Sharing the Retreat
Weeks 24-25

 

Week 24


I have completed week 24. What I feel  how this retreat has helped me is that I can look at the world around me differently. Many things that once bothered me, no longer does. For many years I have been living my life growing in a relationship with the Lord. The retreat confirms that He wants to be involved in every facet of my life and I find great comfort in that. By the same token, I want to know everything that I can about Him. I want my eyes to see as He sees, my ears to be in tuned to what He wants me to listen to, my mouth to speak the Words He wants me to say. My arms to hold another as He does me. For my feet to walk in His ways. The serenity and peace I have found by walking with Jesus on this retreat makes me love Him at a depth I did not think was possible. I find I want to be with Him more and more, like a young person who experiences love for the first time. His loyalty has taught me to trust once again knowing as I go to Him for guidance He will show me the path to follow and to be my walking Companion. I very passionately say, I am hopelessly in love with Him! - Diana Marie - Week 24


Lord I have been a Pharisee. I have used Your Law to judge others, while I have deservedly received Your rebuke. But You have turned to me with eyes of mercy saying that I will not forget you. Though you are lost and in the desert, I will not forget you. I will weigh your chances so that you may overcome. - Week 24


Week 24 is disturbing and difficult. When I looked at Fr. Pedro Arrupe's words, I knew I was in trouble.  I am guilty as one "drugged by the comforts of privilege; a silent beneficiary of the fruits of injustice".  If we live in North America and live comfortably in our warm, furnished, technology- filled homes, we are privileged. Much of what we own is manufactured in settings that we would call unjust. Even the food we eat reaches our tables through the exploitation of those poorer than ourselves. The corporations that make our clothing, goods and processed foods are guilty of unfair and dubious business practices.The little guy plods onward and a few CEO's amass huge salaries. Injustice is there. We are drugged by our comforts and easily can fall into the category of those who see that injustice exists, but rationalize that it's too rampant to do anything about it.
    It is paralyzing.  The hope that shines in my face, though,  is captured in the image of Christ as the one who knows why he's here and passionately engages in confronting injustice. I am inspired by the image of Christ as the one who " sees through hypocrisy and names it". I wish I could do that. I do shy away from conflict.  Maybe I'm so drugged by the comforts of privilege that I can hardly recognize injustice anymore.  I will start by recognizing my own complicity in injustice. I need to scrutinize my lifestyle and make some changes.

    This week I pray for more clarity. I pray for more courage. I pray for the freedom to become more Christ-like. I pray with everyone on this journey. May our prayers unite us in this journey. -Week 24


I picture Jesus all week with determination on His face. Yes He is loving and forgiving. But He is also clear.

But I also reflect on whose side of the crowd am I on? I can quite easily see myself caught up on the side of power and privilege.
I think about my current Lenten pledges this week. I see how I can so easily forget them or water them down.
I resolve to see the world with Jesus' clarity. Can I walk closer with Him? I need God's grace to ame this happen. -Week 24

Week 24 appears to be giving me the reassurance I needed to speak more openly of my Jesus. I feel His love and closeness in my daily life as I talk w others. I thank God for this retreat and for all of you. Love and prayers, Gran


Week 24: I took a 2-month vacation from the retreat.  It was going well, and I felt good about it.  Then a sidetrack, other interests, loss of interest.  As I return to it, there's a sense of grounding, safety, rightness.


Week 24 - Jesus Confronts Religious Leaders/Tension and Hypocrisy

     The Prayer of Generosity by St. Ignatius sums up the tension/hypocrisy one experiences when we follow the ways of Jesus.

Generosity is sacrifice and nobody wants to sacrifice.  We all want the comforts in life.  We all want to secure ourselves against any and all onslaughts life will bring.  We all want to be The Number One with all the accolades and honors one is accorded to.

      "  Lord, teach me to be generous  - who wants to be generous out of one's own pocket, out of one's own time?  Who wants sacrifice?
                  teach me to serve you as you deserve  - YOU have the world, everything in your command,  what more can I give You?
                  to give and not to count the cost  -  this is tough!  I will count every cent that I give to the poor,  I have to keep an accounting of everything
                  to fight and not heed the wounds -   why should I stand up for the injustice of this world when it could cost me my life?
                  to toil and not to seek for rest  - working like a horse  for others and not getting any rest  is not the kind of work I like
                  to labor and not seek for reward  - when my service is not appreciated or honored,  I don't like it also  save that of knowing that I do your Holy Will. "

 Lord,  I have been so selfish.  I forget that You gave your only Son to save me.  What are the little discomforts, the little pinpricks that each day brings,  the little sacrifice that You ask of me compared to giving up your only Son?  It's nothing.  A speck in the universe.  I am sorry.

And so Lord,  when I pray the Prayer of Generosity each night,  help me to really imbibe its message and to truly live it.  The only thing I have to know is your will.  No ifs and buts.  Just your will.

Let me be free of the tensions that hearing your words and living them bring.  Let me unmask the hypocrisy of an all-knowing,  all righteous person so that I may have the freedom to follow You.

In Jesus' name,  Amen.


Week 24:  What struck me this week was how much compassion Jesus had for people.  He cured the blind, the lame, the sick, anyone who asked him for help.  Then I look at myself and see how woeful I am at compassion for others.  This week has opened my eyes to new places I need to fix in myself.

Marie


I shared the below with my personal email spiritual sharing list yesterday, then today I read the “In These and Similar Words” the prayer from week 24.  I found it ironic, or more likely a  “God-incidence”,  that the word “Courage” or “Courageous” appears in the on-line retreat prayer similar words at least four times.
(from an email to my friends on 12/7/11)
Are you Courageous?
I saw the movie “Courageous” a couple of weeks ago with two of my boys in the theater. I recommend it, and look forward to watching it again when it comes out on DVD.
The message is one that many of us need to hear and be reminded of. What a different world it would be if more men, especially fathers took this message to heart and worked with all their heart to live it out to be best of their ability. In the movie a group of men make the following Resolution:
THE RESOLUTION
I do solemnly resolve before God to take full responsibility for myself, my wife, and my children.
I WILL love them, protect them, serve them, and teach them the Word of God as the spiritual leader of my home.
I WILL be faithful to my wife, to love and honor her, and be willing to lay down my life for her as
Jesus Christ did for me.
I WILL bless my children and teach them to love God with all of their hearts, all of their minds, and all of their strength.
I WILL train them to honor authority and live responsibly.

I WILL confront evil, pursue justice, and love mercy.
I WILL pray for others and treat them with kindness, respect, and compassion.
I WILL work diligently to provide for the needs of my family.
I WILL forgive those who have wronged me and reconcile with those I have wronged.
I WILL learn from my mistakes, repent of my sins, and walk with integrity as a man answerable to God.
I WILL seek to honor God, be faithful to His church, obey His Word, and do His will.
I WILL courageously work with the strength God provides to fulfill this resolution for the rest of my life and for His glory.
As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. – Joshua 24:15

God, Larry here – I WILL , but I’ll need your help and also that of at least a few strong friends from time to time.
Please grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the COURAGE to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.

The end of week 24 and its Good Friday. Blessed Easter to all. Even when I'm not particularly in tune, or spiritually grounded and/or connected, I innately KNOW that 5-10 minutes spent here is as well as I can spend 5-10 minutes. When the juice is flowing....WELL--Happy Easter,all  Peace


My Reflections on Week 24
15.02.2010

Jesus Confronts Religious Leaders

Matthew 21:12-17

Jesus wasn’t afraid of rejection or opposition of people. He had the courage to tell them straight what they did wrong. The money sellers must have been surprised or even angry when he suddenly overturned their tables. I’d be afraid that these sellers would turn against me, but Jesus wasn’t. God’s honor was more important to him.

