Sharing the Retreat
Weeks 7-8


Week 7

Week 7, Tuesday after Easter - during the Agnus Dei - the words had new meaning! The picture during those words was at His feet. Pray for me that this will repeat throughout the day. His Peace IS ours. --Joe
I finished week 7 this morning and was filled with a great feeling of relief. I have always felt I needed proof of God's love for me and also felt I wasn't accomplishing much to show love for Him. All of a sudden it cane to me.....God has always poured love out to me with the beauty of nature around me.......I have always felt this, but it came in more positive this morning. This coupled with my family and friends love for me also entered into the spiritual feeling. My dog also entered into the love from God equation as he always has shown love for me. All this added up to fulfillment of God's love for me. Now as for my psyche of not giving enough love to God....the reverse of the above has lifted the burden of feeling not complete in my quest to give Him love. I now don't feel guilty and inadequate .....hope and pray it continues. It was a great and almost miraculous spiritual revelation this morning. I even read Fr. Gillick's reflection with vigor and contemplation. Thanks for uplifting and empowering me to fulfillment this morning.
I've just finished week 7. This retreat is having such a profound effect on me, especially the weeks on sin. I have a very difficult time dealing with anything emotional, I have a tendency to just push life aside and go on. After having breast cancer last year, the emotions just took over my life pretty much and, I have had to face a lot of things that have happened over the years and looking back, I've realized I have hurt a lot of people with my "aloofness" and non caring attitude, especially my family. I finally reconnected with my aunt and cousins whom I haven't seen or talked to in over 20 years, it was so incredibly sad because we were like sisters and my aunt was like my mother. My mother and aunt had some argument over money and the family went our separate ways, I didn't have to, but chose to, to keep peace in my own family, and as a result my children don't know what a wonderful family they do have, never having met them. I've asked God to forgive me for being so hurtful, and have made a promise to him and my aunt and cousins to always keep in touch no matter what. Hopefully, my mom will be able to forgive someday and reconnect, so many of my prayers have been answered, why not that. God Bless everyone, I'll pray for you, please keep me in your prayers too.

I am at the end of week 7 now but like many other sharers I found it to be the hardest week. When I read through the reflection for the week I was immediately reminded of a deep sin which I had conveniently forgotten. I had never asked forgiveness for it as far as I can remember. It is strange that it should come to my mind at this time but this whole week I battled to get it off my mind. It started eating at me and I knew that I needed to ask God to forgive me. Even after asking for forgiveness, the sin and its consequences kept coming to mind wherever I went. It was the focus for my entire week. I began to understand the meaning of asking God's grace when we seek forgiveness.

Every time we say the "OUR FATHER', forgive me my trespasses as I forgive those who tresspass against me. These words reminds me of my need to forgive others as much as I seek and need forgiveness for myself. I also learnt that forgiveness in its totality means that I am given the grace to forgive also myself for the offence. I have thought about the badness and wickedness of my sins and how it can affect my relationship with God and other's because of the way sin blocks the Graces of God from flowing through me. Sin separates us truly from the love of God. At the end of my week the Holy spirit revealed to me that God had already forgiven me my sins and that it was I who could not forgive myself. God has already freed me from all guilt of the sin but I could not let go. It was only because of this retreat that I fully understand how sin separates me from God and I never want to feel like I did this week again. I am so greatful for the Grace to understand what I have done and to learn to forgive myself and allow God to heal me.

Week 7: I haven't shared anything yet but feel moved to do so this morning. Strong emotions in a quiet calm flow. Sin is such an ugly subject and so unfashionable for a child of the 70's like me! But what graces have flowed through these weeks. Seeing the patterns of sin is the most helpful. I am not an evil person. I don't have a list of grave sins to recount. But the patterns in my life that keep me from growing closer and closer to God are emerging. The root is forgetting who I am. I am realizing that when I forgot WHO I AM I can so easily feel threatened and then feel the need to protect myself.

I have this image of me as a small desert animal who puts up spikes when I feel threatened. Spikes of jealousy, judgementalism, needing to be smart, right, important, good looking, an authority. But since this intimate experience with God who loves me, I feel softer. Feels like the spikes aren't as necessary as I realize I am protected already by God's all-encompasing love.

Week 7: I am finding peace within myself having brought to the forefront my feelings of anger about a family member, and now I realize there is another person in my family that I need to forgive/love. I have resented her for a long time & I really need to be free of this, with the help of God. It's hard but I really want to do this.
I am constantly amazed how many times I am recognizing "statements" in homilies, or presentations, that fit in perfectly, & reaffirm, with what is going on in a Retreat week I'm working on. It's as if God is giving me a whole bundle of insights & graces on this journey! I am so thankful for this Online Retreat - Praise God - & thanks to all who put this together, & for the sharing of so many.

Week 7: After coming face-to-face with my sinfulness, I needed to "uncover the way I approach sin." I prayed for the grace to understand the patterns beneath my sinfulness. Here is where I discovered the need for deep healing--beginning with the woundedness of my early childhood which I now believe is the root of much of my sinful life. I was "overwhelmed with the mystery of how God could possibly love me"--a most unreliable servant--who has struggled for years to His faithful servant. It was here that I discovered who I am and realized my need for a Savior.

The "basement" tour was an especially powerful image for me. Though I've reviewed my life many times over in past retreats, this is the first time I walked with Jesus through my history-holding tightly to His hand. To hear Him say He loves me--even in this place, was a great grace. To hear Him say He loves "all of me--the whole me," made me realize that I am "a loved sinner." It helped me recognize that the mystery of God's love goes far beyond our human understanding.

In the past my prayer was more like a recitation of cliché statements that rarely moved me beyond a surface relationship with God--a God far removed from me, a sinner--an impersonal God. My inability to regard all God's gifts--God's creatures--as "personally offered to me by a personal God," has led me to use these gifts recklessly--without reverence and respect for the Giver of these gifts. The song "O Beauty, Ever Ancient" recently published by the St. Louis Jesuits (c 2005) has brought this message home to me better than ever before. One line in particular:
My unloveliness I ran from,Turned to seek you in all things, Things you fashioned as a pathway, Yet I lost myself in them."

"Before Jesus can meet [me] in a healing way, [I] have to meet [myself] in a humbling way. [I] had to face the truth of my own personal condition… Like the prodigal son, [I] had to come to [my] senses and return to [myself] first." Indeed, "Jesus meets those who have first met themselves… Honesty is not humiliation, but a prelude to being engraced."

Week 7: I am coming to the end of my 7th week and for me this has been the hardest week so far. Looking at the patterns of sin and seeing the same things crop up time and time again even though I say I am sorry I get drawn back into the same cycle. My biggest demon is that of self gratification through masturbation. Why? I use it as an outlet to express feelings I don't know how to express in any other way.During this week ,however I have been able to look at what I am doing when the cycle begins and usually its nothing. I am watching something mindless on TV and my mind is empty which gives an open invitation to the devil to step in.When thoughts enter my head instead of blocking them and changing what I am doing I allow them to develop until it gets past the point of turning them off.
The Cor Reading of'' when you are at your weakest then I am at my strongest 'makes me see that I need Jesus in my life at all times,so that he can be strong for me when I am unable to resist. His constant presence in my life I have learnt over these last weeks helps me to focus on Him and keep Him in the background of my life all the time.

Week 7: I thought I had completed week 7 and looked deeply at all my sins, but as I tried to move into week 8 I became more aware of my sinfulness. I have found it hard to sustain my focus on the retreat this week and perhaps I haven't looked deeply enough at my patterns of sin. i often feel I am letting God down, I am lazy and don't seem to be able to commit myself to anything for long periods - so I suppose even gettng this far in the retreat is an achievement for me. My self critisism also gets in the way of fully recieving Gods Grace and I know I need to let go and trust in His merciful goodness.I remember someone once gave the analogy of holding onto something physical in both your hands prevents you from recieving a gift from another person. We have to put the object down first, to let it go and then recieve the gift. I pray that I can let go of the barriers I create that prevent me from accepting the fullness of God's love.
I have just finished week 7. It was a hard week to ponder on ones sins. Yet what was a big help was just to wash ones self in the mercy and love of Jesus. It was a wonderful week but I felt that my thoughts, feelings and actions had sins in them. As I looked at the patterns I now want Jesus to wash me with His mercy and love and to help me overcome these patterns.

As I finish week 7 of this retreat I am glad that I am being persistent in continuing the work. So often I begin and then stop. And although I had invited others to join me they appear to have dropped off, so I go it alone. The weeks on sin have been difficult because there is so little that is new. After Communion this morning I realized that part of the difficulty right now is that I feel disconnected and almost hypocritical because it is a dry period. And I remembered something my spiritual director told me once. It is the fidelity that counts not the feelings. That helped. When life is going easily and brightly, I am filled with connection and praise and genuine gratitude and find it easy to pray and converse with Our Lord. When life is gray and there are obstacles and fear wells up I tend to go the other direction and hide in the tree like Zaccheus. That lack of trust is one of the sins I have suffered with for many years and know the reasons for and need to continue to work on. It is a self centered fear and goes hand in hand with a need for control. So there I have said it out loud! NOW to go and ask ur
Lord for help in living with it and allowing Him to remove it as He wills.
Pray for me as I do for you

Week 7: I tried hard this week to let the Lord help me see the pattern of my sin. I could see many connections ... and I tried to ask to delve deeper. It was difficult ... not so much the pain of sin and how I seperated myself from others as a result. This is bad enough but trying to understand the "why" in the pattern. Then I had a "grace filled" moment when I was in fact thinking about my parents on All Soul's Day. I had a vivid image of God loving them very much and of their being so happy now in that love. I realised that there was the kernal I had been looking for. I had been seeing the pattern of my sin as obvious rebellion ... coupled with intense self-centredness. But at the heart is a relational problem with God. I don't see God as a demanding ogre but I do see God as demanding. I'm always puzzling out what this is ... earlier in my life I rebelled against that demand. But at the core what is the greater pattern of sin is not seeing God as the all embracing loving God. When I see that I have ignored that intense love ... and yes I believe and trust in his forgiveness many times but then I saw that as a chance to get back on the "God bus" again rather than being swept up in his love. His love is a gift which when I move away from it leads me to self-centred paths. His love is a gift in others which when I fail to see that I move out of relationship with them and also with God. "Lord, help me to bring your intense love to others rather than my self centred concerns and attractions".
We are a group of 9 participating in this wonderful retreat under the guidance of our Parish Spiritual Director. We are up to week 7 and we will be meeting about every 5 weeks to reveal the graces received as we journey these 34 weeks together. Two of the group have already done this retreat. As spokesperson of the group, I will be sharing with all of you some of the graces we have received.
At our last meeting, we have ALL commented that we have seen God working through each of us as we are becoming more aware of His presence in our lives. It has brought a feeling of protection to one, patience to another, peace making to another and has made each of us see that we are each exactly where we are supposed to be and that is OK.
Some expressed wanting to quit - thinking that they are not dedicating enough time into the retreat. Thankfully, through the guidance of our Spiritual Director as well as encouragement form the rest of the group, they have come to realize that you do not need to put much time into this - to reap the graces that are waiting to be revealed
As we are praying for all of you, please pray for our group as we journey through these 34 weeks together.


