Sharing the Retreat
Week 14

 

Week 14


I used to have such a great imagination. Now that I am older (38), I feel afraid that I won't be able to make these gospel stories come alive in my head. I pray to God to help me make them come alive because I know how powerful this could be for me. I know what Joseph felt like when he found out that the love of his life was pregnant.  This feeling of betrayal had to have turned his world upside down. How could Mary have done such a thing? Where was God in all of this? I think he had to have hit rock bottom. And at the bottom, while sleeping, God breaks through. God tells Joseph what he must do and what these events mean. Joseph is still uncertain of what is to come, but Joseph has encountered the Lord of Hosts and has been filled with His Spirit to carry out this task. God does meet us when we hit the bottom, and He does give us strength to carry out His will. I pray that all of us on this retreat encounter the Lord of Hosts so as to be filled with His Infinite Wisdom that will lead us to Him and allow us to perform His will. - Week 14


Reading the story of Zacharias in Luke 1:18-20, I am reminded that I should trust God in His promises, even if I can't see how he will answer them.  This is great for dealing with anxiety and worry, as we are commanded not to be anxious.  Mt. 6:25 - Week 14


This week we contemplate the humans that were chosen by God to prepare the way for His Son. The spectacular and unbelievable promise of the ages. The deliverance of the human race. I think about Zechariah, a priest, a holy man faithful to God, yet not understanding that in his faithfulness, he has no son, no heir. How could this be? I have followed Your precepts, Lord, but my wife is barren and now too old. I believe in you and trust you, but how could this be? I think about Elizabeth, faithful to her husband, her church and her community, always giving, always helping, but no heir of her own. No gift for her husband. How could this be, but she perseveres. She serves God always. I think of Joseph, a young devout man, hoping to honor his family in the way of his forebears. He knows a beautiful girl. He wants to marry her, he has proposed. He is hopeful of a life that honors all that he is called to be. I think of Mary, young, hopeful because she has attracted the attention of a kind and devout young man. He wants to marry her. She has said yes to him. She can see her future.

The message of today is to trust that God knows where you are and what you need. He knows and understands your doubts and the impossibility of your situation. He sees your sins, but He sees your doubts and your struggles and He loves you in spite of it all. He is working out your path, if you but trust and know that "Nothing is impossible for Him." What are we to do, they asked the Baptist, and the answer was "stay where you are and do what is required in this moment." Nothing more, nothing less. The rest, your future, your children, your marriage, your life is to be trusted to Him.

Thinking about the four...Zechariah, my wife is pregnant, how can this be, God has smiled on me, I am so,overwhelmed I cannot speak. There are no words, Elizabeth...I am pregnant, at last...finally I can hold my head up among women, finally the gift of a child is mine, finally a gift for my husband, a son. Joseph....I love her but she is pregnant, how can this be? Mary, I said yes to Gabriel and now wonder of wonders, I am to bear the Special One into this world, this violent, unpredictable world, "be It done to me, according to Your Will."

Nothing is impossible for God said Elizabeth as she, pregnant in her old age greets her young cousin, conceived by the Holy Spirit in her innocence. Nothing is impossible for God said old Zechariah as the love of his life, of his youth, of his middle of his old age is pregnant with his son. Nothing is impossible for God said Joseph as he wakes from his dream reassured by the Angel that he has not been deceived, but chosen to carry on a great work of the protection of the most precious mother and child that the world has ever known. Nothing is impossible for God said the humble and believing Mary whose Yes was to reverberate throughout the ages. Nothing is impossible for God!

So Zechariah obeyed and his mouth was opened and his wife Elizabeth safely delivered his son, who he consented would be named John and who would grow into a wild and wooly man of the desert with the Advent prayer on his lips, Prepare the Way of the Lord! So Joseph obeyed and he quietly married Mary on advice of the Angel, despite his doubts and became the protector of the Most Precious Mother and Child who would fulfill the promise of the ages. -Week 14


I am on week 14 of this wonderful retreat.   I have  learned many things along the way and I hope they are somehow helpful to others.  First the knowledge that no matter what happens or what I do, I can return with confidence to the knowledge that God loves me unconditionally.  This has allowed me to climb to new levels of closeness and trust in our Lord.   Secondly, I have finally experienced after nearly 40 years of striving what it means to turn my problems over to God.  I have an addiction to a sin which I despise and have believed I could avoid through self determination and some prayer.  With this retreat, I have learned that the only way to avoid this sin is by daily striving to know God better.  With this regular prayer and study, the Lord truly carries me and protects me from my weaknesses.   By directing my determination to stay close to God, I am achieving what was previously unacheivable and I feel myself growing ever closer to our loving Father.   Thank you merciful and loving God and thank you all for your prayers for me.  I am praying for each of you. -Week 14


During this week I keep coming back to Zechariah. I have always had sympathy for Zechariah. What was so exceptional about his question? Wouldn't I have asked that myself? As I wandered with Him in the sanctuary, I recognized the same feelings I often have at Church. It's my "Mass appearance". Zechariah is focused and comfortable in that place. But deep down the longing and the dissatisfaction rumble. The possibilities of having a son and what that son could become surface as part of his prayer. Then there is the sudden apparition. The promise is so concrete. But outside there is the dissatisfaction, the disappointment, the irritation, the annoyance. How can God be there? How can God transform physically and if He can how painful the long periods of doubt feel. And so Zechariah has a special grace to observe but meditate in silence at the world he was so disappointed in and to observe and reflect on God's power to transform. Lord, let me accompany Zechariah and meditate on how you intervene in our world and in my life. -Week 14


Week 14: During this week I keep coming back to Zechariah. I have always had sympathy for Zechariah. What was so exceptional about his question?  Wouldn't I have asked that myself?  As I wandered with Him in the sanctuary, I recognized the same feelings I often have at Church. It's my "Mass appearance". Zechariah is focused and comfortable in that place. But deep down the longing and the dissatisfaction rumble.  The possibilities of having a son and what that son could become surface as part of his prayer. Then there is the sudden apparition. The promise  is so concrete. But outside there is the dissatisfaction, the disappointment, the irritation, the annoyance. How can God be there?  How can God transform physically and if He can how painful the long periods of doubt feel.  And so Zechariah has a special grace to observe but meditate in silence at the world he was so disappointed in and to observe and reflect on God's power to transform. Lord, let me accompany Zechariah and meditate on how you intervene in our world and in my life.


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.


