Online Retreat Sharing
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A Place to Share
At any time this week, if you have anything you'd like to share, that has touched you, you can share it by leaving a note here, even anonymously.

The Latest Sharing

Hello, I am just beginning the first week of my retreat.  I have come in with my faith worn to shreds, finding it hard to handle pain and suffering of my own and of others throughout the world. Thanks to the online readings and sharing, I am beginning to find glimmers of hope: "The Courage to Accept Acceptance" reminds me that the burdens are not mine alone to bear, but that God in his infinite love and wisdom can help me if I only become willing to let go; and even more basic than that, Luke 11:1-13, God is "ready to give the Holy Spirit to anyone who asks." Even though my confidence is shaken, if I am persistent in prayer, I may rediscover my faith... Looking forward to continuing this journey. In Christ, Cate.

I have plenty of time to meditate, pray, study or read. I began the retreat today, but actually began a wholistic (body, mind and spirit) rehabilitation program on March 10, 2014. I was sharing with my spouse yesterday that besides him, I had no one to share with on a spititual basis, and voila - the SHARE phase of the retreat.  Thank you Lord for answering the desire of my heart of hearts so promptly.  You know what I'm thinking, feeling, desiring before I do.  There is so much I wish to share. I was a member of a Catholic Charismatic Prayer group for over 20 years. I sat down this morning and wrote a letter of thankfullness to the Pastoral Leaders, present and past. They shared, nurtured and blessed me with their abundant faith for so many years.  They molded me into the upright spiritual being I am today. I am far from a perfect role model; thankfully He is not through with me yet. He continues to change me from earthly things to the heavenly.  For one month I've been reading out of 3 spiritual daily meditation booklets and also from well worn OA (overeaters' anonymous) and Al-anon booklets. Though edifying, they were somehow not enough.  My soul begged for more like the dryest sponge pleads for pure soaking waters. Voila - this 34 week retreat! Again an answer to my prayers.  Thank you Lord. And thank you for devising this online retreat.


Am in the 28th week of the retreat and much has happened over the last 28 weeks.  This morning as I went on the website and went through the Stations of the Cross, I thought of all the crosses we bare here on earth, but none as physically painful as what Jesus endured.  My life has taken such a turn that I can barely function.  Divorce from a secular marriage with a man who sucked almost all of my spirit out of me. 20 years and in 2009 I left for the final time.  I was not beaten physically, but mentally.  I kept trying and trying to make it work. I made a decision in 1993 that took me to this place. Through the grace of God, I have been able to get through. I started this retreat in October and in November the father of my children (also an 18 year marriage) died.  I was able to be present as best I could for my adult children.  That marriage was physically and mentally abusive as well, but I stayed.  I was of the belief I could make it ok.  All during that marriage I raised three children, Mass, CCD, etc. All of it.  I was "running the show."  Everything had to be survived. So, 40 years of two men that I needed to make me ok and not alone. I am alone now and have been for awhile. No relationship on earth to fix me, just my relationship with Jesus.  This is hard.  The evil spirits give me daily battle for my soul. Being alone is not easy. I am slowly turning toward a life of the spirit. I show up for retreat at church, am doing adoration chapel and learning to pray out of desire and responsibility. We have 6 more weeks to go. I am in the process of moving one more time.  What is God's will?  I do not know. I have learned that it is not the end result that I should be focus on (my desire and needs), but the experience. The last marriage broke me mentally and emotionally and almost spiritually. God did not abandoned me even tho at times over the last four and half years I felt like I was walking through a dark cave with no hope.  He (my former husband) would call me and I would talk to him.  I deep inside desired his return to me, but something kept saying no.  I found out two weeks ago after the divorce, in September he had married, but he never told me. He called me and invited me for coffee and would call and text. I finally have closed the door completely. No more contact.  Every time I talked to him I felt like I had dropped into a deep hole and I could feel my strength taken away.  He is a troubled man and because I refused to come back, he found another woman to take care of him.  I am not healed. The wound goes deep. Sorry to go on and on. A lot is in my mind.  I am walking the spiritual path and I now understand my faith is not in my head it is in my soul.  It seems my soul is located in my gut because there I feel so much.  Thank you for allowing me a place to share.  I am a writer and have tried blogging, FB etc. But what I have to write about does not belong on those pages.  I am 65 years old and am just waking up to life.  Toward the end of my life I have found a beginning and is frightening. 


