinary if we let it.
St. Augustine put it well when he said, “to be faithful in
little things is a big thing.”
Lord, help me to be open to you in the daily, ordinary
events and situations of my life. Draw me to that faithfulness
St. Augustine speaks of. Stay with me even when my divided
heart draws me away from you and your caring for me.
the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius there is a four-fold
division into four separate “weeks” or four dynamic movements
that focus on 1) God and God’s love for us despite our failings
and sinfulness; 2) Jesus’ life from birth, his early life and
ministry; 3) the passion and death of Jesus; 4) the resurrection
This four-part division provides a framework for our prayer
and our response to God’s love and care for us. The retreat
so far has been concentrated on the “first week”. Our
invitation from God has been to discover God’s goodness and
care for us and to humbly acknowledge our sinfulness and vulnerability
– the ways that we block God’s love from penetrating our
Lord, thank you for the many ways that you come to us with
your great care and love. Help us to receive that love
that you lavish on us.
Handout for Seventh Presentation: Click Here
around in our own story, our personal and unique histories,
we see in those stories what St. Paul alerts us to so poignantly:
that we are a complex mixture of good and evil. We are (according
to St. Paul) at one and the same time Christ and Adam, a sinner,
yet wonderfully graced by God.
Given that complex situation to deal with, we turn to a
sharp focus on Jesus as he is presented in the gospel mysteries.
There we will contemplate Christ; by this word, contemplate,
we are invited to “watch, listen, and interact with Jesus
our Lord.” We, loved sinners, are invited to focus
on Jesus and those around him to learn to know him, to love
him, and to be inspired to follow him in service.
With Jesus on center stage in our imagination, we are invited
to see Jesus’ own strategy of bringing the message of the
Kingdom to bear in our world through service to others.
We are called to labor and work with the Risen Christ himself.
Lord Jesus, help me to know you more intimately, to fall
in love with you, and to be impelled to serve you in others.
Fr. Shanahan offered retreatants eight handouts during the course of the retreat. Print them off in advance and use them as he refers to them.
As we focus on
Jesus, his disciples, the crowds and the many individuals Jesus
dealt with, his demeanor strikes us and new attitudes begin
to stir in us. Can we be invited, like the disciples, into walking
with and serving with Jesus? We come to know Christ more
intimately and to grow in our love for him. We acknowledge
him as Lord and savior and we desire to serve the needs of
others by his side.
Jesus, you show us the way to love. Thank you for
your invitation to us to serve with you. Keep us ever
attentive to the ways you call us into your service.
As Jesus relates
to his disciples, especially to Peter he calls them into faithful
service. Although they tried so hard, in the end, they
failed in their attempts to be faithful to Jesus. Yet
he continued to stand by them. Christ continues to be
a blessing of faithfulness and of forgiveness to us.
We are grateful you, Lord Jesus, for your service to
us, a service of forgiveness, comfort, peace and the challenge
to continue our service at your side.
In our focus on
Jesus the Christ and his relationship with the disciples he
called to be his special companions, we see that not only did
he invite them into service but also he detailed what their service
should look like. This occurred strikingly as Jesus and
the disciples made the journey from their ministry in Galilee
all the way up to Jerusalem. At Jerusalem the startling
events of Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection would take
When Jesus told the disciples about his death and resurrection
they did not understand him. They showed this misunderstanding
on three occasions. And yet Jesus showed patience towards
them. He took these occasions to teach them about what
it would mean to be his disciple: take up one’s cross; be
humble; be open to the suffering that would come their way
as his disciple.
Lord Jesus, I am always surprised that you call me into
service with you. I know that I don’t respond well
to your call and so I need the strength that comes from you
and your Holy Spirit to keep me focused on you and the others
I serve with you.
Jesus and his three
special friends, the disciples Peter, James, and John, went
up to the mountain and Jesus was “transfigured” before them
as the gospel says. For a brief moment God’s glory shone
through the body of Jesus, as it had never done before.
What must the disciples who were there at that very special time
have thought or felt? Peter wants to capture the moment forever
(“let us build three tents here”), but that is not meant
Similarly Jesus and the three special disciples went to
the garden of Gethsemane where Jesus experienced the terrible
weight of what would happen to him in his trial, passion and
death, events that were soon to take place in life.
The disciples can’t stay awake, can’t be a support for Jesus
who undergoes this darkness and the following darkness – alone.
Lord, God, teach me the mystery of the passion and death
of your son, Jesus. Help me to know its meaning in
my life and the life of those I know. Call me to a
deep gratitude for your ultimate sacrifice of yourself –
for me and for others.
a cruel death on the cross. He died in the prime of his
life condemned and killed as a common criminal. Our
faith tells us that Jesus, innocence personified, is punished with
the very fury of hell-on-earth. His suffering and death are
for us, for our “salvation,” as we express it theologically.
But there is more to it than theologically correct language,
and even more to it than the incredibly cruel and unusual
punishment that Jesus undergoes. The more is that it
is service for me/us. The crucifixion of Jesus is service
of us. We see that service enacted dramatically in the
passion of Jesus. He prays for those who are actually
crucifying him; he forgives the thief crucified near him that
day; he gives his mother over to his beloved disciple.
These vignettes within the over-all drama of the cross remind us
of the core meaning of this event: service – God’s love
is shown in the offering of new life through Christ’s entire
life and in particular, his death and resurrection.
Lord, send your spirit to teach us how to relate to your
passion and death. Show us how to deal with the many
“dyings” that are part of our lives: the grieving, the sorrow,
the pain and the suffering that our loved ones and we experience.
The mystery of
the resurrection is the center of our faith according to St.
Paul. Through his resurrection the power of God over
death and destruction is accomplished once and for all. No
longer need the power of evil hold sway over our lives. The
death and resurrection of Jesus (the paschal mystery) has broken
the seeming power of evil. The joy of the resurrection
is reflected in our lives in the events that bring us a renewed
sense of the goodness of life despite the many obstacles that
seem to be in our way.
Lord, help us
to receive the Risen Lord who comes to us and takes as we
are, as he approached his disciples after his cruel death with the
incredible joy of his having been raised by God’s hand.
Teach us the meaning of that spectacular event as it reaches
into our daily lives.
Once again we are
served by God’s love and life in Christ’s having been raised
from the dead through the power of God. We see that
service expressed in Jesus’ triple forgiveness of Peter, who,
at the time of Jesus’ passion, denied him three times (“I
do not know the man.”). How does Jesus serve us in our
lives? Without doubt he serves us in the ongoing forgiveness
of our failings, our weakness, and our sin.
Lord, teach us the lessons of joy in the resurrection.
Help us to recognize, rejoice with and be grateful for the
“resurrections” that occur in our daily lives. Keep
us open to one another so that we can be instruments of resurrection