Week 14: I am doing the retreat outside of the liturgical year and am finding it hard to really get into it.  I am reading my daily readings about Easter and yet the retreat is about Christmas.  I want to put myself in the stories and yet it does not flow with the masses and services that I am hearing at church.  I am however in a place where there is nothing that cooresponds to the litergical year as Week 34 is the 5th week of Easter.  I want to be able to contemplate and yet I find it difficult to do so.  Time has changed so much from the time that Jesus was born.  Women have babies when they are barren happens all the time now.  Older women having babies happen all the time.  The world is full of things that shouldn't happen but do.  There is no stigma anymore.  Gays are accepted as the norm and prayer is taken out of the school system.  What use to be right is now the unaccepted wrong.  Praying in public is no longer something that most do, but the stigma that others look at.  I can't relate to what it would feel like to have a child out of wedlock as it is now the societal norm.  I have lived in a society where even being pregnant at a young age, while still in school is okay.  I want to feel for Mary, but I don't know what that kind of shame is like as we no longer shame anything in society.  I can focus on Joseph as I think about how hard it would be to accept something that does not fit with the picture.  Joseph believed even though it was not possible that Jesus was his that Mary was not unfaithful.  This to me is amazing!  THink of the strength it took for him to believe what God told him despite the normal not being possible.  Mary knew in her heart that she did nothing wrong, however Joseph did not.  He had to have faith.  What an amazing faith to have!  I will attempt to finish the retreat and see if doing it again during the litergical year helps as well.  God Bless.


Week 14: This week presented a real challenge to me as it started with the shooting of the 20 children and 6 faculty members in Newtown CT.  I was completely unable to focus on the readings about Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth and Zachariah due to the shock and sadness I felt over this event.  My thoughts then shifted to Mary watching the crucifixion of her son and the incredible heartache she must have felt.  I felt her trying to reach out and comfort those parents who lost their children and all the other family members who lost their loved one on that day, and even those of is who experienced such shock and horror from a distance. 

The other things I am noticing this week despite this national tragedy, is that I feel my heart growing lighter and am feeling myself engaging more fully in my new life 3 hours away from my home and loved ones.  Am I saying yes to God's plan for me?  There are still moments of doubt and worry as I progress through my day, but I am trying to remember to say "yes" when these new challenges present themselves.With prayers and thanksgiving, Diane


Week 14 - Faithfulness

     How hard to admit my unfaithfulness to God,  our Father. Many times,  in countless ways I have failed him.  This has been going on for a long time.  A little trouble here and there and I am crestfallen.  Every morning before I everything else,  I kneel down to the statue of our Lord in my room,   to place all my trust in Him..    Why the weakness?  It's as if I never pray at all.  What's the sense of placing all my trust in Him,  surrendering to Him all that He has given me if I still feel this way?  This feeling of being abandoned?   This feeling of waiting for such a long,  long time.

     And yet,  here comes God in the nick of time!  If you're watching a basketball game of the NY Nicks,  it's the 3- pt shot of Lin which saved the day for his team!  OMG!

       As if to tell me that He will not fail me in my needs,  financial or otherwise.  HE will always beside me.  

      "  Have faith."  ,  He's been telling me time and time again.  But I always fail him,  time and time again also.  

       Lift me up when I am down Lord.  Don't let go of your hold on my hand.  Keep me faithful to You as You have always been to me.  


Week 14:  I’ve never really been a “Mary person”.  However when I went on retreat for a weekend in October, I found myself strolling down the one corridor that was dedicated to Mary and I was surprisingly drawn to stay there for quite some time.  The corridor was filled with paintings of Mary and I wanted to take in each and every one of them.  Being a mother myself, I found it uplifting to see how the artists and the Jesuits seemed to love this woman.  So my retreat director had me spend the weekend with Mary, focusing primarily on the Annunciation.  Following this theme, I chose this 14th week of my online retreat to look at Mary again, and interestingly enough, Tuesday’s liturgy used Mk 3:31-35 in which Mary comes looking for Jesus and Jesus responds by saying “Who are my mother and my brothers?  Here are my mother and my brothers.  For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”  I found myself wondering how Mary would feel to hear that because I know I would feel a little indignant if any of my children responded in that way towards me!  After all, I’m the one who carried each and every one of them, birthed them, fed them, diapered them, bathed them, etc.

So I reflected on that question for the rest of the week.  I went back to the Annunciation and then to the Visitation and I looked at the promises that God made to her.  And I thought, when Mary said “Yes”, she was saying “Yes” to more than just doing some mindless task that didn’t require her to experience any emotions.  She was saying “Yes” to a relationship with God.  Relationships come with joy and happiness, but they also come with pain and suffering.  In fact, I believe the pain and suffering that she would experience would only make her joy and happiness that much greater.  Each time she suffers, it is an opportunity for God to prove His faithfulness and love to her.  Perhaps Mary is slightly indignant and hurt when she hears Jesus’ response, but after her initial response, she must remember the years they have spent together and realize that nothing could break the bond that they have with each other or the bond she has with God.  Mary knows Jesus in a special way that only His mother could know Him, and how could she ever forget those first few words Gabriel spoke to her, “You have found favor with God!”

So then I see her at the foot of the cross, suffering tremendously, yet she is able to endure it because of her faith in God and she finds her strength in the times that He has proven His faithfulness and love to her throughout her life up to this point.  God has prepared her for this moment, and though she may not know HOW things will turn out and she definitely experiences great pain, in the midst of her grief, she knows that it’s all part of God’s plan and can trust that things will turn out how God intends.  God would not call Mary or you or me to do something for Him and then leave us on our own.  Neither would He lead us to a place that isn’t a part of His much greater plan for us and the rest of His people.  Even as Jesus is dying, He thinks of His mother Mary and with His last few breaths, ensures that she will be taken care of during the remainder of her time on earth.

Cathy


Week 14  What strikes me this week is thinking about Mary and Joseph.  Here they are newly betrothed to one another when Joseph finds out his beloved is going to have a baby that is not his. He decides to divorce her quietly so as not to publicly scandalize her.  The angel intercedes and tells Joseph the child is of God and to marry her.  Meanwhile the angel tells Mary that God wants her to have his child and she is confused since she can't figure out how this can happen.  I have been married 40 years and I cannot imagine a rockier start to marriage.  It is hard enough to work through your ordinary differences when you get married.  This really throws a monkey wrench into the start of their marriage, and yet they both weather the storm so courageously and peacefully.  What a wonderful example to try and follow in my own marriage when problems arise as they surely will.

