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Week 8: It's been a peaceful week as I sought to 'continually' feel embraced in the unending love & mercy of God. As suggested I did try to do/find something to makes this week special. So several days I prayed in church where I could see the feet of the crucified Christ. It made me always want to sit in that spot during mass. To be so aware of my individual sins & patterns of sin, yet warmed, comforted, held, & yes forgiven in the strong arms of Christ. and then today, on a regular Friday afternoon, in the quiet of our church, kneeling at the foot of the cross, I was finishing my prayers.. praying for the nurses/doctors/caregivers at the hospital, for their strength, skills, intelligence, caring, attentiveness. & then prayed for forgiveness for them knowing that they would sometimes fail.. & it hit me that I failed sometimes too & that same unconditional forgiveness was mine.. tears of relief/joy/peace/love/gratitude flowed down my face. The debt owed can only be reflected in the Gifts of the Spirit.
My heart cries out to you oh Lord. Oh Lord you hear my prayer. Let me take the time this week to truly embrace your love. Lord you know how much I love you. You know how imperfect that Love is. You know my ups and downs. You know when I leave and when I stay. You know at one time in my life my "Yes" meant "yes" now it means maybe, If I choose to follow. I want to run to you because I know you have forgiven me. I know you continue to call me. I am aware you know me better than myself. I have searched my heart and have found no obstacles other than my level of trust in your promises to me. I know I no longer trust you to take care of me because of what happened when I first said yes and followed eagerly until I ran ahead of you trying to care for the world and losing myself and my soul in the process. Help me to trust that you will bring me no harm as I follow you. This is where I am weak please make me strong in you!
I have just begun Week 3. Taking in the length and breadth of the material, the "teaching", can take me the first two days of the retreat. I am grateful for the sharing. God uses all of your words and experiences to focus me on my own direction for the week ahead. God's fingerprint is on each entry and seems to speak to me very personally. I have noticed that there are many entries for week 1 and they seem to decrease in succeeding weeks. I have wondered if I will be able to sustain my energy, focus, discipline and enthusiasm for the full 34 weeks. I am praying that we will all be able to stay with this wonderful track God has put us on.
This week we are moving out of ourselves which literally reminds me that I need to get out more. As much as I love the gifts of nature I tend to receive them indoors, from the other side of the window. This is paradoxical because my favorite vacations are in nature, often at state and national parks where we hike, explore, and sometimes just sit outside and take in creation. There is something in me that still feels most safe inside, unseen. I think I need to better understand and challenge that. We shall see what the week brings. I do know that one of the statements from the first week that stays with me is, "God is never outdone in generosity." I am seeing that more and more and look forward to the week ahead. "Help me to see what your desire for my life really is." Thank you for sharing and thank you for listening.
I'm beginning week 8 but I keep bumping into the realization that when I began to focus on how I was interacting with others, friends or strangers,has made such a difference in how I feel that God is somehow pleased with me because when I am exposed to the opportunity to share the failings of others with friends I can hear His voice saying "This is a test" and I swallow my words and feel so much better forit. Or when I normally would get upset with other drivers who were not quick enough when trying to reenter traffic and I can hear a vioce saying relax.. This one effort that is the way I'm dealing with others is a lesson for me as to how God has been so patient with me,and I feel that at least in that I am making progress.
I'm retired and have been for several years. I lost my wife of 60 years recently to Alzheimers and found my self drifting..one lady who works at our foodpantry had been a volunteer who would take my wife to lunch or for a ride. Today I was going by the food pantry and found myself turning back and going in to volunteer working there a few days a week. When she saw me she gave me a big smile and a big hug and was so pleased that I offered to help. I was reminded of a prayer that I make often.."God help me to see you in others and help others to see you in me." The retreat is helping me meet that challange.
This week began on the 3rd day of a Rachel's Vineyard retreat I am making for healing from abortion. On this retreat I have experienced exactly what week 8 is about - the incredible love and mercy of our God. God you are so good to us if we will just open our eyes to see your blessings. I felt that loving forgiving embrace this week-end.
I have just started week seven. I read many of the reflections of others and would like to share my start of the week. I feel deeply my unworthiness and have looked at the muck and mire for a long time before the retreat. My deepest flaw is my lack of faith! I know that if I was a rock I would accept my crosses and be delighted. But I often don't follow because I haven't had the courage and honesty to really believe. At present I am committing my life entirely to Jesus hoping that He really is. I deeply regret all my past life in that I didn't bother to really ask for the Grace of Faith. I pursue the narrow path today instead of the many offshoots of the this path that take me away from doing the loving act that somewhere in my depths I know will bring the only real happiness and peace. I am grateful there is someone out there that will listen to me.
