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Thank God I found this retreat on line. I wanted to go on retreat during spring break, but was working so hard, I didn’t take time to make plans. So I found myself at home online trying to find a place to go on retreat. When I could not find a place near my home, I finally decided to try to find an online retreat.
Wow! Was I lucky! The Jesuit influence in my life has been huge! So when I saw the word Jesuit I clicked on Creighton’s online retreat and there was an answer to prayer. This first week has been very difficult to me with so many sad memories from my childhood, but memories still of a mother who tried to do her best to create a home filled with FAITH AND GOOD FOOD despite being repressed and abused by my father.. Despite the dysfunctionality of our family life and our poverty, she took us to church and gave us a good formation in the Catholic faith. I will be forever grateful to her for those two gifts.
What has finally emerged from the memories is a realization that even though I did not open myself in prayer to God, HE was always working through other people and my own perseverance to help me grow and survive.
In my second week, I have found a real rich relationship with God. I just cannot wait to see my dreams to come true. I love the questions and the signs from God.
I'm so glad I'm doing this retreat. Even in the times I feel like I don't want to keep it up, or it's not really doing it for me, once I get back into it, I'm refreshed. I think one of the best things I've gotten out of it so far, is how I look at the MS in my life. It's only taken me 3 years (since being diagnosed), but I've finally figured out that it doesn't define me. And in the end, being healthy or not doesn't matter. It just doesn't matter. Living my life to serve God is what defines me. And following Jesus on my path to heaven is what matters. And that happens regardless of MS, or really regardless of whatever struggle I have. I must take up my cross and follow Jesus. And I'm thankful to be on this journey, where everything is a gift, but above all these gifts, is the giver of all gifts.
So, all that is easy to say, but harder to live every day. So I guess I'll just take it one day at time!
As I read “Our Sinfulness and Our Goodness,” from week 6, a few rogue (yet sacred) thoughts came to me which brought me deeper awareness and compassion for my own sinfulness and goodness, as well as a greater receiving of Christ’s Love and compassion.
The cross – the arms on the cross –one representing our deep sinfulness and the other God’s great Love – the suffering causes them to be as far apart as humanly possible – humanly. Yet – the Love of Christ compels this suffering to come to a final conclusion – death. This death allows the arms to be brought together - ending the separation. And further more it compels the arm of the sinner and the arm of the Divine Love from that cross to not only come together, but around us. Around me. The embrace of Love. Bringing together death and life – rejection and love – humanity and divinity. The final acceptance of both is within myself.
I've started week 1.
Week 1 - My birthday is tomorrow. My mom visited with me. She always reminds me that it was very cold the day I was born and how happy she was that I was her valentine baby; how I was special because I was her first born. Hey, there are graces and difficulties that come with that so I'll take the graces too😊. She always speaks so lovingly of how blue my eyes were and how platinum blonde I was ( cotton top) and how she longed to hold me. She had a cold so back then she could only look at me for several days as a precaution. Today she also talked about how my grandpa would ask if I was sleeping better at night because she said I moaned and made fussy noises all night which woke her repeatedly. When she'd honestly tell him " not really", he would just silently nod his head in acknowledgement of her struggle. So like my pa-pa.❤ In those days it wasn't common for men or fathers- in law to bother with such things but then he wasn't just any grandpa. He had a soft heart and he had a soft spot for me because, u see, I was his first grandchild. It renews my faith in the power of our souls to persevere for I was born during difficult times. In spite of that there were tender moments of caring and love galore. God blessed me with a family who loved me and each other unconditionally. Not perfectly of course for difficult times bring out the good and the bad in each of us. But they loved faithfully.- to each other and to our Lord. And so they taught me and now I teach my family to love the same way. What a huge blessing God has bestowed upon us. That, in a "nutshell", is the story of my life.
Week 19 - As I contemplated the story of Jesus' leaving his home in Nazareth and then entering into the sacrament of Baptism, I remembered a time when I left home to do mission work. I eagerly left my family, because home wasn't a happy place. I went to Switzerland first, a foreign country with a language I had studied in school but was only learning to speak. Being immersed in a different culture, in a position of service--I worked as a maid and kitchen assistant in a retreat center, it was like being baptized by the Holy Spirit.
I was the only Catholic and had to take a bus or boat to Mass every week. The prayers were in German, but they were still familiar. The familiar was merely expressed in a different language.
I spent the second half of that year at a Navajo mission in New Mexico. Again, I left home eagerly, heading out to serve the People in the name of Jesus.
In both of these settings, the work was hard, and Jesus bore me up.