-Marie

Week 14
This too will be my first sharing.  I jumped into this retreat sometime ago also not on  the suggested schedule.  Probably would have been easier to be on schedule but with my tendency toward procrastination I would no doubt have fallen off the schedule then too.  I have not visited the retreat in sometime but am working hard to get back on the spiritual track.  The past few days I felt prompted to go back to this and today here I am.  The reflection on Jesus family resounded with me because suffering from depression I can identify with feelings of hopelessness, doubt and despair certainly those familiar to those who struggle with infertility like Zechariah and Elizabeth. It resonates with a message of being faithful a good message for getting back on track with this retreat even though I have not proceeded according to plan or timetable and being open to God working in my life. 
Praying that we all remain faithful,

-Victoria


Week 14

Today is Holy Saturday. In the early morning we read, at our parish men's ministry, Mark 15 38-47; it begins with:  "The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom". Subsequently I read in one of this week's readings: "Zechariah goes into the Lord temple that day to burn incense, while the people stood outside praying". Since the annunciation there is no "mediator" (priest or other) between God and me about his mercy. The curtain was torn in two in order to achieved my/our redemption through his blood. Mary unconditional YES allows the fullfilment of sin being taking away from this world. God is faithful despite our doubts.


Week 14: I find myself opening and accepting more love each day through this retreat. Week 14, Christmas week, saw the Story of the Nativity was on TV.  This two hour movie which reflected on the humanity of Joseph and Mary, as well as Elizabeth and other family members.  It made the reflections of the week so very real as I prayed on their life, fears and beautiful faith and acceptance throughout the week.


I'm already on my 14th week and I thank Jesus, my Lord for all the blessings of peace, understanding and joy. Truly I have been helped in the way I see, feel and love - my loved ones, others and myself. There has been improvement in the way I relate with my loved ones especially in trying and difficult times - like taking care of my 90-year old mother who is suffering from vascular dementia. I used to see this beautiful gift of life from the Lord a challenge and a problem especially when I realized that I do not have much resources to give. But the Lord is gracious and also mysterious - in many ways, our Lord did not frustrate me and my mother. Her needs (eg medicines) have been responded well. Praise God! And now I do not have any qualms anymore what will happen next because I know our Lord will be there to fill in the gap and surely will surprise me again with undeserved blessings!

I have spent more than two weeks on Week 14, mostly because of Mary. I thought Zacchariah was punished harshly until I read in the Sharing someone's idea that the long period of silence enabled him to meditate and to even more deeply appreciate what was about to happen. I felt sorry for Elizabeth, having to go through childbirth at an advanced age. I was disgruntled at Joseph for wanting to get out of the wedding at first.
But it was Mary’s story was where I spent most of my time and thinking. I imagined her fear and disbelief when the angel came. Instead of being punished, like Zacchariah, for her initial disbelief, she was comforted and told not to be afraid. When later she went to visit Elizabeth, her song took over. It seemed too formal for the situation. But I knew the song had been the occasion for the composition of great music, and so I started studying the song itself, in various translations.
The translation in contemporary English is the easiest to read, but it does not use the word “magnify” at all. The word “magnify” is what inspired the great music – the Magnificats.
  • My soul doth magnify the Lord…
  • For He that is mighty hath magnified me…

(and from the refrain at the Legion of Mary website)

  • thou who without stain barest God the Word ... we magnify thee.

I spent a lot of time imagining this magnification, and the thought is still with me. It’s both elusive and powerful.
Then I read in the Sharings a wonderful imagining of Mary’s visit to Elizabeth. The entire imagining was inspired, but this part explained the song to me, better than all my intellectual constructions:
Like most mothers, we liked to wonder what God’s plan would be for our children. Luke later wrote a poem about it, and embellished it somewhat, but I must say we did talk of many of those things.
Suddenly everything made sense. The song is Luke’s, taken from the Old Testament and made Mary’s. But the idea that Elizabeth and Mary should have had long conversations about what had happened to them and who this God was who made it all possible – that is a wonderful imagining.
Now I can listen to the music with new ears.


Week 14: This last week (14) I reflected on the stories in Luke 1 and Matth. 1: about Jesus’ direct ancestors. I noticed that the angel came to Zechariah and Mary at an ordinary day in their life and work – God just appeared to announce a special message. All four characters were godly and “faultless” people and just walked with God. Both Elisabeth and Zechariah were filled with the Holy Spirit after God’s promise was fulfilled. The story tells me that we don’t deliberately need to seek for a supernatural experience with God, but that our part is to just faithfully walk with God and trust in Him in our daily lives. He can turn up anytime, just at an ordinary day, it doesn’t need to be a special event for him to speak.

It was the best thing for Mary to spend the first few months of her pregnancy together with Elisabeth as both women had a similar calling from God and both experienced a miracle. They could understand, encourage and support each other like nobody else could – an inner bonding and unity. This teaches me that it’s helpful for us to share with people who have a similar calling from God as we can understand and encourage each other. This strengthens us when we face opposition from the outside world who doesn’t understand us.

I wonder what thoughts and feelings Mary had. What would happen when people find out that she’s pregnant? A shameful thing without a husband … She obviously didn’t tell Joseph about the event with the angel as maybe she feared he wouldn’t believe her. Well, who could believe such an unusual story which only happened once in history? I can imagine that she sincerely prayed that God would speak to Joseph which he did in a dream. Joseph had obviously already noticed that she was pregnant as he considered leaving her quietly. A godly man who didn’t want to expose and shame her! He believed the angel in the dream immediately and married Mary right away. Joseph took the shame on himself, too, as people probably thought they got pregnant before getting married. This shows that we don’t need to be concerned too much about what other people think if we do what we know God wants us to do. Then God is responsible for “protecting our honor”!

There’s a lot of food for thought in these stories, some aspects I haven’t noticed before …


Week 14: I found this weeks reflections to be peaceful. I now understand the yes to Jesus' call, it's total trust in God. Throughout my week at week whenever I was stressed I would think about Mary and Elizabeth, especially Elizabeth and how she waited so long to have a child, and was told she was going to have a baby, a prophet no less. I'm trying to get there, to totally trust God in whatever comes my way, so this week has helped so much. I did have an aha moment at church, as I was praying after the Eucharist, I realized at every mass, every timezone all over the world people are praying at the same time, for the same things, and it just made me realize how much God is with all of us all everywhere! And not just Catholics, wherever people gather to celebrate Jesus the same hopes, prayers and longing is happening. Peace to all of you, everywhere! --Patti
Week 14: Having experienced the suffering and the forgiveness and mercy through Easter has been a gift that has awaked myself to what I have missed for a large part of my life.Knowing that God has called me by name has given me a purpose for living again
Week 14: Mary recounts her pregnancy to Jesus and others so time as he is growing up "Yes, of course, the message from the angel was disturbing … partly because it was so clear. I paused for a long time. Now I wonder what God, our Father must have thought of that pause … all of His eternity of Love waiting … and if I had resisted just that little bit more how much longer would the revelation of His Love taken? But I did say "Let it be done according to your will". I have to admit that walking on that journey to Elizabeth I wondered about that decision. I was sick in the mornings and tired in the afternoons. Of course, from place to place I walked with other travellers. But after a while, conversations stopped. We were in our own worlds. Mine was exciting but challenging. I wondered about Elizabeth. Seeing her pregnant would be the final confirmation. But as I walked I recalled the great promises that we hear in our readings.
God will truly be present in our lives. He will reveal himself physically … in fact through a Virgin. There will be a new kind of ruler … not one who is concerned about their own power or short-term gains for their people; but a King who cares for all and especially the downtrodden and forgotten. I realised that I was that carrier. I didn't need any further confirmation. I truly put my trust in God. When I finally entered Elizabeth's house I was so excited … knowing that she also trusted God. I embraced her openly. Elizabeth told me afterwards that my greeting was so open and welcoming that John stirred in her womb.
Most people had entered her house curiously … some not wanting to believe the miracle of her pregnancy … others seeing it as some magical trick. We hear over and over again God's promise to Abraham and Sarah and somehow we cannot see it play out in our own lives.And that is my prayer for you, my Son, that You will realise the special gift of God's transforming love so much so that You become that love … for all people … for all time".