I have been thinking about the root of the sins in my life. I think all
I have been picturing your life, Jesus through the meditations of the Rosary Mysteries. I guess I didn't focus on the whole salvation history, but you are filling me with your graces. Especially the grace to know that you are with me and are walking right beside me.
Lord, Your life is complete. And I want mine to be complete, yet I often yield to human weaknesses. Forgive me my sluggishness. Here I am, right now,. I smile at your welcome. Thank you for being present even though I have been unfaithful.
Your love is so sweet.
This week 11 has been perfect timing for me. My husband has become very disheartened with his job after 27 years in the same place with several job changes, but now it looks like we will be leaving. "YES LORD" Whatever you want. May my husband and I be lead according to your perfect Will. Even though there is some fear, we say "yes" and we trust you Jesus as you have always been with us, you will continue to be with us always. We say Yes to your will and calling us to a new area. Indeed, my husband and I have been called to a new place. He has been applying for new jobs around the state and at the opposite side of the country. I continue on this journey called "life" and am blessed to be taking part in this retreat online. This could be the start of quite the change in my life. And I am glad to be sharing this change with my retreat family. Thank you for your prayers and know that my prayers continue for all on this journey with me. Christine
In “For the Journey”, Fr. Gillick says the worst sins are those we hold onto ourselves, refusing to recognize, hidden & festering at our core, not allowing Jesus to take them to the center of His cross. So yes, the nagging, debilitating shame & focus on my unforgiven sin is exactly the opposite of what needs to be. Fr. Gillick gives the example of a canvas in a frame. For most of us & most assuredly me in this situation, MY sins fill up the canvas, hoping the mercy of God can surround so large a field. I've just had it wrong all these years-- the reality is that the unending love & mercy of God fill the canvas to overflowing. That's where the emphasis should be, not me, never me, everything I am & have are gifts from God... I'm beginning to get it.
The image of panning for gold especially struck me this week. I found myself sifting through my life events, trying not to miss or skip over any of them. – to look more deeply at each one – especially the more painful ones - trying to recognize how God was present in each experience. Knowing that God is always with me helped me to see more readily the “nuggets” of gold that are slowly becoming part of my consciousness: – the more I recognize God as Creator the more I recognize myself as creature, the more I experience the unconditional love of God for me, the more I am able to let go of the controls and trust God to take the lead, and the easier it becomes to surrender myself to his good will for me. Like “The Hound of Heaven,” God tries every which way to finally take me in His arms and hold me with His unbounded love - and I finally become a believer. I can only thank God for this grace. Thank you, God for being so patient with me and for not giving up on me. Help me to keep these “gold nuggets” forever in my consciousness.
As I tried to take in the vast, panoramic view of God’s beautiful creation, the words of a song I learned from my 4th grade teacher, came to mind: God made everything just for me. Oh how beautiful God must be. He made every, hillside, flower and tree. Oh how beautiful God must be! Yes, “I was created as part of this whole vase creation, for one purpose of praising, reverencing, and serving God.” I recalled an experience I had many years ago, as I was walking through the “canyon” of Durward’s Glenn in Wisconsin. I couldn’t help but raise my arms in praise to God, singing as much of the Canticle of St. Francis as I could remember, “Most high, omnipotent, good Lord, Thine are the praises, the glory, the honor and all benediction. To Thee alone most High, do they belong, and no one is worthy to speak your name…”
I have for some time looked on-line for a retreat centre near where I live. However the very real demands of work and family at this time precludes spending time physically on retreat. I love sacred spaces.ie for daily prayer and reflections and just googled for an "online retreat" and found this. I like what I am reading and feel hopeful this may help me find a source of wisdom and spiritual growth. My beautiful golden retriever ,who is not allowed in the room I am sitting in for practical reasons has just sneaked in to be with me. I am looking for gentleness and so I think I will also look for a site devoted to St. Francis of Assisi and read more of what Pope Francis is writing. I am glad to find this site and send blessings to my cyber space "co-retreatents". My husband is enduring a very difficult, slowly progressive illness which is very hard for him and impacts every aspect of our family life and I need tremendous sensitivity and wisdom to try to make good decisions for all the family as his judgement is very impaired and mine has lots of room for improvement.
