Sharing the Retreat
Week 1

Week 1 - part 3

I have always felt Gods presence in my life. Sometimes He has been at the forefront and at other times ignored or forgotten.

I have just started the first week of this retreat and find I now face 'definition'. My life's story.

So I begin:
I can remember before I was 'born' into this world. I believe I am also still in that place. God has formed a bridge to this world, His garden, His creation and bore me forth. This place I remember is light with no darkness, no shadows, and a vague sense of just being. There was no emotion, no feeling, no points of reference and no time to pass.

And then God took Abram out beneath the starry sky. “Look up at the stars in the sky,” God said. “You will have a son. He will have children, and his children will have children, and they will have more children, and one day they will be as many as the stars in the sky.”

In reference now with some of what I know of life and souls I believe all that light was the shining of other souls. And the number of stars is estimated to be approximately 70 sextillion or 70,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. I am gaining some definition to that me (Soul) in that other place through my experience here. I now see those other lights as souls, perhaps some are even here now in His creation.

How do you define the undefined? How do you have a sense of being? God has 'bridged' us, brought us into this world for the opportunity to gain these answers and so much more. God is here in all things, even us (as that bridge). There is no time in that other place, only here in His creation. What shall we do with this Time we are given to define our Soul? And what have I done with this Time so far?

This is a condensed version of 2 journal pages that I wrote at 4AM. I awoke with a Cluster Headache at 1AM and could not sleep until I wrote this and then asked Him to allow me to sleep.


Just completed first week. Many more painful memories and experiences than I had I had wanted to remember and would prefer to keep suppressed. However, two interrelated observations stand out after this initial week. The first is that I can no longer lay claim to "identifying" with the passage on Genesis 32:24-32, where Jacob wrestles with someone (God, and angel? No matter). Wrestling is an up close, intimate, personal, sweaty, and risky interaction with someone. 
Hardly descriptive on one (me) who has related to God primarily in an intellectual (read risk-verse, distant, controllable, safe) fashion. A Jacob I ain't. Oh, well, never to late to take that "leap of faith." 
So into the Exercises I go.

Secondly, and not surprisingly, when I have been closest to God, it was when pursuing an intellectual effort. I mean, let's not throw out the entire left side of the brain. When I was doing the research for the best paper I ever did in college, I completely lost track of 10-12 hours of time in the library. I began at about noon and can only recall one of the staff asking me to leave, explaining in my bewilderment that it was 10PM and the library was closing for the day. 
Still have no recollection of the intervening time. Oh yeh, get this: 
the title of the research paper was "Intellectual Precursors to the Reformation."

So, am terrified at having to move out of that safe intellectual side of me (who am I kidding, it's almost all of me that I've ever exposed) into a more personal, real, authentic, and genuine relationship with Jesus. With the Exercises, am definitely off unto a "Road Less Traveled."

In the Peace of Christ,
Eric Vaughan

Hi. I just started my first week and feel so happy that God is guiding me with my prayer life. I found you on the Malvern Retreat site. (A most wonderful and peaceful place to go for a spiritual retreat.)It is the answer I have been looking for to establish and maintain a daily prayer life. The story about acceptance has really hit home as I am not feeling accepted by my own husband for who I am. I know God accepts me and loves me for who I am. Looking forward to enriching my prayer life and growing closer to God. Jesus I trust in You!


I am just finishing the first week.  My tendency is to make this like a daily office rather than relax with it and let it teach me.  First, I have learned that I can remember much more about my life than what I thought I would,second I have been plagued with the same sin for all my life, and third It is so hard to accept that God accepts me.

Kia Ora (a Maori greeting from New Zealand) I'm beginning my second week. The first week took two weeks of thought. I am relishing my time with the information and prayers and am in a trustful spot. One that erases time and moves me at my own pace.
I am an artist and the memories and thoughts I had in the past few weeks have overflowed into my imagination and I want to draw my way through these weeks along with my thoughts in a journal. Someone mentioned dreaming throughout the first week. I too am dreaming, remembering things I forgot.
I'm also taking pleasure in the childhood of the 1950s in Michigan and the complexity of the 1960s in Detroit during the race riots. Again, drawings and paintings fill my imagination. 34 weeks might take me 344 weeks. I now live in New Zealand. It's another wonderful story, to be shared later with you. My time here is limited, only two more years left on our work visas. This experience has been a powerful time of deeper spirituality, deeper love in my marriage as we share this journey together, introduction to the Maori culture, the diversity of the South Pacific and the incredible beauty we experience in our coastal surfing community. I am ever grateful for this experience.
Thank you to all who share, your words connect me to you and I keep you in my prayers.
-- Monica Mary
I am still on week one of the retreat with memories of wonderful times spent with my parents. My mother was always there for me as a child and as an adult...oh how I miss her dearly. I miss the conversations we shared...her delight in all that I did...her attentiveness to listen to me...she was always there for me. She enjoyed my friends and took genuine interest in all that I did. I miss our up-all-through-the-night conversations, our mother-daughter lunches at Friendly's, the big warm loving hug and kiss she greeted me with each time I visited her. God blessed me with a wonderful mother...God presence shone through my mother's love...I thank God for gifting me with such loving wonderful parents.
Thank you for making the online retreat available. I am grieving the fact that my wife is in a Nursing Home and reading the pages I have printed for the first week are a big help. Esopecially the input of how much the Father loves us--as much as he loves His Son! God bless you and I hope to share more on Week 2.
During each day of Week 1 of this retreat, I kept in mind the memories that shaped me. My memories were more specifically of those of my parents who have recently passed away within months apart from each other. In words of comfort, a very dear friend of mine recently described me as having a very close relationship with my parents. Her words took me by surprised because I couldn't imagine a relationship any other way. It was nice to hear that the love we shared as a family was that noticeably evident for all to see. There are so many wonderful family "scenes" that run through my mind that I was graced with both as a child and as an adult.

There are happy times I spent with my father. Scenes of me staying close by my father in whatever he did. I remember frequent trips to the boat yards and us being dwarfed in size by standing next to large boats on stilts. There were many cabin cruisers dry docked and it was a strange but familiar setting in which we walked through during the summer months. I recall the times whenever my father was looking to buy a boat and it was I as a child who kept him company. I loved going to the marinas and walking on the floating docks and seeing the rich mahogany interior of the cabins. I recall the times when my father took us out for boat trips and how I loved sitting on the bow of the boat and allowed the wind whip my long hair all over the place. By the end of the trip my hair was very knotty and my skin was salty but the ride on top of the bow was invigorating. I remember the times whenever he sold used cars and how I helped him in transporting the cars. He was always selling something in addition to his steady job as a bulldozer operator so to support the family. My father had a green thumb and taught me the names of the different kinds of flowers, shrubs, trees and birds. Oh the memories of my times with my dad are so dear and I am thankful to God for being blessed with such a loving wonderful dad. God is good. God is Love.
I have made it through Week 1 and I feel stronger and more joyful already (blessed food for the long journey!) I am still chewing on the article on acceptance. If "A life without acceptance is a life in which a most basic human needs goes unfulfilled.", then I'm not being selfish for asking to be accepted for who I am. Knowing that helps alot. God has always been there in my life. I have always felt His acceptance. I am blessed. But I don't feel my husband's acceptance. I try to meet his "needs", but I never seem to merit his meeting mine. There is always this tension between us. If I ask for affection his answer is "I don't know how", or "Fine, have it your way, we won't do anything at all." I have come to the conclusion that he is either unable or unwilling and that is a really heavy cross to bear, but I love him and I will continue to honor my covenant with him. I wish I could change him, but I know that the only person I can change is myself. If husband won't journey with me than I must go on alone (spiritually, that is) with God and with all of you.So, I pray for God to fill what is lacking in my life so that I may turn my focus to serving Him and away from dwelling on my own woundedness.
As an alumni of a Jesuit college i was a part of several retreats during my undergraduate years. I find myself a lot of times remembering those weekend long experiences when things aren't going as well as I would like them to. Now is one of those time. I found myself the past few days wishing more than anything that I could go back to college, just to go on a retreat and get focused: spiritually, mentally, emotionally. Then I came across the Creighton Online retreat today and realized that this is what I should be doing. So, as I begin this 34 week journey today I am grateful. Thank you.
I gained much this week. I was able to look back at my life story. I was touched with the fact that during the hard times as well as they good times the Lord was in the midst. It was sometimes hard to look back but with prayer I was able to do so. I felt washed by the Lord's mercy. I felt His presence and felt that He was with me through it all.
-- Lana
its after midnight here and the cyclonic weather has passed inside and outside. as the week has gone on the image of the christ with the lamp has remained with me and i have been able to look back as if in companionship and with a much softer light ont my life than i normally look with. a warmth has come into my memories and my view of my own behaviour which was rising again to haunt me. when i began retreating last wednesday. so i found the painting by holman hunt which is called the light of the world. i thought the lamp was held higher in my memoy of the postcard my brother sent me. but i think this is the painting which came to mind as i read the sharings from people in week 1. then i tracked it to where it hangs in the lady chapel in keble college in oxford. and i was really touched by that image. jesus knocks at the door whihc has no outside handle. he is holding the lamp and the glow is warm. in the chapel setting the painting is set in a woo! den box which can also be closed over and i could see how easly it can be and has been me who refuses to open the door and can even close the warmth away with the wooden doors.
in the chapel , all the rest is stone and marble. and cold and hard. and the the warmth and life are all in the Companion with the lamp. it has become a very gentle and compassionate week for me and as i look at the image of that chapel now i can see that when everything is cold and hard there is always a source of warmth and light. when i seem to be alone in a room .t here is always and has always been divine company. softer and more forgiving than i have been . love to you all - --Nell
beginning the retreat this week. it will take me to the eve of my 57th birthday. i live alone in a wee cottage high on a hill overlooking the tweed river in Australia and since the day i began this retreat it has rained and rained and the floods have come. like some of the other sharers i thought my memories were well understood and integrated but instead the tears have come unexpected like the floods. and I'm here in the misted dark - aware of people all round the world beginning this as i am. and I'm sure god smiles on that. -- Nell, Australia
Hello, just started the retreat, which I learned about from my brother who started it 18 weeks ago and says it really helped him. And I can see that!I'm looking forward to the retreat and from my start today, the first day of week 1 I have a sense that this will be very helpful to me. Thank you for making this journey possible! Week 1
Week one is like wading in shallow water.I know like Pope John Paul 11 has called us to come out into the deep that it will take trust in God's faithfulness and mercy toventure out! From the getgo visual memories flood my mind. Some happy some sad some showing me that I did not feel excepted especially by myself mostly because I was always overweight. I had agreat love for God since I can remember and as a young girl I felt His love for me.I embark on this week and I ask St. Ignatius to put out into the deep with me and I ask Jesus to take the wheel!
Today marks the end of my first week of the online retreat. It's been a very good experience and I'm enthused about the next 33 weeks! Over the years I've spent too much time with regret about a variety of things focusing mostly on my "rudderless ship" days as a teen and young adult.
Those were self-centered times with very little connection to my faith.
It's been a number of years since I've been able to completely accept God's forgiveness of my transgresssions but this retreat has taken me one step beyond that acceptance. The retreat's focus on all aspects of my life helped me realize that I have LOTS of wonderful memories of a truly fun and loving childhood and my married/family life has been the same. Thank you for helping me remember!
Hi, I’m starting the retreat & I’m having difficulty with this first week – I am not taking that as a sign from God that I should stop! Most of the early childhood stuff was bad, very bad. There are glimmers of goodness, and God. I thought myself pretty integrated as far as this stuff goes & have done a lot of hard work around it.But when I saw the guide I thought, “I do not want to go there again.”So now I am confused. Is it me protecting myself, which is fine at this point, or is it a call from God to go deeper within?I going to pray about it, but thought I’d put this out there.
Week 1: I thought that Advent would be a good time to start the retreat. In week one, I am most touched by Psalm 139. God was there, knew me, and loved me before I was even created. Of course, He was there and guided me in ways I didn't even know. I received a Children's Bible for my first Communion and began reading it each night. No one prompted me to do so or even knew that I was reading it. It was God who inspired me to do so and became my only friend in a life filled with pain and fear. "even darkness is not dark to You." He was there in every moment of pain, darkness, loneliness, confusion.