I have just started Week 14 even though it is Thursday. Many obstacles have been placed in my way. The old me would have just said I did not do it perfect and not finish the week and perhaps even the entire retreat. Through God's love and patience with me I am learning about my perfectionism and how it keeps me from so many good things. I always thought that saying "Yes" to God was givnig to the poor, helping out others, visiting the sick etc. I am coming to realize that there is a part of saying "yes" to pain(not physical for me but the pain of watching a child make a huge mistake) that takes place before growth can occur.
God has blessed me with so many wonderful gifts a loving family, a wonderful husband, 2 children who I love so dearly. There has also been the pain of infertility, one child who has been very challenging to raise, a storm that took every possession we owned. Still when I add all that up I feel blessed. I used to look at the challenges in my life as punishment now I look at them as opportunities for growth. The gift of my faith which my parents gave me taught me that God will never leave me. That has gotten me through many hard times. I pray my children will accept this gift of faith that I offer them. Thank you for this retreat.
--Liz
Week 14
AWESOME!!!!
-- Curt
Go ahead and marry her.” (from this week’s suggested readings) In prayer memories returned of a pastor who “married me” (took me under his wing) 25 years ago at a time when all seemed lost in my life. Through a developing trust in him I was able to tell my story and he in return helped me see the Christ event in all that was taking place in my life. I remember him today. He was my Joseph. As I think of him today, I am more aware that he probably, like Joseph, also listened to his spirit-filled dreams while he journeyed with me.Anita
Week 14/15: It was very difficult to prepare all for Christmas in kitchen and home and additionally reflect near about an hour on each of these four persons.
1. Mary-the incubator of faith.
In crysis of faith to her. Through Mary up Jesus – it takes on sence. But her role is explained by Jesus.
2. Joseph – very realistic man. Especially, that angel had to speak to him in his sleep but no in realistic world, it means big step of criticism precisely. But simultanously Joseph is influenced to arguments – The human with opened head.....One argument is that the virgin will concept and will give birth to son as was stated by Isajah.
And one can see his love to Mary: secretly turn away – not to do revenge, not to ruin her. In this manner he wanted to act. But angel’s word have had the power of convincing. Joseph took Mary to him.
See: two ways – Mary’s faith and Joseph’s rationality. On these ways, my Lord, began builiding. You say: it didn’t had to crush from the beginning. I have had to choose right people.
[ - And it means that , apostoles chosen „accidentally”, were not accidental at all.]
3. Zechariah – God trained him in faith. To be possible John’s mission his parents had to have deep faith. But their faith was the faith of rituals. Hence foolish question: “How shall I know this?”. Versus that somebogy knows how looks the woman in pregnansy. The peple to be fertile, they had to be trust in God. The new time goes: every faith descens from God.
Here guideline for me: I have to live in God, and The Lord will be concerned with the faith of my immediate family. In the morning I had the dilemma: to stop spontaneous invitation “God luck” and to change on another civil invitation for those far from Church or not. I am seeing that not.
4. Elizabeth – she could compare Mary’s faith (“blessed, who belived that what was spoken to her by the Lord would be fulfiled”) with her own and Zehachariah. In this meeting she knew that The Mather of her Lord was coming.
It’s no my matter to calculate what will be if the faith of Zechariah would be as the faith of Mary.
-- Asja
Week 14: I am drawn again this year to Zachariah. I'm not sure why but maybe it's because Zachariah has some doubts. Maybe I see him really as someone like myself ... easier to be a skeptic than a passionate believer.
I’m standing at the inner alter … I’m pleased that I’ve been chosen by lot to perform the incense sacrifice. I’m concentrating on doing it just right. I think how I am responsible for all these people’s prayers … people who have traveled to pray … people who regularly pray because of their great devotion …people who are desperate in their prayers.
Then I think of my own prayers … what do I really desire … I’m not sure anymore. For years Elizabeth and I desired a child … someone who would keep these prayers … these devotions alive. No it is not to be. But this is probably the prayer that wafts up in the incense from me. I think of the promises of God in the past. What do these promises mean to me? I think of Abraham … God promised him generations of descendants. Well it won’t be from me.
But as I’m praying I see out of the corner of my eye a shape in a dark spot close to the alter. I am drawn to it … and I start talking about my deepest desires. I hear distinctly the call that Elizabeth and I will have a son … that our devotions are not in vain … that God’s promises are real … here today … I have to be a part of this.
This is compelling but strange. I start to protest. This cannot be possible. I was in a rhythm of despondency and now I need to have hope. I feel myself touched. I cannot talk.
I return to the public area but I cannot say the prayer out loud. I return home. Elizabeth and I resume our lives. But I know it will be different. I am an instrument of God’s promise. Thankfully, through silence God has also given me the grace of reflection. I have a new mission and I have time in silence to prepare for it. May God be blessed.
Week 14: It is early morning, Christmas Eve day, week 15 of the on-line retreat.
I have spent most of Advent away from home, staying with my daughter and her family. She had surgery early in the month, then, a week later her son, my grandson, had a tonsillectomy. Because of post-op complications, my daughter has been in and out of the hospital and so the household routines, disrupted by illness and surgeries, have been a bit upset, a bit chaotic.
My meditations, brief as they must be, have centered on Joseph: how many unexpected events/disappointments/challenges he had to meet! A bride who was pregnant -- and not by him. A journey at the very time that his wife was about to deliver the child. How did he feel when he could not provide even a room for the birth of the baby? Later, as the Gospel story will tell us, he will have to uproot the little family and flee to Egypt. So many dislocations, so much anxiety. In my imagination, I see him "soldiering on" and his quiet, unobtrusive determination to keep on trying, to keep on believing, has been my inspiration the past few weeks. I've done no Christmas shopping, no baking, no sending of cards, and yet this has been a good Advent, one of the best in years.
I am glad that you posted the gentleman’s reply in week 14 and his anger. I too felt angry at Mary of all things – for just standing at the sidelines letting her son go through what he did. After I let my self feel that – came the thought of her example of letting go and letting God. No matter how painful. It was easier to relate to Elizabeth in her situation of no way could this wish come true.