How did the children know that Jesus was “The Son of David”? They must have heard adults using this term.

Many sick people came to Jesus and he healed them. The chief priests probably felt threatened by the miracles Jesus did and the way the crowd admired and followed him. Jesus sometimes responded to questions using Scripture. In this situation he just left the religious leaders to themselves and walked away.

Matthew 21:33-45

I’m wondering why that landowner sent more servants after the first group of servants had been tortured and killed. Why did he not punish the tenants immediately? He gave them several chances and even risked the life of his son. He obviously hoped that the tenants would respect his son and didn’t anticipate that they would kill him. He seemed to be too well-thinking of them and too gracious towards them. I don’t think I’d have sent more people after a few had been tortured and killed already, but would have punished the tenants and maybe sent them to prison. God gives people not only one, but several chances to change for the better. If they choose not to change they’ll be punished in the end. God has much patience, he rather accepts loss than gives up hope on people.

Jesus was clever that he taught people lessons through parables and didn’t tell them off directly. The Pharisees understood that he was talking about them, but were not willing to change. Contrary to Jesus the Pharisees were afraid of people. They didn’t consider Jesus as a prophet. So from where, according to them, would he have taken the power to perform miracles and heal the sick? They were the ones who were spiritually blind!

Matthew 23:1-39                Be authentic and real!

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!” Jesus talked here to the crowd and to his disciples about the Pharisees. Were some Pharisees among the crowd? Did he also address these woes to them directly? If yes, I could imagine that it made them furious.

Interesting that Jesus told the people they should follow what the Pharisees told them as they had a position given by God. As they didn’t practice what they preached, there was no need for the people to follow their example and lifestyle. They made laws for others, but didn’t follow them themselves. This reminds me that some non-Christians get put off by the lives of some Christians, even some church leaders in high positions, which is really sad. “If Christians are like that, then I’m not interested in the church. They’re not better than other people.” Sadly some Christians don’t really live out what they preach to others. It’s a big responsibility: we shouldn’t become stumbling blocks for others, but live out God’s message as Jesus did.

It’s sad how the Pharisees were full of hypocrisy and performed in front of people just to be seen. They deliberately sat and stood at honorable places. Did their self-esteem come from being respected by people? How different they were from Jesus who was secure in who he was – God’s beloved Son. In a way I can understand the Pharisees as I also tend to please people and want to be accepted by others. Yet God taught me that it’s important to be secure in who I am, unconditionally loved by God, and to be aware of what God thinks of me rather than what other people think of me.

V. 8-10 reminds me that in some Asian countries teachers are still called by their title rather than by their name. Titles give honor and status. Jesus turned the “laws of honor” upside down. The greatest should be a servant – as he was. Servant leadership – a godly leadership style! The person who humbles himself will be exalted by God.

Jesus spoke harsh words about the Pharisees; he really told them off, saying that they won’t be able to enter heaven and even hinder others to do so. What a great responsibility! Jesus pointed out how ridiculous their tedious man-made laws were. The Pharisees kept the letter of the law and donated a tenth of what they had, but their heart was not in it. Jesus told them that justice, mercy and faithfulness are more important than alms-giving. It’s about moral integrity! Beware of people who are too legalistic, but lack justice, mercy and faithfulness! There’s no point in cleaning the outside when the inside, the heart, is polluted. Jesus mentioned here greed and self-indulgence. Good actions come automatically from a clean heart, so focus on the inside first!

“Like white-washed tombs” – what a comparison and warning! Seemingly clean outside, but dead inside! Jesus wants us to be alive inside! Jesus told them that they were not any better than their ancestors who had murdered the prophets. They were also guilty of murder. Jesus longed to share God’s love with the people in Jerusalem and protect them like a hen protects her chicks, but they were not willing.

John 11:45-57

The Pharisees were afraid they would lose their positions as religious leaders. God used the evil plans they had to fulfill his promise that Jesus would die for the sins of the world. God is sovereign. He doesn’t only use good people, but can also use bad people for his intentions.

Jesus was cautious after he heard about this death threat. He withdrew then from the public and went with his disciples to a private place. He knew that it wasn’t God’s time yet for him to die. People expected Jesus to go on the Passover Feast to the temple in Jerusalem. Jesus knew when it was time for him to hide in a private place and when it was time to step out into the public.


Week 24: Most of my daily background thoughts revolved around Father Pedro Arrupe’s challenge that is with the picture. Becoming aware on some days of my privilege and how that drug allows me to continue injustice. Barely, I entered the scene of Father Pedro’s courage to lead the Jesuits and confront the Church along the way. I could sense the cost to him. I could admit I don’t want that to happen to me. I remembered breakfasts many years ago with a priest that disobeyed his bishop when it came to our relationship with Nicaragua. He accepted the menial tasks - choosing to work with janitors for his sustenance rather than to conform to the injustice that he saw. I remembered visiting a nun in jail as she accepted the consequence of confronting authority in peaceful but disobedient ways. My response to these and others over the years has always been much the same as it is now. “I am happy that you have the courage to act on your beliefs that are probably right. I can’t get involved right now because ….”That is the grace that I accept and relish this week. The grace to recognize that I am so afraid I am frozen. To take another dose of the drug named privilege and accept my excuses. The grace is learning that I am addicted to privilege. I don’t want to even imagine withdrawal. Please pray that this intervention, this retreat, helps me withdraw from stupor caused by the drug named privilege.Joe
Week 24: I have been working on this retreat for something like a year and a half now, and making very slow but, God willing, real progress. I write as someone who has recently converted to Islam (because of marriage), and although I take my new religion seriously, I'm still of course heavily reliant on my original Christian traditions; I'm looking for elements that are complementary rather than exclusive. I began this week by thinking that I have been too cerebral and that the insights I want to have ought to be more emotional – the prophetic stance is not one that sits back and has insights, but one that goes out and moves in the world, and shakes it up. I confess I have not done much of that this week. The essence of religion, as we see in both the Prophet Muhammad and in Jesus, was not institutional. This can't be emphasized enough in my mind; writing from Cairo, where the religious institutions are thoroughly controlled by a corrupt police state, it's important to remember just how anti-institutional the Prophet was, following in the tradition of Christ. Someone made the excellent point that social justice can be like pointing out the speck in another person's eye while you have a board in yours. Coming from a liberal arts education in America, where protests against globalization, the IMF, etc, were a kind of youth culture chic, I've since keenly begun to feel that the emphasis on social justice these days neglects, to a certain extent, internal development. Hypocrisy is not hard to find. What is more vomit inducingly self-serving than Amr Moussa, representative of Egypt's dictatorship, telling an American diplomat a year back that there would be no democracy in the Middle East until Palestine was free? Or Bashar Assad defending the genocide in Darfur, afraid of the UN pursuing what was probably a Syrian backed assassination of a democratic Lebanese leader? One can become very judgmental, it's so easy. So my question for the week is: how to feel the prophetic without being judgmental?
At first blush it seems it should involves internally freeing yourself from what you yourself are enslaved to in order to see clearly what is going on around. But what does that mean? With the first point in mind, we have to ask ourselves how we go about criticizing our society. One thing to bear in mind is the relationship between self-interest and justice. When justice and your own self interest seem to always harmoniously blend, then something is probably very wrong. Justice is somehow independent of all of us. In Paradise Lost, Milton's God sees the sacrifice of Christ as a service to justice, as if universal justice were a law not even God can transgress. To take a mundane but still painful example, again one from Cairo, if a man gropes a girl in the street (which is sadly common), her anger is not independent of the personal insult – but for anyone else present in the street, it should be, and they should do something about it. This sort of thing, we think, simply should not happen generally. It's a degradation of the law itself, aside from the degradation of that individual person. Thus one sure way to avoid hypocrisy is to stand up for someone else's right rather than our own.As for the internal correlative of the prophetic stance, for now the best thing, I think, is to relate this to what Christ says of the publican praying: he simply repents, while the pharisee praises god that he is not like that man. What we praise god for, in the surat al-fatiha, is his mercy in forgiving us our sins. Praise be to God, the Lord of all worlds, the Merciful and the Compassionate --- I had a day of useless, sterile, arid prayer today, because I was asking things for myself. Under the influence of St. Teresa, whom I've been reading, it struck me that I ought to feel more sad for my sins – she would cry every day, it seems like.
God has helped me make use of my mismanaged day, simply by helping me read the news before bed; I felt frustrated with my reading the the Quran, my attempts at prayer, when suddenly I felt tears in my eyes for those whom I'm reading about: for Alia Nusaif, an Iraqi MP risking her life to investigate corruption in a country where the rich are getting richer by selling food rations (that are meant to be given away) to the poor. For Lubna Hussein, who is quitting her UN job and giving up that job's immunity to suffer from a law she sees as unfair, to be whipped for wearing pants. For Aung San Suu Kyi, whom Desmond Tuto wrote so movingly about, who was unable to visit her husband as he died of cancer, who rots in house arrest while at least 2,100 political prisoners are imprisoned in Burma, a country whose leaders order the rape, torture, mutilation and killing of civilians, in a country where over 3,300 ethnic villages have been destroyed – For the 21 Yazidis killed in north Iraq today by fundamentalist Muslims. Praise God, what made me cry was not anger at the oppressors; this is natural even if intellectually we want to quote, “love the sinner, hate the sin.” We feel compassion for those sinned against. This is to feel God's love for the world, to be caught up in His essence – and it is painful – to know him by imitation of his Names, to allow his being to flow through us, that he is ar-rahman ar-rahim, the Merciful and the Compassionate, a formulation that is bound up in his status as Creator in Islam; to allow ourselves to be created, to strive to see ourselves acted upon by compassion within the human action itself. I asked God to make me cry for my personal sins – I felt nothing, but when I think about the world today, I feel tears in my eyes, not for the first or last time, but I know that he has answered by prayers, and humbled me. Little by little, if God wants to, he can show my how to pray properly.