At the end of the psalm, it talks about hating my enemies. It expresses such anger. This at first, doesn't seem to fit with the rest of the psalm, but it does. God allows us to feel anger about the painful things that happened to us in our lives - things that distorted our view of Him, things that didn't show us God's love, things that Made it more difficult to see and know that God is love and His unconditional acceptance of us. God wept and was angry with us. Those painful things were the result of someone else's sin. God loves the sinner too, but He is also angered when His little ones are scandalized and suffer at their hands. Loving God and knowing His love for us does not exclude anger towards all that attempted to separate us from His love. God was truly there through everything, not just as a bystander, but as one who was actively loving us, taking us by the hand, and forming us into what He created us to be.
I just finished week 1. The online materials have been very useful; I referred back to them several times over the course of the week and each time got a little different perspective - they were especially useful for keeping me on track for the real point - not an autobiography, but an understanding of how I pray, how I view God and what baggage/good things I bring to my conversations with God. It's an exciting process! I love the idea of "background" thinking during the day, but needed to supplement this with a few periods of focused thinking as well.
A great peace came over me as I read the first weeks prayers and reflections. This is kind of funny because I am a 'hurry up and finish' kind of girl. But you know, I never really finish anything so we'll see about this retreat. Thankful to have found it, sent by a friend on this the eve of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Lucky me, or should I say blessed.

I do feel blessed right now but I was one of those and am one of those who lies and exaggerates eats and master bates to fill the void of nonacceptance. I thought the void was a wilful denial of God, and in a way I guess it is. I will not edit this. I am reminded of Frank McCourt's first novel that won the big prize. I think he won because in spite of his childhood he had no ill will to any, just that holy acceptance.

I'd like to trade this great chip I carry for ! the cross. I hope I finish this retreat.
thanx janice
I began this retreat some time ago before the hurricanes of 2005 turned my mind and sirit upside down. I now begin again for I can never see things from the same perspective. I hold on by a thread to the image of God as my source. I am so grateful for this on line retreat as I am now separated from my home and those with whom I regularly worshipped.
I have just started on the 34 week journey and want to share a great relief feeling. I have always known and felt that God loves me for what I am and for whatever I do. I have always had the feeling that I didn't have or feel enough love for Him. In this first week of the journey I found relief in the readings that it is more important that I know God loves me . I also came to the conviction that with patience my feeling more love for God will happen eventually. I want to thank the writers and organizers of this retreat for this insight. I'm sure there will be many more revelations on the 34 week journey.

Thank you,
Jim G.
Yesterday, as one untimely born, I began this journey. I was surprised to discover that making space for those memories allowed me to see such riches in my life! In the memories of isolation and profound loneliness I found Jesus was there with me all the time. I can no longer call them lonely because He was there sharing my withdrawal, giving me productive play to avoid the craziness around me. And He let me understand that I have been privileged to share His abandonment.
Thus He lifts my suffering and pain into a place of meaning. Let me quote from my journal:
"He gave me the simple and quiet things to do; He was with me in my aloneness. He never left me. He was there in my triumphs and trials, in my aloneness and my quiet times. Lord, You honored me by allowing me to see that my pain and loss has meaning. Through my experience I am allowed to participate in Jesus' suffering. This lifts my pain, glorifies it, sanctifies it, gives my sorrow meaning. I am so grateful!"
It's a Saturday but I am starting my first week. I hope I can follow through with it. I'll try with the Grace of God who cannot be outdone in generosity. I get very sad and melancholy when I think of my early childhood; I rarely do it because of that. It's mostly because of the sadness of my present life. It seems like I've made so many mistakes I cannot get anywhere. I fluctuate in and out of depression so much. But when I think of my childhood I think of how happy I was and how it was the most joyous time of my life. Only I didn't know it or appreciate it. That's what makes me so sad. It's good therapy though to fight the sadness and reflect on all of it. I think of playing in the little creek by our house with my brothers, playing in the backyard of my grandmother's house along the subway line and running up to the fence and screaming every time a train went by. I wish I could be that happy again. Maybe this retreat will help. Please pray for me. Michael
I am still at Week 1 three weeks after starting and really upset.
The crowding in of images of physical damage, physical hurt and physical abuse surprised me, as I had believed through therapy and working through the countless events of emotional and psychological cruelty I suffered at the hands of the significant adults and my siblings in the light of acknowledgement of the reality and the granting of forgiveness that this part of my life had all been sorted.
With the view of "life, the universe and everything" that I had developed from my life experiences - not only was I not accepted for myself, I was not much loved by the people around me and I WAS NOT SAFE in my own home or abroad.
Even the little homily, that I had to have courage to accept acceptance cut me to the quick.
Bad again. I do not know acceptance and have not realized it or internalized it.
This is like a dark night of faith. God accepts me as I am, I reckon this as absolute truth and it has nothing real for me except as another failure on my part to be aware of and grateful for His boundless Love.
During this week one of retreat I have learned that by looking back at my past I have been able to understand why certain things happened in my life. Through the struggles in life I was able to see that God was trying to show me his will for me and allow me to see my true gifts that he has given to me. I also learned that each of us has to have gratitude for the gifts we do have and through our gifts we can help others in the way God would want us to. Each of us needs to be grateful for the gifts that God has given us and not dwell on the gifts we do not have ("We need to have the Attitude of Gratitude"). This phrase I learned on this past weekend when I made retreat with my Church Ministry group. The theme tied into what we learned during week one of this on-line retreat. I definitely know God is making his prescence known to me through other people, words and events that are happening in my life. Another thing I learned is that we must always be open to God because he is a loving and accepting God. By being open we can see God's message and feel his prescence within us.
-- Kim

I realised, in a deeper way than I had before, and with a sense of excitement, that God had always been present in my life, even in those painful moments, even in those moments when I was not turned to God. At no time was he not there with me - at no time did he turn away from me. I feel as if he is inviting me to revisit those moments when I was not able to let God be present to me, or did not want God to be present to me. It is not too late to let God fill those parts of my life with his presence. It is not too late to let him transform them... lead into gold as in the alchemists’ dream. The alchemists dreamed a fool’s dream because they could not change lead into gold no matter how hard they tried. But God can. He can touch all that is lead in my life and turn it into gold. He invites me to let him touch those parts of my life that still weigh me down.I also have a desire to look into how God has done that in the past. How has he taken the brokenness, the sadness, the sense of loss, the fears, and even the sins and used them to build even what is good in me.There is also in all of this an invitation to let myself be transformed even more by God’s touch. To let him touch my life where I have, as yet, not let him enter because I could not believe – deep down where parts of me are still hiding from him – that he would want to be with me, to accept me, and to love me.
-- Gilles
The past few years have brought nothing but rejection and loss. Once active and enthusiastic in my parish, I have become an outcast. The article on acceptance neatly summarized both my pain and my desire. Tom, Pennsylvania
I just finished my first week of the retreat and I thank God for the oportunity. I do not believe in coincidence but that there is a purpose for everything.If we seek God will give us the means. In any case when starting the picture story of my life I thought my sitiuation was unique until I read some of the sharings.My childhood was filled with much pain and suffering.I always wondered where God was in all of that. I am just beginning to realise that God was the one who brought me through it all and brought me to this place where I can share and tell people and incourage others not to give up on the Lord. He truly is there. We must always persevere no matter how difficut the situatation. I am looking forward to the rest of the retreat.

God Bless
This morning while I was lying on the couch in my husband’s lap, a familiar smell drifted into the living room from outside. At first I couldn’t quite place it, but I soon figured it out. It was just like the smell of the tractors and equipment on my Grandpa’s farm. It was a mixture of tool shed and freshly tilled soil. A smell I had long forgotten. The memory pictures came flooding back….My Grandpa Earl
Me being Grandpa’s girl
Getting to ride the tractors with him in his lap ( I thought I was driving )
Riding next to him in his pickup truck into town with his farmer friends and going to breakfast with them at the little diner
The knob thing on the stirring wheel that he stirred the truck with ( I thought it was so cool…illegal these days)
The tall gear shift in the truck, that he would let me shift.
His friend Roy who frightened the daylights out of me by playing the “Look I can pull my thumb off” trick. (I even cried)
The wild kitties that lived in the barn that I would forever try to catch
The foot long goldfish that lived in the horses’ water trough
The betrayal I felt towards Grandpa when the tire swing he made me broke with me in it and I got my breath knocked out of me ( cried then too)
Then feeling bad that my crying made him feel bad
Shadowing him around the big huge tool shed as he worked on all the farm equipment
Feeling safe with him and proud to be his little girl
The day when I was only 7 years old that he died and left me
Seeing him in his casket. Touching his hand while no one was watching in hopes that God would let him come back alive again and maybe if I prayed hard enough and he felt my touch he would move.
Not getting to stay at the funeral home and family friends taking me off to dinner somewhere…had spaghetti….to this day I am not a big fan of spaghetti
My first experience of death
For the next 30 years I lived in fear of loosing my Grandma
Thanks for this opportunity to share,Colleen
Ok, I am printing all of week 1 up at the moment and the thought that just strikes me is that I'm not sure I want to do it.

When I bring up the past, I become unstable because it hurts too much.
Early in the week I remembered harsh words I said to some friends when I was about 10, and how often that kind of scene has been repeated in one form or another in my life, with painful consequences. But instead of sternness, I felt Jesus' compassion when we looked at these moments together. Perhaps He's been waiting to heal me of this for a long time. Thank You, Lord, for Your patience and care.
I pray that God will give me the courage to continue the 34 week program. I started today. As I was reading "Accept Acceptance...," I started crying because I don't know if I want to review the photo album of my life. I have so many painful memories. I realized that I have been wanting my family to accept me. My decisions revolve around the need to be accepted.

Thank you for the opportunity to do a retreat on-line.
I like the method of contemplation in the ‘empty spaces” of my life … driving, walking through airports … Indeed I found it quite energizing. Sometimes order appeared in my photos – pages for childhood sports, schools, family, family vacations, with friends. At other times, the pictures were more muddled … maybe clashing together … hard to distinguish. Not all of the times that I thought would be painful were as painful … the journey has been not so bad after all. My early work days and especially when my children were young … while graced … were less distinct … lots of travel … work … only vague memories of people outside work from these days. But life skills are still developing. The next stage seemed more distinctive and form filled … maybe start of another guided journey. Certainly when I choose to be a member of a community the form of my life is more defined.As I reflected with my spiritual companion the less graced and the graced sometimes appear together. God can use our less graced moments. In the joy of finding grace even in the less graced moments I see that it is not so much that we discover God but God discovers us … or maybe more accurately that I discover that God was there and trying to discover me all along.
I end this week of reflection thanking God for the graces in my life and for the people who have helped me to see them.
As I begin with week 1 of this journey. I have thought so much about who I was growing up. All I wanted to be, all I tried to be. Things I couldn't give up. I have seen God looking upon me even when I was so distant. But now how can I begin to thank God for who I have become. For showing me that I am nothing. That being nothing is wonderful. Thank you God because now that I realize all I have comes from you. Thank you for loving me even when I couldn't love myself. Praise God!
We are using this for a small faith sharing group I belong to. We met last night and shared our experiences. I was touched by the honesty of the sharing. I learned things about my group members memories that I had never known. I was very touched and we all felt so close to one another. We all appreciated having "memories" be the background of our week experience. This online retreat is a precious gift already!
The Lord gave me a quick and strong mind and body. Many times in my life, some quite recent, I have enjoyed these and flaunted them without remembering that they are gifts to me, no accomplishments of mine. Thank you Lord for the enjoyment of these graces, help me to remember that they are gifts to cherish and use and that they are spiritually neutral – they neither make me better nor worse except in so far as I use for your purposes.

I just happened across the online retreat this past weekend and with lots of prayer I am committed to completing the 34 weeks. My initial questions to myself was, "How will I know if I am changing". In The Courage To Accept, Acceptance we read that scripture contains the answers to the deepest questions. The following day I read in 2Corinthians 4: 16-18, We are not discouraged; rather, although our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to what is seen but to what is unseen; for what is seen is transitory, but what is unseen is eternal. Then I understood that God will know and will let me know!!!
I just began the retreat today and as I looked through my life's photo book, I realized how blessed I've been. Although there have been many losses, my father died when I was almost four, my step dad died when I was 20, I know these pains have helped me to become a very compassionate person. But what I've always been grateful for is that I didn't have a mean, abusive step dad. We hear so many horror stories of abuse in step families, but I can only think of how he was a blessing over and over again. The pictures in my mind are of camping, traveling, family gatherings, delicious soup, hugs(once in a while) and laughs.
When he died suddenly, I thought my life would be so empty! I know I missed a lot, like having him walk me down the aisle at my wedding, holding my children, etc..I don't want to dwell on what I missed, but what I was blessed with, even if it was for only 10 years. He's been dead for 25 years now and I will always love him. Shortly before my mom died two years ago, she was lying in her bed and dancing with someone.
she had her arms reached out and they were held in such a way that no one who saw it could mistaken what she was doing. I believe she was seeing my step dad and doing what she loved to it's another photo in my album I will always remember. Thanks for the opportunity to share! God bless all on the retreat of life!!!

