Some Practical Help for Getting Started This Week

We use the same practical way of proceeding in this week as we have throughout the retreat.

The Mystery We Contemplate
Here it is Jesus alive and present with us, even when in our discouragements, we fail to recognize him.

The Grace We Ask For
Here again we desire a deepening sense of joy with Jesus. For most of us, it is often easier to feel sorrow than joy, particularly the joy of another. All week long we want to find a way to ask God for the gift to enter more deeply in a joy for Jesus, risen and alive forever.

Our Daily Life Contemplation
This week we want to imagine the scene of Jesus walking along the road to Emmaus with those two distraught disciples. I want to get into that scene as much as possible. To identify with their saying “we had different hopes.” To recall the story of salvation and the meaning of Jesus’ life, which we have contemplated during this retreat. To share the experience of recognition in the breaking of bread.

The Daily Means
Each morning, among the first things I do is pause to focus on the grace I desire this week. As I put on my slippers or robe, I will pause for just a moment each morning and recall the dynamic I wish to be so conscious of this day: I can go through my day without a sense of Jesus’ presence with me and it’s in the brokenness moments that recognition can happen.

Throughout the day, in all the background times, I will return to these thoughts. This will help me be more conscious of Jesus’ being with me. It will also help me see and experience the discouragements and really dark moments in my day in a very different way. Some examples might help.

I find myself at a meeting with several difficult people (or on the phone listening to a friend talk about a family conflict, or I’m watching television and seeing the terrible news of war or some violent crime). The moment I feel my spirit start to go down — in the presence of such conflicts or failures at reconciliation or outright evil — I will do a very brief exercise. I will imagine Jesus: taking, blessing, breaking, and giving bread. In that moment, I can be open to the grace of seeing that he is present here, in this situation, being broken and given, if only I open my eyes and see.

I find myself discouraged and beginning to get self-absorbed. (Each of us knows, by this point in the retreat, the situations that occasion this movement.) I will do this very brief exercise, acting against that movement. I will imagine Jesus: taking, blessing, breaking, and giving me bread. In that moment, I will no longer be alone. I will be opened to experience love and freedom. God’s victory over this encounter with sin and death becomes very real. In this breaking-of-bread moment, in my everyday life, I recognize he is there. I feel the joy and I feel the freedom this joy gives.

Each night I will find a brief moment to bring the day together in gratitude. I will remember those times during the day when I felt his presence. I simply express my gratitude. I can feel the peace of those moments preparing my spirit to sleep more peacefully. Going to bed this way each night can make a tremendous difference in our lives.

Make use of the various resources provided for this week: the “For the Journey,” and sample words for our attempts at expression, and “In These or Similar Words . . .”

As the breaking-of-bread moments of my week grow, they can form a fabric of presence moments that not only lift my spirit but also offer the gift of abiding presence that the Spirit of Jesus desires for us all, for God’s greater glory and the service of others.

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