Week 25: it's been a long time since i was here. much has happened. i went to the states for my grandson's 1st birthday&baptism.. it was grace-filled in many ways but the busyness of my time there, of life there made it hard to 'keep the exercises in the background', to oddly enough to let my focus be constantly in the background. & then, even more, i wanted/needed to stay with the stories of healing. (it fit that 2014 is cycle A). but the writings in the retreat & the contemplations on the same gospel stories have been powerful in my life. often because they seem to come right from my mouth & heart. (as do your sharings).  so prayerfully i continue on in trust, not knowing for sure how this journey will get there. but i know the end.. the glory of God. so often i am still the woman at the well, thirsting for life. lord knows i'm blind & often choose to be blind to opportunities to show love. & yet Jesus continues to say every moment of every day, "come on out, let's show 'em the glory of God." so prayers are sent heavenward for fellow pilgrims&guides--you have meant so much to my life & growth--that we can keep our focus always in the background & then let it spill over with love for others.. in gratitude for so great a gift.


Week 26: As I do week 26 of the retreat and read the sharing of other folks, it becomes clearer to me that without God through his son Jesus, there is no meaning to life. With God and his son, there is all the meaning and the joy and the comfort we need. This is why I need to be open to understand what it is God wishes for me to do, both in the small things and in the large things.  

Matthias 


Beginning Week 11: I don’t think I’m grown enough to fully absorb the grace of each week, but I’m trying to just get what I can. I heard from my Centering Prayer director that God reveals our sins to us as if inviting us to clean house. At first, the room we’re in is pretty dark, and we can see a little dirt, and we clean a little. Later the Lord turns up the lights a bit, and we clean a little more. And so on. So far the lights are not that bright in my room yet! I’m ok to sit there in the semi-darkness for awhile. I’m 55. When I was 30, I looked vigorously for what God wanted me to do. I went to daily mass, and looked at other Catholics in my family and church, and listened to their advice (although they weren’t like me) and went pretty seriously awry because of confusion and pride. Now, 20 years later, I think we can either try to do God’s will purely from love, or from love plus pride (wanting ourselves to matter, wanting ourselves to make a contribution, as opposed to wanting a contribution to be made). Since we’re human, that pride is going to be there even though we try to root it out. Now I think we have to offer ourselves to God to do whatever He wants, even if it seems like a very humble, even invisible, contribution. And maybe I am making a contribution I can’t see. At 55 I am almost ready to say, “Ok, so if You want me somewhere, send me there.” Thomas Merton’s “The Road Ahead” from Week 10 is so made for me, I have to laugh a little. At 30 I didn’t get it. At 55, I find it profound. It begins, “My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going,” and every word is true for me.


Week 22: I decided to read The Message translation of the Bible this week. to try to really see what Jesus was doing in his mission (I stopped before the Passion each time). I like that during his ministry he retreated to live in Capernaum by the sea. I think the sea must have calmed his soul as well when he was weary. he wandered beaches & dusty roads, through small villages & to the mighty city of Jerusalem. he so wanted to remove misery from their lives, but they had to believe that there was a better way & this was it. when they turned away they continued in their miserable choices. & he used a million stories. stories for us, the simple folk, yes even simple-minded at times.  thank goodness the disciples kept asking Jesus to explain the stories again. simple folk i tell you. he healed them of their physical burdens when the suffering one or someone who cared deeply for that person just trusted & stepped forward in trust.. trusted that if they put out the effort, this Son of Man & Son of God could do miraculous things. trusted with the simplicity of a child. it's a beautiful thing to see-childlike trust.  I see it in the face of my grandson.. total dependence yet unwavering trust in the unconditional love of his parents. that's what God wants from me. but back to my purpose: Jesus realized quickly that his radical way of thinking & acting was for sure gonna ruffle some feathers. Neither he nor his message were what the common people or religious leaders thought he was going to be. He stepped on toes, he ate with the riff-raff of the day, the despised ones, he touched lepers. He flew directly in the face of some of the most powerful. but his message continues--The Great Reversal.. the first shall be last & the last, first. How would I have responded if i'd been part of the crowds that followed him for days, listening to him teach, challenging minds & hearts about doing things a different way. Did things begin to change in the crowds?.. kinder interactions, more sharing, fewer quarrels, more smiles, more hugs, more carrying another's load, more forgiveness...  just a few prayerful thoughts from a grateful--and working on grace-filled--pilgrim.