I just completed week 7. It was difficult trying to find what was behind my pattern of sin. I found no easy answer. My sin is always before me but why do I sin? Would understanding what is behind my sin help me not to sin? The only thing clear to me from my reflection this week is that I am a sinner and I repeat my sins. To a degree I could see a pattern of sin trying to make myself feel good or as an escape from painful issues in my life. But so what! Everyone has problems. What I realize is I love God but feel so ashamed with my continual sin. I guess I have learned to accept first that I am a sinner and that I will continue to struggle but I will do my best with the grace of God to overcome temptation. I am now much more aware of my pattern of sin. I cannot stop my pattern of sin on my own but I place my sin at Gods feet, the feet of his cross!
Week 7: This was a difficult week I especially meditated on the darkest period (so far) of my life. Of course, I start with thanks that I have been forgiven many times over especially in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. But I wanted to explore whether the seeds of a lifestyle that did not embrace peace were actually in that experience. I started to see that the underlying behaviors really started with a great gift. I have an innate curiosity about other people and how they live, what forms them, how they see the world. I was willing to question assumptions and as a result I easily empathize with others… even people living different lifestyles. But there is one step in which this turns from a gift into an obstacle. Empathizing is one thing … adopting other lifestyles is another. What I was "curious about" became the thing in itself and I lost touch with God. My own self-will became dominant. I see the same pattern in other elements during that period. Gifts like friendship and alcohol become abused because my will becomes paramount. Of course, that period in my life is over but there are times when I still experience real restlessness and especially impatience with others. So I also meditated on this aspect in my life. I see that everything has to be perfect at least in my mind and if its not I react out against it. Again it is easy to lose sight of others' needs and fulfilling my needs become paramount. I finished the week doing the Stations of the Cross. Somehow, I felt closer to Jesus and also felt overwhelming forgiveness. I truly hope I can use this healing in His service.
Week 6 and 7: This retreat has been a big blessing as I have looked deep down within myself. Weeks 6 and 7 have been the most difficult one as they make me look at myself as a sinner something I choose consciously not to do. The shock of my sins was too strong for me, that I chose to withdraw for a couple of days but this was actually not a real withdrawal, but a moment when I asked myself “WHY?”. I realized how judgmental and self righteous I am as a Christian. I have been living a life full of lust and greed. Being involved in a sexual relationship with a married man with a justification that he is separated from his wife. I have avoided this thought during the last 3 weeks, but finally, I could not keep it out of my head. Just sharing this with you is like opening me up in a manner I would rather choose not to do.
My pride prevents me from admitting that I may be wrong but yet, very judgmental to others who are in the same shoes as I am. Week 7 has made me realize that my desire to be loved, accepted and successful, has allowed me to compromise myself in ways I need not as the love of God supersedes the love of man. I have lost my childhood freedom and joy in my life as a result of trying to fit in these societal demands. Looking back at my early weeks reflections, I need to set myself free and be like a child of God again, to receive the love and grace He offers. I pray that all those taking this retreat may find the peace and joy of being God’s favorite child.
-- Sue

Looking back at week seven I feel I am still skimming the surface of my life. However it did make me think about what it might be that creates my patterns of sin, what it is that makes me react sometimes in an irritable way, when being shown kindnesses especially by people who love me. A childhood where we moved several times and a family that finds it uncomfortable to express emotions or express love except by doing things for each other, has left me feeling insecure and unlovable. Also my need to be in control and find the answer to all problems, makes me fearful to attempt anything in case I am found wanting. But God is so gracious. I continue to be amazed that God still loves me despite all my limitations, and I pray that he will help me to move forward spiritually, that I will be more aware of his love and be prepared to take risks.

One of the suggested readings this week was the healing of the Roman officer's servant. This story has always spoken to me, of the officer's great faith, that he did not want to bother Jesus to come to his house but only needed Jesus to speak the word and his servant would be healed. During my time of reflection I began to think of how the officer must have loved and cared for his servant so much that he would risk the possible shame and ridicule of approaching a Jewish person to heal him. It somehow brought the emotion of the situation to an otherwise seemingly 'controlled situation' - a real insight for me, allowing me to feel an emotion I hadn't otherwise anticipated or 'allowed'.

God IS helping me to move forward.

Week 7 This is my first posting. I have been amazed at the impact this retreat is making on my life. I have recently returned to the Catholic Church after 30 years. This retreat has helped me so much, especially this week. The main pattern of sin I have found in myself is self-gratification, it seems to be the root of all my transgressions all my life.
I am a recovering drug addict I had 8 years free from drugs and alchohol before starting the pattern all over again. I have been 'clean' again now for now for about 3 months with the exception of smoking pot once a couple of weeks ago.
The other life long problem is masturbation (which I didn't even realize was a problem until I returned to the Church). When I give in to this temptation (which has been every couple of weeks or so). I feel God is more hurt by this than when I smoked pot that time a couple of weeks ago.

When I first returned to the Church in August (3 months ago) I made a personal vow to Jesus giving over to Him my entire self, body, soul and spirit; this vow helped me get through in the beginning. But then as I get closer to Jesus, I realized the my "Idea" of myself was and is a lie. Now I am trying to find my 'true' self so I can really make an act of consecration. This retreat has really helped me to do this by giving strucure and pattern to the process. Thank you Sain Ignatius.

Please pray for me and I will pray for you all too.

I am not quite half way through my seventh week and this is the first time I have felt compelled to speak out. I feel a powerful urge to express my thanks to all whose sharings I have read so far. As finish every day with meditations on the mysteries of the Rosary, thoughts come back to me from my morning visit to the retreat that perfectly fit what I am contemplating.

I really don't know where to start for iam feeling so emotional right now. God is doing so much in my life. He reveals Himself un to me and it's so great. This week has done so much for me, more than any week. There are patterns of sin in my life that i have come to realise, like desire to be loved, to have everything, to be successful,to be respected and people to recognise me. These desires makes me do some of the things i never intended to do. For example, desire to be loved leads me to sex as i wouldn't want to disappoint my beloved or i feel like it at the moment. God loves me that is why He has revealed this un to me. He can do for you to .I put my life in his hands now to do His will in my life. I would like Him to take control of my life as iam so weak but very strong in HIM. His mercy is sufficient for me, for he reveals Himself in weakness. Corithians 12: 8-10
Week 7 - Not a “week” but rather 2 months. That is how long I spent struggling, trying to find, and name, the 4 to 5 basic patterns behind my many sins. The naming of these patterns was very helpful and is a promising area for sharing. Naming creates the conditions for an internal “spiritual” surgery or cleansing restoring heart and body and finding peace. For those who like me yielded to a pattern of lust that in my case led to terrible sins of adultery that were very damaging to my family, the issue became how cut this pattern out of my life at the very root. How to replace it with trust? Although I stopped the overt behavior years ago, there were deep, hidden patterns that seemed emerge at unexpected times.Yesterday, instead settling for the worn term “lust” as a category of sin, I tried to give it a name that made it more personal and reprehensible. Lust became “selfish, lusty insect.” This dark insect has lived inside of me for years, and for the period of my unfaithfulness, I would feed it regularly. It is an insect, because if you shed light on it, it will run and hide. It is selfish, because that is the nature of the lust urge, if not linked to a truly loving relationship. But it lurks and comes out at night, and continues to live in the dark corners of my mind’s desire. But by naming it, I can begin to ask for Gods grace and begin to confront it and control it.Examples of other names of “sin making” parts of myself are “Mr. Know-Better/Controller”, “Raging Bull”, “Wounded Lion”, “Master of Nothing.” These creatures are the names of underlying tendencies in me that have created sin throughout my life. But what to do? Do I hate this part of me and wage an internal war or do I make peace with my ugly pets?I learned from the Buddhist tradition to accept the unattractive parts of myself, take deep breaths, in and out, and then let go. In prayerful meditation, I learned something about centering my thoughts and stilling my mind. I began to notice these beasts within lose their power when named, and almost disappear when named and “loved” or accepted as part of my internal nature. This helps me integrate body, mind and heart. I am now able to increasingly focus on Jesus, the spirit of love and life restoring me and healing me.I share the grace of the process of slaying my internal demons and now hope to move on, move steadily on without undue fretting and delay. When they surface as I am sure they will, I will recognize them, name them and let them go. Maybe that is what Christ meant, when he said, “get thee behind me Satan.” The sin is behind, and my eyes can now look to God without the separation created by the sin.Though a newfound relationship with God, I am finding a new simpler trust in his grace (Matthew 6: 24-34) and finding in Him the power to conquer sin after accepting and my imperfect nature. For me to restore trust to my marriage, I have to trust myself, but only through God. I can’t do it alone. I have proven too selfish and self-serving for that. I therefore want to have a creaturely relationship to God our father spoken in Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount. I am learning not to worry about my sinful patterns, but to examine and co-exist with my weakness By sitting at the foot of the cross, I feel comforted and see the face of Jesus and feel connected again to my God our Lord. I have resisted God’s graces for years and only recently am I changing this pattern by trusting in Him.
I'm starting the 7th week of the retreat. And I'm beginning to see why most of you ask to be remember in our prayers. I pushed through last weeks retreat and almost decided to spend two weeks on it for lack of progress. The topic of sin paralyzes me. I see now that without a lot of help from God I'm not going to go anywhere with this no matter how hard I push. As a matter of fact I think that "pushing" will only hold me back.
Thank you God.
Pray for me, I'll pray for you.
-- Bob

i have just fnished week 7 and have found it very difficult. i havent been able to connect the dots at all so it seems to me. i am trusting that its working and i just cant yet see the patterns. its 2 weeks since my son and his little family moved to another town and i dont know where its the retreat affecting me and where its the loneliness and uncertainty about what decisions to make in my own life. i am noticing the lack of a spiritual advisor and have been very bleak and unsettled.
the comfort and certainty of divine assistance and love with which i am familiar have deserted me and nothing seems to make sense at all.
my sleeping is disturbed and i seem far less than what i would like to be.
i am just plodding on and knowing that others take the same journey is very important to me. i am ok when i come home . my home is a true and very beautiful sanctuary. but i am detached and vague with other people - even my primary support people. i dont know whether i am to follow my family or stay here. and the pattern of sin and rebellion seems tightly linked to it. i have twice walked away from my children. and all the old griefs and guilts and shames are threatening to overwhelm me. this week i do not feel like a child of god. at all. i feel like a failure. god help me into the next week. i know there is some way of viewing this which is just eluding me this week. through the glass darkly it is for me.
-- yours nell from the tweed

Week 7 Filling the void. I've used alcohol, people, things, work, food, all kinds of distractions. Nothing works. Nothing. I'm learning to turn to God when I loose my serenity; when the void consumes me, and sends me searching. It's a frantic reaction, when I find meself unbalanced. Reaching out and grabbing, almost anything to save me. But now, I'm trying to 'reach in', to God. To God within me. God's love fills me, if I allow it. It's up to me to let it in and be saturated with it. God fills the void; with love and trust and faith. And Grace.
I am just finishing up week 7 and I am aware of some very subtle changes in me and in my thinking. Approaching personal sin is always difficult for me but the reflections and guides have helped me look more deeply because I know that I am loved. I did a presentation recently where I referred to Jesus' baptism where he is referred to as "My beloved." I was able to look at areas/patterns of sin in my life because I know that I am God's beloved. Reflecting on this during this season of autumn has also helped. The letting go of the leaves is a reminder of the need to let go of the control that I hold onto...that it is only in letting go that new life can come.