well i found week 14 much easier emotionally and visually. almost as if i had some colour in gospel stories which i havent often had. and i could FEEL with the people. i could feel marys certainty and acceptance . i also realised that being blessed by god didnt mean an easy path but was still cause for joy.
i also felt some delight at the thought of the baby john leaping in the womb to know that his cousin was coming along. i had never thought of the 2 little boys as companion spirits come to earth before and i loved that image of ' here he is. we are both here now ' .
i did feel what i thought a rather unholy delight at both women being lifted from their shame and failure as the little people of the world into gods chosen ones.
sometimes when im aching and tired and alone - broke and thinking myself a less than as a heroin addict and alcoholic and rather a failure in worldly terms - i have wanted to have an angel come along and announce the way and tell me im doing ok and that im loved. so i was able to feel with them. " people wont look down on me anymore" she said. hidden away in her home. it gave me permission for the less noble thoughts and emotions i have . week 14 took the sting out of things for me.love to you all.
-- nell from tweed
I couldn’t get Zechariah off my mind this week. His story is kind of comical, in a way. When the angel tells him, “Your wife Elizabeth will have a son,” he answers, “How do I know this will happen? My wife and I are both very old.” And then his doubt strikes him dumb. So. I’m imagining poor old Zechariah. He’s been away to the big city with the guys for a week and when he comes home, he can’t speak. Imagine how that goes over with the wife! And best of all, mute as he is, he needs to communicate to Elizabeth that she’s going to have a son!Imagine how poor old Zechariah worried over this all the long walk home. Elizabeth was barren—a disgrace in that time and place. After so many years of her being a disgrace to him, was she sexually repulsive to him? But he had received the promise of an angel; this must have awakened in him courage, determination, even a youthful vigor and a willingness to look upon Elizabeth with new eyes, to forget her disgrace and look upon her, not as hopeless, but as the source of great hope: a son—and not just any son, but a son who will bring happiness and gladness and the same power and spirit that Elijah had. Imagine how his pace quickens along the road.But still—to communicate all this to his wife without words! Zechariah must have been a very tender lover when he returned home.Tom, Pennsylvania
I really focused early in the week on imagining Zechariah. Why the silence? I don't think that the explanation that he asked for a sign is really sufficient. It makes God a bit of a lover of semantics to compare his response to Mary's. I think there are other good reasons. The first is practical ... think what would happen if he announced his vision. The 1st century equivalent of CNN and Fox News would be vying to follow the story. Elizabeth was already in seclusion. She really would have had to go into hiding. But there is a more profound reason. I think Zechariah like me had Celtic roots. We love to process our uncertainties through speaking … Listening to God at the top of our voices. But God sometimes asks for another way. To listen to him and feel his faithfulness ... to actually see this develop as Zechariah would have seen with Elizabeth and also Mary's visit to them. So at times this week I tried to talk less. I found that the moments of silence allowed me to relate to the theme of God's faithfulness more fully. And yes work did get done Continuing this reflection from earlier in the week, as I contemplate Elizabeth and Zechariah, Mary and Joseph I ask the question, “what gave them that special courage to discern and follow through on God’s call to them?” They certainly embodied the message of God’s love and faithfulness which they would have learned by special attention to the Hebrew Scriptures. They saw how that applied to their lives. Around them others had equal access to these scriptures and the message that is so clearly laid out. I’m sure it was the same in their day. Theoretical argument blunted the messages of grace. Used for political or nationalistic purposes the message of love was lost. But God intervenes in their lives and they respond. I feel that what is remarkable about Mary is not that she says “Let it happen” but that she doesn’t change her mind afterwards. If I were in her position then maybe I would have bargained with God. She follows through. Likewise with Joseph … and what is also clear is that even responding and saying yes does not mean that the road from then on is smooth. What does this mean for my own call? I feel a strong need to rethink and respond. I will try to model the trust in God demonstrated in these strong pictures this week.
Yesterday in anticipation of Christmas, I was imagining what it would be like to be Mary. To hold the baby Jesus. To hold God. I could feel him in my arms. So small, so vulnerable, so perfect in his peaceful sleep.
God, an infant. Held. The love I felt holding that baby was almost overwhelming. Then I reversed the roles and imagined God holding me as an infant feeling the love one feels for the most precious and the most vulnerable. Oh what a Christmas gift! Come let us adore Him. Denise
The reading for today is Luke 1: 39-45 (The Visitation) We were asked to put ourselves in the situation of the reading either as an observer or as one of the characters. As I settled to meditate on the reading, this is what happened.I woke early, as today I was to go and stay with my cousin Elizabeth for a time. It was a fairly long walk and although the weather was still reasonably cool, I liked to travel in the cooler part of the day.Should I take food and drink? A little food, but it wasn’t too hot, and I could do without a heavy water skin.The weather was calm, the morning light softened the landscape and I set out with a light heart and thanking God for the gift I was to bear. I marvelled at the colours on the distant hills, and the deep, soft blue of the sky. After travelling for nearly an hour, the sun had warmed up and the smells of the animal droppings and outhouses got to me. I began to feel decidedly unwell – morning sickness! There was nowhere for me to conceal myself and I was sick on the side of the road, hoping that no one would notice. Some hope. Several people commented but made no attempt to approach me. After another half hour I was sick again and feeling ready to collapse. My head ached, probably with anxiety, and I wanted so much to just reach Elizabeth as soon as possible. After the third bout of sickness, a woman came to me, and gave me few sips of water. “Well lass, I reckon you’ll be worse before you are better.” How reassuring! However, she accompanied me the rest of the way to Elizabeth’s house where she left me with a cheerful “Make the most of your peace because after you have kids there is no more of it.”Elizabeth greeted me with great love and tenderness, saying that she was glad I had come because now she could sit down and talk, her baby had been leaping around in her womb all day and she was exhausted. She thought he would be a very active man. As we sat and talked and drank cool drinks, I explained to Elizabeth how I had a feeling that my child would be a leveller – he would take the side of the poor and lowly and have hard words for those who put themselves above others. We talked for ages about this wondrous child I carried. Like most mothers, we liked to wonder what God’s plan would be for our children. Luke later wrote a poem about it, and embellished it somewhat, but I must say we did talk of many of those things.And so I go to sleep in Elizabeth’s house, in the certainty of God’s love and protection.
I am starting week 14 of this retreat and I must say Our Lord never ceases to amaze me. My reflection as we approach the birth of our Lord is on Mary's unconditional response of yes. Our Mother trusted in God's Love and the fulfillment of her plan according to His Divine will not her own. She abandoned herself to Him who would make Her whole in Him. We too are called to trust and surrender to the Lord. It is up to me to say Lord let Your Will be done in my life knowing that he will truly do as he promised. I reflect on my own situation as a father of 2 teenaged children Andrew 19 and Sarah 17. I did all possible to raise my children in the faith. I brought them to church faithfully and raided them as good Catholics. About two years ago I was floored. My children stopped going to church and I realized there was nothing I could do about it but pray for them and Trust That the Lord would guide them the rest of the way. As difficult as it was for me I had to surrender them to the Lord and Trust just as Mary trusted that he would guide them. My prayer is that the Lord would bring my children Home where they belong.