I remember as a little girl, probably 4 or 5, my parents would find me asleep in the hallway, facing our wall heater.  I could lay on the floor and stare at the blue flame inside the heater.  Growing up in the Mojave Desert we were no strangers to wind.  And sometimes, when it would hit my face, or blow through my hair, there was a strange feeling of familiarity mixed with longing.   I grew up with great parents, nothing traumatic, pretty much Leave it to Beaver in the flesh.  But for some reason, I always felt "outside" the family.  No reason why, my parents loved me and I knew it.  I mean we had our dysfunctions like every normal family, but nothing weird or overly sad.  And I think about it, I have most of my life, and just wondered what the "otherness" and blue flame was all about.   I believe the Lord gave me my answer the other day and it blows me away, I am as certain of it as I am anything.  The longing of that little girl's heart, that was comforted by the flame, the feeling of the wind and a million other things through the years, is my heart's longing for home.  I am sure that I missed being with the Lord.  I mean as Christians we know we belong to Him, but i'm talking about something else.  I truly believe that somewhere in my soul is a place that misses being with Him literally.  The Word says He knew us before we were born.  "I knew you before I formed you in your mother's womb..."  Jeremiah 1:5, and the part of me that knew Him before "here" still longs for His presence. Even being here, belonging to Him, the joys that we experience here, nothing compares to His presence.  The closest I have come while here is during worship at church.  Those rare times when I am able to calm my mind and truly focus on Him, the gratitude I feel overwhelms me and His presence is so real and so precious I never want to leave.  But the songs end, the service proceeds and I am brought back.  Those times are when I feel complete.  Complete in His love, His acceptance, His peace. I can look back over my life, childhood, marriage, children, divorce, loneliness, remarriage, and those things that were a result of sin or the enemy's hand, I can see that He carried me through.  Some of it is horrendous and I know without a doubt that were it not for Him taking over I would never have survived.  But I did, and I didn't come out of it with bitterness, rage or life-long sorrow.  He does that.  And in His truly infinite mercy and grace, I have experienced such joy and love that I can barely contain it.   What love, a love that whispers to a child's heart that He misses her too.  That tells the single mom that she's not alone, that He sees every tear and He's got her.  The words from His Word coming alive in her heart and almost magically giving her the strength and wisdom she so desperately needed.  Years of loneliness, waiting and waiting.  But oh, how it was worth it.  In His timing, and in His beautiful way, miracle of miracles, given a Godly man that I couldn't even have dreamt of.  That is a story for another time, it is truly so like Him.  So, now, when a breeze brushes my face and it takes me away with it somehow, I will smile and look forward to an eternity spent with the One who loves me best and Who I adore.♥

Leslie M


Thank you very much for this online retreat. Prior to the first week, I had been looking back a lot on my past - I appreciate being reminded again to accept acceptance. Unfortunately, there isn't always a lot of acceptance in our lives by those around us. This week has helped me to visualize that the weight of acceptance comes from God and it outweighs the burden of rejection from others.


Hello, and thank you for this retreat. Today is only the first day, and I have learned so much already - the most precious of which is that I have God's undivided attention!  How overwhelming; how comforting; how healing! How extremely humbling to know...


Today is the 5th day of my first week of this retreat.  I chose to use this day to reflect upon my college years and discovered that it was a time marked by financial and emotional insecurity.  In these years, it seems I lost the strong financial and emotional security I had as a young child, and I tried (unsuccessfully) to rebuild a new one out of what was destroyed.  Over twenty years later, I find that I  have carried the effects of that into my adult experience.  Despite this, I have learned through the readings that God alone is my security.  I hope this knowledge changes how I relate to the people in my life and my relationship with a God.God bless, and thank you for this retreat.