-- Mary

Week 7: What is the cause of my patterns of sin?I usually go back to St. Augustine’s pears. Remember, in his Confessions, how he describes stealing pears when he was a kid? Not because he needed them or even wanted them, but because he desired the love of his friends, who thought it would be fun to steal some pears. It seems to me that’s why I do a lot of my sinning: out of desire for someone’s love. It’s the old “mistaking the creature for the Creator” thing: I want the infinite love that is God, but people, being made in his image, are seen as a ready substitute. It seems a sin that God would find easy to forgive: here I am, desiring him, desiring his love, but accidentally loving instead something he made in his own image. Oops! Yet sin it is. The devil knows I won’t find evil attractive, so he lures me with a lesser good. In my relations with others, I suppose I could look at Jesus in his relationship with Peter. When Peter says, “You are the Christ!” Jesus replies, “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church.” Yet when Peter says, “God forbid that any harm should come to you!” Jesus replies, “Get behind me, you Satan!”In the first instance, Peter recognizes the Truth about Christ; in the second, he misunderstands or denies it. If only I could be like Christ! Then I could embrace my friends only when they know the truth of me: my vocation to “know, serve and love” God. Yet I could reject with Christ’s self-awareness all attempts to divert me from that call.Tom, Pennsylvania
I was traveling for work for a good part of this week which is not necessarily conducive to reflection. But I did realize that a big pattern that underlies sinful parts of my life is similar to what I experience traveling. I am excited about the possibilities in exploring new places … new experiences. I recognize earlier in the week that most of my reflections centered on much earlier experiences in my life … days I have previously characterized as my days of exile from God. Then I was really traveling in a metaphorical sense trying to experience and explore new places. Incorrectly perceiving that the places where I had been brought up and were familiar were not where I wanted to be. Clearly they were not satisfying and so I ask myself, “Why did I take that turn and miss these signs?” Then I saw clearly the dark side of exploration … exploration without God … in my life leads to dark corners … it’s like the directional signs were clear and I ignored them. But I also see real grace in these experiences. In each of these dark corners there has been someone who has gently prodded me back onto the path. I have felt God’s forgiveness very concretely in my life. I was also touched earlier in the week reflecting on St Alphonsus Rodriguez whom we remembered on Monday. In a lowly role as doorkeeper for Jesuit college in Segovia at any knock he would cry out, “I’m coming Lord”. I remember once being a janitor during college vacation. How I hated it. But what grace I missed not following St Alphonsus’s example. And I have missed the opportunity for that grace over and over again in how I have approached everyday situations.Then in the readings, I keep coming back to the phrase, “If any of you want to be my followers, you must forget about yourself”. Many times I do the opposite. Sometimes the self centeredness starts innocently. Many times I’m impatient for change. But at the heart of my darkness is a feeling that “I’m not satisfied with who I am” and then the critical deception, “I will be someone else”. Often that other person is not who I really am. Certainly I know it is not who God knows as me. Many times it leads to the really sinful areas in my life. So I start again and see that it does not matter whether or not I am satisfied with myself. What really matters is whether God is satisfied. Having viewed all the journeys I have taken so far in my life and how God’s loving presence has been there whether or not I saw it at the time, I give up my impatience with myself, and commit to letting God shape my journeys. At least I pray for this grace.
This week's retreat asked us to reflect on the pattern of our sins and why we hold onto and repeat them. Last week I recognized and admitted to sins of pride, selfishness, materialism and being judgemental (so much for sainthood!). This week I've spend time reflecting on each. I can see how my childhood and youth (coming from a poor, dysfunctional family) played a part in my pattern of sins, as I was ashamed of my family life, I wanted nice things, and I saw everything from the world's view of success and happiness.
I reflected this week on how now, as a grown woman, I still struggle with these sins whenever my needs for acceptance, self worth, love and autonomy are in question. My reflection time, however, revealed my greatest sin to be not recognizing, at these times, that my God would never allow anything to happen to me that He wasn't aware of. He knows the circumstances of my life at all times. He knows my needs and every thought and has repeatedly asked for me to give them to Him. When I turn to Him, especially in conversational prayer, I am not only forgiven my sins but His guidance and peace re-directs my thinking so that I only want to please Him. When I don't turn to Him, I foolishly suffer. I have no peace and contentment in acting out in pride, selfishness, etc...
I'm so grateful for the first time I recognized and understood Psalm 51.
I find it consoling and uplifting that God can create in me a clean and pure heart. I smile knowing that I am a work in progress.

I pray to God to grow in my ability to follow Jesus.
Yet I fear and resist change.
How can I grow without change?
I pray to God to grow in my love for my neighbor.
Yet so often I resent intrusions from others into my world.
How can I grow in love when my heart is a fortress?
I keep asking God.
He keeps giving me exactly what I ask.
I refuse, turn away, or resent His gifts.
Act as if He is handing me a snake, when He hands me a key to the narrow gate.
Lord, forgive me my sins.
Help me to learn to accept your grace.
The personal patterns of my sinfulness were already becoming evident these past weeks of my retreat. I seem to judge others when they don’t live up to my expectations. I say I trust in the Lord with all my heart, but still worry and cannot believe or accept His grace. He says “Do not be afraid, I am with you always”, but I do fear. All the things I hate in others are the very sins that I commit or have committed. I say I forgive, but I still hold onto things of the past. There are so many things that, by God’s grace, He has helped me to see because He knows I have to heal completely and I can only do this by looking within. By doing this and then focusing on God’s eyes looking at me with pure love, embracing me, and holding my face in His loving hands, I have found a peace like I have never felt before. Because of this, my outlook on life has drastically changed…the things going on in my life have not changed…just the way I am able to handle them. “My grace is sufficient for thee, for power is made perfect in weakness” 2 Cor. 12:9 (also, read verses 6-9) Yes, His grace is more than sufficient, but my hardness of heart made me unable to see or grasp it. But, now, I am holding onto it for dear life and praising God every minute of the day for His gift.
-- June

I am on week seven of the retreat. This has been a very good experience for me. Weeks 5, 6, and 7 have been about sin. Sin in general, personal sins and my own patterns of sinfulness. The thing I have struggled with is that it is fairly easy for me to see sin in others but not in myself. I know in a general sense it is there and I see some of the specifics but I think there is a lot I do not see. So I talked to my spiritual advisor ( a priest/friend) about not making progress in this area. He said the fact that you are thinking about your own sinfulness is a good sign as most people won't even think of their own sinfulness. So maybe I am making progress. I remember reading when starting the retreat not to "demand progress."

The picture of "Auctioning off the Cross" intrigued me more than any others even before I read the meditations for that week. I wasn't sure why at first. Then it occurred to me that the reason that picture intrigued me is because I am guilty of auctioning off the cross in so many ways.

I pray for all who make this retreat. God Bless you all.

The biggest pattern I see in my sin , is the way I just easily don't give to others the respect and love they deserve. I keep myself apart. I pray this will change. Help me God. I have been praying to learn to love Jesus, I think I must only learn to "Love My Neighbor" . Help me God. Week 7
I am a sixty year old priest. I am at week 7 at present and struggling badly! I have shared nothing so far, as I find it difficult to open up even to myself. I thought this morning it would be a good idea to 'revise' from the beginning and try to share. I took two weeks to do Week 1. I am glad because the second week brought back to me many blessings I had received through lots of people I had forgotten about during the first week. I finished the second week with a sense of gratitude for being so blessed and enriched throughout my life.
I feel like I've finished week 7, but then in some ways I don't feel finished. My heart feels raw... not broken, not healed, just kind of raw, in a state of flux. It's hard to exist this way, but I'm trying not to rush the healing process. It is important that I heal and not just coat it with my own vices. Dear Lord, I patiently await your healing. AMEN
Christine -AK

When the darkness is complete
seeking you comes easy
I can say with Paul
"When I am weak, then I am strong
When all is brightness and sunshine
I run to you with love, grateful for your gifts
God is good! How great is our God! But the cloudy days of plodding endurance...
those I claim for myself
days not cold enough to take cover
nor warm enough to give gratitude
in these days my sin has foundation and growsand what does my sin look like?
a fortress I have built around my heart
the stronghold I retire to on the dreary days.
its walls somehow and mercifully admit entrance to
support and encouragement of those who love me
but limit the love I can return
and blind me to the needs of those near
but just outside.I need to be free of my desire to be strong alone.
within my fortress that desire is strong
and drowns out your call to be friend and disciple.
I can not tear down the walls alone
and alone, I don't really wish to
But You will not storm the gates
You wait just outside the wall at the weakest point
Calling to me...It may be too much to ask of this week that we can tear down
the walls so long in building
but I pray that I could at least find you waiting
and calling at the smallest opening,
and allow you to draw me out of myself
and into you so that I can see clearly
what keeps me from you
at least for a time.

i've surprised my self by making it this far...i'm usually not good at sustaining an effort. for the last two weeks i have acutely felt the pain of the rebellion of sin..feeling cut off from god and from those i love and have sinned against. but i have also experienced what can happen when i turn to god in need. this week has really forced me to see one of my most destructive patterns, and that is trying to do it "my" way when things are "good", thinking i can play both ends against the middle. when i become complacent, the margins of right behavior blur and i cross the line, thinking my actions won't really hurt. i become swept along in my own emotions, yielding to them without pause. i have also discovered that when things are "bad", i dont seek the help of god or utilize the tools he has given me until catastrophe strikes...and then i come begging. i live a reactive rather than proactive life. i do not follow the words of the act of contrition "to avoid the near occasion of sin"..because i dont want to. how stupid and self destructive this has been for me! someone once told me that if evil was dressed up in horns and a tail, no one would want it, so evil often feels good and satisfying. but how empty it feels in the end. if i am to make spritual progress i have to turn it over to god and change the patterns of my life, one day at a time. i never thought it would be so much work and how actively engaged i'd have to be in it. but i acknolwedge that despite the many troubles in my life, god has given me much...and therefore i am responsible for honoring what ive been given. change has been agonizingly slow for me, but i can feel it in increments. for this i am grateful to the god who loves me as i am, sins and all. Week 7
I am in week seven. I started only checking in each week --- thinking that it would be good to learn the process of the retreat. But I have found myself living this retreat. I had been feeling disconnected from Jesus and as I finally allowed myself to depend more on Jesus and less on myself I realized that Jesus is always there... always connected... I am the one that disconnects.
Week 7:  I find it difficult to reflect on sins.  Perhaps it is because I don't really want to look at them.  I have been deaf to God's word for a long time though at the back I know God is always there.

