Sharing the Retreat
Weeks 18-19

 

Week 18-19


This week is about letting go to attachments that are not of God. I know that I can walk away. I've done it before. But now, I return to them as a child to a favorite stuffed animal for comfort. I want to fly, to swim, but it is still hard to trust. Even as I know when I have let go, it has been good,for me and others. And now life has led me to a place with no handrails and I am busily searching for them. I struggle at 56 with the exact same things that I struggled with at 26. I am learning not to struggle but to,let go. It is not easy, but I am trying. -Week 18


I continue on my meditation from last week by focusing on my relationship with money. I recall a few years ago I was assessing whether to move to another job and I couldn't really get straight where I was called to go. I consulted with a friend who was an executive coach but also steeped in Ignatian spirituality. We made a list of what could be important for me and how each played out against the role I was in and the new one. When making the list she observed that I didn't put money on it. "It's not important", I said. I remember her raising an eye as if to say "You're sure?" In this week's reflection I see that one of my patterns is to pretend it's not that important. If I do that I will be a "better Christian". I really show God I'm with Him. But subtly it's there. At other times, I make long logical arguments. If I buy this new television think of how I am rewarding all these engineers' creativity! Think of the people employed to produce it. Isn't it better that they have jobs and I have the satisfaction of watching soccer on a somewhat larger screen? These may well be good arguments in a debate about the type of society we live in but as I reflect on what I am doing I notice that in the argument God is not there. So money does play a subtle but insidious role in my life. I meditate on the third way and ask what God wants for me to be closer to Him; to walk with Him; for Him to save my soul. I see that I cannot be healed of the subtle but persistent distortions around my money and possessions by myself. I need to ask more earnestly for God's grace. I recognize I am afraid of this. I might be stripped somehow of my possessions. I don't want that to hurt anyone else and I know that God would not ask that of me. I recognize I cannot completely resolve this but what I can do is to more actively bring God into the "money parts" of my life. When I am choosing when to spend, how to give, how to save. I ask for the grace to listen to Him in these moments. -Week 18


Week 18 has been a blessing.  My prayer is that Jesus and Mary will show me the way to "let go and let God". Please pray for me as I pray for you.  J


Week 18: I continue on my meditation from last week by focusing on my relationship with money.  I recall a few years ago I was assessing whether to move to another job and I couldn't really get straight where I was called to go.  I consulted with a friend who was an executive coach but also steeped in Ignatian spirituality. We made a list of what could be important for me and how each played out against the role I was in and the new one.  When making the list she observed that I didn't put money on it.  "It's not important", I said. I remember her raising an eye as if to say "You're sure?" In this week's reflection I see that one of my patterns is to pretend it's not that important.  If I do that I will be a "better Christian". I really show God I'm with Him. But subtly it's there. At other times, I make long logical arguments.  If I buy this new television think of how I am rewarding all these engineers' creativity!  Think of the people employed to produce it.  Isn't it better that they have jobs and I have the satisfaction of watching soccer on a somewhat larger screen?  These may well be good arguments in a debate about the type of society we live in but as I reflect on what I am doing I notice that in the argument God is not there.  So money does play a subtle but insidious role in my life.  I meditate on the third way and ask what God wants for me to be closer to Him; to walk with Him; for Him to save  my soul.  I see that I cannot be healed of the subtle but persistent distortions  around my money and possessions by myself.  I need to ask more earnestly for God's grace.  I recognize I am afraid of this.  I might be stripped somehow of my possessions.  I don't want that to hurt anyone else and I know that God would not ask that of me.  I recognize I cannot completely resolve this but what I can do is to more actively bring God into the "money parts" of my life.  When I am choosing when to spend, how to give, how to save.  I ask for the grace to listen to Him in these moments.


Week 18: I have been meditating on the 3 temptations of Jesus for several years.  I began the meditation because I over eat most of the time.  I rarely feel full or satisfied after eating.  So I thought that meditating on what Jesus did might help me.  Some days are better than others.  The devil knows which temptations really get to a person.  In fact I can find my faults easier sometimes by thinking about what is tempting me. 

Now I go back to the 3 ways of answering: Do I just talk about the temptation or do I do something about it?  Do I justify and rationalize?  Or do I just say thy will be done?  In this case do I just talk about over eating, or do I join a group or club for support in stopping the over eating, or do I put myself on a diet or a fast?  Do I justify and rationalize my over eating, or do I diet, or fast and get exercise?  Or do I offer my temptation to God and ask for His help in becoming healthier?  It is all in my hands. 

Jesus said no to the temptations and yes to His Father's will.  As someone else shared I thought because Jesus was God there was really no temptation, He had to say no to the temptation and yes to His Father's will.  However because Jesus was truly human, He had a choice just like all of us have.  This has helped me understand how much like us Jesus became to understand our weaknesses and to become our help and defense.  What a wonderful thought! 

Please continue to pray for me as I do for all of you.

Marie


Week 18 - Motives ( Three Kinds of Responses)

To have the best intentions but not to act on it,  to justify that where I am right now is God's will for me.....these have been my responses to His call.    Just  getting by and living a life of mediocrity without lifting a finger......has this been my life ever since? Really now?   

I gave up my career to raise my kids while my husband worked. You call raising 4 kids mediocre?  I really think that being a mother and a wife was God's plan for me.  Or am I just justifying it?   Up to now my husband's  still breaking his back to put food on the table and I think that life has just passed me by.  I want to go back to the work force but nobody would hire me anymore.  Start a business?  I think I'm not cut up to be an entrepreneur.  Some of my colleagues are talking of retirement already while I am about to enter into another transition of my life. Migration.    

 So what should my response be?  The text says Freedom.  Freedom from attachments.  Let me say that this very easy to say but very hard to do.Freedom from thinking about the above responses and just focusing on how I should serve God for his greater glory and for the salvation of my soul.  Very Ignatian.   Let me go back to raising 4 kids  and being a supportive wife.  Wasn't that all for His greater glory.  In serving my family,  I am serving HIM.  Hopefully,  in the process I am saving my soul.  

Mary,  you are a mother to Jesus.  You gave up your teenage years to follow God's will.  You open your hear to HIS desires.  Help me to become more sensitive to God's movement in my soul so that I can follow Him with abandon.

Jesus,  you are the son of Mary and the beloved son of God.  You are an obedient child.  You willingly accepted your cross to save me.  I leave all my burden at the foot of your cross.  Sometimes they are too heavy to carry.  Please take over.    I don't have that messianic streak in me.  I am not a saint.  I am scared of the cross because I only see the pain.  I fail to see the victory of the cross,  the resurrection.  Ask God to forgive me when I fail to put my trust in Him.  

God,  you are my Father. You are who I run to for anything and everything under the sun.  You always carry me on your shoulders.  Free me!  You know the people I carry in my heart.  I surrender them all to YOU.  Forgive me for the moments that I do not trust You.  Forgive me.  


Week 18:  I have thought about the 3 forms of detachment as follows:  1. Talking the talk but not walking the walk.  In other words it is all lip service with no action - procrastination.  2. Justification and rationalization.  I am able to justify and rationalize almost all of my actions - thus I find it extremely hard to see my own sins and lapses.  3. Do I own things or do they own me? 