Today, I was sleepy all day long. I’m preparing the first semester with seminarians as a spiritual director but even I also want to journey together. I worked as a chaplain of university for five years before here. I’m exhausted but at this time I think I disposed on the proper place. Koreans are mostly hard workers because of the atmosphere of society. We need to take pause. I was expected to get some useful helps from this site. I want to feel again his presence in my life-journey. I’ll follow the guidance and lead the seminarians which I should be obliged to take care of. The dynamic of Spiritual Exercises might be useful to all of them. I would do the self-experiment first and then give them a chance to follow. Thank you for your enthusiasm of Campus Ministry.


I began my retreat week 1 yesterday.. I remember how it had been for me. I was always too scared to remember my past as I always believed that I had too many things to run away from.
I prayed to the lord to give me the strength and accept what I see again in my lifes album. However, after I began, and ran through my life experiences, I could see that in everything despite the pitfalss god was there with me..
Even before I was born, my father left us and went. My mother abused me and believed that I was the cause of her plight as she had to come back and couldnt remarry or succeed in life as she was left to care for me.
As I grew up , I was constantly reminded by my grandma and mother, the sacrifice she did for me.. she told me many times that it would have been better if I had died. Some other times, she was a loving and sweet person..
Grew up very confused, about life and god. Felt that I was a burden and full of many mistakes always bothering others/troubling others& Lost my mother in mid 20s and soon after my grandmother.
Was left alone, and helpless. But god took control of my life. And thats when he started revealing himself to me. I never knew the god of the bible.. Now, I feel that in all this also he took care of me. He wanted me to live since he had a bigger plan for my life. He made my mother care for me, despite not wanting to & he provided for all my needs and wants.. he protected me from all dangers.. he was there all the time I was sad and depressed..
Nothing is more comforting, that realizing that my past is no more a baggage.. he has taken the pain away completely.. everyone will answer him for everything& and he controls everything.. he brought me to it.. he will take me through it..
Today I feel that, I was not responsible for all the bad that happened in others life.. and he has been with me always.. lord I love you.. thank you for being with me in everything.
Thank you for making me a more silent and quieter person who understands others needs& if I hadnt faced this, I wont have realized the importance of meekness, humbleness and love.lord make me your vessel and fill me with your grace today..


This week I reflect on the unconditional love of God for me.  I am also drawn into a reflection on forgiving others because of God's example of love and forgiveness.  Thank you Jesus.
I am also aware that I have a very large blind spot.  It concerns the organization of the Roman Catholic Church.  I am still waiting for a public confession and unequivocal apology from the highest level of this organization for the sins committed by those ordained people in power against children.  I continue to wait for a decree from the highest level that an attitude of zero tolerance for this behavior will be adopted.  I continue to wait for a statement that says not only will the church not tolerate, hide, or make private settlements with victims of this behavior but will also lead the way in identifying these people and make them known to the public.It is past time for the organized church to lead the way rather than the lawyers and the insurance companies.
Thank you God for your unconditional love for me and giving me your mercy.  Help me to be the person you want me to be and open my heart so that I can forgive others their patterns of sin as you forgive mine.  In the name of Jesus I ask this.  Amen

Jesus, you knew it was time to leave your home and start your ministry.  You loved your mother.  How hard that must have been ....closing one chapter of your life...moving to the next and realizing you were not simply coming back sometime soon.   And then you walked, ...with purpose.   You saw the River Jordan.  You saw John.  You move to the water, your first step in this new life.  Coming out of the water, you hear your Father's voice.  "You are my own dear son, and I am pleased with you." Yes!  You hear the words and feel warmth.    It has started.   I watch this unfold. I feel the conflict of leaving a loved mother and moving forward.  I feel the pain of your mother, watching you go and yet knowing this is right. When you surface from the water, we see the Holy Spirit descend on you, we hear your Father's voice.  You are our Savior.  I want to be with you.  I want to live my life with and for you.  May all that is in you flow into me.