Today I got mad at almost everything.  I was off so I supposed that I was relaxed and free.  But inside my heart there is lots of anger and I cannot figure out what it is - what is the source of my anger?
I pray to God to hold me in His loving hands.

Week 7 has revealed a sin I never considered a sin.  It is an attitude toward others (not everyone) of superiority.  How can I rid of it--it is so ingrained and seems not to be willful, but a part of my being. So I will pray about this now.

Anyway, the attitude comes from my upbringing where criticizing of others was commonplace.  It gave me a feeling of "we" and "they" (everyone else) and "we" were special. I felt very loved, safe, warm and fortunate.  Yet, I have a fair amount of low self-esteem.  How do these two go together?  I've been told by a counselor that the criticism set forth the parental expectations which I have tried to meet all of my life. Those criticisms could be of me if I acted or looked a certain way.

I'm also beginning to see that disappointment in my husband over the years has been influenced by this "sin."   And not thinking that the attitude showed was probably naiive and that it has affected his feelings and confidence. I'm suddenly realizing that I have gotten quite a bit out of week 7!

my patterns of sin has been aagainst my wife. i have connected the dots and what i see is a young man growing old by himself. the image of the man on the beach;in this weeks photo, could be me wondering where i went wrong.i did not acknowledge my sins.i did see myself as a"big sinner". it was my wife who suggested i do this retreat.the first time i tried the retreat i did not think it was for me.this time i have removed my mask and saw myself for who i truly was.coldhearted,unloving, self centered;yes this this was me. for twenty five years my wife has put up with this monster.i beg GODS FORGIVENESS and my wifes that i receive a second chance.i sit at the feet of JESUS hoping to experience his forgiveness.i beg GOD to hold me and heal me for i'am truly prayer is that i could be the man on the beach with his loving wife by his side and not the old man alone asking GOD how could this happen. Week 7
I realized during week seven that the underlying cause for many of my sins that kept reechoing though my mind was that I worry too much about my appearance before others.  While I knew before that this was a one of my problems, I did not realize quite as fully as I do now what impact this has had in the sins that I commit.  There were some sins that I could easily trace back to this but as I dug deeper into some of my other sins I found this to be below the surface as well.  While there were also other patterns that I could find this one seemed to be the most prominent.  It seems ironic that I could offend and strain my relationship with the One who is the most important while I was so concerned with the perception that others have of me.  As I sit here typing I realize that gaining recognition, approval, or a good image in the eyes of others would mean nothing if I am offending God in the process.  Now I must continue to work to put this realization into practice which will not always be easy.
Week 7: I believe that part about people not getting up each day with the intent to do evil things. We all want to do good, to be good. The part that hits the nail on the head for me is that we feel needs that feel unmet, we have fears that sap our confidence. This is the meaning of "sin" for me. These unfulfilled needs and nagging fears make us lose sight of the fact that God is with us, loving us offering us the help we need if only we could be conscious of His help around us. Losing sight of our loving Father, that is "sin" in my view.

The prayer "In these or similar words" brought tears to my eyes. The visual was strong and positive. Me sitting at the feet of My Father asking for the strength to get up again and try to do good, be compassionate even if I am sick or tired or hurt from being ignored, be watchful of other's needs and help if only with a smile of encouragement, have courage because the All Powerful, All loving God cares for me and intends for me to care for His creation in return.

To reflect on patterns of personal sin is not something that most people want to do and that includes me, but I believe that it will prove to be life altering if I approach this week or so with the idea that , I do need a conversion of heart and a much more profound awareness of how my inability to love the way God intended me to love is hampering me from being the creature that God intended me to be.

I  want to delve into why I sin, what is my weakness or inclination. Most of the time , it is through selfishness, or fear that I tend to lash out, judge, or mistreat my brothers and sisters.  Though I often pray for trust in God, I often forget and then the sin will  inevitably rear its ugly head. It will be a life long journey to place total trust in God who deserves nothing less than my absolute trust in His Mercy and Love.

I am grateful for this week and I pray that I will not be afraid to look at myself honestly, and remain constantly aware of Christs ultimate and great gift of Himself to me. Thank you and God bless all who are making this retreat and those who facilitate it.

I read the sharing of others in Week 7 today, the first day of that week for me. Again, God’s timing amazes me. One person wrote of a rut, blockage, procrastination, and even failing to start a project. Others shared experiences similar to mine. One used the analogy of ‘connecting the dots’ to describe this week’s work. I too am in a rut. I need to connect the dots in my life. The patterns are not yet clear, but are beginning to come into focus. I pray for the grace to see the patterns in my life and to steer myself out of the ‘rut.’ All praise and thanks be to the Lord, my Saviour! 

The seventh week was difficult for me. I felt deep sorrow and scare when the hidden things in my mind that I never wanted to remember was disclosed in front of  God and myself. But on the journey I discovered my habitually repeated sins resulted from  not only admitting my failure and mistakes and disability  but escaping from them. In fact I have hidden my injury and frustration. It grew bigger and bigger and without knowing controlled my mind and made me disguise myself .... far away from God. Though I have participated in many church activities, I realized I didn't show myself as it is even to Him and began to wonder whether or not my love for God was wrong. Throughtout this week I -as a sinner- wanted to be healed all of mine and  renewed by God's Mercy and Love. Talking about myself with God, I could discover that I behaved as I 'd like to regardless of His desire. I really want to buy the cross auctioned off  by me. The picture that I see again on the last day of the journey seemed to tell me God is coming across the river to meet me-as a sinner and give His love.  And my eyes got wet with grateful tears. What a great gift !! 

I am very excited by this process.  I have  made many mistakes in my life.  I can "understand" some of the pyscho-social roots of my sins...but now I want to be able to learn from them.  I also have to be careful not to judge myself too father  used to tell me I did this and my friends tell me the same.  Yet, I know what the truth is and yes, sometimes I am hard on myself but many times I take a path that has to do with utter fear and stubborness.  (7)

The exercise for this week has been very difficult for me.    There have been many times in my life when I felt I was dying to self, doing the will of God, only to feel like a hypocrite afterward.  I drew much consolation from the prayer by Thomas Merton -about not knowing if I was pleasing God, but the fact that I was trying to please Him, actually did so. I hope I am not expecting too much from this week's exercise, but maybe, just maybe it might help me discern God's will for my life and to feel His forgiveness for the times when I sinned against Him - even when I felt I was doing the right thing.  (7)

Tears.  I haven't filled up with tears, gotten that tightness in my throat, and the welling up of emotion from inside, for a long time.  (7) This time I felt joy.  Tears of joy.  How I had wanted to never again look at the serious sins of my past.  Today, they tell me not only what I have done, but they remind me of the One whose death frees me from those sins. 

Week 7 -- Time to connect the dots of patterns of sin in my life; what a gift this is!  I have come so far in the walk to wanting to live a life of holiness that I had gotten stuck in mediocrity.  This week, these reflections, are a difficult but wonderful gift for new growth. Yes, the pattern is subtle but consistent.  I am lovely in the "front room" of my life, but there is a need to stroke my ego (pathetically self pitying from the early teen years) that rises to inflict itself on those who are weak if they don't give it the recognition it craves.  Dear Jesus, having seen this more clearly, help me to rest in your friendship, and to see real value in living for you, so that I don't need to rise on the pain of weaker brothers and sisters anymore. 

Yes, I am filled with hope and confidence, yet I recognize that my confidence is easily shaken.  I often end up feeling inept and impotent when confronting my spiritual and moral shortcomings, and so I simply give in.  I pray that I can gain strength through this retreat and become a better man, father, husband, and child of God. I know you are with me today, Lord.  Amen. 

I am in week 7, it was my usual time to spend with the Lord in the adoration chapel where I begin my retreat each week.  As I read the words in the "In these or Similar Words" section, I got choked up couldn't get through it reading it silently.  I tried reading it aloud and it was worse.  I just can't pray the third paragraph to "..let me feel the pain and alienation of being separated from you..."  
I have been there before and I never want to be away again. Please God..melt whatever separates me from you, please don't let me walk away ever again.  I love to hear your words burning in my heart.  It is only through the miracle of  you Lord that I am able to see the good in others instead of the faults, that I am able to  feel your love for them instead of my own indifference.  Please  Jesus, I can't stand to feel the pain and alienation of being  separated from you.  Please draw me close and don't let go. 

This retreat truly is becoming the background part of my day, and I didn't even know it.  Yesterday at work, we began sharing faith stories, and I was called upon to defend our Faith, to some who profess to be Catholic, but admitted that they don't follow all of Her teachings.  It was a moment of exhilaration, joy, and sorrow all mixed into one.  How good is our loving God!  Then, when I went to Mass later that evening for All Saints Day, I commented to Father, "Doesn't it just make you want to cry sometimes when you stop and ponder upon the awesomeness of our God?!"  How grateful I am for all He has given to me-the joys and the sorrows-everything! 

I have just started week seven.  (How much easier it is to identify the WHAT of my sin than the WHY).  So far, although I have not learnt any new facts about Jesus and His love for me, it has been very worthwhile to become immersed in it throughout the week.  I had shared the url for the retreat with many in my parish, hoping to be able to go through it with people I knew, so we could discuss it, pray through it, and keep each other accountable.  Not even my husband wanted to join me. In many ways, this has been a blessing. I have kept to a flexible timetable, spent 10days on some parts, 4 on others. However, I had not read the sharing of others until yesterday. It is SO reassuring to see that others are praying for all of us on this retreat. I am inspired to do the same. Especially in this confronting section, I need to know that others understand the fear, the guilt, and also the relief that God still loves us.  Thank you to all those who have shared, and to those who have prayed.  I add my prayers to theirs - for each person on this retreat, and for their families.  Sue 

Week 7.  I live in a retirement community and am coordinating this retreat for residents who do not have computers.  We have faith sharing on the 1st and 3td Friday afternoons.   So only two persons came to the sharing.  But it was great!  Several of you were there!  After a short prayer, I read some of the sharings These helped us share our own graces.  I'm one of the younger residents (71) and the two women who came are much older.   They shared how different our sin list becomes as we age.   Someone suggest that we could use a booklet --"An Examination of Conscience to Seniors."    We all agreed that being crabby, intollerant, judgmental, "tied up in knots" self-pity, and rage are sins we can relate to now!  (Andy, are you a senior?)   Perhaps one of the older Jesuits on campus could write the book. But as to sharing, one of the women called me last Sunday.  She said that she read the retreat guide three times -- it was so beautiful!  Then she prayed for half an hour or more. I said that when I connected the dots, I realized that I take God for granted.  I take both is forgiveness and his constant help for granted.  The other woman said that's because I trust God.   Isn't it wonderful when someone puts a better light on our sins! Another woman was moved by Kay's sharing and asked for a print copy.  She was especially moved by the line "I realized that I need to spend less time on trying to make myself a better person and more time on asking God's forgiveness and help." -- she probably doesn't have a lot of time left, so she wants to use it well! I really grateful for this opportunity to learn more about the spirituality of older adults.  This knowledge will help me to have helpful spiritual conversations --both ways!  

