Sharing the Retreat
weeks 9-14

Week 9

Reflection on my response to God’s healing mercy.- How can I express my goal in life in light of the past few weeks? To find a way of being. To love. To serve. To be at peace. To be ready for anything.

Some observations….kindness and good will are needed to connect and to listen. Humility before the truth is needed to work with the truth. Transformation depends on this connection. Yet strength needs to be found in one’s gifts and special talents to build outward and inward, to equip one for the two journeys, and to find that balance that is necessary in order to be truly useful in God’s creation.

Renewal is critical. There are so many layers of being and of personality that in order to truly transform oneself, it is necessary to slay one’s demons and move on, and move steadily on, with out undue fretting or delay. Hope is the looking forward to the power of love to heal and make whole. Our inner lives ultimately yield and surrender to this power. We become instruments but the work is done by love itself, through God’s grace, not by a willful person.

Yes, mercy is an “unjust grace”. Pride and vanity continue to surface. Remember, I have done nothing to deserve this. I am ashamed and confused….by my sins. But I joyfully, gratefully and peacefully accept God’s healing mercy, even with the memory of my past rejection of it.

I have been persistent in self-improvement. But now I am perplexed. Does some level of goodness reside in me or does it come from God? I recall that I have been confirmed as a “soldier in Christ” when I was young. Maybe now I am discovering what this means.

Good evening,

The past hour or two I've been reading Sharings. Such encouragement!

I'm reminded once again . . . we are all sinners, saved by grace. How much we need each other! (Isn't that just like our God to provide for us through His Body which He instituted through the Church.)

Tomorrow begins my tenth week of this blessed Retreat. I look forward to digging deeper, and listening more intently. Seeing Christ (as Mother Teresa said) in all faces. (I try, but am not always successful. Please pray for me, and I will for you.)

At this point I'm realizing how very much Jesus, and the Father, love us, regardless of who we are, or what we have done . . . "or failed to do".
What a family THEY have created! Awesome God!
Our diversity is beautiful!

Together in prayer, I believe we can help to 'turn things around'; not only in our own lives, but in the 'lives' of others . . . even the world! (Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Israel!) We can, through our prayers, and the power of the Holy Spirit, be a beginning of another significant breakthrough!

"Pray brothers and sisters, for the Peace of Jerusalem!" Psalm 122:6

I'm noticing that God's mercy,forgiveness and love for me is giving me the ability to take a closer and more objective look at old sins. I've done moral inventories before but was never able to see my sins so clearly. I feel healing has at last begun. God's promise that He will heal me gives me hope.
Glory to Your long suffering Lord.
Keep praying for me. I feel it working. I'll pray for you.
-- Bob

this week brought my daughter to me for a long weekend from sydney. the message of the weeks has begun to truly be a bakground for me and not as consuming or difficult to integrate. so as we spent time together i was aware of the healing. i am a heroin addict and the lives of my children when they were little were reallybad. its many years since ive used drugs and we have been healed in many ways - but again this week i could feel the healing between my girl and me. she is 27 now and i am 56. the scars are there but only a few wounds are still infected. this was a special time for us . my son and his family are normally here and we have wonderful and loving times but this time - followiing thier move she and i were alone. healing mercy to me - was my young lady asleep on my bed . meeting my friends and sharing in the life i have here. cooking meals and laughing in a way that most people thought would never happen. healed and blessed far beyond what i have earned.
i knew when i moved into this little cottage one year ago that it was as they say a ' god job'; and that good things would happen here. and so they are. and when my sons family moved away from the area - i held to the belief that god had work which he needed to do for them and for me. and here already is this lovely time wiht my girl. on these beautiful southern autumn days in australia.
love to you all. Nell from tweed

Bartimaeus is one of my favorite people in the gospels (Mark 10:46-52). For years, I have frequently found his prayer the cry of my heart: “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me!” As time passed and I lost my friends, however, I found the few remaining acquaintances I had treating me with pity. Suddenly, I found my favorite prayer repulsive: “I don’t want to be pitied!” And the cry of my heart fell silent.

Then, one Sunday at Mass, I heard Psalm 86, verse 16:

“Turn toward me, and have pity on me;
Give your strength to your servant
And save the son of your handmaid.”

This followed close on the heels of Wisdom 12:13, 16-19 with, in its few verses, the word “might” three times and the word “power” twice. Then came Romans 8:26: “the Spirit too comes to the aid of our weakness.” That day, God’s word taught me that when you ask for his pity, he gives you not the helpless look and clucking tongue of human pity, but God’s infinite strength.