The cultures were completely different from each other and from my own. I learned to respect people and take the time to get to know individuals.
I experienced Jesus in a new way that has never left me. I've never been the same.
Week 17 - I am confused by the juxtaposition of this week because I don’t believe that God gave us each talents so that we might play “small” in life. Wanting poverty that is. We are here to improve the world by using our gifts - and for some, that may bring wealth, recognition and fame. I believe the challenge is to remain humble and not enslaved by the trappings of ego. The trick is to always remember that we need to be a light and the hands of God. I am working on myself to be able to put situations in perspective, to resist being ego driven. I am a leader at work - and it is important to give praise and recognition to others to encourage others development and attainment of goals. Everyone wants to be happy and have enough - it’s everyone’s job and challenge to help those that need it.
I have found my real love to God through the Jesuits. I also want to share about my crisis as a pain in the Cross of Jesus and it has a merit.
As I read “Our Sinfulness and Our Goodness,” from week 6, a few rogue (yet sacred) thoughts came to me which brought me deeper awareness and compassion for my own sinfulness and goodness, as well as a greater receiving of Christ’s Love and compassion.
The cross – the arms on the cross – one representing our deep sinfulness and the other God’s great Love – the suffering causes them to be as far apart as humanly possible – humanly. Yet – the Love of Christ compels this suffering to come to a final conclusion – death. This death allows the arms to be brought together - ending the separation. And further more it compels the arm of the sinner and the arm of the Divine Love from that cross to not only come together, but around us. Around me. The embrace of Love. Bringing together death and life – rejection and love – humanity and divinity. The final acceptance of both is within myself.
I am so grateful for this LOVE. I welcome this embrace. Thank you Jesus for your welcoming Presence.
I am meditating on Week 23, Jesus as lover and healer, and it is so cool because my Kingdom Community (who is not doing the online retreat) went down this path in our prayer hour yesterday. Jesus as lover and healer! We had a week of prayer and fasting in our churches this week and 200 people are showing up every night for prayer. Jesus is healing. Love how this intersects with where I am in the online retreat.
Hi, I'm Anne and I have been blessed to find this retreat and have benefited from everyone's sharing. I would like to share with you all a meditation on this weeks theme that can be found in the book THE OTHER SIDE OF SILENCE by Morton Kelsey entitled "The Road to Emmaus". It is a beautifully written meditation that complements the material presented. I hope you can all get a chance to read it.
I am in the 3rd week of my retreat. It had been a busy week and there were times I could not reflect on the task for the week. However I know our Lord is still with me and showing me that even in the busyness of daily life He is present with with me each and every moment.
I am in the first week and grateful that I found this online retreat. I need to discern as there are stirrings inside me that I need to take on a different pathway of my life to move into mission and humanitarian service. As I reflected on my past life for the first week I realized how our Lord had been with me guiding me gently in the ups and downs of my life.How in the past years, events had actually happened so that I would grow stronger in my faith. It’s been difficult to focus on the retreat in the busyness of my life but even while I struggle I know our Lord is there guiding me. I find the prayers and readings in the first week particularly helpful.
I am a prayer guide for the Exercises. And these past two weeks I have found myself in such desolation. I had my adult daughter here at Christmas and for whatever reason she was unrelenting in her unkindness towards me. I began to doubt (not a sign from God!!) my ability to guide anyone in the retreat, wondered whether I was supposed to even be doing any of this. The susipe seemed to mock me and I began to go inward and pity my situation. My son died unexpectedly a year 1/2 ago, my husband of almost 50 years has developed two kinds of cancer and with my daughter's unkindnesses, I felt overwhelmed and unworthy. BUT! The lessons of Ignatius are very clear about what to do and what not to do in desolation and I took those lessons to my heart ~ I have made no major decisions, have prayed more, have rebuked the enemy of my serenity, have brought back to mind the comforts I've experienced during times of consolation and have reminded myself over and over of God's enduring love for me. While there is desolation, the Exercises have taught me how to sit with the pain and the discomfort and the emptiness, have taught me how to recognize this for what it is, and not to allow it to run roughshod over my heart. I know God is with me, loves me, and that I love Him, and the rest will play itself out. I have asked for the grace of consolation, knowing it is nothing I can create for myself out of sheer determination or the like, and have prayed that whatever it is I am to be learning from this experience at this time be revealed in a way I can absorb. So while the Exercises do not guarantee a trouble free, or desolation free life, they do teach us how to manage when things are difficult, how to recognize what is happening and give us the grace to somehow find an acceptance within oneself that this is all part of the process of being human ... and at the same time, allows me to remain in love with our Lord. That is the gift of the Holy Spirit, through the generosity of Ignatius, that was given anew to me this Christmas.