God Bless Everyone on this retreat.
Pat
I am in Week 14 and so glad that I have continued on so far. Week 14 for me has come during the fourth week of Advent. The scripture readings and prayers are very appropriate for this week, all about Zachariah, Elizabeth, Mary and Joseph and how they prepared for the coming of Jesus. It has given me fresh insights into the heritage of Jesus and the faith these people possessed, dealing with so many uncertainties. I would also recommend a prayer from Week 10 by Thomas Merton which has been for me a great help in strengthening my trust in God. The prayer is entitled, "The Road Ahead" and has been my morning and evening prayer since I first read it. I wish all of you well and hope you will continue with the retreat. I ask prayers from you that I will also continue. With all of us praying for each other, how can we fail.
-- Catherine
I am in week 14 of the on-line retreat and there has been a growing sense of a need to share what is happening in my time of prayer. I have been praying with the people of the Christmas story. Today I spent time with Zachary and all that happened to him in the temple that day. I imagined the fear and joy, the challenge and surprise, the hope and disappointment that he must have experienced that day. And yet he remained faithful and true through it all.

What has happened for me is that I have a deeper appreciation of all that is a part of the unfolding plan of salvation. Usually this is such a hectic time, I find myself "way too busy" for prayer time that has any real depth to it, yet now I find myself drawn to the quiet and the reflection. I find that I am so grateful for all that I have received that my heart desires to give praise as did Zachary and Mary and all who are a part of this tremendous gift of God. In some ways it is as if the story were unfolding for the first time.
-- Mary
I really struggled through week 13 because my old testament background is very sketchy. The faith background of Jesus isn't that familiar to me. In week 14 ,I feel much more comfortable. This is prayer with which I am familiar. I will continue to look for the angels that God sends to me every day in my coworkers and young students. I just finished watching the life of John Paul II and could see how he trusted and followed God's invitations. He accepted his pain as a sacrifice to help others. Hopefully, he will encourage me to do the same.
As I start this 14th week I am in my "gloomy" mood. Every year at this time, I start to feel isolated and very alone. My children all live far from me, I have a sister who lives nearby but seldom see her. She seems to have a very busy life and no time for me. I am a widow and although I participate in parish life often and attend many special services at church, I still feel useless. It suddenly dawned on me that putting myself into the life of Mary and Elizabeth was a help. I just need to know when to give and when to receive. I think I try too hard to give and neglect the grace of receiving. I hope I can sort this out with God's help and His enormous love for me and the world.
I fell at week 14. I didn't feel Gods presence in my life, and I allowed my burdens to take control. I stayed down for 3-weeks, felt
lonely and isolated. I had time to really think about what was
most important to me. All that I desire will be provided to me by God. I know its not going to be what I ask for, but what God desires for me. The "Prayer to Start Each Day" has inspired me to discard with things that have become an obstacle. As I look around my home I see many. Lord give me the strength, knowledge and will to persevere.
Before I started the retreat I firmly believed that I could start the retreat at any time of the year, but from the 13th week (24th July) I feel out of time and place as the readings and thoughts, words and pictures all help us to prepare for Christmas. I've 5 months more for Christmas. I'm a bit disappointed and I'm wondering whether I should continue or drop it. I'm afraid if I stop I'll never find the time to start at the right moment. I suggest you have 2 readings and 2 prayers at least for ordinary times, for those who start the retreat at any time of the year. Before I continue with the retreat or stop I would like to share the special graces I received during these 14 weeks.

Ever since I started the retreat, whenever I'm alone and before I go to bed I offer praise, thanks and petitions to God. Whenever I see or hear someone in trouble, I pray for them and try to understand their situation and ask God forgiveness. In the past I hated young boys and men for the unpleasant things they said or did disgusted me and I kept far away from them. But now when I see/hear the unpleasant things done by them, I pray for them and say to myself that I have 2 sons whom I love very much, these men are loved by God and they need our prayers. One night before going to bed as I was saying my prayers I felt a very close relationship to Jesus which I don't remember experiencing before and this feeling was very wonderful. Then one day I was very upset with our second son's behaviour and prayed to God very much for him and asked God with St Ignatius, To allow me to see Him more clearly, to love Him more dearly and to follow Him more nearly. The next day I got up with Mickael Jackson's song : "But you are not alone, for I'm here with you. Though we're far apart, you're always in my heart..." It was the end of the song. I jumped out of bed thanking my God and Saviour for helping me to see/hear Him more clearly. He then opened my eyes to : "When I was young and lived in a poor country, I had lots of opportunities of helping the poor which I didn't do". Today I have a very strong urge of wanting to be humble and help the poor and I'm searching for ways of doing so...
Please remember our second son in your prayers, our little lost lamb, whom I'm sure we'll find again with the Lord as our Shepherd for guide.
Week 14. It's the first day of the week and I was frustrated when I opened the website. I had tried to encourage an old man to take his lunch without success, instead he turned the bowl upsdie-down. I felt as it I were 'useless'.

As I read the message of this week talking about the faith of Zechariah and Mary. I wonder how I should perceive God's act and presence in this event?
I am on week 14 of the on-line retreat.  It has been difficult for me this week trying to enter into the same spirit of faith and trust in God as  that of Elizabeth and Mary. So often, I cannot wait and keep still and quiet in the trust of God but instead create problems in my own relationships when I become despondant or frustrated in my life. Please pray for me. The retreat has given me many insights and graces.
It was nice to contemplate Zechariah, Elizabeth, Mary, and Joseph in the exercises for week fourteen.  I attempted to set aside special time with each of the three readings that were presented for this week.  The feeling that kept coming to me as I reflected on each of these people was questioning.  These were people of faith and I recognize that the questions that came to mind were probably more a reflection of me than of those whom I was contemplating.  At the time of and following the revelation of the special events that were part of each of their lives, did they question what was going on?  Did they doubt if the messenger was authentic?  Did they doubt if there would be a happy ending?  Did they doubt their abilities to fulfill the special responsibilities they were each entrusted with?  Obviously all of these people were people of faith and ultimately believed in faith what was presented to them.  It must have been a powerful experience for each of them to have the events in their lives play out just as messengers had told them.  Elizabeth did conceive and had a son whom they named John who then grew up to have a special role in preparing the people for the Messiah.  Zechariah was able to once again speak after the announced special event happened.  Joseph did marry Mary and she had a male Child whom they named Jesus who was God's Son.  Week 14
The hunger continues to grow.  It's a different kind of hunger from the ordinary hunger.  It has a little something in it that almost tastes good.  Isn't that funny?  It's a hunger that almost tastes good!