We are so human, and if we could all somehow tell how it really is with us, would there be a one among us form whom acceptance does not matter?
On the other hand, what if we could all stand together, of one voice, perhaps stand next to the woman who lives in the desert and feels alone. What if we could breathe out, in one mighty breath, the Breath of God, the love we have and are, the Love that lives within us, to heal and make whole, to encourage, support and accept unconditionally every being on this tiny, sacred planet? What if? If we truly understood, could we ever feel alone?
-- Sarah, Week 1
I have began the exercises today! (Sept. 21) - As I work on my lifeline - I recognize how gracious God has been to me, how God has been present to me from the beginning, even when things were bad in my life. I live 60 miles outside of New Orleans. I began by wondering where is God for the victims of Katrina? I have family that lost homes and jobs. I weep for the suffering of the people of New Orleans, especially the poor. As I continued praying this morning, I know that God is present to the people of New Orleans through me. I am called to be the "hands and feet" of God for my neighbors. I need grace from God, much grace, to live up to the answer of Isaiah, "send me!" -- Christine
In early spring, I looked at this site and began with the 1st week. In reflecting upon my earliest life, so much became real to me.....especially the awareness that I was conceived in love and that this continues to this day. What a wonderful awakening! This is where I stopped.

It is clear that I need to continue. So today is that proverbial 1st day. Journeying with each of you and with Jesus will be my delight. Blessings.
My father was very strict. There was no such thing as an accident.
Someone was always at fault, and it was never him. He expected his children to behave like adults. In many ways he expected us to be perfect.
His temper was unpredictable and violent. Last night after a couple of days of reviewing my childhood, the grace came to me that I am still struggling to be perfect to win love. But I already have God's love as I am. If I continue to strive for perfection, to be holy, it should be out of my love for God, not because I need God's love and approval.
I am looking forward to starting the on-line retreat tomorrow. I have been interested in Ignatian Spirituality for quite awhile and have used the Daily Readings for a long time. I have also used those of Mark Link, the Irish Jesuits and even the Jesuits in Singapore. I look forward to starting and hopefully completing this spiritual exercise. I also think it is neat that some of the resources are from Fr. Gillick whom I know. A few months ago I went to Demontreville and found that spiritually rewarding and hopefully this will be a continuation of the journey I have just begun. Hopefully I will continue on this road and will add another sharing soon..
Week 1 - This is the second year I have done this retreat, and I am more excited than ever to begin. I have missed the incredible closeness I felt to God and Jesus Christ during my first retreat. The experiences I had during my first retreat were sincerely life changing. Ask and you shall receive. If in your heart you really want to be closer to God, all you have to do is ask. Blessings to all who are doing this retreat.
Each day I have for the last few years said a rosary for someone. In my journal I write the names for about 3 months ahead. Some have passed away and some are still here. When I decided to make this retreat, was when all the people of my childhood were on my list for this week #1. It seems that our Lord is leading me in this direction.
-- Bonnie
My look at my past life became very positive as I thanked God for all that had helped me grow, both the good and the bad. Perhaps the bad made me grow the most. I have read a book which says that God is love and gratitude is the only way to go.
I recently picked up the book Living Devotions at my church. On Aug 11, I can across this web site and decide...this is what I need.
The Lord has been so good to me...blessed us with Rain, good children, a loving husband...we have these out side problems that I seem unable to control with common sense, ignoring it....or doing something my plan is I am going to pray these problems away..
I am praying that the Lord will send me the tools, the people, the resources, the help solve these issues....They are very difficult to solve and in some case personally affect my life every single day....and I am wanting to learn how to stop them from being in my life...I want them to have no control over me. But I want you to know how good the Lord is first and for most. So I need to turn it over to HIM ...and we will have his protection and his will be done. Week 1
-- Sue
The theme of acceptance is so crucial in our lives. The problems I encountered as a tiny child in a normal, modest, middle income family were from feeling unacceptable, ‘not good enough’, and wearisome. It makes me realize all of my life I have struggled for acceptance, trying to look good in others eyes, often oblivious to what I really wanted or what would be best. I didn’t grow inside as a person. I’ve felt stunted and misshapen. Our most basic need of acceptance can’t be supplanted with things like meals, shelter, and clothing. We can be cared for but uncared for at the same time. And the being ‘uncared’ for will always predominate. The hurts still run deep. I find tears in my eyes, running down my face while I pull out my memories and look at them. But it is good for me to do this. It also helps me to understand why I need God so much, why I rely on his Love to surround me and pick me up when I fail. His acceptance teaches me that I am lovable and the gratitude I feel overwhelms me sometimes, but in a powerful, good way. I went to a workshop some years back and was asked to participate in an exercise where each of us was to write or draw a timeline of our lives. During the group sharing what I discovered was that I had included all of the people in my life on my timeline that. I thought were important and what impact they had had on me, yet I was the only one of the group who didn’t start out with myself as an infant or young child. When I looked again at my timeline, I WAS NOT ON IT AT ALL. That spoke volumes to me. I had not yet learned to value or appreciate or accept myself; not even in my own history.

God’s Love for me has given me back my history and re-framed it. I have been able to understand my mother and father, why they did things the way they did, why they had so little understanding of a young child. We may have been absent from Church and God, but He wasn’t absent from us. I think He knew how desperately I needed to feel significant and He put people there who helped me feel important and who told me that I mattered and was ok, just the way I was. Thank you, Lord, for your providence and care when I was so vulnerable, little, and afraid. Thank you for providing loving people in my life, for giving me opportunities to discover myself in the light of your Love. It gives me the grace of forgiveness, and it helps me to accept others as I find them. I deeply believe all people are doing the best they can at any given moment. If I don’t think they’re doing so good, maybe it’s because they need something I can give them: a sense of being respected, trust, kindness, a smile, a word of caution, praise, compassion, sympathy, recognition, a sense of being connected, of being loved. Help me, Lord, to accept your acceptance and to extend it to others. We all so desperately need it to grow
Week 1: I am so excited to be particpating in the on-line retreat. Spirituality is one area of my life that I need to concentrate on. I am in my early thirties and somewhere in my late teens Iost my way. I got involved in things I shouldn't have and made poor choices in my life. I stopped going to church, praying or really thinking about God at all. Over the past few years I have re-created my life and I know God has helped me/carried me. Yet, I still feel so alone and empty. I need to regain my faith in God, in myself, life and other people. I want so badly to feel whole and happy. I am single with no children and very badly want this in my life. Some nights I lay in bed crying because I am so lonely. I hope this retreat refocuses my energies on positive thoughts and strengthens my faith in God.
I have done the retreat week 1. Feelings which laid down inside popped up like an insect which received sunlight. First of all it is all confused and surprising. And then the way of acceptance comes along timidly. Thank you Jesus to be my sunlight. I am looking forward for the next week.Thanks for this retreat
I lived without knowing that God exist untill 23 years old ( 11 years back). I strongly believe that Medjugorje and my grandmother prayers changed my live. Ever since then I try to be an practicant believer but some pains remained in my hearth. The impression that I had a unhappy childhood (from the first moment), the impression that I loose the first years of my life studying to much, the disaster relationships during my University years, a lot of sinns...
Went back in my past with Gesus, cry with him for my pains and umilities than He brought light in my past and show me good things that I never saw before. A lot of gifts from Gesus I never saw till now. I felt that he was there with love and patiency waiting for me to meet him. I'm feeling much better now I do not feel as handicapated by my past as I felt till know. I've never knew how to talk with Gesus, I really felt He was near me this week when I said: Jesus I know you are with me today.
Pray for me.
I am so grateful for this spiritual opportunity. I began a few weeks ago and was distracted by things which were very much unexpected in my life. I actually forgot about the retreat until yesterday. This will be the time of day for reflection, reading and prayer. The distractions which sidetracked me are now a part of the journey that I am examining. I am facing some spiritual challenges at this time in my life and I believe that this retreat will be just what I need . I have been especially moved by the reading on acceptance. As I ponder my life and God's presence it is not hard to see him in my childhood. However, I have some difficulty with being loved through the adult errors and shortcomings. How amazing that I am loved in that way. Even more amazing - I forget that I am.
I came across this retreat by accident and since I feel very lonely and disconnected from my God, I am hoping that I will feel and know in my heart that He/She loves me in spite of all the mistakes I made in this life and all the people that I have deeply hurt. I feel cut off from my Church because my pastor is simply a good soldier of the Church and talks the 'party line' of Rome. I cannot accept the fact that God is not calling women to the priesthood, because I know the Holy Spirit is calling them. I went for the first time in my life to an Episcopal Church because I knew there was a woman priest there and I wanted to see before I died a woman image Christ. I did and it was beautiful. After Mass, the woman priest told me she has been serving God as an Episcopal priest for seventeen years. How can this be wrong? ... ... These are the questions that I feel I must ponder during this retreat. I wish I had a spiritual director to lead me, but I live in a small town in the desert with no one available to help me. So I guess I'll be the voice crying in the desert, it's 125 degrees today, asking God not to forsake me or think of me as a heretic for the questions I'm asking, but to love me and to send His/Her Holy Spirit to guide me. Week 1.
I look forward to going into this retreat series and smiled with remembering when I read the first retreat guide - remembering a specific evening as I was singing my toddler to sleep. He was long asleep when I stopped and as I sat there praying for him and his life to come and for God's hand to protect and guide him, I started to remember my own wayward past and the following song flowed out of my
heart: Thank you, that you kept me in your embrace.
I was struggling to run, so far away.
I denied you and defied you.
With the world I kept pace,
But you never loosened
Your protective embrace.CHORUS
Lord God My Father,
Now I need you, just as much as before,
But now I'll rest in your arms,
It's all I'm longing for.So many times that I fell over myself,
Trying to make sense of it all.
Oh, so many whom I've hurt.
I feel you most of all,
But you never let me completely fall.CHORUSMade my own decisions,
They all had to be free.
There was no place for you,
You just couldn't be.
You know my life,
Where I've been,
You know better than I,
Yet, you chose still to keep me
In your arms so wide.CHORUSLord God My Father
Now I need you
so much more than before,
and in your arms I'll now rest,
You're all I'm longing for.- Alison
As I go through the photo album on my life and reflect on the picture for week 1, I become increasingly aware of the flaw of Original Sin that we all share. Throughout my life I have been wanting to "do things my way," which is symbolized by the baby pushing away with his/her left arm. I also am writing this reflection ironically on July 4, the celebration of the Declaration of Independence for the U.S.. Can God, in conjuction with my own will, change this life while on this journey and make a statement of 'Declaration of Dependence on God alone?' I hope and pray for guidance from the Holy Spirit as I continue this retreat for another week.
I just completed Week 1. And I read the reading on the very last day. For this reading to claim that God is actually living with me, contemplating with me, GAZING at me, all day long, is just too fantastic to accept. I still have trouble believing or accepting that he would dedicate one whole day to me. I mean, out of all the people in the world? Why me? Recognizing that I am accepted by God. I didn’t think it would be that hard to accept this thought until I read the lines : “… When we read the dialogues of St. Catherine of Siena, we get the impression that God has nothing to do but simply occupy himself with Catherine. “ I immediately went “Whoa… that can’t be true?”. “… And that is right. The undivided attention of God is with her and with each of us.” You mean God will actually spend time – one day’s worth of time, just being pre-occupied with me? Alarm bells just went off in my head. Automatic disbelief. It just can’t be true. An all important God, spending time with just me? I still don’t want to take that as the answer. Its just too incredible. Here I am doing all sorts of things to be worthy of my partner’s attention, but God is just content to look after me – each moment of the day? Share my thoughts? Listen to my desires? Laugh when I laugh… kick me when I look at the mirror criticizing my looks… watch the words I type… simply just have a hell of a good time (no pun intended)? And what about those times when I was crying? Was he there too? I didn’t really think you are there all the time Lord. In fact, I felt lonely a lot of times. I just didn’t think that anyone cared – until I do something witty or useful or funny. Don’t tell me that you are here to live life with me.
Only the second day and already a snag. I'm having difficulty submitting to the discipline of reviewing my story -- yet again! After an intense time of inner healing and now leading a course on inner healing prayer, I find the assignment to once more go back through this process in a systematic way wearisome. My temptation is to skip this week's exercises and move on to week 2 where hopefully I will find something fresh.