Week 16 — proves an enigma to me — try as you want Jesus is God and the second person of the Trinity — I would love to know much more about the hidden 30 years but quite frankly putting Jesus as another kid on the block who cheated at something stretches the imagination a bit — the hidden years a hidden for a reason — I have often wondered about the trip to Egypt and their lives in Egypt — the part that particularly disturbed is where I read that Jesus and His Father had to rethink something that they thought was a good idea at the time but needed tweeking!!! Excuse me is this the god we pray to and created the universe. Imagination is good and thinking about Mary pregnant is something that I never thought about — however, angels coming to you. Being overshadowed by the Holy Spirit etc. I am sure Mary and Joseph fully realized what needed to be done and kept all things in their heart — imagination is good and if it helps fine — but somewhere along the line while letting our imaginations run wild, we must realize that is God and not some 2 year old throwing a terrible twos tantrum — while I have learned much week 16, its readings and sharings have left me wondering if we truly understand what God has done for us — Remarkable, extraordinary, and loving — imagination about the lives they touched while in Egypt — imaginings what was God’s plan for Egypt and not somewhere else — are inviting — Jesus as a rough neck — bare chested stud — please!!!!!!!!!
As I contemplate the Last Supper this week, I feel as if a terrible thorn pierce my heart. Wanting to convert to the Catholic Church, after some years of thinking, praying and having catechesis , the Eucharist itself forms the last obstacle. E.g., it is my state of being remarried to a woman, who herself is remarried too, - it is this, which makes my conversion so extremely difficult. Having both our first marriages nullified would be very hard for some people, and, besides, my wife does not think she has a good reason for having her first marriage nullified. I can do little or nothing about all this. I just pray Jesus to have mercy upon me in my situation. I am a Catholic in my heart, but I now have the choice of either converting to not being able to receive the Eucharist or being in my Lutheran Church, with my heart elsewhere. It is not as simple as some think, to get marriages nullified. It has some human costs for people involved.
Please pray for me.
Greetings from Norway.
To my Retreat Companions,
As today is the feast of the Immaculate Conception I would like to add this. A few years ago I attended a funeral of a mother of my daughter’s classmate. I did not really know her because of her sickness with cancer and subsequent death, but she has left a beautiful mark on my heart. The priest, during her eulogy, spoke of the Virgin Mary’s Fiat and of this woman’s personal fiat. During that mass I asked the Lord, what is my fiat? I believe that night as tragedy struck my family to the core God began to reveal what mission he wanted me to help Him with and I answered yes. And so it has become over time, my personal fiat to love, forgive, be merciful as only I, a broken, conflicted, human person can do, with Jesus. I am to guide, protect, preserve and rebuild my family in hopes that one day the hardships, sorrows, and wounds will melt away like snow leaving only beautiful blooms of love on my family tree- strong and full of faith, love and mercy for the world.
Week 12: In my 20's I had the opportunity to work at a Navajo mission in a tiny place called Thoreau, NM. The most important lesson I learned was to serve Jesus in my work there. If I try to serve people, I get burned out. I got that notion from the writings of Henri Nouwen.
Anyway, working with the very poor people in our own country and learning about their culture changed me for life, or, as the Jesuit Volunteer Corps says, I was "ruined for life."
I have also worked extensively in a public charter school in Nashville. Again, I was blessed to work with the working poor. I also approached that job as service to Jesus.
We're called to be priests, prophets, and kings, but some say shepherd in place of king. I think we're all called to serve Jesus in our interactions with each other. If I serve him, I can follow him and do his will. In this way I can answer God's invitation of love and be with him always.Kathy
Week 12. A sense of alienation from the retreat has been growing over the past few weeks. I find the idea of concocting an intimate love relationship with Jesus very off-putting; even creepy. At best, it feels fake and forced for me to generate an image of a male Jesus to fall in love with; it seems to me this will inevitably lead to idolatry—fashioning God after my own image of what I think I want in a love interest. Inextricably entwined with this is my awareness that the catholic church—to which I have tried my very best to belong, for some 35 years— is lorded over by men, men who insist that their maleness makes them God's chosen stand-ins for Jesus Christ on earth. Stand-ins for the God they call Father. I have suffered significantly—professionally, emotionally, and spiritually—at the hands of these men and and their attitudes and actions toward me—a woman. All this whipped-up devotion to a male Jesus makes we want to scream and vomit. I’m reading The Spiritual Exercises Reclaimed: Uncovering Liberating Possibilities for Women by Katherine Dyckman, Mary Garvin, and Elizabeth Liebert as a companion in making this retreat. I am working with a therapist and a spiritual director as I once again take stock of the impact of parental neglect and decades of sexual harassment and abuse on my work and life, and try to move forward in hope and renewal. We’ll see where it leads. It is no fun. It is not “attractive” in the Ignatian sense. I do believe that God has given me my particular experiences, perspectives and insights as gifts of power and grace for the world. I got just as wet as any man when I was baptized. It is “my duty and my salvation” to keep faith with these particular gifts. So perhaps a next step here is for me to proceed with the retreat’s invitation to imagine Jesus by imagining her as a woman—or better yet, a post-gendered person. Or perhaps—me.