The most difficult thing for me to do is to  share my weeknesses with with others. When I share my inner most fears, prayers, angers with my husband, we seem to meet me on a level playing field. He knows me so well. He accepts me with gentleness, caring and understanding. He is my sounding board and often tempers my fears and disappointments with gentle acceptance.  When I have tried to express myself to others I fear that what I might say would hurt, be judgemental or be misunderstood. As I reread the words that I have written I realize that I have just shared with you a big  part of my sinful nature - my pride. Please pray for me. 

Yesterday afternoon at work, my spouse called me from home to say a difficult disciplinary incident had just transpired with our 9 year old child, who is intelligent and normally cheerful, and also very headstrong.  After discussing the circumstances with my spouse, I spoke briefly with my child, asking what happened, and then saying that I was "very disappointed" in the inappropriate behavior. 
Later, at quitting time, and before leaving for home, I went to the On-line Retreat website, in which I have thus far worked my way up to the Week 7  page.  There, I came across the prayer titled, "You have brought us together to receive your mercy and grace in our time of need."  As I read the prayer over, it occurred to me that it could also serve as a fitting reconciliation prayer that our family could pray at the conclusion of the family discussion we were going to have to have that night over the disciplinary incident.
I made three hardcopies of the prayer and went home.  After we finished dinner and homework, we sat together and thoroughly discussed the disciplinary incident, complete with angry-and-honest-but-not-hurtful words, tears, words of apology and forgiveness, and, lastly, the necessary corrective parental instructions.  Then, as we continued to sit together, first we each silently read the prayer (so we had a sense of what it contained), and then we read it together aloud.
At the conclusion of our joint reading, no lightning struck or thunder boomed, yet there was a discernable Peace in our midst.  Afterward, while preparing for bed, my child still had a few more tears of frustration to shed over the incident as we continued the work of "getting over it."
In this "family healing" work, your On-line Retreat website was the medium of a particular grace from God that helped our family members to reconcile with one another, and to begin again to live as a family united in love and respect for one another.

Thank you, and God bless you all for your work in making this website available to people like me.  In our busy world, having a spiritual resource as this available on-demand anytime either a few spare minutes appear or when the Spirit moves us, is a true gift from God.

I just finished week 7. Up to the moment it was the most difficult week to follow. It took me two weeks, because when I finished the first one I felt I still had more to think about. The most important thing was to feel the courage to take the Lord's hand and walk through my failures and limits. I could see this week a pattern of behaviour that was very liberating for my whole life. It is a real grace to be able to follow this retreat, specialy if I think that I am in the Northeast of Brazil! 

It's Week 7, and a major breakthrough.  For years, I've struggled with my propensity for leaving certain tasks unfinished, and, in some cases, not started at all at both a professional and personal level.  The material both last week and especially this week has enabled me to understand the very complex rut that I've found myself stuck in, and, even more importantly, how to get myself out of it.

Week 8

Week 8: This is the first time that I share.  I thank God that I have reached this far.  I am one of those who hardly goes through things for a long time.  I give up easily and at one time I had thought of dropping this retreat.  Yes, it has been a challenge in may ways.  One incident that I want to share is: This week as I was reflecting on healing mercy of God I had a lot pain in my heart.  It felt as if I had multiple fractures in the hear but as I continued to pray I got up one day and felt a lot of peace and I could also forgive those who had caused me pain.  Thank you for starting this ministry. -- Mary

Week 8 almost defeated me because I couldn't change my patterns and what was the point of continuing in that case. I am at times overwhelmed with confusion and unsure what I see, what I have asked for, what I have received. I feel so blind and discouraged. I battled with myself about starting week 9, thinking that I might as well step down here and "go home". But despite those turmoiled emotions, I opened week 9 a day later than usual and reading the pages slowly, I suddenly feel encouraged to go on - I don't feel alone anymore. I lack the strength to believe that I am not alone, that I am loved and cared for. I have difficulty to believe, to trust - but at times, I do catch rays of warmth and love - and think that God must be having a tough time getting through to me. --Hazel in Germany

Week 8: It really wasn't an easy week. The photo brought painful memories about how it hurt that I could never embrace my baby son like that. It was only after he died that I could take him in my arms. He spent every day of his short life in a hospital bed, and it was terrible to see him suffer without me being able to help, or comfort him or letting him know how much I love him. And then I thought how I must be letting God down when I'm resisting his love and when I'm pulling away from his embrace. I think that just as I felt for my baby, God also wants to be with me when I suffer, He also wants to help me when I struggle, He also wants me to know how much he loves me, and would also want to embrace me already in my life lots of tears, but also a comforting sense of being loved beyond belief, thank you for it.

Week 8: I know this week was supposed to be joyful, but looking at the picture of the mother and daughter was difficult for me because I don't have that joyful, loving relationship with my mom, I would love too, and I am working on it so I put myself in my grandson's embrace, and people who do love me and I was finally able to feel God holding me and forgiviing me. I was reflecting on my experience with breast cancer and remembering that he was with me throughout and I can finally say I'm starting to feel peaceful, I may have to extend this week another week. This retreat is helping me to become me.
-- Patti

Week 8: I am finishing the eighth week of retreat. The picture of this week moves me powerfully. Each time I turn on my computer (a few times daily) I am peaceful in God's loving embrace. I want so to remain there, Lord. I need you to change my heart. My heart is full of selfishness and self centeredness. The resulting sins have separated me time and again, year after year, from your abiding love. Lord, I need a new heart to love you each day in prayer and to meet you again and again in other people.

In week 8 as I thought of Jesus love for me I felt his loving words of fear not to the disciples take on a new meaning for me. Every moment took on a new meaning with his love.

Week 8: I felt I had a roller-coaster week I find reflecting on "God's loving embrace" deeply moving and empowering. I sit back in confidence and trust in God's love. But ironically, at the other end I felt tired and dispirited. Part of this was the effect of jet-lag ... having just returned from an international trip. Part was also being fully involved in a project at work. I started getting upset at smallish obstacles (and there were many!). Then I started thinking ... do I really need this job? Do I really want to live here? Would anyone notice if I wasn't here ... would I care? But then I realise that this is "selfish" talk ... I came here to this place discerning God's call ... changing some things in my life (including moving) to respond to his love ... this doesn't mean that everything has to be perfect and go my way. Rather it should be going God's way. I really need to rest in that loving embrace. That's the way I will learn His direction.

I've just completed week 8 and read several of the shared thoughts. The desire to share comes from the Holy Spirit. I believe that sharing the blessings of this retreat as many have done, brings out many similar thoughts. I've reflected on much rebellious sinfulness. Now, to reflect on God's loving forgivness; His embrace reminds me of my value within His creation and encourages me to participate fully in His kingdom, not to be held back by past failures but to go forward to serve as one who has something of value to share. I sure appreciate the prayers of my fellow retreatants and I will be praying with all of you as we journey on.

Week 8 has been very moving for me. I was mugged at the start of week 7. I am recovering well physically, but the emotional recovery is taking longer. I have been craving the consolation of human touch and wishing my mother (who lives abroad) were here to hug me. So the image of God embracing us like a mother has been very powerful for me, and very

Week 8: In a way, parts of the feelings I have experienced on this journey so far have similarities to what I have experienced in grief. Being overwhelmed, feeling hopelessly lost, over stimulated, and struggling with the fear these feelings cause in the beginning. Truthfully it has been a bit of a rollercoaster but this week has been a blessing. Gradually coming into the warmth of Gods enlightenment, being grateful for what He has blessed me with. Being able to shed some of the overwhelming negative feelings, by dieing to ones old self, allows me to see that in spite of everything God truly loves me and wants me to be open to that fact.

When struggling with the accidental death of one of my sons, the death of my husband who was terminally ill, and the death of my father all in 2004, there was a nun who described to me the path grief can take in ones life. She described it as a spiral (like an upside down Christmas tree). As one travels up the spiral at certain points we struggle thru to what we believe is some resolution on an issue and come out the other side to move up some more only to discover as we loop around again we haven't fully addressed whatever that issue was but since we have already done some of the work before, this time it isn't as bad and we come to a deeper understanding and out the other side again to keep traveling up. This is all in the context of our being open to recognizing what God is revealing to us, so as we travel up we are able to recognize more of what has been revealed.

So I'm feeling as if I've come out the other side of dieing to my sin ("recognizing that my deepest sin was that I failed to turn to God in my need; I didn't rely on or even listen to what grace might have been offered me there") after week 7. When I connected the dots the pattern always returned to this being what lead to my void which I tried to fill any number or ways. I suspicion that the grief I've experienced over the past few weeks and the joy I'm experiencing now are on that wonderful spiral of life. My prayer is that I keep dieing to self and opening to experience God's graces ever more fully. I feel so profoundly blessed to be able to experience God thru the guidance of this retreat, the insight I've gained so far has been priceless. I realize that as in Frosts poem I have "miles to go before I sleep" but I'm so savoring being cradled in His loving embrace no matter what...
--S usie

Week 8: I am on week eight my two friends have stopped doing the retreat at week two. You are now my cummunity. Some patterns have presented themselves(7). I can believe they have presented themselves this week because God's timing is perfect. I'm understanding it's HIS retreat not mine and it's HIS grace that has brought me to this 8th week
Week 8: As I begin this 8th week I am pleased with the focus. The last couple of weeks have been fruitful yet difficult with the focus on sin. I say fruitful because I know why I had to focus on my sin and patterns of sin but it was not pleasant. I will enjoy this week focusing on God's love and mercy because I have a son who I love so dearly and unconditionally who is lost. He has left his faith and it saddens me. I have always gotten strength from my faith. He gets very upset when the subject comes up so I thred lightly. This week thinking of how much God loves me and my son will be a comfort
Week 8: Usually, I read the week ahead on Sunday. But this evening for some reason, I decided to do it then. And I found out it was Forgiving Mercy. I looked at the photograph and read a bit. But first I made it in a printer-friendly version and arranged it my way. And I went back to it, wondering about Forgiving Mercy.