Unless I make a commitment to myself to follow through on something, it is just talk.  Faith without actions it dead.  I have been given a free will and I have choices.  I do not always choose wisely.  This leads me to misery.  Then I justify and rationalize my behavior and get in even deeper over my head in misery.  The way out is detachment with love.  I always ask God to show me His will for me every day without fail.  However, the choices come into play and I sometimes slip up and choose misery again.  Without fail if I listen to the whisper of God's will for me, I am happy.  If I do not listen to God, I am miserable.  Sometimes God's will for me is a leap of faith, because I can not see where this is leading me and I get scared to act.  Always, I am better off doing His will.  It always turns out much better than anything I could have dreamed up.

As to material things of this world, it has finally gotten through to me that all this "stuff" is a gift from God and on loan to me.  If it helps me to do God's will, great.  If not, why do I keep it around?  Is it serving any purpose?  Can it help someone else?  In cleaning up and getting rid of some "stuff", life has become simpler and easier to manage. 

I struggle with detachment daily.  Please pray for me as I pray for all of you on the retreat.  And thanks for the sharing.  As I read what others write it inspires me to keep moving foreword.

Marie

Week 18

Through it all dear God,
your presence is felt by me,
            when I remember.

-Ellen H.


Week 18: I found it helpful on my everyday, walking around reflections to follow one of the suggestions and to pray "My life is in your hands". The attachment I focused on was "My old house ... city". I moved last Spring ... a decision fuelled in part by following this retreat previously. But I have been missing my "old house and neighbourhood". I realise that up to Christmas things had been stressful both at work and with some household issues to do with the move that I was in a sort of rebellion about my new situation. I was quite happy to set-up to come back for several trips this quarter ... one when I was on my way to a conference and then I booked 2 weeks at Easter. Now part of that is that I had promised my son we would "cash in" on a fishing trip we "won" at a silent auction and then I've justified it by having to do some research. But really it was more reflective of wanting to do things on my terms. Of course, my wife is much more adaptable and has been gently prodding me ... why do I keep wanting to go back? I think it has been helpful. Prodded but loved ... which I think is the Lord's way! On these terms i can certainly pray more enthusiastically "Lord, my life is in your hands".


Week 18: “There lies the deepest freshness deep down things.” (G.M.Hopkins)
These poetic words reinforced for me the words of Psalm 131 of the suggested prayers this week. The image of a babe in a manger (it being Christmas) brought to mind another scripture passage: “…you have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and revealed them to infants.” (Mt.11:25)
New life has the radiance and freshness and dependence of a newborn, like the birds of the air and the lilies of the field that are looked after by God. How I long for this freshness…
-- Anita


Week 18: I found this week's reflections more challenging in some ways. I'm not sure exactly why? Maybe it's because I am excellent in the state of either procrastination or complete rationalization about a lot of elements in my life. Perhaps, it is because the struggle over wealth and what it means I just went through in discerning whether a change in my career was the right direction. I concluded it was and that it was therefore better to see money as a gift to be used. This contrasted with my past goal setting where among other things achieving a certain net worth was an absorbing goal. Not that I think there is wrong in goal setting.In fact, maybe that is where some of the tension is: I enjoy goal setting but the nagging question from this week's reflection is whose goals and where is the Lord in these?One thing I did find helpful this week was some reflections at our Parish Mission. This was focused on the spirituality of St Frances de Sales. I practiced doing the "Direction of Intention" frequently during the week before each task or grouping of task. This is one way of making sure that the Lord is in our goals.
week 18. I have seen how lax I can get with prayer committments. God is so good to be with me but I don't always keep the door open. Fear of what could be expected, of losing control is a big part. At first I believed I could say this is wrong, take it, or I have this problem, take it. But lately, I need to let God dig into the pit of my soul and clean it out. I can't see what is there. Being totally open is hard in actuality, but at least I can say I want to be and ask God to continue to empty me, so I have room for Him. At times all I have left is to say continue, and trust that He will. This retreat allows me to do that and I am really grateful. 
greetings to you all. what a nice week this has given me . i stopped trying to get out of situations or to fix them this week and somehow was able to stand free in the unfreedom of the attachments. nothing outwardly has changed as yet but i have good deal more peace. waiting to move as god moves in me.
i can feel the anchor dragging me on the mud at the bottom of my life - nothing very sinister now - but still isolating me from god and you . this week i am able to trust that the master knows what to do about it.
-- yours Nell. from the Tweed
I thought that I was moving along rather nicely spiritually speaking until this week. I feel like the young man in the Gospel who simply had too much to give up in order to follow Christ. It is not material goods that are the problem for me. The thought of placing such complete trust in God's hands is terrifying, I know that I have trust issues in relationships...and they extend to all relationships. If you see this posting, say a little prayer with me that I have the grace to choose Christ and not trying to be in control.
--M.L.
Cast from me every evil
that stands in the way of my seeing you,
hearing, tasting, savoring, and touching you;
fearing and being mindful of you;
knowing, trusting, loving, and possessing you;
being conscious of your presence and, as far as may be, enjoying you. As I read this portion of the prayer of detachment it occurred to me how difficult it is to use our five God-given senses to in turn experience God in sight, sound, touch, smell and taste. So much of my spirituality is in my "head." Is my "head" my hindrance? Lord, help me to explore other paths to a fuller experience of You.
Detachment can also be an attachment! I can be so busy shunning the world that I shun the Christ who lives in the heart of my neighbor. But to do all for the glory and honor of God, to live at the hand of the Lord—then I can approach even my enemies and do so with courage and peace. Not easy, but possible. I thank God for the grace to trust in him, be confident of his presence and act humbly in his will. -- Tom, Pennsylvania
Week 18: I continued reflecting on the tension between wealth and responding to God's call this week.Of the three ways of responding I am a master at procrastination. I think in my relationship to wealth it is easy to reach into a sense that wealth can be rationalized. Most of my rationalizations are self-serving. On the other hand, it is extremely hard to make some radical transformations in our communities without wealth creation. What I found more useful was reflecting on the third way of responding and making a plain statement, "My own wealth is not really mine; it's God's. I offer it up for His use in furthering His Kingdom". This leads to the question, "Is this the right way to invest for God?"; "By buying this am I spending God's money wisely?" Does this prevent me from being self-serving. No ... I'm certainly not there yet. But with God's grace I'm interested to see how this develops.

I also reflected on "busyness". What's going on with my attachment to getting things done? When I promise I'll do something about this I usually take on more ... maybe a new self-improvement scheme ... a new tape to listen to in the car. Then again, I can justify that I have to be busy to further God's Kingdom ... usually in this mode no one else is available ... and He has to be served .... or maybe I need the satisfaction of convincing myself that I'm worth something if I take on this responsibility and get one more thing done or one more goal achieved. In the third way of responding, I give my busyness to God ... maybe there are times when I need to be busy and times when I do not. Like my reflection on wealth ... "Time is not my time ... but God's time ... to be used in His service". .