When we were children, the night before Christmas was like that.  There was an intensity in it.  We almost "couldn't wait."  The tension built and the hunger grew.  Then there was the morning and anticipation as we went to see what Santa had left us.  Then there was such pleasure, such joy.  We had been remembered, rewarded for being good, forgiven for being "bad."

Now we are older.  We are not old.  None of us is old.  We are all older, though.  We are growing and growing older.  We are not growing old, just growing and older. 

The hunger lasts longer.  The anticipation is sweeter.  Now we know what to expect.  Or do we?  Could we ever know exactly what to expect?  That doesn't matter, though because

He's coming!  He's coming!
Week 14 This week I have been extremely busy and it has been difficult to settle into the 35 or 40 minute period for the imaginative prayer with the readings.  I have been able to read "His Name is John".  I definitely was there in the temple and I could feel myself react the way Zechariah did.

I am like Elizabeth, an infertile woman who has longed for a child and has been unable to conceive.  I have come to terms with that and have moved on in my life, though the pain is there still under the surface.God has sent other beautiful gifts into my life and I, like Zechariah have been afraid to believe that God could do for me so many wonderful things after years of feeling as if God was punishing me .  He has given me a new heart, a conversion experience which has lead me into a beautiful love relationship with Him.

Until I could see Gods power and grace in my life, not in the birth of a child, but in the rebirth of my life with Him, I could not speak of His love for me, now like Zechariah I will praise God in all his glory.  My prayer and desire is to continue to grow in trust in God and to accept the difficulties and joys that are part of His plan for me. I am going to meditate on the words of the angel Gabriel  "Do Not Be Afraid"
In life it is easy for me to feel cheated because life is not everything I expected it to be.  People around me also disappoint me at times. Spouse, children, parents, siblings, co-workers, and friends are never as good as they could be. Because they are less than they could be, I sometimes believe that they prevent me from getting closer to my idea of the “perfect life.” When this happens to me, it is easy to be disappointed in the person or to get angry with the person. It is easy to lose hope and faith in the future. I know in my heart that there is no “perfect life.” I also know that any failings I see around me are because of my own sinfulness. If I were a better person, I could better accept the imperfections of those around me. If I were more perfect, like Christ, the people around me would grow and be better persons. In any relationship, I know there is no one factor that makes it less than perfect. But knowing these truths does not change my gut, emotional frustration with the people around me when they do not meet my expectations. This week, the shortcomings of several people were on my mind.

Maybe that is why God gifted me with focusing on St. Joseph this week. During this retreat, I usually read the readings in the order they appear in the guide. I will read one every day or every other day. For some reason, during the first day of this week, I jumped to the last reading of Matthew 1:18-24. This is the reading where Joseph is told by the angel to marry Mary. I found myself in the shoes of Joseph. In his shoes, I found myself in an arrangement where I will marry an attractive, young virgin. I expect to marry her, enjoy her physical and emotional support, raise a family with several children, and continue my work. What I end up with is a pregnant woman with whom I will never be physically intimate. I also end up with a child that is not my own who forces me to flee to Egypt. I have no children of my own. Yet, despite these unexpected events, despite the fact that many of the goals of my life will never be realized, and despite the fact that this woman is not what I expected, I accept the mother and child. I love the woman and child. I know them as my wife and son. I am able to let go of my expectations and any anger associated with giving up my idea of a “perfect life.” 

Joseph, like Mary, was able to say, “Not my will but Your will, Lord.” His actions also resulted in him “Exulting the Lord.” Hopefully, this exercise will help me to be more accepting and I too can exult the Lord in my small way by accepting the people around me and realize Christ is working in each of our lives.
As I near the end of week 14, I continue to find the exercises of the week challenging. It has been difficult for me to ‘enter into’ the scenes of Zecharia in the “Holy of Holies,” of Joseph in his dream, and of Mary with the Angel Gabriel. Distractions flood my mind as I attempt to focus on these scenes. In spite of these distractions, I feel closer to the family of Jesus. I started to wonder this week how Mary thought of herself. We are reminded often that we are sinners, but she never sinned. Did she consider herself a sinner? I doubt it. She certainly knew she was unworthy of the grace given to her, and she expressed that awareness in her Magnificat. It causes amazement when I consider her state. Totally sinless. How did she do it? She saw all the evil and injustice in her world, yet never succumbed to anger or hatred. Always doing the will of God, she lived her life perfectly. I pray for the grace to live the next minute or two perfectly, knowing that soon I will fall again into my sinful ways. Mary, Mother of God, pray for me. St. Joseph, pray for me. Jesus, have mercy on me


This week reminds me of being there with you Jesus, it was so real trying to keep awake as you prayed. It was so real the contemplation scared me . I could feel the wind at the mountain of olives, your presence was so close , the touch of your hem as you walked past me that I  'ran away' and you were gone. I WAS SO SCARED. I will try and be more trusting this time, Jesus, as I try to be humble instead of afraid,.This week I will contemplate your life with your family and friends from the beginning before you were born to Mary.You are with me today at this moment, dear Lord, everything is O.K. in my sadness.PRAISE GOD!!!!!


At the time when I was in trouble, I couldn't feel God's presence and love, but throughout the 14th week I found God is so faithful for me and my family, though I haven't trusted God so much. Even now I am not sure that if the things like Mary happened, I would answer 'yes'. Nonetheless, I can  believe this can happen. Because He is God and God is faithful. In this retreat I learned what the longing means and I'd like to ponder the "humility". 


Do you hear what I hear? (14) Faith-actual intimate trust in the Lord to lead us to the Kingdom. Mary, Joseph, Jesus, Elizabeth and all the people surrounding Christ birth were led. Trusting voices in the night.  Are we quiet?  Can we settle the noise of the day to hear the Father's call?  I am listening.  I have turned over control to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  He is speaking to me through people, actions and events.  I  consent to hear and follow his direction.


This is the second time I have gotten to the 14th week and run into a cement wall. I have no more interest in continuing than I did before. As another writer said, I know it in my head ( I've always been cerebral ) , but it's not getting out of there into my hands and heart. It was not like this when I started. I can conceptualize the many topics but have never been able to carry those thoughts around with me during the day. Once I'm out of my prayer room, it's business as usual. Say a short prayer for me that I may be able to break this barrier and by the grace of God. discover what I don't want to see or do that makes me stop well short of my goal.