 

Thank You, Oh Lord, for this moment to write what you would like to say. You have directed me to this most perfect place I now call home. You have allowed me to join your most loving St. Monica Catholic Church, which has stood in your honor for one-hundred fifty years. I know you wait there for us day and night. Thank You. Thank You for the wonderful people you have joined together there, all the love that you spread around within us all.  Thank You for our Fathers you have sent to guide us on our journey to you Lord. I ask you please increase our faith and hope in you. Fill us with your true light and power to become what you want for us. Keep our loving St. Monica family always close toeach other, as we gather together in your honor. It is because of you sending me to St. Monica that I have come to this point of having these words with you on my retreat mission. Than You Creighton staff for guiding all who come for this amazing experience you have offered us called 'RETREAT'.  The friends whom referred me to this says it has enriched their lives, just to knowthe love and surrounding of God's care. Many More Blessings, Endless Blessings, SLW


Hi I really am inconsistent with daily routines. I loved the accept acceptance reading so much I found the book to order.  I am writing to anyone else who lacks discipline.  Let's hang in there and see where this leads.


This is the start of week 1. I have always thought about God being there when everything is fine. And I have had some insight into my crisis, bad judgements, wrongdoings and the thought that God was there even during those times. Comforting.


I have completed WEEK 20 and until taking the time today to review other's comments,  it had not really sunk in.  Jesus showed me that through God I  have the power to say NO to temptations.  Jesus was as tempted as I have ever been, only He continued to seek His Father's advice, not anyone else's counsel.  Temptations will always be a part of my life here on earth, but knowing that Jesus faced temptations has given me the strength to not be afraid.  Yes, I will run from temptation when possible, but when I am confronted, I don't have to succumb.  I am not alone in the struggle.  Jesus struggled and never sinned.  He knows me.  He loves me and with Him, I too can stand tall and call out "In Jesus Name, Satan, get behind me!"  One day at a time, one temptation at a time.  Prayers for all who are sojourning on this retreat from Christine in Bethel.


I just completed my first week.  Found it difficult, because I could only remember the unpleasant times in my life. I struggled to find the good and happy times.  I even ask my husband what he remembered in his childhood and he brought up happy times.  I struggled with this because he had a difficult childhood, but he remembered the good!  As the week unfolded, I became aware of  the need for healing in these areas of my life.  I thought a great deal of how my parents were raised, which reflects of who I am today.  I am not perfect... Praise God, and I will always be a work in progress.


I stumbled upon your online weekly retreat site.  Wow!  I might say it's mere coincidence, but I think not.  I'm normally horrible at novena's and things requiring discipline of that sort, but I will try!  Thank you for putting this out there!


Sitting on my grandmother's lap, in a rocking chair, while she sang "Onward Christian Soldiers".


Week 16:  In 'these or similar thoughts' the storyline included an incident when as a child Jesus cheated at a game & Mary saw him.. I don't agree with that because Jesus was like us in every way but sin.  But it did prompt my thinking of how he would have responded to 'our everyday life situations'.. I can picture Jesus standing up for the one being bullied--every time. I can picture him running into Joseph's shop for his chores & carpentry lesson, maybe even a few minutes late because he was picking a handful of wildflowers for Mary. I can see him being inquisitive about the smallest wonders of God's world & getting muddy & dirty enjoying them all.  I can imagine him as a teenager being the one everyone loved to have around.. happy, appreciative, a peacemaker.. though all had had their comfort zone disturbed by him.  I can see him at Joseph's side, watching & learning, not just from Joseph but from all those around him, witnessing sin, perhaps a bit puzzled by it.. but as he grew 'in wisdom & stature' he would look at all of them, into their souls, justly, encouraging, forgiving.  Thank you God for the opportunities to know Jesus in a more personal way than ever before, our brother & our Lord.


This is my second time around making this wonderful Retreat.  Over the years since then, when I was fairly newly widowed, I have been able to grow closer and closer to our dear Lord Jesus.  This also includes being free to go to Mass every day which gives me so much nourishment.  I find my relationship with Jesus has become a very close friendship and that I seem to be talking to him all day.  I am not a recluse, I am a matriarch (I discovered this when my youngest child of five, now a man with his own children, asked me if it was alright to send his son to bed because of a row over homework. . . asking me, for advice?  Wow, I thought, I’ve made it!) I interact with many friends as well as families, I am a webmaster – I do all sort of things but my relationship with Jesus is everything.  I used to be super-efficient but with age – I am nearly 80 – everything slows down, I get so slow and clumsy that I find I rely on Jesus for very small things.  Then I think:  how can I ask him for help with this, or that, and I remember God cares for everything, even mosquitoes and spiders, so he also has time to care for me.  And he does.