Thank you for this exercise. Pray that I may find ways to further my detachment from whatever keeps me from God.
Another hard week. Hard not to inventory my failings, just to hold things up to God and say here it is, change it as/if you see fit for your glory.
I have not shared in a few weeks, I simply felt the need to view the thoughts of others and pray. This week I realized that since I began this retreat, many thoughts from my past which I had buried have surfaced - some painful, joyful, and sad. The most vivid thought recently was that of having to take total responsibility for my two little children from a painful marriage, since this was more than 30 years ago, I could not understand why this thought surfaced. I began to discern that it is all part of the cleansing, healing process of this retreat. Continuing the journey successfully means opening up and allowing the Holy Spirit to cleanse our mind, heart, and very soul of all that has held us captive. My 18 week and continuing.
Week 18... This was an awesome week for me. . . and Phillippians says it best "Christ has taken hold of me".
The three kinds of responses in week 18 made me look at the way that I handle certain things in my life.  I have many good intentions and desire to do many good and right things and to cease the behaviors that are not what they should be.  However, all too often I procrastinate beginning or fail to follow through.  They are quite often a part of my thoughts but the actions just do not materialize.  I plan and even desire to do them and just never seem to start or follow through with the good intentions.  This is the response I have to way too many things.  This response tends to lead to a sense of uneasiness.  I also sometimes rationalize as the second kind of response indicates.  But, in far too few instances I totally let go and hand it over to God's will.  This is by far the response that ends up bringing about the most happiness and peace.  The other two responses leave a sense of longing or a continued need for rationalization and these take away the sense of peace and happiness that can be found only when the situations are placed totally in God's hands.
The Prayer For Detachment stopped me.  It was a little like hitting a brick wall.

"Remove anything that makes me unworthy of your sight, your control, your reprehension, of your speech and conversation, of your benevolence and love."

That translates into: Remove anything that makes me not worth looking at, not worth taking charge of, not worth punishing or speaking to or speaking with, not worth your good wishes and not worth knowing, understanding, accepting and being involved with in any way at all.

"not worth looking at" means I want my God to remove whatever would make me completely disgusting.

"not worth taking charge of" means I want God to remove whatever would prevent God from saving me from destruction - as God so often does.

"not worth punishing" means I want God to remove what makes me God's child

"or speaking to or speaking with" means I want God to remove anything that would prevent my receiving the little (or big) nudges God gives me so often.

Here's where I hit the brick wall.  God made me to know, love and serve God; to be happy with God here and in heaven.  God also made me to know, to love and to serve.  In fact, Paul says nothing will ever separate us from the Love of God. Thank You, God, for brick walls.  Brick walls sometimes force us to reflect again on just why it's all worth Your while. Week 18
It has been a struggle during this week 18, "three ways of responses".  I am so filled with mixed thoughts, truly the gravitational pull is very much at work in my life.  I do want to follow God's will, but when my focus becomes on my self will, instead of focusing on Christ, I fall into patterns that depress, and humiliate me.

It seems that I need to keep my mind on God's being present with me in my struggles, that will allow me to keep focused on truly living that costly discipleship that I believe is needed in my response.  I have failed so many times, and I realize that I turn my back on God each time I respond in a deliberately defensive mode.  I beg for the grace to respond  to others as He wants me to , with compassion, understanding, and less protectiveness of my self will.  The one thing that I should keep in mind is , how am I serving God, in my interactions, and daily life?  Is this for God ? or is this to defend or protect myself interest.

I beg for the grace to look always to God , in all circumstances ,to realize that everything  can lead me closer to Him if I give it to Him to transform me.  I am in need of transformation, to keep the prize of eternal life always before me , to want only to please ,love , and give him praise.

I am feeling that He understands me, but I do not understand me ... a very hard week. Thanks for all of the readings and prayers.  This is a period of questioning how I can say I love God , but fail so often to trust, and live each day a worthy life .
As I near the end of week 18, I must say again how perfect God’s timing is. The focus this week on Jesus’s baptism and my response to His call fits so well with the readings for Mass this week. All call for courage in the face of opposition, and my life is in just such a position now. I need His grace to see me through, and my fear still holds me back. So far I’ve come, so much further I have yet to go. Lord, help me. You know how weak I am. Strengthen me, give me courage. I ache to do Your will, yet struggle. I feel like such a failure right now. How can I profess a faith at the same time knowing such fear? As a little girl’s father said in Scripture, “Lord, I do believe. Strengthen me in my unbelief.”
Week 18. Though this is only the first day of the week for me, I find this week amazing in several ways. First, it reminds me of how far I have yet to travel to become the person I believe Christ has called me to be. I know in my heart that I have come a long way since starting this retreat, yet fear remains with me. Second, the introductory sections for the week echo my life and my fears with remarkable accuracy. I so easily see myself on the shore watching Jesus’s baptism and wanting so to follow Him yet being so afraid to ‘take the plunge.’ Finally, I am at a crossroads in my life. There are several roads to choose from, and the one I am now on, which appeared so ‘safe’ just a short time ago is uncertain now.  I pray for the wisdom to accept what Christ wills for me, and ask all of those on this retreat to pray for me also. As I have written at least once before, “Here am I Lord, I long to do Your will. Give me the strength and courage to do so.”

Week 18. Hard to believe I am already half way through this retreat. The broken record in me about God’s timing again hits this week. With changes in my life at this time it is perfect for slowing down for a little reflection on the ‘first half’ and especially for seeking the grace to accept what God allows. I was surprised and relieved when I read the three response types Ignatius described concerning the resolutions we make. I know that in the past I have employed the first two, usually just doing nothing but often justifying my decision. I fully expected the third option would involve changing what I was doing. It was such a relief to learn that it instead involves opening myself to accept whatever comes. I must, of course, remain faithful and prayerful in choosing courses of action, but the key is that the major “action” I am asked to make is acceptance. I pray for that grace.

During the 18th week, I experinced how difficult it is to leave the natural laws of personal gravity and live more in keeping with the freedoms which Jesus offers. I have longed for being free before the attachtment and tried to be free. But at church meeting, I realized that I was never free after I excused loudly about the things that I had been responsible for. Even though the reason I am engaged in church activities is to serve God, I found I didn't get rid of my own self- absored pattern at all. And I realized all I have to desire to is only a grace from God. Now I can really speak '' My life is in God's hands." Frankly speaking, until now I was too stubborn to hear the way of Jesues' life


I have started out on week 18.   I am not a very persistent person.  I read the themes of the week.  I think I understand them.  Sometimes I do and that week really grabs me.  then I tail off and enter the next week half heartedly.  I know that I am not doing as well as I should because my early enthusiasm has waned.  And yet there is so much good to be found here.  I do squander the treasures that God showers on me.  Perhaps I should take myself away physically from my surroundings so that I can concentrate.  But I cannot justify it.  How can I leave my wife and family for a week or so in a retreat house?  I should not need to do that because it is all here in this site - the careful reflections from Fr. Gillick - the sharings - the readings - the guideposts - everything.  I do believe in the power of prayer so I earnestly beg all of you to pray for me.  And may God bless you all

I am starting week 18 of the retreat  and am being challenged to look at the rationalization and self will in my life.  I am hearing that call to trust God more deeply.  I have a sense that that God is calling me to confirm my life more closely with His will for me and I am both attracted to this calling and resistent to it.  I fear what He may ask me to give up, but I know from past experience, that He always replaces what He asks me to give up with something far better.  He asked me to give up my need to always be right in my relationship with my husband and has given me the wonderful intimate marriage that I could only dream about a few years back.  When I gave up trying to control my daughter and her drug usage, she has completely turned her life around and has become a source of great joy in my life.  With so many examples of God's way being so right for me, why do I still resist this call to conform my will to His?  I am asking Him for the willingness to trust him more and I as for your prayers, by fellow travelers.  May God bless each of you and may this be a fruitful week for all of us as we continue our journey on this retreat.