Hmmm... That last sentence awakened something in me -- something that feels like the sting of conviction, like the Spirit of God alerting me to a work he wants to do -- a new, fresh work. Why should my story seem stale to me? Why should reflecting on God's abiding presence in all of my life seem wearisome? Why this urgency to get beyond this stage to something else? Is it arrogance to think that God would be unable to say anything to me by going through this again? That he would not be able to use it to teach me, feed me, strengthen me, convict me, reveal to me, guide me, transform me into the image of Christ?

Forgive me, Lord, for my arrogance and impatience. I am your handmaid, and I will submit to the wisdom of this process. May my obedience be offered to you with cheerfulness and joy, and with my heart open to whatever you intend to do. May I come to you as a child, not full of myself, but fully dependent on you. Bless you, Lord, as together we plumb our story to new depths. If there are new insights to be gained, may I receive them openly. If there are none, then may we together celebrate what you have already revealed, healed, and made new.
Week 1. Day 1. The very first thing that impressed itself upon my mind was the picture of the mother hold ing the child. My attention went immediatly to the baby. She looks like she's squirming in her mother's embrace. With her left hand she pushes away against her mother's chest. Her body twisted, her head turned away from her mother's face. Naked and vulnerable, maybe distracted by something else -- a toy, another person, an appealing sound, she wants no part of her mother's tender, yet unyielding grip.

And yet, the mother holds tight, close to her breast, her mouth kissing the struggling infant's cheek, her hert beating against her child's naked skin, her eyes gazing tenderly on the tiny, distracted head, her hand firmly supporting the twisted back. She's holding her daughter close, safe, secure in an intimate embrace -- a gift the child is completely missing in her eagerness to escape.

What a picture of me, Lord! I cry out to be held by you, embraced by you. I long to experience you deeply and intimately. And yet, I miss the gift. You are answering my cries in ways I can't yet receive. The fantasy of what your embrace "should" feel like is more appealing to me than the precious reality of those firm arms wrapped around me. Distracted by my fantasy, and by so many other things -- I squirm to get away.

But still you hold tight. Still you gaze upon me with gentleness and love. Still my nakedness is pressed into your breast -- pressed not by my eagerness to be there, nor my faithfulness, but by your strong, steady, unyielding hand.

In this moment, I thank you, Lord. In this moment I ask you to keep me in your arms. Do not let me be drawn away from you. In this moment I ask you to gaze upon the deepest desire of my heart -- the desire to be one with You, one as You are with the Son and the Spirit, sharing the intimacy of the Holy Trinity, the undivided fellowship, the eternal, unbroken flow of love. Tomorrow I may begin squirming again. Lesser desires may draw me away from this blessed place. Lesser cries may come from my lips. Discomfort, pain, shame and brokenness may -- no, WILL -- make me want to turn away, to hide my nakedness. But today, hear my cry. Today hold me close. Hold me close, Lord. Hold me close.
I came across this site by "chance", precisely at a time when I was seeking a way of deepening my spiritual exparience. I have discovered - or rediscovered - that when fear of pain makes us block out or refuse to remember the past we deprive ourselves of good, healthy memories. I tend to block out whole periods. Going back, looking for God's prescence in every situation, has given a different "spin" on my perspective. The Spirit has also brought to mind many positive memories, even if they were only fleeting moments.This makes me think of my favourite psalm, 116. This psalm speaks very strongly to me of my life experience. Reflecting on week 1 I recall verse 7:
Be at rest once more, O my soul,
for the LORD has been good to you
Hmmm....I heard of this online retreat a couple of weeks ago from my sister. Today I went to the site. I'm not even sure this is the one she was referring to but it caught my eye. I am a whole to part learner so not being able to see the big picture, it has always been hard for me to see the pieces. However, as I look back, fondly, sadly, fearfully and regretfully, I wonder. Why can't I remember but bits and pieces of that first old brownstone? I was 7 when we moved, surely I should remember more than going to bed when it was still light as the noise of the street beckoned me to crouch at the window as if I were somewhere else....watching over someone else's life. That house blends into the next, where I spent the majority of my formative years. I remember the house, but often try to forget the memories. God has put into my life a wonderful Christian counselor who has helped me to understand that "hurting people hurt people". Once I was given the peaceful gift of acceptance of that statement, I found the anger was subsiding. Yet, insidious as life experiences are, they continue to slither into my actions and daily activities.

I was blessed by reading "somewhere" tonight about God's time being unlike our time. Yes, I have known that but never thought about praying for the little frightened girl I was then...I never realized that since God IS.....He can help that little girl. Wow, that was liberating for me. I can look back over my life and see how God has been there everytime I was hurting....I want to get to the point where I realize that in the present, instead of hindsight.
My wife recently interviewed for a job in a breast center. She thought the interview went very well. We were very excited thinking about the additional income and many benefits we would receive when she got the job. No word has come on a hiring decision. I just completed Exercise 1 and it made me think, Where is God in this dilemma? Then I thought we should have been excited that she would be assisting the doctors and helping the women recovering from treatments. We still haven't heard about a hiring decision, but whatever happens we know that God is present and that there may be another opportunity for us to serve him. Week 1
This is my first retreat. It was suggested to me by my spiritual director. Week 1 is now in its second week for me. I have been reviewing my life carefully. At first I saw only chaos, being one of eight children and in the middle, at that. Then I focused on the fun times, then went back to the chaos. What purpose could the chaos have been to me? What purpose was it that I belong to a family that I did not fit the mold. What purpose was there in me being bullied all of my life and sexually abused by a babysitter, of which my parents never knew. Where was God? He did not do this, these things made him sad. How could any good come from this? God sent me an older brother that saved my life. We are both in our 50's now and I opened up to him 1 year ago. Since then, out of that chaos came a relationship of respect and love. He accepts me as I am and guides and protects me from bullies as well as teaches me how to protect myself. He listens and provides me with a safe place. Since experiencing acceptance I can work on accepting myself , as I really am, not as others want me to be and I can allow myself to feel God's love and acceptance.
I often remind myself that God loves ME. I also know that God loves everyone!!!!!! It is not for me to wonder why or how. This has changed my approach to relationships with others. I am learning to accept others as they are, and not as I want them to be.
WOW this is only week 1.
week 1. I have the picture of mother and child on my screen. This is such a beautiful picture that I am glad this will be up for the entire week. The feeling I have of this picture are those of beauty and and being nurtured and cared for. This contradicts my own experience, or my memory of my experience; since i was taken from my mother and placed in orphanage, and then the abusive foster and the abussive adoptive home. I am aware now that I could not surived unless there were people in my life that cared for me though I cannot remember them now. Those people who offered their unconditional love. I am reminded of a portion of the psalms that states that when my mother and father give me up God is there for me...or something to this effect...I can't remember the particular psalm however. I so desperately need to get this into my soul...That God loves me personally, and by name.
The Jesuits have been good to me. They taught, challenged and encouraged me in college. Some have been my friends, and one friend in particular assisted me in the Spiritual Exercises last year. That journey enabled me to change jobs, which was not my intent or even a thought when I started the exercises. God is the great comedian.

I have reached a place where it is clear that I need direction and a settling in my soul. So, once again, I begin the journey of Ignatius which leads me deeper into Jesus.

It is good to know that others walk this journey with me. Week 1
Since I was in a catholic girls boarding school for 7 years and then for 2 more years in the convent, as I wanted to become a nun (I left as I couldn't continue)I have been used to making retreats and enjoyed the talks and reflections and I had a spiritual director whom I used to communicate with until I got married and left the country. In a new country and with a new language I lost almost all contact with God and my spiritual life began to deteriorate. We have two sons and we had them baptised in the church, we followed them closely till they received first communion and confirmation so we accompanied them to church regularly till the mass timings changed then we stopped going regularly to church. Since two years I'm praying very hard to the Lord as our second son dropped out off school, got into bad company and involved in drugs. He was caught by the police (for robbery and drugs) and several times we had to go and get him out. So from 2003 I started to make novenas and visit different churches as I don't work on fridays. In one of the churches I found a pamphlet that had a 1 day marian retreat. At that time I couldn't make up my mind so last month when I was reading the real life story of an aborigine girl "Donna Meehan", I was very much impressed by her spirituality and the way she communicated with God. I'll close 47 years to-morrow, I don't feel close to God as I would like to feel so I started to look for 1 day retreats and then I found this on-line retreat and deep down in my heart I feel it's going to help me get closer to God. Week 1
I didn't believe I would get anything out of rehashing past years. So many hurtful memories and so many hurtful things I have done and was done to me. I have gone through it all lots of time in a 12 step program.

The first few days I could not see where anything was any different, I have made many amends and forgave many trespasses. Includling forgiving my father for the sexual abuse I suffered from him and in the last year or so even pray he is in heaven and feels okay. I didn't sleep well the last couple of nights, was up early this morning and went to the site and tried again to focus and try. I asked the Lord to show me what he wanted me to see. I saw 2 things. The first came that people were not welcome in our home as I grew up even though seems like lots of people were there. I find I don't invite people to my home, it just came to me. I will see what God has in mind for a way for me to change this.

The second thing was very strange. I fell asleep for a short nap on the couch. I had some kind of dream where I am a grown but much younger woman, my father is there and he is cleaned up, handsome , and not drunk at all. There is a bit of danger in me crossing a street and my father takes my arm and pulls me back from the danger, then says "I am sorry for pulling you like that, and treating you like a little girl". " I say, "that's okay, you are just getting to be a daddy like you always really wanted to be". I have tears as write this.
No need to explain anything else. It was just what I needed. Week 1
I have begun on line retreat after the praying Lent session as it all has a very deep and special meaning to me. Yesterday would have been my Dads 81st birthday. He passed away two weeks before Christmas. He was very devoted to the church, to the Bible, to God. He did Bible study right up until he could no longer read and then we read to him, even though we didn't do it right. He could tell!!!! He was a very special man and I miss him soooooo much. I was born and raised Catholic, but haven't gone to the church in a very long time, with many questions about Catholic ways and teachings. But that is not holding me back from praying and doing this retreat. I am happy to have a guide to help me with my prayers.
As I opened the ‘picture book’ of my life, several things came to mind readily, some hurts, fears, apprehensions, joys, simple things that I still remember after so many years. Yet, like a picture book that is shared with thos ewho love you and you them, the Lord is just as present to these pictures of my experience. I shared them with the Lord and Our Lord ‘acknowledged’ them, as only He can, in your heart, to your soul. How tenderly he alone can love and make you feel that YOU are important TOO, in HIS EYES. (Week 1)
I've just begun your retreat, first day, first time. Immediately, I found a problem with myself in my association with my husband. I've been very disgusted lately with his constant turning conversations to himself, his own experiences, not responding to others' words. Now I realize it's probably my own response to him of not making him feel ACCEPTED by me. I have hope that I can continue to be open to your promptings throughout this experience. God bless you! Week 1
In breaking down my life, starting early on, I must say I knew the presence of God, even though my family was not terribly religious let alone catholic. I was very happy, vivacious, playful and all boy. I sought identity especially through sports and games with friends. I remember too that God was with me and I was innocent and pure. I did not understand evil or wrong doers; I could only acknowledge the good in people and that is all I saw in them. I loved my whole family and all that comprised my little circle very much. It’s beautiful to look on children who harbor that love for their parents and family that makes me want to go back to such an innocent time of life. Week 1
I have started the retreat today. This feels like the first day of the rest of my life. It has encouraged me to view past hurts differently. That these have been times of grace because God was there with me and used the experiences, both sad and joyful to shape my life and make me the person I am today. If God accepts me as I am, what harm can others do to me when they do not?