WEEK 19:One of the fun results of this week's focus on Jesus' Baptism was that the song "Down to the River to Pray" from  the movie, Oh Brother,Where Art Thou? echoed throughout the whole week for me in my quiet moments.
Did Jesus know how he was going to die, how his ministry would end when he was baptized by John?  I really don't think so.  He grew and learned as any normal human does.  He became more sensitive to the Father and to the ways of humans everyday.  I'm sure he was learning something everyday, possibly amazed at how limited humans are in their knowledge and wisdom.  I don't think he realized the fullness of his ministry and impact when he began.  If he was the "normal" Jew, then he also would be thinking in terms of a mighty Messiah.  I don't think that lasted very long, but still, it was one of the temptations in the desert...to be powerful and controlling over the earth.  With omnipotency, he could lead the world in peace...hmm, didn't work that way.  The temptation to rule brings with it the temptation to subordinate and condemn.  Jesus didn't come into the world to condemn it.  I think that as he preached and moved with his disciples and experienced the reaction of  both the people and the leaders, he realized that he was the suffering servant. ..but I honestly don't think he started his ministry thinking that way.  

I am often tempted to want to know how the future unfolds instead of living it one day, one moment at a time. But when I reflect that Jesus didn't know his entire life when he was born of the Virgin Mary, I am comforted. Jesus trusted in God the same way He wants me to trust in Him.  Thank you Jesus for becoming human. AMEN.   

Christine

My wife and I have been going through the Retreat during the past year. When I reached weeks 14 and 15 where we are encouraged to use our imaginations to enter into the scenes surrounding Christ's birth, I started doing some journal writing, imagining that I was a friend of Joseph's, who accompanied him through the whole Christmas story, from the uncertain beginnings in Nazareth to the visits of the Shepherds in Bethlehem.
     Since I'm a music director at my church, I began to think, "This would make a great addition to our Christmas program!" I polished up my journal stories and asked two of the dramatic "souls" in our community to read them. One of them was a man who read the reflections of Joseph's friend, the other was a woman who read the reflections of Mary's friend. The readings were interspersed with musical selections from our choir. The result was amazing.... "Best Christmas Concert ever!" "Where did that amazing drama come from?" That was the nature of the comments I got.
Thank you for this Retreat. It helped me and my whole church community to more deeply experience the birth of Christ in a deeper and more spiritual way.
Steve B


I am on week 15 and havingtrouble tryingto getmy imagination to focus on the scene atthe stable withMary and Joseph awaiting the birth of Jesus.  I went to bed last night and as I frequently do,woke up.  While lying there and wondering why I was having this problem the thought of being on a camping trip came to me. I'm not sure how cold it would have been in Bethlehem at that time but with the town overflowing with people at that time I wonderede how Joseph would be able to find firewood in that strang place in the middle of the night.  How were they giong to be able to keep warm as thet tried to sleep? No down sleeping bags..no inflatable pads to lie on, and food..with all the inns filled to overflowing..so many others demanding to be fed  where could Joseph hope to find enough for Mary to keep up her strength? Joseph couldn't have carried very much in the way of supplies on the donkey.  What must have been going through Joseph's mind..The responsibilities of caring for,feeding and protecting Mary and the child Jesus. The self doubt, the what ifs, does he have the strength to provide all that they need?  In the morning I had an errand that required me to go inside the church..As I knelt facing the taberenacle I glanced over to my side and the creche was right next to me.  As I knelt and took in the familiar scene ..The stable,straw and hay left over fromthe animals needs,the other animals,Mary and Joseph caressing and protecting the baby Jesus.  Suddenly my imagination took a back seat and the reality of what they were going through came over me.  This was followed by a prayer of thanks to Mary and Joseph for their trust in the angels message and the resulting gifts we have received as a result of Jesus becoming man and his gifts of redemption and hope for us.  