Week 24: Most of my daily background thoughts revolved around Father Pedro Arrupe’s challenge that is with the picture. Becoming aware on some days of my privilege and how that drug allows me to continue injustice. Barely, I entered the scene of Father Pedro’s courage to lead the Jesuits and confront the Church along the way. I could sense the cost to him. I could admit I don’t want that to happen to me. I remembered breakfasts many years ago with a priest that disobeyed his bishop when it came to our relationship with Nicaragua. He accepted the menial tasks - choosing to work with janitors for his sustenance rather than to conform to the injustice that he saw. I remembered visiting a nun in jail as she accepted the consequence of confronting authority in peaceful but disobedient ways. My response to these and others over the years has always been much the same as it is now. “I am happy that you have the courage to act on your beliefs that are probably right. I can’t get involved right now because ….”That is the grace that I accept and relish this week. The grace to recognize that I am so afraid I am frozen. To take another dose of the drug named privilege and accept my excuses. The grace is learning that I am addicted to privilege. I don’t want to even imagine withdrawal. Please pray that this intervention, this retreat, helps me withdraw from stupor caused by the drug named privilege.Joe
Week 24: Lord, I have two different questions as I reflect on your struggle with the religious authorities this week.
How do you maintain your patience? You heal a man with a withered hand ... You make him whole. And what kind of reaction do you get from the "religious leaders"? They object to you healing on the Sabbath? If it were me then I would be tempted to become quite irritated. But I see you maintain a steely reserve ... You understand the reason you are here. Your focus is not to "win points" but to show God's love. We need to reach beyond our self interest to understand that. Then, Lord, I wonder why do you single out the religious people of your day? You can be quite sharp with them. Why not the super rich investment banking types? Oh you do not condone wealth gathering for its own sake ... You address them gently but in parables ... About the man who stored up riches then suddenly died ... The man who ignored poor Lazarus ... About all of our tendencies to be choked by the weeds of everyday life excesses. Why not the Roman army who were stomping all over your people? But there you even heal a centurion's son seeing his faith. Why not the tax collectors who are cheating and exploiting your people? But with Levi you gently call them home and turn him and his friends.So what is it about the religious authorities? Yes they refuse to acknowledge who you are and you realise that your real identity as God's Son is a challenge to them and brings you real responsibility not to collude with their power games. But I wonder if the real challenge is because of their complacency. Their faith brings them comfort ... It then becomes comfortable ... A social vehicle ... A vehicle that brings power and privilege. This is not to doubt the sincerity of their belief. It's what they are missing in that belief and what hey have found there in the comfort that you challenge and they find that uncomfortable.Lord, please turn me from my complacency that stays silent when there is clear suffering. I think of today's suffering families in Sudan. Turn me from colluding with power when I should be speaking out. Most of all, Lord, keep me close to you and your resolve. Let that image guide me as I put my life in your hands. Amen
Week 24 - This entire retreat experience including the daily reflections from Creighton staff and students continues to be such a blessing. Jesus is free to express the truth and carry out his mission and encourages us to do the same by focusing on his example and his will. I'm sixty years old and I'm realizing the necessity to free myself from the adolescent desire to be accepted and admired by others and after thirty years of marriage I'm brought to the fact that in dying to self by giving self-sacrificing love to my wife, I will learn how to love God. Thanks for bringing me along.
--Roger


Week 24 From the recommended readings two phrases in two different readings jumped from the page:
#1 “…the kingdom of heaven will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom…” (Matt.21:43) This passage brought to mind another I have always loved: “ the fruits of the kingdom are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, fruitfulness, and self-control…” (Gal.5:22).
…somehow in my mind when I both live and encounter these, I am IN the kingdom of heaven…The other passage: “woe to you scribes and Pharisees…you lock people out of the kingdom of heaven. For you do not go in yourselves, and when others are going in you stop them.” (Matt.23:13)…somehow in my mind one needs to withdraw within to encounter the indwelling Spirit that cleanses, prunes, and rejoices – before one can proclaim spiritual truths…which require transparency – the complete opposite of hypocrisy. Even if religious leaders fail, the Spirit lives. Thanks be to God!
-- Anita


Week 24: Matthew 21. "Blind and lame people came to Jesus in the temple and he healed them." We come to be healed and we find the truth of Christ, the truth that is Christ; we come and we encounter the only true reality and then we are healed from what has kept us blind or lame; we are healed in body, mind, and spirit. In Jesus, the Word of God, we are touched and healed by that truth. We are healed and then we are sent out to touch and heal through Christ's truth. Ignatius prayed for courage and yes, we need courage; but first faith and trust in God's truth.


Week 24 Does Jesus use the same expression with those he heals and brings back to himself as he does with the religious authorities? That's one of the questions I contemplate this week. I put myself into the place of one of the religious authorities. I'm attracted by Jesus. I'm not that happy about collusion with the Roman authorities. We need another approach. The Maccabeans might have been partially successful but the price was terrible. Maybe, Jesus has that way. He seems very prophetic. But he's much more challenging to us. I see how he gently brings back those who are furthest away from our group … lepers, blind, mentally ill, prostitutes, tax collectors and other sinful collaborators. His closest disciples are largely unschooled. His challenges to us (the people who are trying to follow our God in the way our ancestors taught us) are direct … urgent but not irate, penetrating but not enraged, demanding but not seething.
The challenge is directly on my behavior … my contribution. I have been meditating during Lent on violence or maybe more appropriately how to give up violence. This starts with me … how I approach situations … what I condone. I find it much easier to discuss the systemic issues or pragmatic approaches … the "real politic" of a situation. It's a lot more difficult to confront my own attitudes … where I get angry or where I cause cultural separation. Today's gospel reading about the fig tree is very important. I definitely need Jesus' husbandry to fertilize my soul … to enable me to grow … to walk and confront where I need to and model Jesus' urgent, penetrating and demanding expression look.