I am in my 14th week and I feel as though the retreat is now starting to really touch me.  I am quite comfortable with this manner of prayer and have used it quite frequently with my 6th grade religious education class.  It does get the whole person involved and when used in a group there is usually much to share.  However, this is not the reason for my sharing.  This is the third day of this week and the same phrase is really jumping out at me.  It is from the "In these words..." section and it comes at the end - "Dear Jesus, help me to recognize the messenger".  I feel that I will have no problem getting to YES but I have the problem of who to say yes to.  Maybe I am looking for wings!  Maybe I am looking for halos!  Maybe I shouldn't be.  But that is one of my most repetitive prayers - please make it clear to me Lord for I am really unsure of where to go.  I don't want to waste any more time - I just want to recognize the direction to take.  Help me Lord.

During this 14th week as we were "in the story" I became very tired journeying with Mary on TWO trips from Nazareth - each about 90 miles one way - one to Ein Karim to visit Elizabeth (very close to Jerusalem), the other to Bethlehem, also very close (about 6 miles or so from Jerusalem). There is not a level place in the Holy Land and in those 9 days (according to the Posada tradition) there would have been overnight stops, the possibility of robbers on the highway, inconveniences of every sort.  i went with Mary to Elizabeth's.  The Bible doesn't say she travelled alone and in that time probably didn't.  I got cold at night and was really grubby when I arrived with her not having bathed in all that time, nor changing clothes much. The bread we ate was stale & dry and we had to use water sparingly.  What a great gift of love to Eliz. by a pregnant youngster!  The journey with Joseph to Bethlehem was a little less uncomfortable, for me, because there were so many of us on the road, all going to be counted.  This journey has not ended yet.


Beginning the 14th week of the retreat I am moved especially this moment by "Mary's Song of Praise".   Had I never read this in Luke I'm thinking?  Why suddenly when I need to keep praising for unanswered ???'s does this song suddenly pop up for me.   It says just what I needed to hear this day.   I am so moved to tears by the simple HE CARES FOR ME.    It spoke directly to my heart this time, not just my head. This on line retreat was just another of the many many gifts Jesus has blessed me with.   But first I had had to spend many many yrs. in the valley wanting death to be able to look back now at HIS hand in my life process. God Bless everyone involved in setting this up.    Thank you....I love each of you.


In the 14th week of this retreat I am vascillating between euphoria  in the joy and blessings of new trust in god and despair over past sins and cowardice, and laziness. Especially painful are memories and imagination. Especially joyous and amazing is the help of the holy spirit and blessed mother. Creighton's daily retreat is a godsend, the Jesuits encouraging coaches. God bless their work. God keep us all. Merry Christmas to all retreatants and our coaches. 


I've been working so hard to become a better Christian.  Last week I came to the realization that what is holding me back is a lack of trust.  What a blessing this week (14) to hear the stories of Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth, and Zechariah.  They each were challenged by God.  To meet that challenge they had to have a deep trust in God and in others.  I pray that I can learn to have even a drop of the trust that these great people had.

As the phone rings at 5:15am for my husband to go to work on a power outage because someone's house was on fire, it gave me time this morning to think about advent and why did God choose that particular time to send his son, he could have done it sooner, or even later, he could have even chosen now to send his son, but God choose Mary and the time of 2000 years ago. As I was thinking it occurred to me that perhaps people where so caught up in the rules that they forgot what it was like to be part of God's kingdom, not so unlike today but perhaps more so back then. We get caught up in the rules of the church that we have forgotten the one thing that Jesus came to teach us LOVE, if we all just Loved ourselves and one another we would not need to light any candles needing to light those dark places in our lives or light any candles for others. We would have all the peace and justice we would need to live here and we would have heaven on earth just like in the Lords prayer. However I am grateful that God loved me enough to send Jesus and to choose Mary, I am grateful for this exercise, and for God showing me the places that are still dark in my life, the places that I have not let go where I still let people trespass on me (kinda like a grudge towards the people who have caused me pain) I am grate full that I can ask God to show me where my life is still dark and he will show me if I but look. Thank you for this exercise during advent. Thanks to Ignatus for looking and listening to God and showing us all a better way. thank you.

From the 'guideposts".....Mary wants to serve God "but does it have to be so hard".   The hard part struck my soul and heart and tears began to flow.  Here it is the week before Christmas and the family is fighting, our Chicago weather is horrible,  and one of the Churches where I work said I am not needed because they have a new resident  priest. ....  there went half of my monthly income which helps to support my 87 year old mom.  I will try this 14th week and try to live 10 or 15 minutes at a time.  I forgot to mention also that the home heating units seem to be breaking.  One friend said to me  that even when we try to do good it doesn't mean all will be peaches and cream; we have to let God lead the way...we can't control or manipulate God.

In our faith-sharing group last week, one person said that Week 14 had shown her a new way to pray.   She has been a daily communicant for years, receiting the Rosary, making the Stations, receiting other prayers, but Ignatian contemplation is new to her.   She said she's looking forward to contemplating the Passion.   Well, she'll begin with the Incarnation this week!   This retreat is teaching me how to pray and also how others pray. I'm learning how to help others to pray.  WOW  what a blessing! 

This is my first sharing and I am very anxious to go ahead and say what has popped into me this evening.    I am in week 14 and I was reading the annunciation and sorting out the various figures in the story to attach myself to and picture myself there.    Suddenly I realized that I feel like Joseph must have felt.    Angry!
I have been caring for my sick wife for over 12 years. I did not ask for this assignment.    LikeJjoseph hearing from Mary that she is pregnant and stunned by this revelation of having to let go of the fantasy of marrying and having a 'normal' life he must decide what to do. He never had a chance to discuss this with Mary nor with God. God just ups and places him in the position of having to decide.    Not only whether to believe Mary, but also what does his love for Mary actually mean.    I know the story of Joseph having a dream which reassures him,    Yet he must decide to honor his love for Mary and do what God asks of him.    So I was sitting there feeling all this anger when my heart felt that was not the total story.    I have not had any dreams to tell me I must or should remain faithfully married to my wife, but I have felt with certainty this is what I must do.    Not for her but for me.    And not really for me as much as for the notion of doing what is plainly in front of me and over which I clearly have complete freedom to chose one way or the other.    People around me say I must 'have a life' and so on and I have given up the reply of 'this is my life!' and have slowly left my social contacts.    I have deepened instead my spiritual contact with God, towards whom I direct alternatively lots of anger, then resignation, then renewal, then peace of knowing that I absolutely do not know what to do (about being so tired) other than keep doing these exercises and downloading every sunday the next week's retreat. Thank you for having this on the web.
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