I would encourage anyone to try this retreat and will recommend it to friends, both people of faith and people who think they have none but are troubled by the emptiness of modern life when worth is counted in dollar signs (pesos, pounds, euros, etc.) and sex and shopping, the only religions. Week 1.
The first week began with a huge challenge. As I walked my dog in the morning--my usual time for prayerful centering for the day--I thought, Okay, God, how were you present during the sexual abuse in my childhood? As I reflected, I realized how many times the Spirit has taught me compassion. The terror and fear of my childhood experience led me to build huge walls of defense--which time after time our "three-personed God" hammered through. Suffering what I did has finally taught me to plumb the depth of my compassion for others who suffer. I have learned to see my experience, and more importantly my journey into healing from it, as a lesson in resilience and awareness of all the need and pain and hopelessness in the world. I no longer flee from this experience, but reach through it to others in the world who suffer. I am so grateful for the simple, clarifying challenge of Week One.
Week 1: I was either 12 or 13. During the summer, we had Mass in the Parish Social Hall, (it was air-conditioned) and at least once, I remember being in the Hall, after Mass waiting for my parents. I specifically asked God where He was. If He was present and how could I somehow feel closer to Him. I found that answer in a quiet way and stood near a corner of the altar area. I wasn't overwhelmed by His presence, but somehow, I felt that He was there with me. A nice positive image.

The other image, was of me returning to my high school after being at college for a semester. I felt so "cool" and "important." I felt that now "I was somebody" as if before, I wasn't really quite a "person" yet. Well, a student recognized me and showed great joy in seeing me. We weren't really close or anything, but I was touched by her response...still, I couldn't seem to help myself and acted with a cool response. As if, "well, of course you should respond to my presence in awe since I'm a college student now. " It has bothered me. So I asked Jesus to show me His presence in that particular past moment....and I saw Him standing behind me observing sadly at my actions, but also being gentle with me. My heart was pierced by my bold arrogance, but not quickly enough to rally and treat that person properly. However, I also felt that Jesus forgives me. He did see it all. He was sad. But He also wants me to get past the moment. Sometimes, I think that moment has haunted me, because I so wanted to receive recognition, or at least a certain type of recognition, when I was growing up, that when I finally did receive it, I acted the way others had always acted towards me...with cool aloofness. I felt that I failed God because, I wasn't any better than anyone else...given the opportunity. I try to be nice to people, but I still fail at times when my ego gets in the way. This particular image allowed me to see Christ's presence in my failure and know that He still cared for me. He didn't stop caring even when I kind of did.

"Dear Jesus, I thank you for being with me, gently guiding and sculpting me with and through every event in my life. Those I remember and those I don't remember. Now, I desire to continue exploring your presence in my life through this coming week."

And as only God can do, my eyes have fallen on the comment: "Am I accepting of who I am today? If not, can I hold those areas up to God? If yes, can I hold my whole self up to God in gratitude?" And: "We are in the presence of a God who can not keep love hidden and we are God's best work of art." These are thoughts that I will contemplate in the background of my life this week.

Christine, Alaska
I have just begun the retreat and find that a phrase from one of the prayers keeps coming to mind: "Lord, my life is in your hands.  Please, let this day give you praise."  Repeating these words silently -- before meals, while waiting for the bus, in the midst of everyday tasks -- slows me down, centers me.

Self-acceptance, that's the hard part. I'm nearly 70 years old, yet the memory of certain actions still shames me.  I'm not referring to any "great" or "mortal sins," but rather to garden variety moments of pettiness, self-promotion at the expense of others. I see more and more clearly that it is when I most doubt my own worth that I put others down.  Why is it so hard to believe that God loves and accepts me as I am right now, this very minute? "Smile.  Jesus loves you," the smiley-face buttons used to say.  Trite, perhaps, but the pared-down message has validity.  Once I accept the fact of God's loving acceptance of me, I can reach out to others with a more generous spirit.
I have just finished the readings for Week 1, and the week of practice is stretched out in front of me.  To now, I have spent many, many hours in reflection of my life—the highs and the lows.  Regardless, I know that this period of reflection will bring up something new and powerful.  The context in which I review my life is different, so I am prayerful and confident that the Lord will have new things to show me.

Outrageously, my nagging torment is to know that God has blessed me with purpose and gifts beyond my own human recognition.  Yet, I stand on the edge of that tall ladder with one toe curled on the end—hesitating to fall off.  I have jumped from airplanes, traveled around the world by myself, spoken in front of hundreds, and faced many new adventures.  Yet, “go ahead and jump” is scary.  Because I know the jump of faith is different than any human, physical risk. I’m prayerful that I’ll emerge from the retreat having lept from the highest rung!

            Kelli, Indiana
I am 75 years old and a cradle Catholic. For many of these years I was a 'routine' Catholic. About 15 years ago, in a very realistic experience, Jesus gave me a strong shove, stating my 'routine' just wasn't good enough. This eventually led me to the Ignation Exercises, Lectio Divina  and Centering Prayer. However for the past 12 month or so I have been in a period of 'desolation'. I explored many internet avenues until a Jesuit priest suggested Creighton University. After the first week of the on-line retreat I know I am at the right place. I am very blessed that after those 75 years, of which 38 very happily married, I have only good memories for my 'picture album'.
Week 1: Prayer is about our relationship with God. I used to pray that God would protect me.... From an abusive grandfather, from my childhood fears and shyness. From, being the fat kid always trying to please and fit in. From bad choices, adult abusive relationships, divorce and alcoholism. God, you let me down.

What did all those masses, and rosaries and candles mean to a distraught and totally hopeless person.  What and where was this gratitude I was to ask for?  I got screwed and now even after 22 years of being sober, and asking for His help and guidence  where was it?

I came back to my Church with a hopeful heart. I have found friends, yet even now find my small parish rocked by disputes and bickering.

Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but say the word and I shall be healed. I am listening.

Why is it that murders who confess can then receive communion?  Or child molesters?  Or politicans who vote for killing the unborn?  But not a divorced person....not in this church.

Where is my acceptance?  When the priest offers the body and blood of our Lord. I yearn for that helping bread. My mistakes have removed me from the full relationship with God.  Can I find that acceptance from God which varies from acceptance by His church?

I have been chewing on this truth and hope I will last.
So my prayer after this week is: God help me.
So much of this week was so helpful for me.. In fact one of my favorite Psalm is 139. As a kid I lost my day early in life and as I grew up  I kearned to find the better effects that it had on me. After all all things have two sides not always a good one but always a better one. I learned soon to look at it as I grew up to look at he better and not dwell on the worst. It can be changed but sometimessued as a jump start point or prayer start that things didn't turn out worst.  In fact we prayed at home everynight and whenI go the boarding school we prayed often. At first  I recited the orayers with everyone else without knowing what they meant but I I grew up and said them ofter I began to see a lot of meaning in them.  One of my favorite expressions is "God is crazy about me.  Seems too forward but sometimesI think he is just looking out for me.  I really know that he loves us all this way. But that saying comes tomind often ..I do realize that I don't thank him enough.  I will put more effort here from now on.  Week 1
I started wk 2 today, and I find I was very flimsy on wk 1.  I went through it all in my head when driving, but today as I try writing it down, I see I have left out many important parts.  Maybe God was leading me to certain parts, or maybe I just wasn't focussed enough.
I have started all sorts of hand written journals over the years, and never used them much.  This time I have started by using Excel as it does not require sentences. I see there is not much about God in this, - maybe next time.
I have just completed Week 1 and starting Week 2.  It was not easy for me to go back over my past.  The areas that were most painful and difficult however, were the only times in my life when I prayed for God's help. My prayers were always answered, although I didn't understand who or where God was then.  I actually thought that because of my past as a teenager, that God didn't accept me or love me.  I carried this for many years. And as I look back on those years, I feel so worthless because I don't even remember thanking God for helping me. So Thank You Lord, for those times when I rec'd your love and care for me.  I was too hurt, and ashamed to accept myself to know your real presence in my life. But, as I begin week 2 I feel so grateful and blessed to God for loving me both during those difficult times and in my most happiest times.
I'm just finishing Week 1.  I’ve read some of the sharing from other retreat participants & find that when I look at my “photos” I can’t necessarily see or sense Him there the way others describe.  I know He has been with me overall and especially this past year He has given me many graces.  Does this mean I haven’t looked hard enough at my photo album to move on to the next week?  I do feel that making this retreat is the right thing for me—I believe He directed me to this site during Lent & reminded me now that I had said I would start this retreat in September.  So I guess I should go back to one of the tips for the journey:  “do not expect, look for or demand progress”.  I think I need to continue the journey and trust that God will give me the graces as He sees I need them.
One thing that struck me as I read the sharing was the realization that so many people are making the retreat at this same time, so even though we are all in our individual homes and don't know one another, we are really all together in making this journey closer to God.  I said a prayer at Mass this evening for all "my travel mates."  And also, thank you to those responsible and doing the behind the scenes work that make this site and retreat available.  God bless us all.  And please say a quick prayer for that I make it through the 34 weeks.
Week 1. I have been reflecting on my joy, pains, sorrow, and struggles over my past and how the Lord was present. May times I see God's intervention in my life. I marval about how the Lord as master weaver, brings things about. For example, introducing me to my wife. At that time I had stepped away from dating...the women I was interested in all seemed to have problems they were not willing to address and so I could not offer any help or support. It got to be too frustrating. I was attending a parish for some time when the pastor said something that upset me. A TV preacher had said once that the best thing to do in these instences is to leave and join another parish and so I did. Within the first week a lady sitting behind me invited me to join a small faith community prayer group which I eventually lead. One of the members of that group invited a new member in the music ministry to join our group. I got to know her over three month (still not interested in dating anyone). She was new to the country and here alone. At work one of my friends invited me to join hima nd his girlfriend to see a movie. Not wanting to be a third wheel and because they were from the same contry as the female in the prayer group, I asked if I could invite her along. And from there things took off. I see so many doors having to open to meet my wife...switching parishes, the invitation from a stranger, staying in the prayer group, her invitation to join, my co-worker's invitation, and my wife saying yes to going with us, not to mention being open to each other. At that point in my life I had to be hit from behind, if I saw it coming I would have turned away (running). God is so great! Thank you Lord for leadng me blindly to this clearing, for not letting go of my hand along the way, and knowing my heart as only you could. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to be that guiding hand for others. May I always keep a keen ear poised to your voice and a the will to follow Your path for my life. I love you deeply Lord for your unconditional love of me.
While I reflected on events from my past, I noticed in a way that I hadn't before that at the same time I experienced difficuly or loss in one area of my life, in another area I received the grace of new friendships.  It wasn't until I had reflected on my life that I was able to make the connection between these events, and I came to a greater awareness of the comfort and consolation that God brings admist hardship. Week 1
I wasn't sure what the first week would mean to me, having done years of work with spiritual directors. I seem to be in a long period when I have faced crisis after crisis. Even though I have handled  them all well, and they have basically worked out at least okay, and even though I have learned gratitude for nearly everything in my life through all my work and prayers and spiritual direction, I did not find the images that came to me to necessarily be those that suggested a grateful life. My work feels in pieces. In other words, I am still working toward something that is not there now in what I would call "fullness."
A few months ago when I ended twenty years of spiritual direction, it was with a priest who was very full of joy. Being in his presence reminded me of times when I was also joyful, somthing that is still there, but now covered with one kind of gook or another. I am hoping that this online retreat will help me shed the gook, and lead me toward that joyfulness that I saw in him. And it is for that I pray in Jesus' name. Amen.
I too am starting the retreat at Week 1 for at least the 2nd time.  I keep being drawn to it but I can never finish it.  I know the Lord is calling me to a closer relationship with Him through this retreat but deep down I think I am afraid.  I can't ever seem to get to the point in my life where I can really "feel" God's love for me.  I have always felt that I had to earn and deserve His love, as I have had to with my family.  It is so hard for me to accept His unconditional love.  I try to move closer to God and then I pull away.  My whole life seems to have been like that and I wish I could just get comfortable with my loving father.  It is encouraging to read the sharings of others to know that others struggle with very much the same feelings.  We so often feel that we are the only ones that are going through something and feel so alone and then when we have the courage to share our story we find out that we are not so alone and not the only one to have certain feelings and experiences.  I pray for all of us making this retreat and may we be filled with God's love and blessings. Week 1
It is a blessing to begin this retreat with collecting memories and images of my life, and looking at God’s guidance in it.  As I began this 1st week, the words of Psalm 8 struck home, especially as rendered in the NRSV, “O Lord, our sovereign.”  I was struck by the question of examining how I acknowledge God’s sovereign rule over the world and my life.  This can be seen in the photo album of my life.