Part way through week 24 again. At the beginning It was easy for me to find rants about injustice, especially since we have so much and there are those who have so little. Then I was put into week 23 again. Healing. I recieved the sacrament of the sick. Healing was made concrete by the joy that is remaining. I also was presented with a concept of offering one's life. It is nothing new, but a communion of the saints, offering all one's life and sufferings, for the eternal benefit of others, to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary. It contains the sentiments of many years - especially, how can I help those who are suffering, family and the world in general. It gives meaning to many past experiences e.g. why were some times so difficult. This I can offer, like a coupon, to God, and He has the choice as to when and how to cash it in. I am sure He will teach me along the way how to purify that offering.


good morning to you all. from nell on the tweed. what a week ! never a dull moment following this retreat through is there ? i was anxious when i saw the theme. i have spent the last few years stepping back from controversy and conflict and developing a more peaceful relationship with the world. so i found it unnerving to think again of what might be asked of me.
for the moment i think i still need to remain quiet and allow the master to do the confronting because i seem to become either self righteous or too aggressive. i am begining to understand a gentle path with strength but i am in kindergarten in these matters.
my love to you all.
-- Nell,
This retreat continues to be a blessing in my life – I can feel that God is calling me to surrender, steadfastness, passion and boldness. The thought of those four together is a scary thing for me, but He has shown me His faithfulness and love. He calls me to intimacy. Week 24
With these thoughts in the back of my mind, I struggled as I listened to a friend preemptively assume that I would not be accepting or her decision to consider becoming a minister with a Protestant denomination. As she patiently explained to me, she’s a liberal Catholic and women aren’t treated well by the Church. She is highly educated and well-learned in the liturgy. I have felt similar feelings about the Church, but I do not consider myself a “conservative Catholic.” Nor was I a “liberal” Catholic. My metanoia experience a few years ago ensured that I was no longer a member of a faction in the Church. I had a great deal of sympathy that the Church’s explanation of what a woman should be seems to be far apart from who they really are – God’s beloved. Having a friend tell me that she couldn’t share her feelings or her decision with me on this choice told me a lot more about her wavering feelings than my own, but I was truly wounded in my heart that she should judge me that way. I remember offering her explanations of how “open” I was and how “understanding” I would strive to be.Later that week, I went out to a happy hour with a few colleagues who were concerned that I didn’t have, as they termed it, “a bunk-buddy.” Their concern, they said, was that I didn’t have a life outside of my job. They saw that I didn’t hang out at bars to pick up men and that I was single with no kids. I defended myself by saying I had filled my life up with courses and activities and the Church. I was so embarrassed! I heard myself complaining how I couldn’t meet anyone anyway, but all I could think about was that my will no longer matters! It’s up to God and I didn’t have the courage to admit it. Just a few weeks ago, I had a priest suggest to me that I should be a nun. I can honestly say that I have been open to the idea – but I have no calling or vocation to join a religious sisterhood. My will is that I want a husband, a family, and a fulfilling life, but I am waiting for God’s will to show me my path in life.I had jumped to self-blame and doubt in all of these areas – thinking that what they said was true: I am judgmental, alone, and without a life. Jesus is beside me in helping me to realize that I am a single, chaste (heck, celibate) woman in her early thirties, who would love a husband and a child, but was not willing to sacrifice who I was, beloved by God, to obtain them. I am a person filled with joy in the knowledge that I am trying to follow God’s will rather than my own. I am free as a child of God. I am not a loser for not having someone to sleep with, nor will I be one if it turns out that I am still unmarried, not a nun, and celibate at the age of 50. That is today’s society’s dictate – not God’s will – of what kind of life I am to lead.How are single women to be in the church? How am I to be myself? I realized that I could let others define me or that I could just simply be myself. Then, it hit me: This past week’s guide for the Ignatian retreat showed Jesus as one who stood up for what he believed and, most importantly, for whom he was in Truth. I hadn’t understood what those reading meant until now. I, too, am a disturber of the people. I am undefined by society’s (including the practicing Church) dictates. And this is upsetting to most people. Apparently, I am supposed to be a nun or somebody’s date. I am supposed to be a conservative Catholic or a liberal Catholic. Pick a faction; pick an Order; pick a man. I am inspired by Christ’s outspokenness about who he truly was and what he truly believed. I pray for the strength to reply to those who question my lack of a label that I am myself, beloved by God. I am following God’s will rather than my own or society’s.
When Jesus rebukes the Scribes and Pharisees, I imagine him speaking these words to all of us today. Many of the “holiest” people I know LOVE to make known their holiness, love to be seen doing good, even to the point when they “sacrifice” the good of their families “for the good of the parish”, running every ministry they can, as if compiling a resume for sainthood. For a long time, I loved being seen, despite what I knew were great dangers spiritually: that feeling of importance, receiving praise and gratitude, knowing that my opinion mattered, coming to the conclusion that the parish couldn’t possibly survive a week without me. Thank God that someone else wanted these “honors” more than I did: when I refused pay and title, I was accused of all sorts of things, made unwelcome in my parish and thrown back into silence and solitude. Maybe it’s just sour grapes, but I look at a lot of these “holy” people and it seems to me that they’re just climbing up the back of the next guy to get themselves closer to heaven. The people whom God has chosen to toil for him in the public eye need all our prayers. We need leaders, but oh how tempting it is to be a leader, even if you are clever enough to call yourself a servant.Tom, Pennsylvania
My relflections this week seemed to swing wildly. I started the week reflecting on Jesus's love for the children and how they flocked to him and felt unencumbered to sing praises to Him. The religious authorities were offended by the noise. On one level I see myself wanting comfortable worship, rules, the way we have always done things and not seeing out there that Jesus is really in our midst and that changes the rules. But on another level I think of the abuse that has been committed to children. I think from personal experience of counselling a young man badly abused as a child and how at very fundemental levels this disabled him. I prayed again for him. But I also thought through how Jesus would have dealt with this. His disapproval would have been clear. But I also felt a deeper need to pray for the abuser and the abused.

Then later in the week I focused on Caiaphas. I can easily relate to his pragmatism. I see myself as one of the clearest pragmatists. Often I enjoy the intellectual challenge to being a pragmatist. Pragmatism is perhaps a more insidious evil than some more common sins. I think of the Salvadorean martyrs. We have no trouble condemning killing. But many of us did not take the trouble to take a stand against the conditions that underlie the killing. The Salvadorean martyrs and Archbishop Romero before them demonstrated patient challenge to these evils, while we (myself particularly) debated the merits of security considerations, aid, capital markets and pragmatic distribution of wealth.

Yesterday I visited with a retired Vincentian priest in his 90's ... very lively ... full of great stories ... had been thrown out of China in early 50's. His whole life has been devoted to a simple premise that "God loves us but particularly God loves the poor ... we return that love by being there with Him with the poor". Jesus's condemnation of the Pharisees is as much about their unwillingness to return to God what He is due. Tieing that visit with this week's relflection, I see more clearly that my mission must be to give or return to God what he demands and this means a more intense focus on preference for the poor.
I am in week 24, still reading and letting the thought that Jesus stood up to oppressors, hypocrites, and people who used power for selfish motives to be in the background of my days. Jesus was heroic in his actions, yet some thought him crazy, or misguided.  He challenged motives and tested those who used power to oppress.  He challenged complacency.