I am on my week 18 with this retreat.  Until now my mind is still on the reflections on the nativity scene. I am learning to embrace my humanity and accepting my shadows without neglecting the light. I am drawn to reflect more on what is God doing in my life at this point and gently accepts whatver comes. This is quite difficult for me, for I always want to be in control. I realized sometimes that even in my prayer that I want to control certain events in my life.  I am finding it difficult to let go and let God control my life. I rationalize my attachment to my money, I do not have much, that's why I have be selfish and I find myself refusing to help others financially.  The retreat is helping me lot and on this week (18), I'm quite nervous on what to let go to attain that kind of freedom that Jesus had. It's a tall order for me. I am at a lost on what to do with my life. I lost my direction and my sense of purpose. This is not the life that I dreamed of.  Please pray for me.

I am in the eighteenth week of this retreat and I am writing in response to the first item in the August 25 posting.  I know about emptiness and the blank wall, which I first discovered almost fifteen years ago.  It took me a long time to get as much distance from the that emptiness as I now have -- years.  But I have not yet learned how to pray for someone else.  Even the great mystics seem to use prayer as a way of centering themselves rather than as a way of centering someone else.  I wish I could teach someone how to pray for themselves -- I just don't know how.  But the retreat is a really good place to start, and a really good place to establish the discipline of regular prayer.  Hope I can keep it up during the academic term.  Perhaps you will try to pray for me in this regard and together we will each discover something new about lives with Jesus at their center.

Week 19


JOY. I am sure that is what Jesus felt deeply and viscerally inside of him. Joy which compelled him to leave home. Joy which compelled him to enter the waters of the Jordan and be identified with sinners.  Joy which propelled him forward because joy has to be shared or it is not true joy!
I always thought that God's call was discovered in the head and in the heart! Today I am beginning to see that it is in the gut. Who we serve is decided by the heart and the head. Why we serve comes from the gut. And only grace can enable us to touch this inner joy!

RS - Week 19


Hi, I’m Larry, a Businessman and Entrepreneur from the Philippines.
I imagined the carpenter’s son for 17 years leave Nazareth his home with Mary and Joseph to move on to anointed Messiah. Wow! What a transition from a carpenter’s son running his own business having been apprenticed by Joseph learning the  skill of the trade so that he gains the respect of the townspeople in Nazareth, Jesus the entrepreneur moves on to what he senses is God’s call. Tender Timidity. And what a transition. In this transition I see my own life at 70 starting anew. I too am an entrepreneur feeling called to help other Filipino entrepreneurs become the version of themselves. Just like Jesus at the river Jordan. I wade out to the marketplace to scale up my start up real estate business.Jesus help me know and write down my Why, the Vision and Mission of the company. Holy Spirit give me the wisdom, guidance and clarity to step out and follow the footsteps of Jesus. - Week 19


Week 19: One morning this week before I started my daily meditation I happened to come across a rendering of a sprititual song, "You are my hands ..."  I found it interesting to listen to this imagining Jesus at my side and also imagining that this is the final meditation of Jesus before he enters baptism.  He realizes that as the Son of God, He is the only way that God becomes truly present in the world.  After His baptism He invites me to consider that now this is my calling along  with others who will share in His ministry.  He also promises to provide the sustenance for this journey in the form of His body and blood in the Eucharist. 

As I enter the water of baptism I look closely at what I need to repent of ... What I need to change in order to make this journey.  The concept of "busyness" rises in my mind.  Can I stop being busy?  Can I approach life more simply?  I feel a sense of wholeness thinking about this.

I ask Jesus' help to reveal how I can develop more with Him, to become equipped to be his hands, feet, eyes, ears, mouth ... knowing that this is not a journey I need to take alone, which is one of the constant reminders from this retreat.

Leaving home, leaving mother and being acknowledged and recognized by Father before beginning mission. I have been there. It is an exhilarating time, full of fear and resolve. Newness descending. Knowing you can't stay, being afraid to go. Going anyway, not knowing. Been through it myself and with one child. Preparing another child to leave the nest. I view it from this perspective. What did Mary do to prepare herself and Him for the moment. She was caring and nurturing, but she was ready to let go because she knew that she had to. It was part of the promise she made to God with her fiat. The only way to keep her promise was to let go. To prepare Him and then to let Him go.

Jesus left home and went to find His cousin. The cousin who had recognized Him when both were in the womb. He left home and His Mother, but He did not go off with strangers. He sought His cousin, who He knew already knew and who had been preparing the way for His ministry through his call for repentance. His cousin who had renounced the rewards of the world, and who had not usurped power. His cousin, who God had chosen to be the instrument of His Son's initiation to His earthly mission. Those who know you best can hurt you or help you. His fellow Nazareans failed to see that He was God's son. His cousin knew it before he was born. Blessed be the name of the Lord. Blessed be His holy mission.

We have to do what God wants, said Jesus to John after He asked to be baptized and John, knowing He was the Messiah, wondered if it should not be the other way. Jesus said, not now, we have to do it God's way. Obedience in large things and small. This is the way we should follow. -Week 19


I have a lot of trouble with the visualizing of scenes etc. but when I was trying and failing miserably at trying to imagine Jesus' feeling at leaving home and the baptizing, I got a feeling of actually going ankle deep in  the Jordan  and hearing the Negro Spiritual  " Wade in the Water".    This is probably as good as it is going to get for me but I found it a profound experience. Thank you for retreat on line. -Freda -Week 19


One morning this week before I started my daily meditation I happened to come across a rendering of a sprititual song, "You are my hands ..." I found it interesting to listen to this imagining Jesus at my side and also imagining that this is the final meditation of Jesus before he enters baptism. He realizes that as the Son of God, He is the only way that God becomes truly present in the world. After His baptism He invites me to consider that now this is my calling along with others who will share in His ministry. He also promises to provide the sustenance for this journey in the form of His body and blood in the Eucharist.