Since then, the words of Bartimaeus have returned to their rightful place in my heart and I pray them with new confidence in God’s healing love.

I found this week’s reflection more difficult. I was restless and impatient. I had to reread the instructions and supporting materials on several occasions. I kept coming back to the fundamental promise and reminder that this is not a course in self-improvement. This week I think I was so much into looking for perfection – the perfect work week, the perfect retreat, the perfect relationship with God. Then, of course, I was disappointed. I felt let down by some people over some things at work. I wasn’t feeling perfect. I realized that it’s quite easy to fall back to patterns of sin. So I really needed to hear the promise that it is God who is seeking me. It is not my efforts at perfection that bring healing. Rather it is God’s work in me and my cooperation.

I was reflecting on how I return this love and was moved by a story in the magazine America about a Jesuit priest Father Dent who had been a missionary in India, returned to the US because of a serious health problem then spent 30 years petitioning to be allowed to return to India. The writer is confused by his absolute obedience to his community but deeply moved by his witness of faith. Father Dent’s advice to the author is to say the prayer he prayed constantly, “Lord Jesus, I love you with all my heart”. As I read the article I thought that I do not feel the same compelling call that Father Dent had or at least I do not discern it as clearly. But this prayer is a good prayer to adopt as a response to this week’s reflections. Week 9

I can barely type this through my tears this morning. They are tears of love and gratitude to my dear Lord for this love He has for me that I cannot truly understand or fathom. To know, for certain, that He has always loved me, through it all…the muck, the mire, the beautiful, the blessedness, the ugliness, the sadness, the happiness and on and on and on…He has never abandoned me and never will. The healing mercy I focus on this week…to feel this wounded soul of mine being cleansed with the ”blood” and the “water” on an old scrubbing board, so gently, up and down, up and down, baptized over and over, even though I know there is only one baptism. How I can see so clearly how God is using everything and everyone, as He always has, to touch me. The people who are on this same journey with me, their sharings, their prayers, the bearing of their souls to help me and all of us…those spiritual people who planned this retreat to bring us all to our wonderful and loving God, right where we need to be. My son, Steven, who planted the seed about St. Ignatius’ retreat many years ago, and then, Anne Bingham of Living Faith Daily Reflection who wrote about this in one of her reflections and watered that seed…and St. Ignatius, himself, for using his gifts to lead us to the Cross of Jesus and find joy and peace there. God is blessing us all, I am sure…June

The words from Isaiah 43, seems to touch the hearts of many this week, including mine. The words, "Do not be afraid, I have rescued you," were exactly what I needed to hear today; they go along with the second reading from Sunday, Romans 28 - nothing can separate us from the love of God. I must keep these scriptures in mind for there are so many distractions that will try to pull us away from God. For some time I have been dealing with a very delicate family situation in which someone very close to me is being drawn, not only away from me and family, but away from Jesus and the Church; I know this is intended to distract me from God's plan, and it has been a very painful situation to deal with. but this retreat has helped to keep me focused and continuing the journey.

I still pray for all on this journey, and ask that you keep me in your prayers. Week 9.

Week 9 I am in the middle of week nine. What a beautiful thing happend to me . As I shared at the end of week 8. I said how I dreaded moving on to week 9, as I was "waiting for the other shoe to drop" As soon as I clicked on week 9 there was the photo and the first words under it was. "Do not be afraid". How wonderful my God is.
i'm in the middle of week 9...or should i say i'm in the "muddle" of it? the entire retreat seems to be a blur so far, with all my emotions running together this week and memory of what the teachings have been confused and hazy. but i still see change. the retreat has enabled me to do something that i always wanted to do but never have been able to: pray every day. just using the readings and prayers has been helpful in that regard. i find that as i gravitate towrad the retreat, i gravitate AWAY from other activities that have the potential for sin. my struggle has been faithfulness...both to god and to my wife. in both i have often failed miserably.

right now, i am in a separation that came about by my own design and through my own infidelity. in past weeks, the retreat reminded us that no one gets up in the morning and says "today im going to sin", and that sin often appears as something we think we need and is good for us. thats why it is the great deceiver. and i have allowed myself to follow that deceit. so much of it makes no sense, and now that i have truly realized my sin, and am seeking to make amends, it appears my wife wants no part of it. i may lose everything that is truly dear to me.

but, and i know this sounds crazy, had i not felt so alone and desperate, i most likely would not have found this retreat, i might not have entered therapy, nor would i be as hungry as i am to get to the next level spiritually. today, i will be visiting a priest who i have known since i was a make a detailed confession, and to ask him to serve as my spiritual director. none of this would have come about except through the suffering i am feeling from my own sins and their effects on those whom i love most, my wife and children.

i want to be free of my long held patterns of sin and failure and feel the acceptance and love that god has for me. i'll keep going, no matter what. he keeps calling me...maybe finally i will listen.