How does this effect me in my life?  I am awestruck at his strength  and determination to speak the truth, and live the truth.  I also am shaken a bit by his words ; Jesus means business when he reprimands .  Am I living a life that could be held up to the name Christian in every sense of the word? I pray for the grace to recognize when to speak up for the truth for myself, and for others who need help.  Am I really doing my best to serve the poor, the imprisoned, the weak?  Am I too complacent ? I hope to rent the movie Romero and the other suggested movies.  I did read about Archbishop Romero and did pray  the Romero prayer last night, part of the prayer is to be light in the darkness, and to be the hands, and feet of Jesus in the world.

I pray for the grace to be courageous  in seeking  truth and justice in the events that happen in my daily life and to support justice in the world . At times I feel weak and afraid to confront, but I will continue to ask for the grace to be true to the name Christian.
One of the recurring themes that really touched me in Week Twenty-four of this Retreat was the confidence and determination with which the message should be lived out.  Jesus did not back down even when he was criticized and questioned.  He knew His mission and he followed through with it.  In much the same way, Archbishop Romero knew what was right and sought to follow through with action even when he was threatened and questioned.  I know that at times it is hard to speak out and act for what is right.  To act with such courage and conviction is truly admirable but it is also nothing less than what we are all called to do.  This does not mean that it is easy but it is something that must not be taken lightly.
In Week 24, I feel drawn -- like a magnet -- to wherever God is leading me, and yet, still afraid of what he is asking of me: am I strong enough?  Will I be able to stay faithful to his call to me?  This fear has been overwhelming enough that I have taken a few weeks off from this retreat.  Now, as Lent is about to begin, I can no longer put off listening and responding to his call to me.  What he asks is so deep; and yet I trust him when he promises that he will never leave me. "I can do all things in him who strengthens me."
Week 24. This week I was somewhat uninspired by the topic. It may be that the topic is so uncomfortable. Herein, Jesus is being disagreeable and it results in him being hated. In polite society, one learns that being disagreeable usually results in someone hating you. Having been a disagreeable person most of my life, I have worked extremely hard at being less confrontational. Yet, I know that at some point one must draw a line in the sand. We do have a prophetic role like the one seen in Jesus when he confronts the religious hypocrites. In the modern church, this role includes challenging social injustice. This makes sense to me because social injustice is wrong, but it did not seem as important to Jesus as religious hypocrisy. I do not see the Church spending near as much efforts on blatantly challenging internal religious hypocrisy among the clergy as it does challenging external social justice. This seem like the “speck in ones own eye” issue. For this week, I guess here my reflection is my own small, cleaning of the temple.
Hard to believe I am already in week 24. Many times I have said to others “Time flies whether you have fun or not, so you might as well enjoy it!,” yet I continue often to walk in darkness myself. This morning as I prayed the Rosary on my way to work, I was completing the “Magnificat” and got stuck on the words “…The Lord has done great things for me….” Tears came to my eyes as I realized that the Lord has indeed done great things for me, and still, so often I find myself doubting, walking in darkness. Where is my faith? This week we reflect on Jesus’s courage in confronting the Pharisees and Sadduces in their hypocrisy and pride. I pray for the wisdom to recognize my own hypocrisy, my own pride, and for the courage to be bold in my faith, as Christ was. I have a LONNNNG way to go! Lord, help me.

I am in the 24th week.  I have been struggling with despair and God has been speaking to help me.  Before the retreat I was very active with prayer, good works, and  sacraments and yet it was a dark time for me.  I am asking God why the format of this retreat triggered his resonse to me.  I still feel bitter about the darkness and it is hard to trust. 

This is week 24 for me.  I have learned so much through this online retreat, particularly about the ways that God and Jesus bless and teach me.  It is the first week of Lent right now for me, and I decided to use my time during Lent to study and read all the links about justice that the Online Ministries provide.  What a blessing to find that week 24 is all about justice.  I am blessed and strengthened in my learning by Christ's example. Please pray for me that I will find constructive ways to take action and put my learning about justice into practice.

 I discovered the Online Retreat through an article about St. Ignatius in the Los Angeles Times last year.  At a lecture I had attended last March at Loyola-Marymount University on St. Ignatius I found seeds planted beyond experiences I had had through retreats and reading on the Spiritual Exercises, seeds that caused me to desire to make the Spiritual Exercises;  the Online Retreat provided that opportunity for me.   I have come to Week 24 with knowledge that physical healing has come for me through the Online Retreat, although I did not pray for that. My prayer throughout the Online Retreat has been and continues to be for growth in love.  During this special time the Spirit has led me through sacred artwork and various books:  Mary by Sholem Asch; Centering Prayer by Basil Pennington; Laugh Again by Charles Swindoll.  My Lenten retreat will consist of a journalling journey on the Swindoll book.  I treasure many things in my heart because of this retreat and pray for those who read this.

I am currently finishing up week #24.  I have an overall feeling of being closer to God and Lord Jesus.  I know his spirit is in me.  I have found the reading and the daily reflections so strengthening in my life.  It has helped me to gain a better sense of myself and an acceptance of my life.  My life is not perfect and I am glad that it isn't as there would be no reason to get up in the morning.  Today my prayer is different.  There seems to be more thank you Lord and less crying.  When I ask for something it always includes If it is your will.  I belong to a really great group of women who live in several different area of the world.  We are different ages, but we come together to share our love for the Lord.  We can share our difficulties and get feedback, love and encouragement from each other.  It is a wonderful feeling of belonging that I feel.  I look forward to turning on my computer each day to get the email from them and to do the readings.  I am a recovering alcoholic and I also battle with bouts of depression.  There have been some weeks where I have sought guidance from my Priest or therapist.  So if you are in the early weeks of this retreat take heart and keep going, get help when you feel it is overwhelming it has been so worthwhile for me. God Bless you and thank you for allowing me this time and space to share how I feel today.

Week 25


Jesus, I read your stories everyday and somehow forget their wonder. I get the personal messages of my life, but I forget the pure wonder of God Among Us. There is no story like it. A God who comes to heal and suffer. It has to be true. No one could have made this up. You healed the blind man as a sign for the blind, but they refused to see. But he knew that something amazing had happened to him. Those who claimed righteousness could not heal him. But You did. -Week 25


I felt distracted and restless for quite a bit of this week. I could have easily blamed this feeling on pressure at work and stress from moving my house. But I kept coming back to where these feelings rested with the readings. I was attracted to come back a few times to the encounter of Jesus with the Samaritan woman at the well. I ask, "What am I really thirsting for?" I also feel drawn to the part of the passage where Jesus discusses the opportunities for the disciplines in going out to the harvest. I also hear him telling them that they did not nor need they start this harvest from scratch they just have to be present (in the same way that Jesus was present to the Samaritan woman and eventually to the rest of the town?).

I feel that I am thirsty for so many things. Many of these just do not last but they seem compelling at the time. I strive for these. I strive for a kind of perfection at work and home and yes in my spiritual life. But I feel Jesus telling me that approaching things like this can never be satisfying. I was always be edgy and that edginess is not necessarily in the best interests of bringing in the harvest. I feel Jesus asking me to rest with Him. To take a focused but measured approach as I go through my day. I need to accept that my striving will not go away or be chaged dramatically on my own efforts. I need to rest in Jesus and accept Him and ask for the grace to not seek it all but accept what He is offering to assuage my thirst. -Week 25

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


Week 25- Guide: Who Jesus Is for Us

Jesus as Water, Light, and Life Itself

Tomorrow is Pentecost Sunday.  Jesus reminds us of peace and forgiveness and how we are to be a witness to His message,

I thought the wounds have healed but when the conversations veer towards that very sensitive topic,  everything gets topsy-turvy.  So I told my husband:  " Enough.  Let's not talk about this.  It makes your blood boil."