Week 11 – I am loving this retreat. My heart is YES, YES, YES! God may be calling me to be a support for my abandoned nephew. Our family can offer so much more stability than my brother’s family can at this point in time. I am still listening to God about this, but I am willing.
WEEK 7: I have deeply realized the pattern of mistakes, which have touched my heart. Yet, I am a loved sinner. Jesus is truly accommodating. He is in my many life angles. " O, God grant me grace to desire more your Son in many ways and patterns of my conduct."
My 10th week blessing came in timely with my mother's confinement in the intensive care unit. She had congestive heart failure and still unstable. The call to be with me resonates the call of my ailing 98 year old mother. My siblings and myself after dialogue with my mother's physician agreed not to submit to extraordinary measures prolonging unnecessarily her pain and stresses. The call to be with me is my prayer that we will be around with my mother when her earthly time is going to end. It may be soon or not too soon. I ask our Lord to lead the way and give light if we are in the dark as far as journeying with my mother is concerned.
Week 32 "Dear Lord, I love you and I trust you. I lay all of my troubles, worries, and concerns at your feet. I wish to serve you. I wish to share your Easter Joy with all of those around me. Give me the strength I need, Lord; show me the way. Thank you for your great mercy and love. Amen"
Week 9: There was some resistance to moving ahead.
Am on week 9 and just read the reflection. What moved me was relating to God's love, forgiveness and healing by using the analogy of driving to a doctor for healing advice. I am battling cancer and am driving to Chicago tomorrow to get test results from a specialist. The Holy Spirit works in mysterious ways.
WEEK 4: My life has been in many ups and downs, particularly during my younger years. Now, this Retreat, made me more to feel conscious on how to balance. That it is God’s Will as it comes to me through people and events in my daily life. Fine tuning is needed in order to stay in Harmony with God and Jesus Christ. I realized that Harmony in all dealings with living things and non-living items is crucial and that, I must always see the presence of God. There is purpose for each object, nature’s condition, environment change, people’s movement around me and that I am responsible to making sure that my thoughts, desires, and every activity throughout the day are in harmony with God’s Will. Hard though, but impressed by his holy Will. They say, “it is a jungle out there”; “fast lane”; day-in day out”; “people change”; “tweet”; “holy macro”;.. and many more. Harmony: Living in Balance. This Guide has indicated to me the importance of my own Freedom, that when I come low in tuning, right up I have to exercise my freedom to consciously surrender my erroneous tendencies; that I then stay course in the Habits of my Heart with God. Yes, God always call me wherever I am, for He is faithful to me. Could I be always, that’s the fine tuning towards Harmony.
Week 7: I regret that this is only my second time I have written to all of you! I have received much from your sharing and feel compelled to now do so for you in hopes that God may bring about blessing for you from it.
These last few weeks have not been easy contemplating sin. There were times I avoided contemplating it, avoided talking with Jesus about it. But deep in my heart, I had a desire to be with Jesus and so I took some time with Him. As always, Jesus loved me through it! He graced me with the ability to truly open my heart to him and from there He gently and simply opened my eyes.
Lord, show me what I need to face - Oh I sin in so many ways and my heart is so conflicted! I have caused others to suffer because of my actions and inactions! And what have I lost or what have we lost because of my temporary gratification from sin? Please forgive me!
God also gifted me with the interceding presence of St. Monica through this week as we prepared and celebrated All Saints Day and I am most grateful! Thank you Papa God! Thank you for continuing to love me!
WEEK 6: I contemplate imaginatively being the prodigal son. Each time, I sin, I tend to go away from my Father. After all, it is the prodigal father as the main flesh in the story. My Father understands my vulnerabilities. He welcomes me each time I come back to Him. My Father, is faithful, forgiving, compassionate God. His love and generosity cannot be outdone. The love of the Father, is revealed by the death of his Son, Jesus on the cross. Over and over again, my sin is washed off by the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus. I am always being His prodigal son.