What is the meaning of "life in its fullness" that Jesus promised to His followers? I thought I knew what it meant: excitement, miracles and travel,missionary work. And I knew that I didn't have it. But after these 10 weeks of deep contemplation, meditation and listening, I feel that God has taught me His meaning. Life in its fullness includes the mundane. It includes illness and suffering as well as joy and excitement. Life in its fullness is the ability to be close to God in all situations. What joy to discover life in its fullness! Thank you for this retreat opportunity. This is my second attempt in 10 years. I pray that I finish, but even if not, I am blessed each week that I participate. Christine
Very introspective this week. I have plenty of thoughts putting them down is another. I am looking forward to this journey.
I am using the Creighton online retreat and want to share how my faith has been increased this last week. Whenever life's setbacks occur, I have reminded myself that only my God matters, and that anything I do should be directed topleasing Him. I have attended daily Mass and made Stations of the Cross in reparation for past sins and for spiritual and emotional growth as I face the challenges of daily life...the Trinity and the Blessed Mother have become my go-to Spirits when I need help and they never disappoint.
Smile: The Celebration Behind our Pictures
The question was posted, "What graces, insights, special or painful memories were given to me last week?" In remembering some old photographs of myself last week, I was struck by how meaningful it is to be photographed. I once belived that I was "captured" in a picture. That is the old saying. But sometimes old cliches do not speak to the spirit. What I felt in reviewing these pictures was that I was being celebrated, not captured. To distinguish between the two was freeing.
I very much miss my parents. Even those of us who do not have parents, or had abusive parents, miss the idea of a loving, accepting father and mother. We desire to be a child, and accepted into a family. For a moment, my image was captured in their lives, but my spirit was being celebrated. I believe we are at all times in front of the lens of God. This is not because He wants to capture us doing something wrong, or to "monitor" us, but it is because He loves us and desires to celebrate us. We are in His family, adn his lens is always about us.
I love the idea of the picture as a celebration of the person behind the journey. We were innocent as little children, and we deserved the kindness of a loving parent or two. That innocense was evident in my pictures, as it is in all children's pictures. I felt fortunate to have but a few images of myself as a child, and feel very blessed that my parents loves me enough to picture me there. I belonged, and it felt good. They gave me a place to be, and welcomed me, and when my image was captured, I was celebrated as a child. How nice it feels to celebrated, also, as a child of God. We are in His family.
Well – so on to week three. I found weeks one and two enormously enlightening and the question of acceptance was not one I had considered – in depth - before but was very relevant - being wanted by God from conception – which was not true of my conception in human terms. Also God’s acceptance and love me through some deeply sinful episodes in my past. I guess the tension between those two things will continue to present a struggle in both my spiritual and earthly relationships. Week three is presenting a different tension but probably not unrelated. I worry about the concept of creation being there for me and to support my living out of the Gospel. Presently that all feels a tad narcissistic! I relate better to St Paul’s concept – all creation struggling for liberation.
for week three of the retreat. here's a poem i wrote:
Oh! To be an angel Whose job it is all day and all night as well to sing God's praises. The angel choirs have nothing else to do no other reason for their existence but to sing of the glory of God The angel musicians never have to wait tables to pay for strings or reeds Angel poets never have to teach verb forms or grade papers all they do with all their being is extol the wonders of the Lord and at the Nativity the angel chorus and all the heavenly hosts singing, "Glory to God in the highest and on Earth peace and good will" were all just doing their job
The reading for this week has really made me look into my childhood and see God's presence in my life. I'm remembering things that I had forgotten or simply lost touch with as I grew into adulthood. I remembered being a young child and spending hours on the swing set in our back yard. These moments allow my heart to connect with God, although I didn't recognize it at the time, and dream dreams for myself or use my imagination to explore ideas. As I grew older, the swing set was exchanged for a pen and I would journal my thoughts down on paper. This was my salvation. Although I felt ugly and alone in the world, I felt God right there with me as a child and later as a teen. I don't know how to explain it but I felt a deep love and acceptance which really became my foundation for a faith journey with him. When I was alone in my thoughts, the world was at my feet but as soon as I stepped out into that world I would run back into myself because it was full of negativity and turmoil. For example, my brothers merciless teasing created a very low self esteem and shamefulness in me. I couldn't picture someone loving this "thing" that struggle with her weight, (although I look back at pictures and I see a beautiful girl with a great figure), was clumsy and not very pretty, and who worked hard just to pull good grades. In the midst of all this, God reached me and in my private moments, he and I danced together like a young couple sailing through the dance floor with no care in the world.