Lord,  give him real peace.  The peace that comes from forgiveness.  He may have forgiven his Dad but he really needs your grace to really,  really forgive and  be at peace with himself,  and to say before you Lord,  that he has really forgiven as often as You have forgiven him also.  Be his Water so that his thirst for you will increase day after day in his continuing relationship with you.  Be his Light so that he will see You clearly so that he would know what You are really asking of him,  where it is You are leading him to.    Be his Life because there is no one else but You Lord to hold on to.  
This I ask in Jesus' name.  Amen.  


Week 25:  I have been working on Week 25 for a couple of weeks.  What I was graced to see was the humanness of Jesus.  He cried at the burial site of Lazarus; He talked about  drinking water at noon with the woman at the well.  He was concerned for our well-being.  He was also amazed, it seems to me, at how little we understood of the heavenly Father and what was needed to be accomplished.  After reflection I am amazed at what 12 men were able to accomplish in spreading the Gospel everywhere, and without cars, computers, I-PODS, tablets,etc.  Just the feet and the mouths of "uneducated' men.  WOW!  And we are called to do the same.  May Divine assistance remain with us always.  Please pray for me as I pray for all of you on the retreat.

-Marie


Week 25:  This picture of the man and the little boy pulls at my heartstrings like no other has thus far.  There is so much pain in the face of that man and so much love in the way his hands enfold the little boy.  There is sadness in the face of the little boy, too, but he trusts in his father to take care of him.  This is exactly like life - so much pain, so much sorrow, so much love and the need to trust in our Father to take care of us.  That picture says it all.

-Rose

Week 25
I have been struggling with imagining myself as a participant in the stories about Jesus. I'm not very creative so it doesn't come easily. I have been reading three books about the life of Christ and another on the Jesuits to try to encourage my understanding of Jesus. I want to approach this week with the prayer, "Lord surprise me with how this week's lesson can speak into my life."


Week 25

from fear to Joy,
from contempt to appreciation,
from sloth to Love.

Ellen E. H.


Week 25: This week caused me to be more willing to give me to those that needed me while thinking, ”I am doing this for Jesus.” I suspect that I was more tender, open, and understanding. I was less concerned about the outcome for my sake. Just picturing, at times, giving peace to those with a simple need that I could help.The graces of this week have included awareness that my food could be doing God’s will as Jesus did. He hopes I will tell others so that they can see, hear and believe. That he does want to bring me into the light and wants me to tell others so that they might see, hear and believe. To raise me from the death caused by my self-centeredness so that others can see, hear and believe. I am afraid. I don’t know that I can accept Thomas’ exhortation to “Come on. Let’s go, so we can die with him.” Please pray for me so that I can do as Thomas said.-Joe
Week 25: This has been the most emotional week I've experienced in a long time, well here goes, I hope the graces I'm about to share helps someone. My older brother passed away suddenly on Monday of a heart attack, he was 61, he had 2 children ages 32 and 28. He was pretty depressed these past couple of months because, he was recently divorced, lived alone and according to him he didn't think he had any friends, he felt alone because he lived away from his family, little did he know how many people loved him! I had a dream the other night of a rather large angel trying to get up off his knees, I truly believe that was him, and I told him to get up to stand and know how much he was loved, by God, his family, friends. Don was a big guy with a big heart, so I think he does know, there were so many people celebrating his death with us, family, friends, colleagues..the funeral was beautiful. Don's life was all about getting ahead, succeeding, making as much money as he possibly could, which he did. A couple of years ago he became very ill with congestive heart failure and all that changed...he realized how important his God was, his family..he went to a healing service, and from there became friends with an adorable, elderly priest that was his spiritual director. Don truly beleived he was healed spiritually, and he was! He was a changed man..generous, loving and just wanted to recoup what he thought he lost all those years of trying to achieve..his daughter was trying to get the arrangements together, my brother and I were with her the entire time. I feel so blessed that I was able to be part of his life as well as his death. His priest friend said the mass, and had wonderful things to say about him. I still can't believe what happened to me, my brother was taking care of the visitation and cemetery, and I got this overwhelming feeling to help with the mass, I didn't know what exactly at the time, but with the Holy Spirit, I was able to pick the readings, the songs, the psalm, all depicting the man he became....my brother said, my god, you've have a spiritual conversion, where is my bratty sister : ) Was he ever right...I understand the graces this week, and now I know people can see the change in me, and I hope and pray I can help someone else find their God also. I understand that in suffering we die to our old selves and if we're open to Gods love and healing are sent out into the world to not only live the life we were created for, but to give glory to God in life and death. I love you all, and am praying for you!
Week 25: I found this a powerful week and I particularly focused on Lazarus. I have always worried about what happened to Lazarus. Why does he just disappear after his rising? Why don't we hear more about him? There is only one reference to him (I think) when Mary breaks open the oils and puts on Jesus' feet. As I look deeper into the descriptions I wonder what is it about God that will be glorified here? What should I be seeing? Particularly, thinking about the healing of the blind man in the other Gospel reading ... What should I be seeing now that I have received my sight and see Jesus? I was helped by a reflection I read by Father Foley (of St Louis Jesuits) ... He asks us to pause and reflect on the question that Martha and Mary and also the crowd ask, "Lord, if only you had been here ... Would he have had to die?" I see myself asking that question all the time in the face of suffering ... Lord, why were you not there? But the answer to this must be in the answer to "What is it about God that will be glorified?" I appreciate that one aspect of God's glory that appears is God's reaching out to create life ... Even new life ... And to have whatever is binding us removed is very liberating. But I pause back on the theme of suffering and I tie together that the 3 sequences we read this week (the Samaritan woman at the well, the blind man healed and Lazarus) are demonstrations of different ways that God as Love appears in our lives. Lazarus is the gateway to understanding Good Friday. God's love is so great that He reaches out to us and is present even in the midst of suffering and death. He is not a magical miracle worker although miracles do happen through Him. He is with us weeping at the real and metaphoric tombs we build for ourselves.

I found this helpful in the uplifting and reflective moments this week ... But I also tried to rest with this image in the most frustrating and stressful parts ... And there was some as well. I know that Love is asking me to respond to Him. It may well be that like Lazarus I have this second chance and like Lazarus it may not matter whether that ever comes to prominence or is worth recording. But I promise that I will rest in that Love and like the blind man promise to follow Jesus.
Today the beginning of my 25th week and 4th week of Lent like the blind man I can finally SEE!! for the past 23 years I have been mad at my ex-wife for destroying my home and my 'perfect family' because I had offended the dark goddess (Jungian) within her today I can see the following-

I wrote you a letter in 1983 trying to apologize for the dissolving of our marriage, but never mailed it because of your injunction that I never again call you, write to you, or talk to you. But today I feel compelled by the Spirit to write you and say - I am so sorry. I admit that the demise of our marriage was my fault. I know now that I was a poor husband and an inadequate lover.

The world that I grew up in was like a baby's - one of spoiled entitlement and all about me. In addition, I was stuck in my intellect with NO capacity for feeling - to either understand how to feel or operate in the feeling mode that you extended to me. After all those intervening years of anger toward you I see the problem within me that you saw and I recognize now that you had to bare the brunt of putting up with my selfishness, binge drinking, and totally self-centered behavior, along with raising our children.