What will I be forgiven, I wondered. And suddenly I realized what it would be. What it was. Something I had never been able to forgive myself, something I have carried within my heart for so long. I understood then that I was indeed forgiven. It felt incredible. I feel so grateful. It is truly like a miracle.

Not long ago I meditated on the crippled woman. I wondered what it was that kept me bent. I did not know. It could have been quite a few things really. I realized then that Christ likes everyone to be able to stand up.

I do think the world is going to look differently now. First I feel so grateful. Then I wonder what else will come along. What new developments will take place. But first I will take this coming week, as it is recommended, to enjoy what has happened and to taste it. Maybe I will try to write a psalm of praise and of thanks...

Anyway, just to share with you that something indeed quite extraordinary has happened to me this evening.
Thank you, Blessings,

Week 8: The two scripture passages: the Samaritan woman, and the woman taken in adultery, spoke deeply to me in a new way this time. This time I was aware for the first time that in both of these passages, Jesus was “doing no-thing” (i.e. in one he is resting, and in the other he is doodling). Also, in both cases the “miracle” happens when he is alone with each woman, with no crowd around. Entering my 60th year, I am alone, one in being – no-doing – with Christ.

Week 8 Wow it is so cool how each week builds on the last week. Every time that I am able to spend quality time working on this study it shows in the way I feel connected with the Father through the Son. It reminds me of when Jesus would go off an pray all alone with His Father. Those times of prayer must have meant so much to Him. I am sure he was not worried about saying the right things or if He was praying long enough or even if he told God His long laundry list of things as we do. It has helped very much this week to know that God's mercy for me is never ending. I still do not fully understand it but with His help I am able to get a glimpse. I am learning that all the experiences I go through all fit perfectly together to mold and make into His image. Even all of the horrific things in my past, when at the time I felt as if I was all alone on this planet, He was right next to me. Making sure that I would not endure any more than my spirit could handle. He will always be my Father who takes care of me. I pray that I might hold up my end by staying and being fully committed to Him.
--Mikey C

Week 8: Just like several others have mentioned, I had some trouble with this week.
But I had some help as well. I have been trying to keep in mind the reading from week 6 that urges us not to reject the arms of the Cross. That helps me get to a place where I can accept that God forgives me. And when I read the sharings and people mention that they are praying for each of us making this retreat, that helps too. One person wrote that she thought she could hear us listening to her. That was a moment of grace for me, and it moved me quite a bit. Though we may be doing these exercises in different places and even in different years, somehow we are listening to each other. That's evidence of God's love and His presence in our daily lives, yes? I have peace about this week, and even some quiet happiness. But I'm not really at the point of delight or celebration yet Still, something is changing in me. This morning I was reading a commentary about the miracle of Jesus healing a blind man. The commentary involved the allegorical view of this story, how Jesus changes our vision too. At the end, the author asked, "Can we see the world the way God does?" My usuall response would be about how sad God must be when He sees all the violence occuring in our world right now, from Sri Lanka to the Middle East and Africa. (Not an optimist by nature, I admit it.) But this morning my answer to that question was so different that I was taken aback. The first and only word that came to me was love. God sees the world through eyes of love. Amazing.

Week 8: This was a difficult week for me because although the picture and theme of the reflection on being forgiven was strong at the back of my mind was a disappointment I faced with my work life. Finally I wrote this reflection: Dear Lord What's harder for me … giving up fascination with my pattern of sin or really seeing you as forgiving me? Both are hard. I met you in the Sacrament of Reconciliation this week because I needed to convince myself of your forgiving presence. This is a hard step. I am much better at setting self-improvement goals … to promise you that I will give up the patterns of my sin … I know that this is in fact really more than a goal setting exercise. In itself this requires your grace. But what I find most difficult is seeing you as pleased at my attempts at "holiness" … attempts I often see as feeble. This is a side of You, Lord, which I do not keep pictured in my head. It is not that my picture is of a judging or judgmental God. No my picture is more of a disappointed God who requires over and over again to forgive. But you look into me more deeply. I come to see that feeling your love for me is not self-absorption. Feeling your love for me I receive as a new grace. Thank you, Lord.
Hi friends in the LORD out there.

It hasn't been easy for me during this week. The difficulity of most of it came from imagining Jesus embracing me as a sinner. It is so difficult and takes time for me to forgive some1, il rather revenge than forgive thats why it wasn't easy.

As i looked closely at the picture of the mother embracing her daughter, i came to my senses. I started to imagine myslf having done something to some1 else and him forgiving me, the relieve that i will feel and the happiness that bottles inside of me. The other thing that kept me going was the imagination of a small baby seeking ecouragement from her parent, maybe when he is learning how to walk. If the mother loves her child so much so as to give her that smile of encouragemet, how can it not be possible with GOD, who loves us more than even a mother.

I started to surrender myself to Jesus, resting in his arms and i felt so happy being there as i am, as a loved sinner.
Week 8
Week 8 - What does it feel like to be in God’s embrace? A sense of peace and joy. I have not been this light-hearted for a while. Even at work. Little joys are creeping into my life in my interactions with my colleagues. I am actually having fun, even within the stresses of a 10 hour work day. This is because I have learned to trust God’s embrace over these past few weeks. I am trying to bring a conscious sense of trust into my marriage, too. My marriage has been the place where I have sinned and hurt the most, but it is also the place where I am finding God’s presence and mystery. I feel that trust is the ground from which faith and love spring. I read Jesus words about the Father in Matthew 6: 24-34 and learned to relax more and not to worry so much. Not even about myself and spiritual growth. It will come. I want to be a lily in the field. For everything there is a season, and now this week, we are into a season of joy and peace.

Yet, I found it difficult to leave this week until I was certain I could really taste His forgiveness. I lingered. The retreat for me is not anymore about “weeks” but about discovering the season of my heart that lies within each step on the 34 step journey.

I feel as tiny as a small speck of sand on the beach. God, my Father (and my Mother), is my morning sun, knowing me, my heart, and my sinful patterns. And yet she washes over me -over all of us - as the ocean washes over the sand. He has restored me and filled the void in my fragile, cracked self. By letting go, I am finding the peace and joy that have been locked inside me for so long. I am beginning to shine like a tiny star in the midnight sky.

I’ve tried to envision being embraced by God, but the image just isn’t working for me. I can’t picture God making a big fuss over me. I admit that I have my moments of sinfulness like everybody else, but I’ve never felt that I was away from God. I know that He is my father and that He loves me for who He made me to be, faults and all. Am I alone in feeling this way?

I see myself in the story of the Prodigal Son as a younger sibling, a toddler holding daddy’s hand. I join him in being sad when my brother leaves and my other brother refuses to come in to the celebration. I am happy with him when my brother returns. I let go of his hand some times, but he is always there offering it back. I don’t get a big embrace or a fatted calf killed in my honor, but I’m content holding daddy’s hand.

But that’s the problem, you see. I’m standing right here in His presence, but I let doubts creep in. Maybe I sound arrogant. Maybe I’m not digging deep enough to root out hidden faults. Maybe I’m just fooling myself. Help me Lord, in my unbelief and don’t let go of my hand. I don’t want to dwell on me and my sinfulness. I want to focus on you, to dwell with you in praise, reverence and service. (Week 8)

This is the 8th week, and my first sharing. The retreat is a blessing and an answer to prayer. I had prayed for an extention of lent, because I felt sorry to have gone through so much just to have it stop. On Holy Saturday, I found this retreat 'accidentally'. Much of the retreat is passive. I am not delving into areas, but I still find conversation with God in the background. (That is a wonderful concept - the background.) This week I am to feel the embrace of God. It is not happenning - at least not like in the picture. I had no problem with allowing sins to surface, even though that is also uncomfortable, but to allow another to embrace me - I don't know how to do that. I can not remember ever being embraced as a child. Later on, embraces were things normal people do. So God has to really talk to me here if he wants me to understand. What am I hearing?
1. 'Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us'. Can that also mean that we will know his embrace as we embrace others?
2. Beautiful birds, and the trees. Can His creation be His embrace? Why else would He have gone to so much trouble?
I would really like it if someone would touch my heart - move me to tears. The only person I would really trust that to is God.

its nell from tweed again. thankful for you all this week. i thought last week that none of the dots had connected for me and i was very distressed and lonely. but this week i was well able to come into the embrace and rest my weary head. I found myself doing things i dont normally allow myself to do. i have a very limited pension and mostly have second hand and opshop clothes but i bought some shoes and a pair of jeans new. and the voice tried to tell me i would regret it and had the wrong size and all the other torments i normally go through. but i found i could come as a beloved into the embrace and i was ok.

i seem able to quickly run through the image of being created and formed by god for god and then being given all that is in my world for me to use. and in week 8 i have been again able to come past the sorrow and the failures into some real happiness and peace.
i found a drawing of a mother seal with her baby embraced in her flippers and what i liked was the look on the babys face - which had a combination of relief and cheekiness and a sure confidence that it was back wehre it belonged and everything
was ok even though it had taken off some place foolish . i knew how it felt

one good thing is that the further i go in this retreat the less i seem to have to say. thank you for the retreat and for all the sharing by the unseen fellow travellers. my daughter comes to visit me from sydney this week and im sure gods hand is at work in this one . god bless .
-- Nell from Tweed

After struggling with sin for two weeks it's a relief to look at forgiveness. I pray for guidance on how to best the make use of this little reprieve.
Even though this week is about God's mercy and forgiveness I'm still getting new glimpses of sin. I'll share on of these uncovered sins. I seem to have this attitude that if I see something I like and want I'm entitled to have it based on my want and desire alone. Forget about working for it or deserving it. This attitude has to do with material things I want. Yet when it comes to forgiveness all of a sudden I'm concerned about my worthiness. Do I have it backwards?
I think I'm a little giddy from the love of Christ I’m beginning to feel.

Pray for me I'll pray for thee.

I am on week 8, where Jesus asked his disciple to go back and cast out there nets.
I feel like the diciples, I used to be in ministry for about 25 years, my husband and I were very active in youth ministry and just about every ministry after becoming coordinator for our religious education programs. Our church was run by a religious order and about 10 years ago has been taken over by the diocese. After working for 3 years under a different order has been a struggle. From much affirmation down to being put down and not trusted to do our ministry, has left us wondering about our faith and our ministry. But after reading and relecting on this weeks reading has left me to realize that everything happens for a reason, and there are times when we have to move back to see where our Lord wants to take us on the next journey, I must pick up my nets and trust that the Lord take care of everything if only I give it to him and allow him to fill our nets with those that he want us to touch, to come back and feed his children.
I must not allow others sins and my own to keep me from doing my ministry. I pray the Lord will give us the opportunity to continue and to come back even strong for I know that when I am weak he is strong within me.