I have been using this site for the Daily Reflections for several years. For the past three years I have been making my journey from being a Baptist pastor of 18 years to becoming a Catholic. I enrolled in RCIA at the beginning of September, as I had resigned from the Baptist Church at the beginning of August. My interest in Ignatian spirituality has been with me since I spent a year in a Catholic High School, Marist in Atlanta GA, in 1974.
This is the first week of the retreat for me.  Already I have experienced calmness in my life.  I know that when I open myself to God, there are all kinds of possibilities. As I look to my past, I see the times when things were good, that God was dropped from my life and when things were bad, I begged God’s forgiveness and sought God’s help.  Now, as I begin this weekly journey, I pray that God will gently push me along.
I started Week 1 yesterday.  I was struck by the phrase from Isaiah 49:16 "See, upon the palms of my hands I have written your name".  Quoted in the context of the article, "Courage to Accept Acceptance", I mused about the fact that maybe if I bumped into Jesus today he might be wearing a tatoo with my name on it.  It seems audacious to think like that, but, then again, why not?  But not just my name,  all our names would be tatooed on Him.  But, that's a lot of tatoos!  So, ok, maybe there would just be one tatoo, and depending on the person reading the tatoo, it would say their name, and when you read it, it would say your name. Crazy idea?
I realized as I began day 1 of week 1 of my journey here, that I came into this world extremely blessed and surrounded by people who loved me and influenced me in a positive way. Although my parents were very young and not as present as they should be, I had grandparents, great grandparents AND great-great grandparents, all of whom surrounded me with love and security and left me with a treasury of wonderful memories. I thank God for those sweet times, and the remembering of them. It has given me the feeling of a seedling with a very good start. I think this is an important feeling for me to hold tight to as I begin to journey into more painful territory.
I started the first week last week.  There are painful memories that need to be healed and the article "accept acceptance" did help a lot and gave me support and inspirations.
Having just begun week 1, I recall a time in my life which I have remembered since that day, almost daily.
It was when I was just 15, a short time after the death of my young Mother and left basically orphaned. Naturally being depressed from not only the loss of my Mother, but also the life I was living in, with my brother and sister, all separated. I found myself in front of a sign which read: "I used to feel sorry for myself because I had no shoes, till I met a man who had no feet".
As I read that sign, I heard it being said in my Mother's voice, and a calm came over me. I knew that I was not alone, that all things are for a purpose. That we may not know where our paths are leading us, but that we each must go down the paths He has laid for us, for He knows what is best for each of us.
It is Saturday and I should be done with week 1. But I am not. I stopped on Thursday, only at: Early adulthood; Friday and Saturday, the rest of my adult life.  At my point in life I am struggling seeing the purpose of my whole life (a very long and pretty complex story), feeling to have pretty much failed in everything, everything being one mistake after another. Little, almost unnoticeable little mistakes."Stay still and waiting for the Lord" has been the answer to many of my prayers when asking what to do.. And I don't find it easy. He has answered me many times, I know, but I am still not sure I am on the right path, really doing His will. I think it will be pretty interesting to go on with the retreat, seeing what will come out of it. It will take longer than the 34 weeks suggested. Just need to be patient.
I just started the retreat.  As I read the first weeks goals I thought that I certainly didn't have any experiences of God when I was a very small child that I can name.   But, then there was my earliest memory. My aunt was dying.  I was 2 years old, standing beside my mother as she knelt in my aunts bedroom.  There were candles, a priest was praying, I knew it was something special but I didn't understand of course.  That was my first experience of religion. When I was 6 my Mother sent me to Catechism Class every Saturday.  We lived in Minnesota and it was winter.  One Saturday morning she bundled me in a snowsuit, boots, mittens, hat and scarf.  I kept telling her I did not want to go to Catechism that day.  She ignored my complaints.  I told her I was not going, but she sent me out anyway to walk to the church which was at the end of the block.  It was about 9:30am. I did not go to Catechism.  I walked in the snow, along a busy parkway, turned unto a road along the Mississippi River, and eventually arrived at my Grandmother's house at about 3:00 in the afternoon.   That was my first experience of faith.  I never doubted I would reach my goal.  God was watching out for me and protected me from all the perils of a small stubborn child alone on busy roads, with deep snow drifts, safe from all the dangers that could have changed the course of my life. P.S.  I didn't get a spanking my parents were so relieved to see me.  They were waiting at my Grandparents house when I arrived, cold, tired, a bit scared and very hungry.
The line in Psalm 139 which grabbed my attention was "All this overwhelms me too much to understand." Metaphorically speaking, I feel  I have been like St. Paul on his way to Corinth to spread the Good News when he comes to a crossroad he hadn't expected and decides to follow it. It leads to an obscure fishing village where he becomes very ill and so needs a doctor. The doctor who comes to his aid is St. Luke.If he hadn't taken the crossroad and gotten sick he would never have met St. Paul. The events in my life since January feel like this though I haven't met anyone yet who remotely resembles St. Luke; but the analogy prompts me to pray this line from Psalm 139 " Lord, do I follow crooked paths? Lead me along your ancient way."

Yesterday and today I have been remebering events from 2 years old to 5 years old which show me that as young as 2 years I had the imagination to be able to believe in God and to understand Him as someone with whom I had a loving relationship. Throughout my life this primal belief has carried me through some tough times. In January of this year I wrote a poem which expressed this, but since my illness in February the sparkle of imagination has disappeared but not the belief. I could no longer enter into the Prayer of Imagination or anything remotely resembling the use of the imagination in prayer. I have remained faithful to my relationship with God and with my fellow man by praying the Rosary and praying for others including my enemies between each decade; but I have longed to be able to enter into imagination once more. Since I started this first week yesterday, I am writing whatever comes to mind, even though I still feel "overwhelmed too much to understand", in the belief that out of the chaos of my writings, the creation of what is in God's mind for me will emerge. I am very thankful to have found this webpage. It seems to be an answer to my prayer. Thank you for using your imagination to design a retreat which will help me rediscover mine. Week 1
I am starting this retreat for the second or third time (I am not sure). After reading the sharing of peoples's week one entries, I see I am not alone. I suppose the one difference this time is that I am using the "Sharing" section of the retreat.
I am at a point in my life where God has blessed me with a good marriage, but no children as of yet. My parents are aging and in need of care. They have lost their joy for life and I find it wears me down and causes me to lose my joy in life. I also feel the need for a change in my career. At times this is all a bit overwhelming.
I do see this retreat as a "glimmer of hope". After going through the readings and the prayers, I feel "lighter". I pray that I may continue to benefit from this retreat. I also pray for each of you who have shared here that God might meet each of you where you need him most. Blessings to all at Creighton U for this wonderful opportunity! Week 1
A number of things have been occuring in the past few years that show the power of the Lord in my own life. There is also one area that need prayer and acceptance. It is in within this area that I request your prayers. I will continue to pray, and request your prayers as well, to live the best life, the most complete life, and continue to accept the love of the Lord and allow the happiness that can be achieved to come in. Week 1
i'm on WEEK ONE, the first day, actually...don't know if i've got what it takes to keep it up...may GOD grant me the grace and strength to persever, even tho' i don't feel His presence...
This has been a good experience for me - coming after other good experiences that has led me to it - and it feels right too, to be where I am, doing what I am within the Church's celebration of the Triduum and approaching our local ecumenical witness of the Cross.
So thank you to God and all those who have helped me be here; those people in the last few weeks who have served me and those who I have served.
Thank you for all the past events I have recalled - and the growing ability to rest in them and discern in them for the journey ahead - Thank you St Ignatius for your insights and for all who make them accessible to me (includes thanks and admiration of the design of the web-site) - Thanks for my Church that provides a place for continuing discerning revelation - thanks for the roots she has provided me - thanks for the recent reflections that tell me why I must nourish my sense of belonging as an RC while I reach out in service and unity with other Christians.
Thanks for, and to, my wife; and all that we now have and can witness to because we are different and are in different church traditions.  Thanks for this space where I can share my joy without it mattering that I cannot do it without boasting.
Thanks for the my firm determination of continuing in this journey that this good start has given me.  Thanks for the realisation that darkness can come.  When it does, may I still be able to recall that "Darkness is not Darkness to Thee".  And thanks Jesus for those kind words to your sleepy disciples "Pray not to be put to the Test" as I am not ready yet.  Thank you Father, Son and Spirit for the faith that you are, and will be gentle, when you "Search my heart and probe me and test and judge my thoughts".  Week 1
I am so truly overwhelmed by life that I can't stop long enough to be with my Lord. I am looking for the way to follow Him closely while being able to do as He asks. Hopefully this retreat will help. I have just looked over the info for the first week and I am truly excited. I can see where this could all come together and change the miserable exsistence I am now living. Hopefully I will have the courage and fortitude to stick it out. Week 1
Well, I realize it isn't September - more like before Easter.  Palm Sunday next week.  My immediate thoughts were  that either I had to catch up, or wait, or jump in the middle.  I think I am a bit compulsive!  I expect this will be fruitful, no matter where I start.  I am a bit hesitant about going through the life review.  I have done that so many times.  Maybe this time I can just let it be and thank Jesus for being with me all those times, even when I felt abandoned.  It seems to me that the theme of my life is aloneness, sometimes that has been expressed as loneliness, but is really something else.  At times, I have thought that I do something to drive others away, but I don't think that is really true.  I have maintained some lengthy and important relationships like marriage, children, and friends.  I think this is partially my "programming" in my family, but the gift in this is that early on having a sense of Christ being there with me and for me.  As we go into the Holy Week, I hope I can have a sense of being there for Him and with Him.  Week 1
This is not as easy as I thought it would be – the cold reality of an email to start a “spiritual” journey. I am a cradle Catholic and attended Catholic schools. I went through the motions because it is what we did.  I have never had a close relationship with God – but until a few years ago I knew he was with me and considered myself blessed. The Virgin Mary intercessed on my behalf – I believe – with the birth of my daughter after a miscarriage. I always swore I would be happy and never ask for anything again.

After a dangerous and obsessive affair with another married person – I made bad choices – that I knew were bad – even as I made them. I still persisted and believed God wanted me to be “happy” and “in-love”.  I felt stupid, used and undeserving of God’s graces.

I was going to first write that I was afraid in starting this retreat because I would not find what I was looking for – that God was not there for me. This luck and grace I had in my life for 33 years was lost in the year 2000. It has not returned and I am afraid it will never return because of the most horrible decisions I have made. I had removed “myself” from my friends, my husband and my family for this “true love” – which I am afraid to admit was true sex.

Wow – I did not think I could write so much – I have so much I have to keep inside – and God’s knows all and he will not return any good graces I once had. I believe in fate and chance – it is by both that I found this website – I hope it is by choice that I return to the One True Church.  Thank you to all involved with this site – and may all of your blessings stay with you for providing this service to all.  I still begin – afraid that I won’t find what I am looking for. But I have always been an optimist. Week 1.
I have made Ignatian Retreats many times so was not prepared for the power of this first week. I lost my mother in May and because of the difficulty of her passing, we had some problems. When she died, the hurts were coming to mind much more quickly than the love. And that was causing such sadness, since my mother died at 94 years of age and had lived with me for the past 15 years. So, when I started with the review of my life, I brought up the scenes of my early life as directed but I  decided to say "Thank you, God" after each of the scenes or pictures that came to mind. I said "Thank you" after the painful ones as well as the joyfilled ones. I saw my mother as a young woman and said thank you, I said thank you for my father's alcoholism, I said thank you for everything.
It has been such a healing week for me. Thank you so much for being here in my home. I have told everyone about your site.
Upon reflecting on the 78 years of my life, I became very much aware how from the beginning  I was immersed in a sea of love; my parents, grandparents , uncles and aunts and family friends.   That immersion continued through much of my teen age years.  From those wonderful years of being loved and encouraged , there emerged in turn an interest, a looking forward to the opportunity to meet people and to learn about them; what they are doing, what they have done, where they have been , where they have come me a truly great pleasure.  
As a late teen I adopted a somewhat agnostic "pose" that carried me through the rigors of combat in WWII and into my university years.  Then I think God said "OK   that is enough for now....take a look at Me from this perspective... and I did.  I could not deny His existence from first , the study of history and  from the arguments of first cause that I was exposed to in my Logic class.  So I at not quite the half way point in my life as lived I became a Catholic convert.    A general absolution brought me up to speed and there followed several years of "near sainthood".   Marriage to an agnostic made for a challenge.   That was resolved  in a few years with her conversion.    Then the WORLD closed in again and rollercoaster ride of belief and doubt began.   I found that doubt , in the long run strengthens faith.  However doubt has to have a prayerful attitude, even though it might be quiet weak, if belief is to prevail.   Belief, (faith) did prevail but in a sort of detatched way....not the previous 'warm feeling' sense.  Marriage Encounter, Cursillio, and several retreats kept me  involved with God over most of the subsequent years.