When we married, I had no idea what love for a spouse should or could be. I only knew that I needed another presence in my life so decided to marry. And so we met and married and had five sons - then parted, because I was unable to fulfill my part of the marriage partnership. Today I now know that real love lies in serving others - most importantly your spouse - and being able to forgive mistakes. I have asked (pleaded, begged) our Father in Heaven for forgiveness for my inability to make our marriage work. Now I sincerely apologize to you for my mistakes - and hope that one day you will be able to find it in your heart to forgive me. Please know that I am concerned for your protection and well being, and pray for you every day.

May God Bless You!


Week 25: The Samaritan Woman: I watched a DVD this week: Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont. I lost myself in this movie, and it left me with deep peace. I am at a loss for words…For 24 weeks I have shared each week insights, and this week I have none…just a profound peace. I found my “self” in the widow in this movie. Through a small act of kindness, she discovers her “eternal self” (Christ) and dies. This may sound weird, but here goes: As I watched this DVD, it was as if both Christ and I were there together, sitting at the well, and I was drinking of His water, which was “becoming a spring inside of me, welling up to eternal life.” Profound peace was given to me, a very capable widow as seen on the outside. Inside, I know loneliness and I also know that death is on the close horizon – and all must be let-go of, except His Presence.
-- Anita


I am just finishing up on week 25. I have receive many graces thru the weeks of this retreat, however, the past three weeks have been a struggle for me. An extra busy schedule has cut back on my background thru out the day. Lately, I read and yet the words don't make it to my heart. I feel stuck but want to continue on. This week I am flooded with the noon day wells of my life. I do a lot of avoiding interaction with others. Memories of past rejections has taught me self protection skills. I do it well. I pray and ask for Jesus' healing grace to help let go of my self-protection and open my eyes and heart to see and act as Jesus is calling me. Please pray for me.
-- Donna
Week 25: This week I spent more time focusing on the raising of Lazarus. The three "scrutiny" Gospel stories we are asked to reflect on this week I always find powerful and empowering because of the promise of fundamental transformation that is proclaimed. But I looked at the Raising of Lazarus in different ways. I know that much earlier (maybe 35 years ago plus) I found the inevitability of death and the promise of resurrection hard to grasp. I found death hard to handle and better to avoid although that's impossible. In some ways, I never could resolve the death of my Grandfather when I was about 13. He was probably the adult I most looked up to when I was really young and probably the first of close relatives to die. Maybe it was because I was in the throes of early adolescence I don't know but I took it badly and I had a hard time dealing with the subject of death well into my late- 20's.
For years when confronted with death, I was like a lot of the people in the scene ... asking ... why Jesus couldn't have dealt with this differently, if only he had been there, yes theoretically espousing the resurrection of the dead but like Martha not necessarily seeing it as happening here and now.
But in the scene of Jesus and Lazarus I see that Jesus can grieve to ... this is appropriate ... but Jesus can look right into the tomb. He confronts Lazarus' death.
"Lord, remove the bindings where I am now ... let me be free to minister with you ... and to reveal life and truth even in the midst of misery and despair".
greetings from nell on tweed. what a wonderful week that was for me. my readings of the gospels are being shaken loose from some fixed ideas i seem to have had from childhood and just held ever since. i even wondered whether the samaritan woman were such an outcast or whether she just did things as and when she pleased. she certainly seemed to be able to convince a lot of people quickly about what had happened. sometimes i just want to get away from people which was a theme of last week for me. and i could see her going to the well for privacy as well as water and then being struck by the sheer presence of this man. since then i have been able to take my conversations with my lord to a low stone wall at a well. sitting and talking and listening and drinking both forms of cool water.
i also noted that jesus sent the blind man off but later when he knew the man had stood true to him - then he went looking for him. and found him. i like to think he was both checking on his wellbeing and also pleased to have found another believer.

and in the story of mary and her brother and sister. my heart moved at the wording i read which said "jesus groaned within " . i could feel the earth moving love and the humanity of him. groaning within. asking his father for something he would not normally ask for. that someone be brought back to life - from love.i have a selection of bibles at home and some are crefully illustrated in black and white but one is the childrens bible that my kids had when they were little and its beautiful with coloured pictures and bright robes. this retreat is restoring to me the colour of the childrens bible. tears and groans. and loneliness . and an excited saviour. its like actually being in a place instead of looking at the street directory or the map. my love to you all.
-- Nell
Jesus is the water for which I thirst. He is the water in which I need to be cleansed. And so I think, “Yes, I want to be immersed in Jesus.” But that is only what I think, not what I do. When I’m thirsty, I do not drink. And when I am hot and sweaty, I do not leap into the pool. My desire stops at the inconvenience of interrupting what I am doing to go only as far as the kitchen for some water. My need is confounded by my fear of the water’s shocking cool. And when I go for my drink at last, is it water, or is it something that only appears to quench, but actually dehydrates, like beer or wine or coffee? And when I finally get in the pool, isn’t it after all only with the most agonizing slowness, as if submerging inch by inch were somehow better than diving in?Yet, knowing this is my nature, I still think, “I want to be immersed in Jesus.” I am tentative, but the Lord God is all powerful. Come Lord Jesus!Son of David, have pity on me!
-- Tom, Pennsylvania - Week 25
These are such powerful scenes this week. I had expected something quite profound in my meditations and I think I experienced this but in a different way than I had expected. In the scene with Jesus and the Samaritan woman, I felt much more profoundly Jesus' love and probing ... so that he really understood this and she felt this. How often do we go through life with cursory or self serving interactions with other people? To be known, understood, loved and forgiven is very powerful.

Then the scene with the blind man I found powerful. I imagined myself able to see again ... looking at the world anew ... perhaps not understood by others ... but understood by Jesus. I do not know where this will lead ... but the formerly blind man did not know this either.

With Lazarus I focused on two images. First, the humanity of Jesus as he weeps outside of the tomb. This represents a part of Jesus which I had ignored before. Frankly, I have a hard time dealing with death. Seeing Jesus there I wished I had brought that image to the surface in mourning situationsI encountered in the past.

But what binds me today and what is Jesus calling me to unleash? As part of my Lenten observance I started to pray the "Four Prayers for Social Justice". Somehow, in my meditation on this part this week I connected them. When I think of the extensive ways we have constructed to hold down, imprison and even kill. I see Jesus asking me to come forward and to see these unleashed. Eliminating poverty ... does that seem as unrealistic as shouting at a man supposedly dead, "Lazarus, come out"?
Three familiar stories: the woman at the well, the man born blind, the death of Lazarus. For 60+ years I have heard about the woman at the well. At the end of the story, Jesus declines the food the disciples bring him, saying, “My food is to do what God wants! He is the one who sent me, and I must finish the work that he gave me to do.“ Jesus was too busy to eat, busy doing his Father’s will. I relate to that. I have been there many times. Pricing items for the school rummage sale tomorrow, too busy to stop and eat. Cleaning the house before company arrives, too busy to stop and eat. Finishing the gift for a grandchild’s birthday, too busy to take time to eat. So engrossed in getting the job done that I was not even hungry. That’s how I have always related to this verse of scripture, this verse that was almost a side note, not the main point. But to my surprise it became my focal point this week.