This morning I was so touched by the picture and the words(Is.) for week nine. I was so filled with joy and happiness that I had to write and share it with someone!
"You belong to me, no one can snatch you from me"

Incredible good news!
Unbelievable good news!
It's like a homecoming!
Home at last,
To myself and,
to the source of all that is.
Unconditionally loved,
Scars and all!
Made one forever.
What a gift!
Words fail me........

Wishing you joy,
Carol, UK

I am beginning week 9 today! This is the second time around for me doing this retreat (Only made though Week 20 first time). Yet again, as I pass through last week moving into Week 9 the sense of joy and overwhelming and enveloping peace is tremendous. The view of the falling child getting back up with the encouragement of the parent, and the healing forgivness offered to me by our loving Father leaves me with a great sense of wonder and mystery, but a fulfilling love. I hope others can feel this at some point along this jouney. Even the glimpse of what is to come is fabulous.
Week 9.  Yes, I need God's healing mercy.  Whenever I was rejected, I could not help withdraw myself and became very fearful.  It is because when I was small, my mother refected me and pushed me away and it was the time I needed her to listen and care for me.  So it was the root of my emotions and fears. Though I know that now I am grown-up and can take care of myself, the experience still haunts at me. 
I pray to God to heal this memory and embrace me with his healing mercy and healing love.

There were a few things that stood out to me in week nine of the Retreat.  It really touched me to read the words under the photo for the week from the prophet Isaiah "...I am God now and forever.  No one can snatch you from me or stand in my way."  I am safe!!!   There is not anyone (including myself) or anything that can snatch me from God or prevent God from doing what God wants (and God wants only good for me because God loves me).  God has the power to protect me and God wants to protect me because God loves me.  Moreover, this power will never be taken away from God because at this moment and forever God is God which means that I will ALWAYS be safe in God's care.  Additionally, it was so refreshing to be assured that God will heal me.  This means that I need not be caught up with struggling by myself with my sinful tendencies but I can trust in the God who is able to heal me.  God never said that I (or anyone) needed to heal ourselves and be perfect before we can come to God.  While I know this in my mind there is another part of me that sometimes seems to forget that God is in the struggle with me and is ready and able to help in the process of overcoming sin.  I am not struggling alone, therefore, even when it seems as though something may be too hard to overcome, I need to focus more on that trust that nothing is too hard for God who is fighting for and with me.
The printer friendly verson of Week 9 lies beside me on my desk.  I am just starting the week.  I'm startled by the photograph of shadow and helplessness set against reassuring grandeur.   And then I read, "I will heal your pride.  I will free you from the destructive patterns that bind you."  Tears fill my eyes.  Thank you, Lord.  I know how you want me.  I know how I need you.  Keep me in your grace.  Allow me to allow you to fix my brokeness so I may be with you.
I have struggled for a long time with the feeling that God is remote and disinterested -- globally loving, but not particularly concerned with me as an individual.  I have spent a great deal of time in prayer and with my spiritual director learning that this is not so.  Trust has not been easy for me.  So, it about took my breath away when I read the caption to the photo for Week 9 -- the verses from Isaiah are so clear and loving, and exactly what I needed to hear at this point in the retreat, and in my life.  I am overwhelmed with gratitude for his love.
This is the beginning of week nine for me.  I have been struggling through each of the weeks because for so long I have been drenched in the guilt of the recurring patterns of my turns from the grace of God.  I have great difficulty shaking the feelings of remorse, and I keep letting them overshadow the acceptance of the forgiveness of our Beloved God.  Even though today I slipped deeply back into one of the patterns, through this retreat I still realize the hope for God's healing to shed the grace on me to continue on this journey to repair my brokenness.

Lord, give me the grace to live in your loving mercy. Give me the heart to know that it is enough. Give me this peace.

I  just want to share some thoughts on week nine, God's Healing Mercy.  How powerful and wonderful to realize that God is not done with me yet ; He is healing me  in His time and in His way from the patterns that I have allowed in my life that interfere with His grace.

My fears, weaknesses, vulnerability are being healed little by little and with God's grace will continue.  It is a week of hope for me.  I so need to feel that with God ,all will be well. He will never abandon me , He will rescue me.  He will provide.  I need to keep mindful and cooperate with His grace.