This past week has been about love. It has been great. I was able to surrender into the love. I was surprised at first how easy it was for me. And then, as the week went on, I knowingly relaxed right into it. I would remember to smile, and I would feel a lightness in my chest. And feeling gratitide has become an almost daily excersise. My life is a gift. How I live my life is a gift to God.
This week’s reflections bring to mind three friends.

One was my confessor for many years. His eyes, his voice, were beautiful. When I went to him with my sins, his frequent advice was, “Don’t be so hard on yourself.” He never acted holier-than-thou, but met me where I was and gave me good advice and lifted me up. The last time I saw him, before he died, he embraced me and said, “My friend.”

Another was a priest I met during a difficult time. I was in a foreign country and so was he. I was in an old cathedral at twilight, simply as a tourist, when suddenly he was singing Vespers. I wept all the while he sang and, afterwards, when I approached him to thank him, I dissolved into tears again and he took me into his arms. When I bumped into him on the street the next day, he recognized me as if I were his best friend in the whole world, opening his arms and crying out with a great smile, “My friend!”

Last, and most frequently, I remembered a friend with whom many years ago I had fallen into serious sin. We had parted bitterly, even with hatred. After some time, I started to pray for this person. Then one day this friend appeared at my door and said “I’m sorry” and we embraced for a long time. What courage it must have taken to come to my door! How I cherish the memory of that embrace!

I am grateful for these friends and how they showed me the face of God’s forgiving mercy.
Week 8

Tom, Pennsylvania

Focusing on the picture of the embrace and relating to this week’s theme I found immensely satisfying … comforted … touched. I like to intellectualize things. Embraced this week by God I gave up intellectual games. But at some point during the week I reread the instructions and introductory reflections in parallel with the parable of the prodigal son and I focused a lot on the image of God’s joy at our wanting to be embraced by his forgiveness. I find this image of God’s delight at finding us very strong. I think I gave up some time ago the image of the stern, disciplinary God. But since one of the patterns of the sinful side of my life is to partition God out of some areas of my life I recognize that a special grace I receive is His continual efforts to burst through these partitions. I thank God for this special grace this week. Week 8
I have a hard time getting excited about forgiveness. There's always the feeling of things not being quite right. I pray to become happy, contented.

I like the idea of doing something this week to lift my spirits, to give enjoyment and peace. What I've decided to do is to "drop the rope" in a longstanding tug of war with an intransigent bully who's caused me years of anxiety and pain.

This retreat is a great idea! May God bless you.

Week 8 I don't want to move on from this week. I haven't "got it" yet or as fully as I want. I feel very childish and needy. I also have a dread of what comes next. like waiting for the other shoe to drop.
It helps so much to be able to share honestly.
Many wonderful things have happen for me this week. Time spent with people I love, doing things I love to do. So many nature gifts, I still feel so unworthy. And I see my lack of graditude. How can God love this?
Thanks for letting me share. I will move on to week 9 as I am.

I am always amazed at how profound the human struggle is in experiencing the tension between God's unconditional loving embrace and humanity's overwhelming sense of sinfulness. There is no way of reconciling the two... the tension only reveals the giftedness of God's love. Again and again, I witness the refusal of individuals, including myself at the deepest level, to surrender to the love of God and to let go of our conception of how things work and how God must act. I think this is because of the great vulnerability that comes with accepting God in the fullness of God's "gifting." Often I see individuals who already have God knocking on the doors of their hearts waiting to be welcomed and these individuals know that they have the deepest longing for this God who knocks, but they are just too hurt, too scarred, too afraid to open the door and receive the gift of newness. And as I see this in the people I encounter, I see it too in my own heart especially when I sometimes feel numb to the experiences of life.
Loving God I ask you to keep me open to your freshness, the freshness of life that you offer.
Just when it was suggested that I would have trouble with the week, I relaxed. The picture of the mother hugging her daughter was deeply touching and loving. I have looked at myself and my sins and patterns of sins so much in my life that I suddenly realized that I was more than ready to move into this week. Joy. I felt joy in God's holding me.
I was caught off-guard with the suddenness of my emotions. I knew suddenly how hard it was for me sometimes to feel God holding me--a "penance" I have actually been given--because I so rarely have been able to hold and forgive. My eight babies all died before they were born, so my life is more full of the adults of this world. If they hurt someone, they tend to turn away from them in catholic community, because doing the wrong thing is against the image they want others to have...instead of turning toward them and saying they are sorry. This adult fix on image, especially in catholic community, means that the hurt person doesn't get to feel the joy of the reconciliation. It may be our deepest irony as community. I am stunned with how much I missed the chance to forgive people who want me to just move on, without me having any of the joy of the mother in this picture. All work, no joy. Not fair. But this helped me see just where my struggle has been. I wanted to feel a physical and emotional reconciliation, instead of a long, drawn-out, overworked, heady-ier and underappreciated one. Perhaps some of the people involved don't understand my need because their lives have been so much more full of the physical forgiving with their children in the intimacy of their families. I won't get the reconciliation that would feel so good to me, but perhaps now I understand what I need more of for the future, even if I don't get it. I do understand why the image was given to me as a penance, and why it is the image I need to keep handy.
I am in the middle of week 8. This has been a difficult few weeks for me; I have struggled looking especially at the patterns of my sins and trying to understand shame as opposed to guilt. This week has been a great comfort to me because I am feeling the forgiveness, acceptance, and love of Jesus through the time I spend in the retreat. I am grateful to Jesus for being with me all day whether I am conscious of His Presence or not; when I choose (or am nudged) to call Him to mind, I feel the joy of being embraced by the embodiment of Love. My prayer is to become more and more present to Jesus throughout the day without being nudged.
This eighth week has not been as easy to do as the previous weeks since it was just hard for me to "feel" the love and forgiveness of the Lord.  There is a song titled "The Silence and the Sorrow" and one part of a line in it is "how a heart could love without conditions"  Without looking at the context of this line, the line by itself took on new meaning for me in the midst of a very difficult situation.   I would like to share a story about that situation.   Recently, I found myself in a situation where I was in some hot water because of choices that I had made and the way that I had interpreted some information.  I was meeting with the person above me but below where the hot water was coming from (I will call this person John, which is not the individual's name).  I had not done anything recently to provide a good image of myself before John and in fact had done (or failed to do) some things that easily could have tarnished my image with him.  However, John rather was very kind to me and helped me, even trying to determine if there was any way that the blame could be placed with him which might get me out of the hot water.  I tied this line from the song with the actions and words of John.  While I know that he is not perfect, at that moment his kindness and concern was exactly what I needed.  It is said that we need to be Christ for one another, the hands and feet of Christ on earth, and I believe that in this situation, John was Christ for me.  In his words he showed me in this particular situation love without condition.  His response to this situation caused me to feel a sense of inner joy and awe.  I likened it to the love without condition that God must have for me.  It has been difficult for me to transfer this feeling to the love of God but I think that perhaps God allowed me to experience it in relation to another human as a gift and as a step to one day feel it in relation to God.  I believe that God was not separate from this situation but right in the midst of it so in a way it is the unconditional love of God at work in my life.
The mercy of God is like the calm sea and the wind in the palms.  It is like the morning light that highlights the mountains covered with tropical rain clouds. The mercy of God brings peace and is awesomely beautiful. It is the joy of paradise. It is a world teaming with life. It is what allows me to thrive because within God’s mercy his love is the most clear to me.

I secretly have prayed for joy in my life from  the Holy Spirit, and even wrote that request down a few months back before I started this request. I need to experience the all embracing love of Jesus in my life and to know that all will be well.  I  live with a very critical spouse, one who holds on to past injuries and has a proverbial mind like an elephant when it comes to remembering and pointing out my faults.  It is so needed for me to feel that I can be forgiven and loved unconditionally, because there are so many conditions that we all seem to put on each other.  I pray to experience the great embrace and complete peace of knowing that I AM LOVED.

A few images have been coming to me this week, that have touched me . The first image that I thought about when I saw the mother , embrace her daughter was that of a picture that I took  of my own father embracing my brother.  It was on my Dad's 75th birthday and it was a picture of such emotion and true love.  My Dad was not a demonstrative man , but very deep feeling, to capture that picture said more than words can say.

The second image that came to me was on the day my grandmother died, as I was at her bedside.  As she took her last gasping breath, she held her arms out as if in an embrace with someone , someone who was calling her home.  It really made me feel that it was God embracing her and welcoming her home.

The image of Jesus running to greet me after all my missteps, failings and sins, did indeed bring a powerful image. I don't often think about how happy God is to see me , I need to stay with this image of God being gleefully happy at my coming home.

How powerful!  Thank You for bringing that image to me.

A prayer
Give me a thankful heart.
Give me a forgiving spirit.
Give me an openness to Your love through Your creation.
Make me in your likeness and image and may my discomfort and dismay at
not being like you  lead me to greater closeness with you.

I am sooo grateful for my parents. They were great human models for unconditional love, Of course, they were sometimes disappointed in things we did, but they were always encouraging us to try again. I didn't feel they were keeping score of the number of times we fell short of expectations. I didn't feel they were going to mete out punishment in kind for shortcomings.

I agree again with a previous statement made during this retreat. We don't get up in the morning with intent to do evil. We try our best to meet needs as we see them with resources as we see them and hopefully learn from those around us or from consequences of our actions about better ways of acting.  Scary is that many people get their "concept" of God from their parents or authority figures that are far from Loving, Forgiving, Caring Teachers.

Thank you God for my parents. Help me to be a loving, caring, forgiving person. Let me look to Your Son and the many humans you have sent to show what that loving person looks like in real life. Keep me seeking You each day every day in the world you have given me for a purpose. Help me to see that purpose and work to fulfill it.
Miracle do happen in Faith filled lives, B.C and A.D.

I am in the midst of week 8. Thank you for this resource. "Forgive me my trespasses as I forgive those who trespass against me." I live in a block of appartments for which I very reluctantly am forced by circumstances to take the responsibility of administering. I receive nothing but backbiting and criticism for my efforts, in particular over the years from an elderly lady who is nice to my face and actively runs me down to others behind my back. I have found this very difficult to deal with, but with God's help, I remain outwardly courteous and friendly to everyone despite their lack of reciprocation. It constantly pops into my mind and is very hurful and painful. I dream of paybacks, but fortunately with God's help they remain as dreams. I have sinned extensively and constantly throughout my life at a very serious level and I am realising that despite this God loves me as I am. Others couldn't "If You O Lord laid bare my guilt, I couldn't endure it". When I reflect upon my sinfullness and compare it with the above problems I am experiencing, I am reminded of "Focussing on the speck in my brothers eye with never a thought for the plank in my own". Lord I thank You for Your forgiveness. Help me to forgive and keep me free from sin so that my I might live in praise of You. 