When I imagined the story of the woman at the well this week, the ending took an unexpected turn for me. There was Jesus at the well with the woman, the disciples came, the woman left to tell the other villagers about Jesus, and the disciples offered him food. He couldn’t eat. He wasn’t too busy- he was just waiting- waiting for the woman to return with the villagers. He was too excited to eat! He was so thrilled that this Samaritan woman had been looking for the Messiah to come and had taken the first steps of believing in him. The woman didn’t have all the correct answers theologically and she wasn’t living up to the moral expectations of the theology she knew. But she saw in Jesus the promised one and went to spread the good news and was coming back to learn from him. And Jesus was ecstatic about it. In his divinity Jesus is the omnipotent creator of the universe and in his humanity he was too excited to eat because this woman had taken the first steps of belief. And I saw Jesus too excited to eat over me, delighted that I am searching to know him better and follow him more closely. Never mind that I have a long way to go. In the background moments of this week Jesus keeps popping up, too excited to eat, and joy wells up within me. I don’t think it matters if my visualization of the woman at the well is historically accurate. I have been gifted this week with a joy that has eluded me for some time, and I am so thankful for this grace.
I have just printed up the gospel readings for Week 25. They are very beautiful. In the story of Lazarus I was overwhelmed by the words, "Jesus started crying." I could see Him standing there. And tears streamed from my eyes. I felt His love, so gentle and overwhelming. My smallness and unfaithfulness was so present to me. I cried some more.
As I read the readings of the 25th week, I felt something new that didn't realize before. And I came to reflct the readings deeply. my losses are related to give up my study after finishing a graduate shool. at that time, I was tired out from many housechores and raising my son. it was impossible to continue my own work. after my son became a student of junior high school, I began to resent my stupid decision. But this week took me to a graceful time to realize that the losses led me to read God's words and meet Him in everyday life and feel his love more and more. Now Jesus is shouting to me, " come forth." From what ? from not liberating me, especially, from all that bind myself up lest I should make choices to be with Jesus. Actually Jesus is the only man to satisfy my thirst and to let me - blind before - see the truth.
Week 25: This week's readings and reflections are very powerful ; there is so much to think about and reflect on.  Jesus is so loving in every  gospel story. He is loving, but he allows each person to come to their own realization of why he is reaching out to them.  He offers the Samaritan woman water that will quench her thirst eternally, and she doubts his power or ability to do so.  He allows the blind man to think and defend this believe in him.  Jesus allows Martha and Mary their grief and resentment, and still shows them that He can bring glory out of this. I have been the Samaritan woman , the blind man, and like Martha and Mary.  I have lacked trust that God would come to my assistance or save me. I have not faced truths about myself, and am still working on this. I have grieved and forgotten that Jesus grieves along with me.  Thanks to the many graces received in this retreat and through the Eucharist, I have begun to realize that He will not allow me to be lost, forsaken, or unhealed . It will take faith and trust on my part, but He is there reaching out to me . I pray for the grace to recognize that He wants to bring glory out of all  things. He will make everything new.

When I pray each week at Sodality , the line from a prayer " God chose the weak things of the world, that no flesh may glory in his sight" makes me realize that  He will make all well. The expression "God writes straight with crooked lines" has also run through my mind this week. A special sign came to me this week , a friend of mine out of the blue, gave me a beautiful old picture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, she  has had it for years . She explained about the devotion to the Sacred Heart particularly in Ireland. I felt that Jesus was showing  me His love through her thoughtfulness, and that the  prayer that I often whisper throughout the day  "Jesus meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto thine", was being answered. Thank you for this retreat
The Readings for Week Twenty-five of the retreat are quite familiar to me.  Many years ago they were dramatized at my Parish and that did leave a profound impact on the importance and message of these passages.  In particular, the story of the Woman at the Well stands out for many reasons.  One such phrase from this passage that has resounded in the depths of my being is when Jesus says to the woman the the water that He gives will be like a spring of water welling up unto eternal life.  Having experienced physical thirst and the longing for cool living water and the relief that it could bring can be analogous to the spiritual thirst that I have for God.  Jesus will provide in me cool living water welling up and overflowing that will not only satisfy my spiritual thirst but will provide more that I can ever imagine by leading to eternal life.  How awesome and refreshing and enlivening that is!
We are so quick to judge!  We think of one possibility and because we think of it, we believe it is true.  It may be.  It may be there are other good explanations.  The Samaritan woman is well spoken.  She has a good mind.  She was attractive to at least five husbands.  She is listened to by the townspeople - including the women.  I have known many prostitutes.  The Samaritan woman is not unlike many I've known and worked with.  Why did she go to the well in the heat of the day?  Many, quick to judge, say she wanted to avoid the (respectable) women of the village.  Why can't we say we are not sure?  I say it is probable that the Samaritan woman went to the well in the heat of the day for water.  She went for water because her neighbor, an old disabled person, needed water.  Of course the Samaritans listened to this woman.  She was an open hearted person with a good mind.  She was a loving person.  Love is an intellectual process.  Jesus told us we will know it by the actions of people.  Paul told us what to look for.  The Samaritan woman loved.  Jesus chooses to save people who are hot or cold.  He doesn't talk with the indifferent, the "luke warm."  The doers, the ones who go for water for others even in the heat, Jesus speaks to.  Please God we shall one day learn to stop condemning, judging without the right to judge.  Jesus didn't judge.  We must not.  We must love. Week 25
The readings this week are from lent, but the season during my retreat is advent. In both readings there is longing and hunger for spiritual and physical peace. The retreat readings are significant in dealing with the need for healing and the fact that the healing only comes through Jesus. It is in His peace that the insignificance of things that would possess and ravish us can be viewed in a realistic perspective. Lord let me desire only what you have to offer and reject the cravings of this world. Week 25
JESUS SAVES, JESUS HEALS, JESUS GIVES US NEW LIFE..(the light of Christ) through the gifts of the Holy Spirit, God guides and teaches us to draw closer to Him to follow what He has planned for us. (the truth) Each day provides us with proclaiming his Love to each other and to experience the joy and peace of being aware that God truly loves us all. When we share in the trials and burdens of one another, we share in the sufferings and love that God has for each one of us.(the way)

EVERLASTING LIFE WITH HIM!(the Holy Eucharist) and the joy of eternal salvation in the kingdom of God. Week 25
What a powerful and at the same time all comforting week.  I have truly felt the Lord's presence this week not only through the exercises but throughout the background moments of the day.  I had been on a RCIA team for the last three years.  This year my schedule did not allow me to participate in the program.  I have stood by the candidates and catechumens as they experienced the power of these readings for the first time.  However, having had an opportunity this week to spend time reflecting on the readings and praying the personalized prayers associated with each reading has touched me in a way words cannot adequately express.  I now feel that joy that I haven't felt for myself in quite some time.  The only thing I keep coming back to is "Please Lord, stay with me a little bit longer.  I am so happy to be with you."
This is my 25th week and the readings today according to St. John on the Samaritan Woman, The Blind Man and Lazarus made me realize how Jesus really  and actively went out of His way to seek and show His love for individuals! I saw myself as the Samaritan woman, the Blind man and the resurrected Lazarus! And peacefully I hope to live my life as a disciple of the Lord Who loves me that much! And I hope that my love will bear fruit in the way I live for others especially those who have less than I have!


Week 25 and a time to reflect on how far I have come both this year and over the past couple of years.  While reflecting on the story of Lazarus being raised from the dead, it occurred to me that I have received a whole range of special graces this year because I did not give way to resentment when my much valued spiritual director was transferred to another parish, effective from New Year's Day.  When he accompanied me on my last journey through the Spiritual Exercises, we uncovered a junk pile of accumulated fears, hurts and so on, some of which had been hidden for over forty years.  I had never trusted anyone as I trusted  him, so the time we worked together, about a year on that and other projects was a very special time for me.  Normally I would have been very hurt and resentful and probably would have returned to the spiritual desert where I had been for so long.  But I trusted that he was not the only special person I would know in my life or that I had been given my full quota of special graces and this year has been a stunning vindication of my faith.  His replacement, my current spiritual director, has been a wonderful help to me on this journey, and brave enough to accept my invitation while he was still a deacon (he was ordained in September). So I know for sure Jesus is willing to heal me and give me life, as long as I'm willing to trust him.

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