As I enter the water of baptism I look closely at what I need to repent of ... What I need to change in order to make this journey. The concept of "busyness" rises in my mind. Can I stop being busy? Can I approach life more simply? I feel a sense of wholeness thinking about this.
I ask Jesus' help to reveal how I can develop more with Him, to become equipped to be his hands, feet, eyes, ears, mouth ... knowing that this is not a journey I need to take alone, which is one of the constant reminders from this retreat. -Week 19

Week 19

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

 

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

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

Christine

Responding to God’s call has been a struggle for me from the beginning.  I knew that my life would be disrupted in many ways, but there were ways in which my life was disrupted that I was not expecting.   I was not expecting to change the way I viewed myself.  I was not even aware of how hard I have been on myself all these years.  But at the start of this retreat, God graced me with His tremendous love for me and confidence in that love and my worthiness of that love.  I needed it badly because since then, I have been tempted numerous times in numerous ways to go back to the way I used to view myself and thus recoil back into my hole.  But I fought it because I remembered that it was all part of where God was taking me.  It was painful, and some days, I pushed forward despite the pain knowing that it would be visible to others and that they would make of it whatever they wanted to make of it.  And some days I would forget who I was because I let what I thought other people thought of me bring me down.  But I never turned back or gave up the struggle to find God.

This past week was the hardest so far until I participated in the Stations of the Cross on Tuesday; the graces I received from that astounded me!  I saw Jesus’ “cross” and I recognized what He must have been feeling, and then I felt such joy at being able to feel what He was going through!  It also helped me to let go of whatever others might be thinking of me because people thought the worst anyone could think about Jesus who was without sin.  This experience was just what I needed to bring me back to viewing myself the way God views me.  I was reminded of how much He loved me and I embraced my struggle because I saw how it brought me closer to Jesus.

“Still holding my hand, you ask me whether I can feel the love God has for me, the love you have for me. Yes, I can. But the fear is still there. I’m not worthy. I look into your face and see the love and friendship you have for me. I see that I am worthy just because of your love. Maybe I always think of myself as unworthy around you because it keeps me from getting too close. If I tell myself I’m not worthy to be with you, then I avoid the invitation from you that can change (and disrupt) my life. Keeping myself at a distance from you, Jesus, means that I can’t hear you as clearly.
That isn’t what I want. I don’t want to be distant from you anymore. Over these past weeks and months I have grown so close to you. I feel the strength of your presence and know that I want to go with you, to be with you in your life, and to have you with me in mine.
Thank you for the love and friendship you give to me. Thank you for caring so much for me.”

Cathy


Week 19 was a gift to me...as I imagined Jesus wrapping his arms tightly around me and immersing me in the River Jordan with him.  We came out of the water together, and I became a new person, baptized into his death and resurrection.


Week 19 - Jesus' Journey to His Mission

I don't like goodbyes. " I hate airports."  That was from one of my daughters who year after year has to see her dad or a favorite cousin off to the airport to go back to their places of residence.  At the departure area,  they even lined up with their cousin up to the point where they were allowed to.  Hugging,  laughing and crying.  It broke my heart to see such scene.  That must also be how our Blessed Mother felt when Jesus was about to embark with His mission.  Those tender moments of goodbyes as if it was the last time she would see of her Son.  And the tears she shed.  Could they have been the beginning of the many tears she would be shedding up to the foot of the cross?  

To go with Jesus in His mission is to leave everything behind.  Like the disciples who were formerly fishermen, they left their nets,  they left their boats, they even left their family.  In my pastoral work,  how deep is my commitment to the Lord?  At the instance of a little trouble,  do I run as fast as I can,  not wanting to get involved deeper than what is just comfortable?  Or should I just let Him lead by the hand into the fine waters?

 As a magician navigates the rope in his wheelbarrow trusting that he can reach the other side of the rope,  do I have the unwavering faith to get into the wheelbarrow with Jesus at the helm telling me: " Do not let yourself be troubled.  I got you."


The image from week 19 that is the strongest for me is that of Jesus leaving his home to go to the river Jordan and be baptized, to begin his mission.  It brought to mind some of my own journeys in which I was leaving the comfort of what I knew and loved to follow what I believed to be my calling.  I had a clear recollection of how I felt at nineteen driving away from my home on Long Island with my new husband to begin our life in Virginia and how I felt many years later getting on a plane to Guatemala to teach indigenous women how to do organic vegetable gardening.  I had never been to a "third world" country and had no idea what I would encounter.  I only knew that in my deepest heart that this is what God wanted me to do. Now, after forty-three years of marriage I am embarking on a journey of another kind, that of seeing my husband through a terminal illness.  This is the hardest journey of all and more than ever I need to know that the Heavenly Father and his Beloved Son are with me.  Thank you for this retreat. 


WEEK 19: I have had to rekindle my flame after week 18- my review of my life (again) and some of the moments I am not so proud of - finally I can separate the persona I wish to put out to others and the self that is real and that God sees- I now feel that He will grant mercy to  my real self , if only I can do the same- progress. Finally , trying to follow Jesus is not about doing good- it is about doing His Father's will.  I was always one who wanted to be seen as doing good and being right. there is a real difference in motivation.
DETACHMENT- I have read much about this and felt that this is way beyond me. But he suggestion that I simply identify the things in my life that seem too important and ask God for the grace to not give them up but to be free enough from them that I hear His wishes for me.


Week 19: This week I can see my challenge more clearly. I continue to see Jesus leaving home as he did many times to head for a job. Today, I imagine he had no specific place to be or appointment to keep. He had his tools with him and would stop to ask landowners about work.  He stopped at the river. He knew John had been baptizing. He had been aware of John's preaching in the desert. He knew that John had disappointed his parents because he did not live in the manner of a man of his status. He listened and decided to be baptized. He left his tools on the river bank intending to return to pick them up. As he approached John, Jesus wondered why John started saying that he was not worthy to baptize Jesus. He kept walking toward John, trusted him, and as Jesus was baptized it all "came together." What Joseph had told him about his dreams. What Mary had told him about her dreams and what Elizabeth had told Mary about her baby John in her womb. Mary had told Jesus about the comments at the temple when he was circumcised. Jesus understood more about why he told Mary and Joseph in the temple - that he must do his father's business. It all "came together." Jesus saw Isaiah 42:1-4 in a new light when he heard "You are my son." John and the others heard, "This is my son."Jesus never turned back. He did not return to pick up his tools. He did not return home to say goodbye to Mary. He understood that his vocation was changed forever. He became aware that he would no longer work as an experienced carpenter. His vocation was to do his Father's work as Jesus knew it from the scriptures, and what he had experienced during his 30 years. The Psalms and other scriptures became very clear to him. He did not ask, "What will happen to me, to my mother, to my brothers and sisters." He went about doing the work his Father called him to do. He could not put a name on his new vocation - just like he could not put a name on John's vocation. He left the river bank with Psalm 116:13 on his lips, "I will raise the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD."This is my challenge-Joe
Week 19 God called you, Jesus, to become one with us (an outlandish request) and it all started at the Jordan. You, the son of God, entered the waters of the Jordan, were submerged and momentarily made helpless; you joined us humans in our struggle against our fallen nature. What can I say? You are the most! THE LIGHT OF MY LIFE!
Week 19 I had a very strong image early in the week about Jesus getting ready to leave on his mission. I don't think it unreasonable to think that Joseph has passed away and so Mary is a widow. Mary would then have been dependent on Jesus for support. I imagine that Joseph died when Jesus is around 15 so for the last 15 years he has suppported her. I imagine that from time to time he went into the desert to pray and meet up with other spiritual masters. Probably he meets up with John the Baptist on these trips. Over these years his sense of who he is and where he must go grows. He saturates himself with the prophets and understands clearly his messianic mission. But leaving others who are dependent on him is tremendously difficult. He has worked well and in Nazereth he is surrounded by relations. So finally, he understands what he must do and makes provision for Mary to find support within his larger family. Recall that even on the Cross, looking after his mother is a key concern. So as he walks away he does so with real resolution and clarity that he does not have to look back. Mary looks after him fondly. Of course, she cannot really let him go and we know that from time to time she met up and was present with him and his disciples.
And what does that mean for me? I recall that for many years at my previous job I justified staying around because I had to take care of my family because of the investment I had made in the firm. I challenged myself that maybe this was a cop out. But I see that the Lord really understood. The family are now taken care of. My next steps on the journey have probably not been as resolute but now I am on the "mission journey". May my destination be clearly guided by the Lord.
Week 19: Praying baptism (the recommended scriptures) this Christmas week, the words that best describe the space I entered are words of Henri Nouwen: "downward mobility”. As I enter my 60th year, I live alone, I am no longer a consumer, I did not have my grown children and grandchildren with me this year, and I spent time with my brothers and their families. Families are never as depicted in Christmas television ads.