Retreat Week 2: "Her heart was a secret garden & the walls were very high." But I KNOW that God is & has been in the garden with me & will help me to take down the walls. The hardest brick to remove is the first one.
Last week (Week I) was kind of amazing, especially since this is the second time I have attempted this retreat. What I most noticed was God’s consistency in my life. From a very young age I have been aware of and dependent upon God’s presence and of his love for me. And, really no surprise, He’s still at it. The difference for me was in the way I perceived that presence.
On my first time through the retreat—didn’t make it all the way through—I was motivated by a desire to improve my relationship with Christ; to “do something better” so that I would feel God’s presence more keenly. Since I was the one “doing” all the heavy lifting, I didn’t really get the concept of “background.” The retreat was just more stuff to do. Last week was quite different. For the first time in my life I was able to let go and let God do the work. That may sound like a “duh” moment, for some of you, but for this type A first born it was a miracle.
And, “background” didn’t mean that I was oblivious to what God was doing, either. I had moments throughout the week that showed me in some pretty concrete ways that God was near. Not by big things, but in the small things that usually seem mundane and insignificant. So, I continue to depend on God’s graces as this week unfolds.
This week has helped me to see that as a young child I found the unconditional love I needed and craved from God. He knew what my parents were unable to provide and enabled me to form a healthy attachment.
I am beginning my 1st week of the retreat. I'm really nervous...not because I don't want to cultivate my relationship with God but because I have a history of not finishing what I start. I don't want to fail at this retreat like I have failed in other ways in my life. I think that the passage about Acceptance resonates with me deeply because I do not accept myself, which makes it difficult to recognize when I am accepted by others (and more importantly accepted by God). Throughout this journey, I pray that I remain committed, that I allow myself to grow in my faith, and that I become a better and more whole person when the 34 weeks conclude. Thank you God for even making me aware of this retreat and guiding me back to You.
Week 2 resonates with week 1 in discovery of the why and reason for hurts recalling these from life's journey so far.
When I read that "the deepest human need is to be accepted," and prayed for it, I asked God that He would allow my mouth to always sing praise to the Lord, and my heart only share love to my neighbors. May I always say the truth in a nice way so that I will never let down other people. May I always grow through knowing my weaknesses.
God Bless you Spiritual Directors at Creighton for creating this online retreat of the Spiritual Exercises! I am nearing the end of week one and am so grateful for this opportunity. I live in a small mountain town with no Jesuit priests here at the present time. I have found the Jesuit Spirituality to be an answer to my deepening call from God to be "in the world but not of it". At times I thought I heard the beaconing to become a cloistered Carmelite because of love of contemplative prayer. It is difficult to reconcile that call with my busy life in the world. The Jesuit Way of Proceeding is speaking to me now and I want to thank you for this retreat community. I realize even though at present there is not a Jesuit Spiritual Director here in my area, we have Pope Francis who is very present with his love and teaching. This week is especially healing through shedding God's love and light on the wounds and blessings of my life.
God Bless you all, Juliana
I am a protestant Church of the Nazarene minister going through the retreat. I am on week one, but am already touched by the richness of the exercises. God truly did touch Saint Ignatius. I at times doubt my abilities to be an effective minister. Reflecting on my life and how God has always been in it, I am encouraged. I realize that whatever God calls me to do, He will be there with me as He always has in the past, and He will equip me to do as He commands.Stephen M
I am on step 9 once again along with this God given retreat, Step 3 is my daily. I've done AA since 1990. There is too much to reveal at times, they tell me "the Lord won't give me more than I can handle" and I am beginning to live that. I want a pat on the head, I want an "atta girl." but I will choose to be content with what I have been blessed with. Miracle is an understatement today. Thanks for listening, much appreciated. Mostly necessary.
Turns out I am a sinner, have been one for a long time. My psychotherapist tells me I'm self- destructive. This time with God he is gracing me once again to review my life. Father Blank tells me I am forgiven, in my deepest heart I know I am loved beyond measure. Am I lucky or what?
Thank you so much for "The Courage to Accept Acceptance". I realized while reading it that my whole life has been lived not being accepted as I am. At 63 years old it's been a sad and lonely life but I am determined to change all of that as well as my feelings of inadequacy and accept me as I am. I firmly believe that I am on the right track with the online retreat and look forward to each week of growing and learning.