Now nearing end of my 7th week. Thanks be to God! The grace being asked is feel fully or strongly the compassion of our Lord for my sins - I was able to make a confession during my 6th week and still affected more this week. Sins of indifference to the plight or pleas of the poor (in spirit and heart) as I sometimes get impatient attending to all pleas. Maybe because I feel so "good" about myself. At times, I get so exhausted - all because I think and believe that I am kind, sweet, helpful - not knowing that I go beyond the bounds of God's expectations. Simply put, I have also to be honest in saying I am not superwoman in a very polite way and not just express exasperation with anger or burst when I am already tired.
So this week, I felt that I should love more the poor (in spirit) in a very patient and truthful manner. It is not for the show but to be authentic and real in affection and disposition.
Thanks be to God!
So far, these exercises have continued to reveal God to me in surprising ways. Just when I think I can no longer be surprised by God, God appears to me in a light I had never seen before! I have experienced God's love in a new and powerful way as a result of my time in prayer, and I remain grateful to him, trying to trust him more and more, determined to turn my focus outwards towards other people. The continued daily time in prayer has often been a lifesaver during busy working weeks, creating stillness and peace and helping me to understand my thoughts and feelings.
I remain amazed by the indescribable power of God's love, which I think I have experienced through a growing awareness of my own (and God's) vulnerability.
I have a mood disorder, and I'm stable, but my spiritual director recommended that I go back to Week 1 and recall the times when I knew God's love for me.
Two things came to mind today. The first is a memory of being six years old, outside my Sunday School classroom. I heard a clear question in my head: "Are you going to care, or not?" In that moment I chose to care. To me, it meant doing what God wants me to do. It has been the first defining moment of my life.
The second is that I used to sit in my room and read the Bible. I am adopted, and I was remembering how consoled I felt about the reading from Romans about God giving us a spirit of adoption. That has always made me feel equal to every other child of God. We're all adopted, and it's not "weird" to be adopted into the family of Christ.
I was really surprised to read that very reading this morning. It made me feel very loved and a precious child of God.
Week 6. The introduction to the week says that the goal for the week is to know our sin so we can know the depth of God’s love for us personally. The Practical Help section for this week says, “For those of us for whom past experiences of having been shamed, in its debilitating or even its abusive senses, has caused great damage to our sense of self, this grace needs to be experienced as totally different from that kind of destructive experience. The grace of this week can be very healing to a shame-based view of ourselves.” I wish the guide said something about how that might happen. I have suffered lifelong psychic damage from long-term childhood neglect and abuse. I am working closely with a licensed professional therapist in a companion process with making this retreat. I am full of sorrow, rage, and regret for all the waste of my talents and skills, for the devastating isolation and loneliness, the crippling depression and lack of confidence—all consequences of what was done to me through absolutely no fault of my own. When I reflect on my life, I don’t see rebellion against God. I see astonishing, miraculous leaning toward God, the way a crushed and parched plant will still lean toward the light with each last living cell of its being. Overall, I have done the best I could. In any case, most importantly, I leave it to God to be the judge of the worth of what I have done and who I have been. I make the best choices I can in each moment, and let go of the rest. Going forward, I want more joy, more laughter, more music, more community, more comfort and ease in my life. I want to take more pleasure in daily things. I want to feel satisfaction in a job well done or a relationship well-nurtured. I lost my job a few months ago, and I want new work for which I am justly paid in which my deep passion and gifts and the world’s deep need meet. The work of the retreat for me right now is to own my history; to make peace with it; and with each pain and grief and loss to look for and focus on the “leaning to the light.” I am challenged to pray with Psalm 78. Can God spread a table in this wilderness? I want to trust God to lead me with a cloud by day and fire by night to a less constricted, more fruitful, more joyous and generous life. I want to recognize and praise the wonders God has already worked in my life. I want to take action today, each day, as if I had faith, as if I had hope, as if I trusted God to work miracles in me—even though I do not now feel faith, hope, or trust.
Sixth Week: It is my first time that I am following a retreat online; the in-depth reflections is a real eye opener for me to delve into the hidden pockets of my life which were safely tucked away; since I do confess my sins to the Lord on a daily basis apart from receiving the absolution in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, I am relieved that these have finally emerged. The corresponding readings for the week has thrown new light and a difference perspective in identifying my own sinful nature. I thank the Lord Almighty and the Holy Spirit for their guidance and thank the authors of this Retreat for helping me to strengthen my spiritual journey.