I am in a space that is completely counter-cultural to the upward mobility of the surrounding consumer culture so blatant this holiday season. Looking back at the evening Christmas Mass I attended, I saw the church were I was as “the stable” where Christ was born – hidden away from the inn(the mall). The birth of our wonderful God in a stable has become a hidden event in our culture…it happens secretly in the silence when the mall closes, sending us home.
-- Anita


I just finished reading week 19 (although for me, it should be week 25), all of the readings and reflections. I am a person who has to be in control of everything, and the thought of "dropping everything and following Jesus" makes me feel as if I would lose control, meaning that I would let go of all of those things familiar to me and follow Jesus into the unknown. I'm at a point in my life where my faith is a little shaky, and my friends and family are stable to me. The image I have of the Baptism is me sitting on a bank, under the shade, kind of far away. I'm just watching all that is going on and wondering what the commotion is all about. I'm a little nervous to go to the front of the crowd because I don't want to be noticed and singled out in front of all of these people, or be called upon to participate in something that I know nothing about. I know that I would be fine once I talked to Jesus and others, but it's making that first step that makes me nervous.
Week 19: Lord, I think of you leaving home for your mission. Yes I share with you many of the emotions you must feel. I’ve made that leaving now … several times … and I will be sharing these feelings again as I go on my way to a new ministry.You come to the Jordan and you see the crowds. Many times in your preparation you have come this way. You have been attracted to the spirituality of these desert groups. Now you see John and what he is creating. People are coming from all over to be baptized. You want to be one with them. You see their deep sincerity to be whole again and you want to be one with them.So you enter the water and John first of all looks confused … it’s not routine as before although always he works sincerely … you motion to John to continue and as you come out of the water there is a new determination in your face. Yes you are determined but also relaxed … happy to be doing what you are doing. You now understand all the preparation that you have been doing to this point. Mary and Joseph’s teaching, your dialog with teachers, your conversations with friends, your reflections on scriptures, your prayers … these all now make sense … you are God’s son and only for Him will you devote your life.Then I see you motion me. Why do I feel reluctance to follow you? Is it because I am content with where I am now … seeing and realizing what this moment means … being intellectually satisfied? Or is it because I do not feel worthy to take this step? I’m not really as fine a person as you think, Jesus. But he motions further. He puts his arms on my shoulders and tells me that he knows me. He accepts me. He wants me to continue to follow him. He will be with me … even at those times when I might not realize that nor even want him. He will be faithful. I take the step forward and as I emerge from the water still with his arms on me I realize that these arms have been holding me for a long time. I can relax … comfortable in the knowledge that my purpose is to praise God the Father, revere Him, and follow Jesus. I may not have as confident appearance as Jesus but I resolve to be faithful and continue to learn from Him.May God be praised.

Week 19. Jesus leaves home and is baptized. But Jesus left home once before. When He was 12 He left His parents to be about His Father's business. He went home though. It wasn't His time. He wasn't ready but He was so eager. At that time Mary and Joseph worried about Him. Now He was being baptized. I can imagine how Mary felt. As a mother, I wait for the day that I can say my children are ready to leave home, and I will help them, knowing that I have done all I could do. Two have already left, and two are still home. They knew when they had to go. They were restless and knew that they were ready to try to live their own life. Although it is not spoken, they go out to search and do what they were born to do. It must be a maternal instinct to hold onto children until that time comes. It is with mixed feelings that we let them go. We acknowledge and are proud that they can go out on their own, but we are also fearful for them because of what can be ahead. Mary soon showed her confidence. At the wedding at Cana she was the one who encouraged Jesus to perform His first miracle. Did she already know His place was to serve others? She too must have been prepared for this time of setting out. She too had to be brave and trust in God.
greetings to you all. ' to go somewhere different - you will have to take an entrance you have never used before ". i read that this week and spent most of the week figuratively sitting on the bank of the river jordan with my back against a tree. watching the baptisms and contemplating. it was a very pleasant week but i had trouble rousing myself to go down to the water. where i think the dirt of the road would be washed from me and i would be shown an entrance into the next stage of my life which i have never used before.
when i did go down - my eyes on john and jesus i was surprised to encounter many of the people from my life - my mum and dad and my dear friend roger who passed on a few years ago. various people i have known in other times and other places and then some people ive not yet met. all ready to be baptised into the next stage of their mission.
when i emerged from the water - i came out into colour and a sense of perfumes and dancing and jewellery which are things which dont feature on a grand scale in my life. but i came out into celebration and colour and honour.
and then i sensed that i was being sent back up my hill. this was the same feeling as with the nativity. that my part of the mission at this time was to STAY where i was. and keep the light burning. at most times in my life i have been called away with neither robe nor sandals.
but once again - i am staying put. i could feel the christ smiling on me. and the restfulness of being the elderwoman able to stay on the bank of the river for a time and watch the seekers come. and direct them and tell them about what i have seen. as a recovering image this sits very well with me.
so here i am. washed clean and blessed again. to this work which lacks much of the drama of other times and leaves me alone a good deal and has me restless but which is bringing me a quiet background peace when i accept what seems to be the mission i have been given for now.
my love to you all
Nell from the Tweed- Week 19
I cannot imagine that when Jesus left home to be baptized by John that it was a scene of any great drama. Departure seems the norm for Jesus. At the Annunciation, he leaves the glories of heaven behind to be enfleshed in the womb of Mary. How does Mary respond? She leaves her home in haste to help her cousin, Elizabeth. Jesus is born a stranger in the stable; he is taken to Jerusalem to be presented at the temple; he flees Herod’s slaughter of the innocents; he returns from Egypt to Nazareth; he goes to Jerusalem every year with his parents; as a youth, he stays behind in the temple unknown to his parents. All the JOYFUL mysteries of the rosary speak of departure, separation. So when Jesus left Mary that day, I imagine she was her joyful self, watching him go again, serene. And Jesus is just going again, as he always does. Perhaps it seems that he is off to another carpentry job that day. Jesus, being God, can hardly be surprised to see his cousin John in the water, but again, there is joy on his face as he sees this man he loves who so splendidly does the will of God. And so Jesus is happy to submit to him, despite John’s protests. John is joyful to see his cousin too, but his joy bears with it the weariness of being merely human. He has, after all, been standing in the brown waters of the Jordan day after day. Jesus, under water, holds his breath. Jesus, emerging from the water, embraces John with joy, nearly knocks him off his feet. They both almost laugh, but their joy is solemn, too. The dove descends and the voice of his father is heard, but Jesus has known these things all along. They are signs for everyone else, not for him. So he walks away wet, wondering if he should go home to change or just let the sun of his walking dry his clothes. Week 19-- Tom, Pennsylvania
I contemplated Jesus leaving home for His ministry and baptism. I see that this is a time He has really prepared for. I like to think that He and John have had some encounters before. Of course, He is settled in Nazareth and the older we get the more difficult it is to move on. He has become somewhat of a fixture in the village. No one has really noticed except Mary His mother that He has grown spiritually and changed.