The motto presented read "YOU MAY BE THE ONLY GOSPEL YOUR NEIGHBOR READS TODAY".    It brought me to my spiritual knees.  It has become my mantra and my "background" sound.  I found it be very difficult  at times to adhere to... and then the second Motto  GOD LOVES YOU AND I AM VERY MUCH TRYING TO  came to help.
This first week brought all the above into focus.  It also showed me  how PRIDE  slipped into my life which in wordly terms  has been very succesful and rewarding.    I am now working on an extensive examination of concience.

I did ask God to help me to accept his love for me...really accept it this  time.   I was aware of this mantle flowing over me, from my head, across my shoulders and down my legs...I was enveloped and it continues as I write. Week 1
I started the retreat several months ago and failed for whatever reason to complete the first week. At this time I am in my second day of the first week starting over. I am reminded of my father's family being ill when he was a child. He and five siblings were put out for other family relatives to care for all at young ages. The family that cared for my father were atheists, and hated Catholics with a passion. My father chose in the midst of this hatred to marry a Catholic. At about the time when I was ten or eleven my father attended private catechism classes and I accompanied him in my own learning of the Church, practices, and our Lord. Through all the many disagreements, arguments, and misunderstandings between my father and me there is this place I can see him humble himself taking a small child for a weekly private retreat. We received our first communion, and confirmation around the same time period, although not together we were father and son feeling sort of like brothers.
I have just completed my first week and am so looking forward to my second week!  I have never been a very spiritual person, but my heart has opened to God if only a small pinhole.  I have always known that God is a part of my life and in everything around me, but I have rarely thought about it.  Now I am praying, and a great anxiety has been relieved in me.  I am feeling a peace within me that I have never felt before.
Traveling through my life story has stirred up different emotions in me.  When I started reflecting on my earliest memories, I thought these would be the hardest because of the strain it took to remember.  As I started into the last twenty years of my memories, I realized these were the hardest.  They were all fresh and not hard to remember, but a new realization came over me.  I had held these as the best years of my life, and they weren't.  Oh to be a child again!  Thank you Lord for opening this up to me!
As I began to look through the album of my life I soon became rather depressed as the negatives seemed to dominate. I remeber once reading somehting like this: "Sekf love is a doll, when we are sad or feel guilty we dress it in black but we nurse it all the same." It seemed to me that doing a bit of wallowing in the negatives of the album was in fact just a form of self love. So I decided I would go through my album starting each sentence with, "I want to than God for ...". Contrary to my first thoughts I discovered I had a great deal of positives to than God for but also I found ways to thank God even for the negatives. This has been a good insight for me. Week 1
I have just finished my First Week.  This is the second time that I have begun this retreat.  The first time was a few years ago and I don't remember exactly how many weeks into it I was but I did not complete it partly because I wasn't dedicating time each day to it.  It was nice looking back over my life with the focus of God's presence this week.  While some of the 'pictures' of my life were happy and good, others were more trying.  It was easy for me to recognize that God was present in the better as well as the worse times.  All of those 'pictures' help to shape me and bring me to the place that I am now so I know that I must embrace all, the good and bad.  This week helped me to 'see' images of my past that I had not really thought about in a long time.  It was great to experience all of these 'images' and to bring to the forefront of my mind and experience that God is with me no matter what the situation or circumstances. 

Sometimes in my life it is easier than others to acknowledge with mind and heart that God loves and accepts me as I am.  However, those times have been few and far between where I truly embraced and fully realized this love of God for me with my whole being.  While God is a constant and for the most part conscience presence in my life, I found that most of the time I do not necessarily feel or recognize this acceptance of God for me as I am.  It is not that I did not believe that God accepts me but that I did not really focus on that and let it have the centralness that it should.  Other times however, I find myself in places where I feel that I need to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation worthily before I can truly be free and open before God (although I never really felt that God wasn't with me or not guiding me - I just felt that this was hovering between us sometimes) because I did not truly embrace with mind and heart that God accepts and forgives and embraces me as I am.  It was a nice week.

I am drawn to return to this retreat, even though day 1 was unpleasant.  To remember the story of my life includes much pain.  Remembering brought me to a crossroads, a point at which I feel my closeness with God is dependent upon answering.  God, how could You?  To which no answer came.  Yet, later, the question was answered with a question as I saw others' lives, with their own intense sufferings...Why not?

My only request is that somehow my sufferings have redeeming grace, some measure of glory in pointing to Christ.  Whether I will understand that during my life, I am not promised.
Week 1

Completing week one, I realize the presence of God in my life. As I search my life's story, I see times of joy and easily find God's Grace in those times. As see times of pain and sorrow, I can see the healing hand of God. As I search further into the darkest period of my life, I question why God's presence did not impact my decision making. Help me Lord, in weeks to come to find the grace in those dark experiences so that I can be released from it's bondage on me. Be with me Lord, as I purify my heart and soul in order to become what you have intended for me to become. Thanks for the gift of this on-line retreat! Week 1

im not to sure of what im doing,but i feel the urgent need of something more in my life. i feel very sad and alone inside myself. im hoping for relief of this depression and i fully know jesus is my answer even though i rsist. i hope i can follow this retreat.

I am ending week 1 with the scripture reading of the woman who, knowing she is loved and forgiven, kneels at Jesus' feet, washing them with her tears and anointing them with aromatic nard.  It is I at His feet, and as I break the alabaster jar to release the ointment, I wonder what it is that I am squandering on Him.  I have nothing but my brokenness, neediness, emptiness.  What is in this jar, that I pour out over Him?  It is my time that I anoint Him with, that I squander on Him, that places me in this position of intimacy.  All I have to give is the time that He has given me, and I give it in prayer and in the work that I do in His name with and for His people.  Lord, let me be lavish in squandering my time on you, of placing myself in Your presence and bearing that presence to the people You put into my life time and space.
I'm excited about doing the retreat.  Our priest has made it easy for all of us to do it, and I know there are several hundred people doing this at the same time.  I tried this a couple of years ago but I think the timing was not right.

What came up for me the first week, loud and clear, were two areas of my life that need healing.  They are (1) abandonment, and (2) acceptance.  I thought I had done enough work with these in my 12 Step Program, but apparently not!  So I'm working the Steps on these areas and of course asking God for help; that's embedded in the Steps.

I have full confidence that God will heal these areas of affliction in my life.  I have always believed God is loving, and that He wants the best for me (and all the rest of His children).  It's just that sometimes I get in the way of His healing!  :-)  So I am going back to reading the Psalms and the Gospels, and to praying a whole lot more than I was.

Thanks to all who put this site together.  It's a real important opportunity for all.
My first week has been off to a difficult start.   The Lord seems to be guiding me back to before I was even born, to the relationship which existed between my parents.  My parents' marriage has always been stormy, yet strangely the Grace of God has been with them, and our family,  despite that brokenness. I know that my parents were planning to separate when my mother found out that she was pregnant with me.  So, my "advent" into the world saved their marriage at that point.  I have continued to play that role over the years. In many ways I have felt as though I was the parent and they were the children.  My parents have never been able to resolve a lot of the brokenness in their marriage.  Alcohol abuse in particular is something that my parents have both struggled with.  So a lot of my early memories are painful ones.  I remember physical fights between my parents when I was just a young child.  It angered me that these events were never discussed in the morning.  The alcohol in the house angered me.  I didn't know how to deal with their drunkenness as a child.  I was nervous to bring people over because I never knew what to expect.  I don't even know how this has affected me.  Yet, it has been incredible how much healing the Lord has brought to our family over the years, and how much grace our family has experienced.  And despite our family brokenness we have been blessed with a deep love for one another.  In the end, I don't really care what has gone on in the past.  I love them so much, I just want them to be well, to be the best they can be, to be healed and to enjoy life to its fullest.  I wonder if that is how the Lord feels about each one of us, if this is his approach to our sinfulness?   I am praying that the Lord will continue to guide me through the rest of my "photo album". 

I have some healing to do. I have asked God to shine in the dark places of my heart, to remove any obstacles that have formed, that may be blocking my ministry. I have prayed for discernment, to know what it means to follow Christ's call, what it is that I am called to be and do here. I feel as though I am walking through water, difficult to breathe, headache, fatigue. I just want to crawl into bed and sleep. I don't want to look at the family album any longer. I am tired of the images there. Tired of the work I have had to do to be even where I am today. But, I asked for it - the healing. The wound is healed over, but festered inside. Surgery again. Opening it up hurts but is necessary. I wait for the joy of healing to come. It has before. It will again. Will I ever be done? Thank you, Jesus, for carrying me kicking and screaming into the hospital again.  Stay with me, remain here with me, watch and pray.  Watch and pray. Week 1
There is much to reflect upon after reading "The Courage to Accept Acceptance"  The concept is simple for me understand intellectually; the challenge for me is remembering day to day, moment to moment  to live the acceptance and faith.
In trying times I fail to remember Gods acceptance and faith of me. I forget God is there beside me everyday though tough times and joyful times.  Today I pray to God to help me remember He is ever at my side.  Week 1
Today, as I began Week One of the exercises, I was looking through a large picture window here in my work room.  I was happy in the view of sunlight and the lushness of green and growing things that God has so generously allowed me to gaze at as I work.  In the midst of my prayer, suddenly, a hummingbird appeared at my window, as if it were seeking to enter and join me in my ruminative prayer.  Glory be to God!
I'm angry to my toes, with clenched teeth and the anxiety that bespeaks terror just below the surface.  Had I known that this "photo album" would bring up so much rage, I would have thought twice.  [Even though I know that facing my rage in god's loving embrace is the only way through it.]

Imagine god's presence in my childhood, I am told.  I can only scream in anger:  Where were you?  If you were there, you stood by and watched.  How dare you let this happen to babies, not just me, not just my brothers, but to so many babies, all day, every day.  Where are you when a baby is terrified and abused?  When that rage which is a wholesome response to what is happening is beaten inward & begins to eat away at one's roots?  Where?  Where were you?  Were you there, standing by, letting it happen?  I have preferred for so many years to think of you as a figment of unhappy imaginations, rather than to imagine you as a bystander, doing nothing.

Please god be with me today as I struggle with this rage.  Hold me close to your heart.
Lord, I can't believe that I can do this for 34 weeks. As Michael Jordan says, "just do it." Actually, it will be longer since I will do week one until the 14th of september to catch the liturgical year. But, maybe the lesson is not in 34 weeks it is found in making the choice again and again and again to listen and "spiritual exercise" even when I don't feel like it.I have quit so many exercise programs in the past. I need the grace to ask for the daily help to work the program.

In my life Lord I need to ask for "a day at a time"grace in order to pray. It is better than watching baseball or other mindless sports that keep me from focusing the life you have given me.Lord, I am so conscious of my own willfulness at this time in my life and how I have rebelled from your love. Week 1
Burned out.... This is a great place to begin this retreat. How did I get there? I guess the answer doesn't matter. My hope is that this retreat can help rekindle joyfulness that are at the heart of the Christian life.
Thank you for the Prayers; I have received a tremendous Grace. The Lord has lifted the guilty burden from my mind, He has placed peace in my heart and HOW do I say thank you, we have talked ceasely as we walked together these past two days now I can feel His presence and yearn to really  love Him with my whole being . I pray Our Lord Jesus will deepen my love for Him with every passing day of this retreat.
I am feeling very alone and tired at this point in my life.  It seems that I can see no good around me.  I am totally out of control of my existance.  I begin this retreat, with the Grace of God, hoping that I will find my way again.  I do have many things to be grateful for, but I am not happy.I feel very sad. As I read others sharing, it seems that this may be the answer for me..  I ask your prayers as I begin, that I may be healed of all that is wrong in my life, and begin to see the good all around me.