Week 15:  Gracias a Dios for the countless blessings I have & continue to receive from this retreat. (& gracias a san ignacio).. I like many of my fellow travelers am amazed at the journey I'm making with Christ. In the first week or so I sent an email to the retreat leaders saying the site needed a spot for 'solo journals'.. without response i might add.. & now I know why. It's because, by this stage of the retreat, I have grown & been blessed over & over by the sharing. and yes I've shared too. so in the words of a fellow traveler, I'm intrigued to follow my "odd travel director" on an already difficult journey, but one that is amazingly peaceful as well. I don't know where it's going or how we're going to get there but I'm trying every day to trust more&more.. & know that Jesus is always holding my hand--if I ask him-- & wants to go with me to all the places on the journey--whether scary, smelly, or filled with love.  Prayers offered daily for & with you all from a little town on the Baja peninsula of Mexico. 


Week 15: We experienced the grace of Nochebuena & Christmas this week. I joined the nativity scene as a shepherd, lamb in arms, peering thru the cracks in the barn walls, edging ever closer to the doors, scared & still awe-struck at all the events of the night.. shepherds at the time of Jesus' birth were no longer the respected persons of Abraham's day.. they were some of the outcasts, almost always employed at the mercy of rich landowners, poor simple folk.. whom angels spoke to, sang & shone for..  so as one of the many shepherds in our world, I was blessed to join in the joy of my local church at the coming of El Niñito Jesú.  "What can I give Him, poor as I am? If I were a shepherd I would bring a lamb. If I were a wise man, I would do my part. Yet what I can, I give Him---give my heart."  

Christina R


My thoughts focused on Joseph hearing the news that there is a census and that they needed to travel to Bethlehem.  I never thought about how that news would have impacted Joseph and Mary: with Mary about to deliver, wasn't there some way out of this trip?  The travel would be so hard on her.  They would not have a place to stay. Joseph's business would be disrupted. They would be so far away from family when the baby came. And then a deep breath.  God would provide.  Joseph and Mary were united in this thought.  They would help and care for each other. The path would be difficult but God would provide.  
I think of how I react to changes in plans, in particular those that impact my family like the recent news that my son's job is transferring him out of state. My conversations with God after hearing about this change of plans were "a little tense."  The pain of the news is easing and I look to Mary's and Joseph's example: God will provide.  Yes, the path may be difficult but God provides.  Who knows what lies ahead?  Maybe there are some wonderful gifts with my son living in this new place.  God cared for his son, Mary and Joseph; God will care for my son, my husband and me.

 

Week 14: As we wait in the darkness of Advent, longing for the miracle of life, we pray to recognize the 'Zechariah&Elizabeth and Joseph & Mary moments' of our lives.. We pray that every day we have more & more Yes moments.. to trust, to not fear, to step out without worry for the consequences, to feel the Yes so closely that it consumes us with a love & peace that passes all our understanding.  We can realize that "every saint has a past"-- what a comfort & "every sinner has a future"-- what a gift. I must add my sincere thank you to my fellow sojourners who have shared their insightful & heartfelt thoughts. And to the Jesuits & staff who have put this excellent retreat online. It has become an integral part of my spiritual journey. Prayers for God's graces on us all.


Lord, thank you for giving me my life story rather than any other, or anyone else’s—thank you for leading me along the paths you’ve led me, rather than any other paths (no matter how much I might what-if or daydream or regret the loss of possibilities in choosing one to become actual).  May I be faithful to you and make you smile by following this path wholeheartedly, holding nothing back, expecting nothing except your grace, hoping for nothing except you, who are everything. Amen.