I am drawn to think of Jesus setting out on His journey and wonder about him contempating the cross. Part of that is because when I think of the different transitions and journeys I have taken I have always encountered dark moments that cloud the anticipation I had desired at the onset. Despite this I have been graced in all these transitons. But I wonder if Jesus contemplates the Cross. Then I wonder if He more likely contemplates the resurrection. Walking with Him as He sees His ministry emerge in that light gives me encouragement and hope.

I wasn't feeling too well for parts of this wee and in a mood of some tiredness I watched Jesus's baptism. I like the image of light that emerges in this story. I thought of this last Friday after the rains cleared. Maybe it didn't happen quite like that on the Jordan when the clouds parted but from a mental and emotional point of view Jesus obtains a new clarity which shines around Him and infects everyone. But personally I am restless. One part of me wants to enter the water with Jesus. But I am really looking for immediate clarity as I emerge from the water. That clarity is probably self-serving. I want another position ... or my dreams of what I want to accomplish to be immediately apparent. When this doesn't happen I wallow in self-pity. I am more in need of Jesus's touch of renewal and of taking time to find balance as Jesus does in today's Gospel. With Jesus I recall that baptism is just the beginning of a journey. I ask for the grace of renewal to continue on the journey.
Week 19: This week entering the Jordan River with Jesus helps remind me to refocus on my own baptism. I joined the Catholic Church during Easter Vigil in 1998 and received Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist for the first time along with my husband and two children. I was searching at that time to know where and who God was, as this kept resurfacing in my mind after the death of my mother-in-law and several other trials. I remember however saying "yes" to Jesus to whatever path he chose for me. It was during the "laying of hands" that I first felt the real presence of God in my life. I felt "peace" and "freedom" for the first time. I had longed for peace for many yrs. after having been sexually abused as a teenager (incest) and it takes time to be healed from some emotional areas of feeling rooted in shame, etc. (And over time we can be attracted to many bad habits as a result.) This particular evening Jesus said, "Come follow Me, and I will Give you Peace". Like Mary, when the angel Gabriel spoke to her, I pondered for several weeks, over these words. However, everything I was doing and saying in my life began to change. I began teaching Sunday School, singing in the church choir, being a lector, and I wanted to know more about this new love I had for God and soon found myself beginning to leave myself behind and caring for others needs. Also, I felt a call to study and graduated from a Canadian University in
2001 with a Diploma in Ministry. Since all this, I have been wandering around in the desert for the past few months. But, I have learned the need to need others after having lost my employment and I experienced poverty in a real sense. On several occasions not knowing where the next meal would come from has enabled me to put my complete trust in God again and our God does provide us with our needs according to his riches for us. (Phil. 4:19) Also, I've learned that our happiness doesn't come from our careers, or materialism or people. And I'm starting to enjoy this more relaxed, simplier life that Jesus offers us. I started this retreat two yrs. ago and never completed it, but came back after an invitation from a friend. I pray for the courage to say "yes" once again to Jesus's calling and rid myself of the need to be in control, pride, fear, ego, selfishness, self-centeredness, etc., and/or anything else that prevents me from receiving the love that God wants to freely give me. I have enjoyed the sharing of others. Thank You. Let's continue to pray for each other during this special time of Lent.
Throughout Week 19 of the Retreat, I had a continual sense that Jesus had this deep knowing that compelled him through all his actions of leaving home, heading to the Jordan, and being baptized.  He just felt with all his being that this was what he had to do and everything was going to be alright as he did it.  This culminated in that deep inner joy, peace, exuberance, and contentment that I imagine he felt as he came out of the water and heard the message of his Father.
Week 19 As I imagine the near thirty old, Jesus, I see a beautiful strong man ; working, laughing , loving his life at home with his family and friends in the town of Nazareth.  He must have grown in wisdom before the Lord, taking in the love of Mary, Joseph, absorbing the Torah, seeking quiet to reflect on His persistent and growing desire to respond to His heavenly Father . It must have been a process, not a sudden one day saying "Well I'm off.."

He must have known that His love and awareness of His time had come. He no longer could contain His longing to heal and save His people...but  He might have torn feelings of how to say goodbye to the mother who knew Him better than anyone on earth.

He must have felt anticipation to begin His mission, but sorrow that He had to surrender so much to attend the call, the very reason for His birth. The parting must have been tearful, and bittersweet ;wanting to begin His mission, but longing to protect His mother from the hurt she would experience.

I imagine a fond farewell to a few of his closest friends,and a word of encouragement to them, that he would return...he would see them again, but in the meantime please look out for His mother.
Mary must have held Him in a tender ,but strong embrace to assure Him that she would be alright,even though her heart was breaking;tears fell ,but she did not cling,she did not protest.

Some people in the town were critical of Jesus, wondering who did He think he was to leave.  How could He leave Mary?  Did he not care for them? While others wished Him well, no one could possibly understand what He was about to begin.

So much to think about this week.   Thanks for guiding me through the beginning questions about Jesus beginning his journey to the Jordan.  It has allowed me to appreciate another side of Jesus that I never thought about too much before.
Reading the “In these and Similar Words” for the Baptism of Christ, I was made uncomfortable because it was not my image of Christ’s baptism. It is always puzzling to see someone else’s personal image of Christ when it is dissimilar to my own. For some unexplained reason, I expect us to all see Christ in the exact same way. Usually when I have this experience of doubt, I get over the fear and I am able to see a new aspect of the Lord because of that other person’s view. I gain a larger picture of Christ and of God. The “In these and Similar Words” focuses on the communal aspects of the Baptism. By entering the scene, the contemplator, talked and interacted with Christ. I, on the other hand, focused on the solemn side of the events. I was not granted the gift of entering the event. As an observer, I saw a man alone as he walked from his mother. He made a personal decision to leave his mother and to step into the waters of his public ministry. He walked away from the baptism alone, to be alone in the desert and to soak in the baptism. As he walks away from the Baptism he probably had some notion that this may be the last time on earth he can savor being be alone with God. From this point forward he will have little time alone with God because he will seek out and be sought out by all of humanity. And while he may be lonely, he will seldom alone after the time in the desert.I also focused on another point. I was moved when the Father confirms Christ’s baptism with words from heaven. There are many instances in the Old Testament where God speaks with a calling, confirmation, command or acclamation of covenant. There are not as many in the New Testament and this one seems special. In this instance when God speaks, it is like a recreation. At Jesus’ baptism, it is as if the world was born again in preparation of the confirmation of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. His baptism is like the “let there be light” that proceeds God final affirmation that “it was good.” 
     You were baptized in the waters of the River Jordan,
and became our Living Water.
     Your first miracle was to change water into wine,
at the wedding feast at Cana.
     You walked on the waters of the Sea of Galilee,
to give us faith.
     You washed the feet of your apostles,
to show us humility.
     You washed Your Hands,
to give us Your Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity,
in the Most Holy Eucharist.
     From the Cross, blood and water flowed from Your side,
to show us Your Love and Mercy.
     And You were washed and prepared for burial,
after You died on the Cross for us.
                                   Thank You Jesus