I have just finished the first week.  I have so many thoughts and feelings. I feel so much closer to our Lord.  I find that when I was younger I did not look to the Lord for help even in trouble times, after reflecting on this I have missed so many of his messages for me.  Now that I am older I feel that he is with me in good times and in bad.  I just want to thank you for this first week as I go on to the next help me grow deeper in your love.

Week 1 has lasted 2 weeks. As i walk through my life, i see the hand of GOD touching each and every image. Especially in the areas of imperfection and sin. During the course of these 2 weeks, i've also experienced and been overwhelmed by GOD's unconditional love for me. I have become aware of a deeper trust in HIM forming in my heart and I have struggled with sin and experienced HIS forgiveness.
What an exciting journey this is turning out to be!
This is the first online retreat I've attempted and decided to try at the urging of a friend. I feel so detached from God and I have so much "stuff" pushing Him out of my life. I'm hoping, through this retreat, to find God again. I need to feel His presence in my life again.
WOW! this is great.I happened to browse the site and found ajewel. I am now in touch of myself. Treasuring the past and teary eyed looking back seeing the tenderness and love people allowed me to experience. And the love of God written in the pages of my lif'e's story! Iam still starting.
Thanks God!

Today is Friday, not Monday.  I hope it is okay to start the retreat on a Friday.  I come with a desire to draw closer to my Creator.   I would like to return to the discipline of daily receipt of the Holy Eucharist.  For several years I attended daily Mass.  I fell on some ice last Winter and the fall brought on Adhesive Capsulitis or in layman's terms "frozen shoulder".  Around that time I had contractors coming to my home on a daily basis, so I needed to be there and Holy Mass went by the wayside.  It is very difficult getting myself dressed in the morning and not having to hurry is a luxury.  I miss receiving the Holy Eucharist.  It seems I gave up daily recitation of the Holy Rosary at the same time.  What is wrong with me?  The chronic pain dictates my every day.  I get up in pain and go to bed in pain.  I have been praying the Lord will heal me, and I believe He His time.  All that's left for me to do is wait on Him.  His timing is perfect.  I happened on this retreat by accident.  I think it is a terrific idea and I congratulate and thank those who are responsible.  As for me finding it, I thank my God, for I am certain He led me here.  Thirty-four weeks is a long time.  I pray that I will be diligent in staying with the guidelines of this retreat.

My earliest childhood memories -being consecrated to God by my mother in the chapel of the hospital where I was born. This was done in gratitude for a new life that was difficult in the beginning- a breach birth,incubator,not being sure if I would survive. A long period without the wamth of my mother's touch because I was in the incubator. Later frustration at getting food and nourishment in the natural way because of a medical condition of my mother's.   These memories of my earlist moments have been handed down to me by her and I believe them. The difficult birtg and in the joy of arrival being dedicated/consecrated to Him ,I see as an integral part of my vocation. My life belomgs to Him because He saved me. "It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me."

Frustration at getting my needs met and turning to a limited source for satisfaction is the stort of my life! Only You Lord can feed and nourish me to the point of satisfaction. I've turned to other people, actions anf things much too often and have never been sarisfied. Help me turn to you, the Bread of Life that I minister daily to satisfy my hunger.
So many loving moments!  I tend to forget or gloss over caring responses of my parents, kids I played baseball with in third grade, high school acquaintances, teachers in colleges, people I worked with...and neighbors, many of whom have disappeared from my life due to moves.  At times I can brood, but when I review my life through this lens, I see the many graceful times God has given me.  I could write on and on, but this is the gist.

I have started week one, and I was at our local church, during Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, when I siddenly had a memory of a time when I was a child. I was in bed, but not asleep, and I heard my brother come into the house. He was crying, and I heard him tell my mother that his wife had lost the child she was expecting. I myself have had two miscarriages, and I recalled the grief I felt at those times. A thought came into my mind 'this is the pain I feel when a soul is lost' It was incredible to think that God grieves for lost sinners as much as a woman grieves for a lost child. But I did not doubt that this is so. I prayed the Sorrowful Mysteries for all sinner who are in danger of dying without repentance.

Here I am again O Lord in my first week. I started last year and just went to the 8th week and then stopped, Even though I stopped, You O Lord are always in my heart. I am a Religious celebrating 43 years of serving You in the Church. As I look back to my life all I can say is THANK YOU LORD. In good times and bad times your love is always there. I have so much love to share. I am on vacation and I plan to enjoy this retreat on line. I am waiting for great miracles in my life as I am celebrating my 58 th birthday this year 2003. Love and prayers to all who journey with the Lord and us on line . We love you Lord,guide us.

I am beginning day 1 of week 1 of this retreat, and thought I would share before I begin, where God is leading me, what my thoughts are now in the beginning. I speak to the Creator throughout my day, but I am amiss many times and feel I have not spoken to Him for long periods and feel bad as a result. Many blessings come while simply driving to and from work. It often is something very simple, but non the less a blessing. Late at night before bed I think of my failings and share them with God. I see myself changing daily, and I observe more progress in my Christian walk these days than I have during my twenties, thirties and forties combined.
Week 1 - I have never done a retreat of any kind before, but I feel moved to attempt this one.  I'm not a Catholic.  In truth, I'm not much of anything, religiously speaking, but I want - I NEED God in my life.  I'm hoping that this retreat will help me find myself a little closer to Him.

Week 1.  I have made a 30-day, a couple 8-day, a couple 3-day, and one extended "while you remain in your life" Ignatius retreats. Each time, week-one begins with the goodness and greatness of  God. Each time, the first goal of week-one has been to go to a place of absolute warmth, love, and peace. It seems that my directors have not been willing to move to the next exercise until I am somewhat overwhelmed with the creative, beautiful aspect of God. But somehow it hit me this evening that it might be a benefit to my relationship with God if I do not start this retreat solely with this beautiful vision of God.  As in Psalm 139,  my day-to-day relationship with God is not so pure. It contains my sins, faults, needs, and pain. Maybe it is not a coincidence that many psalms, like 139, have a grumbling, spiteful segment that mares the beauty. These Psalms, these Words of God, accurately reflect the part of God Who allows evil free reign over me while loving me. I am troubled that  those marrings usually prevent me from feeling God's presence. I associate them with desolation. I often feel like Job sitting on the ash pile without many options. Today, at the end of this first day of prayer on my past, I am struck with this desire: ask the Holy Spirit to allow me to begin this retreat by seeing more of the glory of God within the pains and sorrows as well as the beauty and warmth.. I hope to spend several days praying over this and see what the Spirit tells me. 

I started this retreat because I wanted to know just what God was asking from me at the moment.  This is my first week.  In my first recollections, the feelings I have is of being a bystander watching other people live, waiting for someone to notice me.  It's like I' m not really living.I asked God to help me to experience this because I found this rather scary.  I' m beginning to see that these are the desolations in my life.  When I don't participate but watch the world go by.  My first mentor was my aunt.  She used to spend a lot of time teaching me the piano.  It was fun to be with her.  She wasn't demanding but loving.  I also had an aunt Marguerite, a next door neighbor who had had polio when she was young with whom I used to look at the Sears catalogue with she was such a loving presence.  These two people lit up my life.  At school I felt very much a bystander.  especially in high school escept for the choir rehearsals.  We had a sister who taught us how to sing who was a wonderful person at the same time.  She taught us how to sing well and make beautiful music, she was very competent - but at the same time she was a beautiful human being. I guess the grace of this week was to see what kind of people are important to me what should I imitate and what I should discard.  I think that these people were entirely and lovingly present where they were. When I'm just a bystander, I am not this.

Week one - Day 1  Early childhood memories - some good, some not. Today I hear " you are good enough for me to love"  and today the tears are tears of joy.

A wedge has been placed between my birth family and my own family for the past 25 to 26 years primarily due to the non-acceptance to who we are and what they wanted us to be.  I have thought over the years I grew up in a disfunctional family, but since I started reviewing my photo album I have come to realize I had a very good family during the time I was living at home.  "My asking for this week this week," was a healing of the wounds between my family and my mother, brothers and sisters. Through the reflections so far this week I have relived many wonderful times spent with my Dad, brothers, and sisters and yes even some with my Mother. I am grateful to God that I am able to feel the warm emotions for my family I had during these times and feel some healing begining in me.  However, we have been seperated so long by this "Wedge of Unacceptance" that I now have a fear of uniting with them and opening old wounds.  It hurts to think about it...Will they ever accept me and my family for who we are?  Will they ever understand us? Oh Holy Spirit, please give me strength and courage to continue this path of hoping to knock down this wedge between my family and my birth family.  I know I can not do this alone, I need God's help.  Father I ask for help if it is your will.  If it is Your will Father I ask You to give me confidence to move forward on this jouney.

I am still in week 1, day one - two years later.  Actually I had forgotten until I clicked on a file "olr," wondering what it was.  Finally got it!  I spent some time today in week one and my "photo album." In "some practical help," I read that "It's about feelings...It's about God's fidelity...It's about gratitude...It's about a journey."  Over the past two years, I have only begun to understand that I have feelings.  To begin to feel that I have feelings.  That may be why I am stuck in week 1.  Once I begin to experienced my feelings more, I hope to begin to understand God's fidelity, my gratitude and continue on the journey. It it coincidence that I clicked on "olr?"  As I look at my list of photos, there is much missing,  there is much pain, there seems to be noone with me on my journey, no companion, no one to talk to, no one to listen to me, no one to guide me, noone to hold me like the baby who is now my wallpaper.  Maybe the pain is that I would not let anyone walk with me. I am beginning to feel that there may be someone.  Right now, it is a shadowy unclear presence.  Maybe it is hope.  I will continue, now that I have been reunited with "olr,"  OnLineRetreat.  Maybe the photo I should have as wallpaper is the photo from week 9.  The scripture passage seems right  "'Do not be afraid.  I have rescued you. 
I have called you by name.  Now you belong to me. ... 
To me, you are very dear.  And I love you. ... 
I promised to save you.  And I kept my promise. ... 
I am God now and forever. 
No one can snatch you from me or stand in my way."  Isaiah 43:1, 4, 11, 12, 13 

I am stumbling through this first week. I fear that I will fail at this retreat, as I have failed at my numerous attempts to re-connect with the church (and faith) of my childhood. I've discovered a pattern though, as I reflect over my childhood. I've revisited a number of painful events, times in my life when I turned my back on God. And yet, even as I revisited them, I've heard a voice in the background saying, pleading, "But she was just a little girl." Finally, in a wash of clarity, I realized that God was with me, even at those times, and has forgiven me. He accepts my imperfections and failings, and loves me unconditionally. That realization steadies my step and gives me the courage to move forward, albeit tentatively.

I feel as though I have started this retreat accidentally. I decided to take a look at it just to see what it is about and how it works. The Creighton web site has been on my favorites list for a couple of years now, mostly so I can look at the Daily Reflections page. This week, however, I wandered from my routine. It is no coincidence, I’m sure, that it happened now. Tomorrow is my 54th birthday, and the 20th anniversary of my father’s birth to eternal life. Though his death on my birthday was difficult for a few moments, I soon realized what a blessing it was. I can never forget the day Dad went home. I pray for the strength and determination to stay with the retreat through all 34 weeks. It is off to a great start.

I have just started the retreat this week and am already overwhelmed by a sense of peace and love.  It is absolutely amazing what being open to the idea that the Lord has always been with me and is with me each day has done for my outlook on life.  This openness has allowed God's wisdom to answer some prayers and questions that have been haunting my mind.  I realize that I just wasn't listening to him.  How could I have ignored him for so long, even when I was begging him to answer prayers, I wasn't listening to his answers.  I am so glad to be learning to understand his presence in my life.

This is my first day of week number one, and already I feel the blessing of God.  I am reminding of the love my dear departed mother had for me.  And in the last hours of her passing, she asked my forgiveness for something that happened to me as a child.  She cried that she should have protected me.  This was something that neither of us ever spoke about, but we knew in our hearts it happened, and I had never had the heart/nerve to ask.  But with her last breath, I could hold her in my arms, and tell her that I forgave her, and never blamed her in anyway.  That she had done the best job she could, and that I never for a moment felt any less loved or protected by her.

I am begining the first week.  I have never understood God's love in the manner expressed in the readings.  I have been blessed and touched by this new understanding. 

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