Erin


Week 16: Reflecting on Jesus and his "hidden years" gives me the grace to realize that Jesus had to learn.  He was taught.  He made mistakes.  Mistakes are not necessarily sins.  He made a mistake assuming that his parents were expecting him to leave the family as soon as he was 12 and initiated as a man into the temple.  He made the mistake of not communicating with his parents about his desire to stay and be at the temple.  Did his parents make the mistake of not allowing him to stay at the temple and be educated by the priests?  We, as Catholics, hold true that Jesus led a sinless life, and so did Mary.  Yet, it is hard for me to think that they never made mistakes.  And I think that Jesus  staying behind in the Temple was a mistake that the exuberance of his youthfulness made.  He and his mother tried to understand, after the fact.  Isn't that how we often learn?  We learn by mistakes we make.  At times we are able to learn just by being taught, but even then, it is hard to conceive that there were no mistakes made by Jesus.  I praise God that not all my mistakes are sins.

Christine M.


Hello. My name is Stephanie. I am working on week 4 of the retreat and am so surprised that I have very few people that inspire me.  There are people, historically, that inspire me.  People who are generous and kind (that i hear about in the news, for example) inspire me.  However, in terms of people that I interact with and share my life with regularly don't seem to inspire me much.  This just leads me to think that I may need to get off of FB, People.com, etc and start opening my eyes and ears to better, more inspiring sources. 
 
This retreat is hard for me.  Week 3 was really hard for me to grasp.  However, I am starting (slowly) to see God more in everyday things.  It has to be purposed, it's not coming natural for me...but it's coming and I'm grateful. 


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. 


At the beginning of Week 3 it is suggested we name the graces received in the first two weeks. I have to say that I feel so blessed and gifted by the first 2 interior weeks of the retreat. Reviewing my past has begun to help it be transformed. It was very difficult, often painful work, but such good work leading me to greater self'-acceptance. I recognize I have been running from my shadow my entire life and it has finally caught up to me. Alleluia! Release from shame is really possible and God so wants me to have this gift of freedom.

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.

- Linda


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
of my sin is rooted in pride and vanity.  I am so consumed with how
things appear on the outside that I withdraw when things are not
perfect.  I can demand that same "perfection" of those in my life.  This
is not a call to love or trust in God but rather ME trying to influence
God about how I want everything to be.  I am called to surrender and
trust that God will care for me.  If I could do this and really know
that God loves me, I would be more understanding of my imperfections and
of those around me.  This is a moment to moment struggle with me....the
worry I have about things not being right.  I am thankful for the
insight and am asking God to help me to surrender and trust.


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. 
Jesus, you have become one of us. Human. Fully.  You knew fatigue and hunger, pain and sadness, even anger and joy as we experience it.  You knew your Father and that all would work for the good of all.  

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.

Susan S


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.

Timothy S 


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.

Val


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

Tamora W.


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. 

Susan R. 


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.

Susan M.


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.

Week 1 seemed to recall all the lovely things and then this week I remembered all the hurts and harms - the abused and the abuser and the suffering caused and causing. 

In confession it seemed to make me understand that in the fragility and the weaknesses of the human condition, when shared with Our Blessed Lord, it makes for forgiveness of our sins and restores us and we are redeemed.  The feelings of being unloved are wiped away as He comes to us in the Eucharist demonstrating how we are loved and like the disciples on the road to Emmaus our hearts burn within us in the breaking of bread when we recognise Him as the Risen Christ - for the Christian, Christ is always the Risen Christ. Even as a shivering babe warmed by the breath of the beasts of the field his arms are held out and he enfolds us.

I am reading from the life of St Therese of Liseux as I am supposed to be in formation as a Secular Carmelite - somehow in this second week I am drawn by her message - I had never realised that unless we recognise our weakness and acknowledge it then we are in a right mind to receive God's mercy like she says 'How happy I am to see that I am imperfect and that I am in need of God's mercy.
That is like in accepting suffering - caused by own's sinfulness too - our sorrows are  turned to joy!!'

Pat S


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.


 

Sharing Archive

Read the Sharing for each week of the retreat, as people have shared their graces over the years.


Week 1
Week 1 (more)
Week 1 (more) 

Week 1 (more)

Week 2
Week 2 (more)

Week 3

Week 4

Week 5

Week 6

Week 7

Week 8

Week 9

Week 10

Week 11

Week 12

Week 13

Week 14

Weeks 15

Weeks 16-17

Weeks 18-19

Weeks 20-21

Weeks 22-23

Weeks 24-25

Weeks 26-27

Weeks 28-29

Weeks 30-31

Weeks 32-34