I have been following the retreat with the liturgical year, but week 19 has really stuck with me. The image of Jesus coming up out of the water after being baptized, shaking his head and laughing out of pure joy helped me realize just how human He really was. I had been praying so intensely to Jesus and through Mary and several of the saints that my daughter and her fiancée would be married in the church. This had been going on for several weeks. During week 19 she called and said everything was falling into place and they would be married within the good graces of the church. I got down on my knees and thanked all to whom I invoked help and especially to Jesus and the Holy Spirit. When I went to sleep that night, in the state before falling asleep, I had a vision. The saints, along with Jesus and Mary were laughing, dancing, and celebrating. They had brought a young couple closer to God and were in complete joy. We sometimes forget just how human they all were and they do understand our problems and needs. Thank-you to those who put this retreat together for the rest of us. You are doing great things and touching many hearts. 


I am in the 19th week of this retreat.  I know that everyone on this retreat is very busy and deeply involved with personal reconciliation.  I can only pray that each of you on this retreat will join me and lead otheres in the daily repetition of the Office Prayers of Saint Rose of Lima (August 30) for Lori Berenson, still imprisoned in Peru.  May we all pray that Christ will enter her heart and soul and that through this she may establish her case for pardon and be reunited with her family in the United States.


The guides (week 19) have been so helpful in contemplating the life, and especially baptism, of Jesus.  It is truly a grace to have found this online retreat, and the many treasures that lie there. 
 As I imagined Jesus leaving the well-known and comfortable routine of life in Nazareth, I could certainly relate!  After I retired from my job as a pastoral minister -- which was in itself a miracle job! -- I was led by the Spirit into working with children who need a neutral advocate in situations such as abuse, divorce, chemical dependency -- get the picture?
For a farm-wife with a comparatively healthy family background to become immersed in a world that I had previously only glimpsed on TV was about as great a change as anyone could imagine.  There are situations in which I can only be amazed at the goodness of God who sends caring social workers, attorneys and others who work in the court system, as well as therapists and counsellors who help the victims learn to survive and even thrive.  How humbling to have placed myself in God's hands and in turn find others placing themselves in my hands.  Only with God's help can I manage to continue, believing that there is a powerful source of Love who is constantly using us to bring good out of evil.  May all we do give praise to the Holy One.


I returned to my online retreat today (19) because I experienced such a wonderful closeness this afternoon as I gave blessings of the throat to people of my community. In praying with each of the people I felt like I was saying yes to following Jesus acknowledging that we rely on the intercession, love and call of God to do anything worthy in our lives and to have the continued health to do what he asks. I wanted each person to be strong and healthy to be a disciple of God, to do his work.  So when I returned to the retreat today and it spoke of the nourishment that we would receive in each opportunity to serve and choose service over self, I am moved to ask for the grace to hear the call to follow him and find the opportunity to choose to give as he has given to me, forgive as he has forgiven me. I ask for that grace to finally take me where I want and need to go. Bind my hands with the belt and take me where I do not seem to want to go alone. Blessed be God who loves me more than I ever imagined.

I think one of the most beautiful things about the Baptism of Jesus (19), and probably something of immense importance to him in facing his temptations, was the affirmation of him given by the Father ("This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.")  I believe it was the Father's affirmation of his belovedness which Jesus held onto during his temptations. That was the source of his strength to resist. I believe that it is when we truly believe in and accept our belovedness by the Father (and Jesus and Holy Spirit) that we can truly find the strength to better resist temptation to be unloving and also to give us strength, hope and desire to be more loving to others.


I'm living week 19 and identifying with the retreat section "In These or Similar Words."  I want so much to be close to Jesus and yet I find that I always stop short. I'm always creating a space so I can't get too close.  I usually just attribute it to the fact that I am so unworthy and yet now I realize that something else is holding me back.  I'm afraid of following.  I'm afraid of succeeding and afraid of failing. I'm too afraid of what it would mean for me to truly follow Jesus.  Once again I find that my focuse has changed to how I look, and what people would say about me. Why can't I keep the focuse on Jesus?  Why is it so hard to give Jesus my life? I offer my life quite often and then without notice I take it back. "Help me, Lord, to see what I need to do to truly follow you without getting sidetracked.  I love you so much and know that as long as my eyes and heart are set on you, I'm fine.  But the minute I begin to deviate from your path I get incredibly lost. When you look into my eyes and heart I feel overwhelmed, safe,free, and empowered by your love. I want to live in your gaze and learn to look only to you. When I turn to you I find the strength and courage to do your work, build your kingdom, and give you the glory. Help me to stay close. Please pray for me.  I will pray for you...

It is the 19th week of the retreat which has taken me more like 22-23 weeks. My less than perfect journey has nonetheless brought me more peace, excitement, nervous energy but in a more positive way. I feel the grace move in my life in the honesty and ability to reflect on the here and now. To be in the moment with more honesty and more focus on wanting to be more who I am and more deeply wanting to follow Christ, than focusing on issues that are surrounded with negativity and death of the spirit. In small ways I am feeling the light of the spirit in my life each day and am able to follow it. In the conversations, interactions, actions.  I am still afraid of being incapable of doing well what God may ask of me in following him but more open to the reality that he will not give me more than I can handle albeit with discomfort, pain, failure along with having the feeling that I am doing what he would have me do as he needs it to be done. He has worked that way before in my life and I am not sure I did what I was supposed to do but it seems that there is a pattern in my life of being put into difficult situations to set them back on track, to stand by those who are maligned unfairly, to be maligned for standing up. And yet through it all I have not been harmed by my "enemies" or those who would harm me. Even though I am sinful and weak and take three steps back for every step forward. I long for a closeness that I fear and feel unworthy of. I believe I will receive the grace I need to find my way in the darkness as I am called to leave the familiar and undertake the anointing I received in baptism once again or more deeply. I am ready to go but not sure if I will hear or recognize the call. I pray for that grace this week. To know where the work is in the vineyard and what labors are mine. My skills are so scattered and unfocused, in this world of specialization.  Where does a woman for all seasons serve? Lord show me the way.  
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