Half way through Week 8, and ‘coincidentally’ approaching Passion Sunday. What a combination! Today’s (Friday’s) readings fit the theme of the week so well. Jeremiah calls on the Lord to rescue him from the hands of his oppressors, and the Psalmist thanks Him for protecting him from harm. Then, in the Gospel, Christ Himself escapes the wrath of his enemies. This has been a hard week for me because I struggle so to forgive myself my repeated transgressions and wonder how long the Lord can put up with me. Then I hear the daily readings, and begin to understand how longsuffering God is. Thanks be to Him for His mercy. Give me the grace of perseverance.

I am beginning the 8th week of this retreat. I took time to read the sharing of others for this week. I am experiencing so many of the same thoughts and feelings. I have many health problems that would cause concern in anyone, but I only feel peace. I know it has to be this retreat that is part of that peace. I always think that I'm not getting as much as I should, or maybe I should say not giving as much as I should to the retreat. But always when I get to the next week I see that I have experienced what was the purpose of the exercise. Thank you so much for the opportunity to experience the spiritual exercises at home. Like so many others, I too want to remember in prayer the others taking this retreat, and all of you who give so much for us. 

I feel so loved by God and others as I meditate on the picture of Mom & daughter embraced in great love. God is so loving and patient with me. I see my life with so much to forgive and find it very hard but I believe that with God's grace I will be able to forgive with all my heart just like I am forgiven by God and  others who love me and also by those that don't love me. As I start my 8th week I begin to feel this great peace. Thank you LORD for your merciful love for me and others.

Thank you God for loving me as I am, and not as I want to be.

On Sunday, the first day of  week 8 in church, Confessing to God that I have been a sinner , I was surprise to realize that I just recited a prayer like a sinner habitually not a true sinner with the remorse from my heart. In the middle of the week when I saw the tree that has few leaves because of the cold through the window,  the naked tree is thought to be much like me in front of God. Strangely Instead of being ashamed ,  that made me feel free and humble. that didn't discourage me. And I thought that when spring comes again, God will give my tree pretty leaves as He does the tree. But the leaves of my tree is likely to have shapes and colors that My God wants to give. So God, whose Mercy and Love have no condition and limit, will lead me to walk in His ways. God will rejoice at my changed mind like the mother of the picture.

Week 8 was to be a special week but I was not "together" as I would have liked to be.  I prayed but I was scattered.  It was not easy to let myself be loved - my head knew it but it was not reaching my heart.  The embrace of the mother was a great help and I tried to feel my Father/Mother embracing me and whispering that all was well.  It did not come easily but i will continue into this week.   There were times when I could feel the prayers of all of you and i in turn prayed for you.  May we all continue in peace.

The  wonderful  picture  of  my  little  girl  asleep  on  Saturday  morning  fitted  into this  week's  thoughts  beautifully.  I  still  cannot  believe  that  God  could  love  me  enough  to  entrust  us  (my  husband  and  I)  with  caring  for  a  child!  The  picture  of  the  embrace (8)  sums  everything  up.  God  has  given  so  much  to  me  over  the  years  that  gratitude  seems  insufficient.  When  one  is  so  imperfect  it  is  impossible  to  conceive  of  loving  forgiveness  that  is so  perfect  and  makes  for  humility.  This  retreat  is  making  me  think  about  so  much   and  is  a  wonderful   way  of  incorporating  God  into  a  very  busy  life  as  a  phys ician,  wife  and above  all  a  mother.

I'm beginning week 8.     I want to experience God's merciful love.  I want to smile and live in the joy of being a forgiven sinner.  The last six weeks or so have been difficult.  I've revisited old pain at a deeper level.  It's been very painful.  I know this is where Jesus has led me because He wants to heal me.  He has also given me wonderful reassurances of His love.  But the pain is still there.  I've become aware again of how sensitive I am, how hard I work to be what I'm supposed to be, to not be what I am.  I don't like being highly sensitive with such needs to belong, to be accepted, to be reassured.  I fight these tendencies because I want to be strong, to not need reassurance.  I want to get a new job, to get away from a very critical boss, but apparently it's God's will I stay where I am because I've been passed over for several vacancies.  I trust God.  If He wants me here, it's to heal me.  I hope and pray that I can relax into His merciful love and smile with the joy of knowing I am a forgiven sinner, that He loves me and made me this way because He loves me like this.

I am beginning week 8.  The remarkable timing of this lesson this week overwhelms me.  As I sat printing out the materials with the photo of  the mother embracing her daughter, I was waiting with anticipation for my daughter to return from her weekend retreat. Waiting to embrace her and welcome her home. 
As I waited, I  read that this was a week .."to surrender to God's embrace.."  I rejoice that I am finally at a point where I can do that, something I would have never been able to even a few months ago.  This retreat has helped me with self acceptance and I have been undeservedly blessed by caring people in my spiritual life who believe in progressive healing.  They have been the arms of Jesus here on earth who embraced me and encouraged me when I felt worthless. 
Later that night I went to see the beautiful dramatic presentation by the Franciscan mystery players. In the play, when Jesus embraced the leper, I knew just how the leper felt! I am so grateful!  I have the physical muscle memory of being hugged, hands being laid on me and being embraced. I now am able to do the same for others and my heart is so full, so overflowing with love in the new ministries God has put in my path.  Praise God for his compassion and mercy! I thank God for everyone involved in this retreat, and for those who believe in the ministry of healing.

I am in the middle of week 8 of the retreat.  I am at a time in my life where it is difficult for me to truly believe that I am completely forgiven and embraced by God.  The reason for that is because I was recently hurt by a situation that involved my pastor.  I feel betrayed by the church and people that I have felt close to.  It was like a suprise punch in the stomach.  I did not leave the church as some thought that I might.  But I do feel anger and even resentment for what has happened.  Part of me wants to let go of the anger but an even greater part of me wants to hold on to that anger and nurse my feelings of hate and anger.  How can God truly forgive me when I am not really willing to turn from my sin of anger.  Even in Confession, I must intend to change my life and turn away from my sin before I can approach God to forgive me.  I do not yet feel that I want to work toward getting away from these feelings but in a sad way want to nurse them. It is only such a small part of me that is seeking to reconcile and forgive.  Yet, I suppose that it is that same small part of me that truly knows that God is embracing me in his loving arms of forgiveness.  Please pray for me. 

I'm now in week 8.  Amazing, but I find this week a little harder to concentrate on than previous weeks.  Perhaps being Catholic it was easier for me to focus on my sins than simply baske in God's love.  I am trying to thank the Lord at every moment this week and make that my center.  I pray for everyone on this retreat ... that the Lord will guide us and we will be open to receiving His grace. 

This is week 8 and my week to imagine myself in God's loving embrace.  It started out well, I was able to do it.  Then I got the phone call that the doctor was unable to get a heartbeat and my friend's baby was dead in the womb a few weeks before it was due to be born. In my spirit I know that God is now embracing this tiny baby. But in my flesh, my heart is breaking.  I have prayed for this baby and his mother for months now and I love them both. Please God, help this family. Please God, let me continue to trust you despite the tears I am shedding and the terrible pain. 

The Online Retreat continues to bring wonderful gifts.  As I write this, it is the 3rd anniversary of the death of my father.  The last 2 weeks in the retreat (8) the story from Luke 15 of the prodigal son has been among the readings.  I love this parable because the father shows unconditional love for his son, and it always reminds me of how my own father would have reacted in that situation.

I am well aware that I am fortunate to have had a father who loved deeply and was committed to his family the way my father was.  And I am more aware than ever that my Father in heaven gives an even more immense love.  I am grateful for my father, for this retreat and chance to share, and for my connection to God that is being strengthened every day.

I am in my 8th week and am basking in God's love..

I have always felt somewhat connected to God and the Church but there was this gap that I could not seem to close. I had been praying for the grace to close the gap and I was blessed in finding this wonderful retreat which is bringing me closer to Jesus and filling my life with more meaning and happiness.  It has taken me 73 years and the journey has gone in many directions but thanks to Jesus, St. Ignatius and you folks at Creighton things are definitely looking up and I will continue to pray and work to stay close to Jesus.

I've been thinking that I need to share something. I am in my 8th week of this retreat. I don't think I have missed one night in getting on the internet and trying to find out what God is saying. I make copies of the sections recomended so that I can pick up the pages at any time during the day to feel some closeness to God.  I am still in an isolated situation with my dementia husband. I believe some of the anger I have felt for putting myself in this position has been healed, silently, but still healed. 

Some of the sharing I have viewed by others seems so eloquent and I almost envy what some of the sharers are experiencing. Some of the daily Scriptures have given me insight into some of my own sinfulness, but while we have a Eucharistic Chapel at our church, I am not able to visit there. 

Thank you very much for this retreat program. It came to me at a time when I know God was ready for me to have more of Him. I enjoyed the Advent Season immensly. Several times during the season, I should have written to those who furnish their meditations. The pregnancy of Mary and Elizabeth became very real to me and I could relate to my own pregnancy of Advent and the difficulties I encountered along the way. 

As I read Tom Shanahan's words (8) I thought of my own long-standing image of a punishing God. As a 45-year-old cradle Catholic, I tended to attribute my negative images of God to my 1960s Catholic upbringing and schooling. With the help of this retreat, though, I'm becoming very aware that I am responsible for my sinful patterns (like blaming others for my faults, like rationalizing my sins rather than confronting them and recognizing them as rebellious acts against a loving God), and most of all I'm becoming continually more aware of the daily presence of Jesus, a loving Lord and Friend who has not, will not abandon me. 

Thank you, Lord, for speaking to me this morning.  I have just started week eight.  I paused as I read the part in "Getting Started" suggesting I sit and immerse myself in that embrace.  It wasn't easy.  A song came into my head: "Purify my heart, let it be as gold and precious silver".  Yes, I do aim for purity, for rightness before God.  My purity is white, crystal clear.  Cold, hard.  Imagining the embrace, I became aware that God wants me to be Gold, not White/clear.  Soft, warm, loving.  How can I value that embrace without feeling love in return to God, to my family? That's what God wants me to learn this week.  I've a long way to go, but with God's help...
Then, I read on...  Smile?  Done!   Recall a song? Done! Don't you love it when God's plans come together?
Blessings, Sue

I am so thankful for this retreat online.  I have always wanted to make this retreat and was only able to do it once.  I am in the 8th week today and when I saw the picture and read the "Getting Started"  I was filled with joy because at the end of last week I had an image of Jesus holding me just like in the picture.  I do feel I am on a journey and at times I feel alone, buy my faith is the one constant in my life that keeps me going.  It is good to know so many people are taking the time and doing the retreat I will ask you all to pray for me as I will pray for you. 
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