Thank you again for this wonderful opportunity you have given me to come closer to God and to now explore how I can make a return for all the goodness He has done for me.

Week 9, Holy Week, 2003, WOW is the best description available to me. “What return can I make to the Lord for all the good God has done for me?” That is the reflection/question of the week, and what better week to ask that question than Holy Week? For so long I have felt like the servant who was given one Talent by his master, and, in fear, all he could do was bury it. How have I buried my talents, hidden my gifts? I lose count of the ways. Once, in meditation, I heard the Lord’s voice inside asking “What are you waiting for?” That voice, that question, has echoed for over 10 years now, and still, I must ask myself “What AM I waiting for?” How long will it take, how much more must the Lord do for me, before I give myself completely to Him? Before I accept His love? His forgiveness? What is this fear that keeps me from loving completely, as I am loved? Keeps me from giving of myself, carrying the tiny crosses He offers me? What I really fear is losing Him, yet my struggle to do His will continues. Lord, You know how weak I am. Strengthen me. Give me the courage to love, unconditionally. Make me truly one with you, with the Church, Your body on earth. Show me the way. Here am I Lord, I long to do Your will. Help me. 

At first in the ninth week, I couldn't recover the peace of my mind. Whether I will be healed and able to act differently from before or not still made  me embarrasement and discouragetment. But after I read that God's forgiving grace , mercy frees us  for living  with our memories of how we have chosen death in our past,  I could keep going this retreat. Especially the word, "I will heal you and always be with you" gave me a big hope and courage. The more often I  recalled both my sinful action and God's  graceful responses, the more my faith was renewed  and  the more free my thought got from my past sins. I was so delighted to know His promise, " you will never be alone.". I will leave for my future with God bravely.

There was a special day, a special time during this week where I felt the peace of Christ.  It was a day filled with true compassion toward another, a trait which I thought only others possess.  My busy work schedule does not seem to allow me the time to really listen to others or to be attentive toward their needs.  I had no other choice, it was an unusual circumstance which was forced upon me.  I never thought that I would possibly be able to take a special needs child with attention deficit disorder to spend the entire day with me at work. This child has taught me to put on Christ, a new me filled with quiet gentleness and abundant patience.  If only this "new me" could stay on for longer. I am thankful that God is merciful for all my past short tempered actions and has guided me onto the right path. (week 9) 

As I work through week 9, I'm going through a very lonely time.  I've realized that to prepare for friendship with others I should focus on being a friend to Jesus.  I pray that a personal relationship and friendship with Christ will grow and spill forth in forgiveness and friendship in my life.

Week 9 begins.  I have discovered a great deal about how much God cares for me and loves me.  The truth of this matter has always been there but I have not seen it clearly. 
I am closer to my Lord and Saviour than I have ever been.  I once questioned where God was when I struggled.  As I have reflected and prayed and retreated I am seeing an answer more clearly. As I draw closer I am able to know that God is right there...right beside me...holding me.  As I reflect on my Lord's suffering and His struggle I am able to feel love and gratitude. I want to embrace Him and go to Him and love Him.

Day 64 Week 9  Other than by Evangelizer’s, I rarely hear Jesus’ Name spoken in public except in a scandalous or derogatory way. I am happy that in our Church the Name of Jesus is revered and loved, because we believe that Jesus is truly God the Son, the second person of the Blessed Trinity, and that he is fully present in the Holy Eucharist. In John 5:17-29, Jesus plainly identifies himself as The Son of God the Father.   Sometimes I pray that Jesus will show himself (a sign?) to "prove" that He is who He says He is.  Then I think of Mother Teresa, Pope John Paul II, Pope John XXIII, and so many "Saints" who lived and are living among us, whose lives were and are a living witness to Jesus, and His living Presence among us. Jesus Lives! Jesus is Lord! Dear Jesus I thank you for bringing me to this day, for this retreat, for this Gospel. I want to serve you in ways that are pleasing to you. Please guide me. Amen. 

At the  independent living retirement home where I live, we have a health center for those who are ill.  We have a ministry there, "Companion to the Dying." and we are called to sit with those who are dying.   Usually we're called about once a month or so, but in the last two weeks I've been called to sit with three women.  I hadn't known theme except to bring them Communion or mail.  Then a woman from ourside of the campus, whom I had known, died last week.  I know that all four were prepared for death.  And none were long term friends.  And we have beautiful funerals here.  And ever since my heart surgery two years ago, I have been at great peace thinking abour my own death.   Maybe it's because of all this and the WTC, the War, and the plane crash today in New York, but this evening I need healing of the sorrow I feel. I found consolation in the Week Nine photo and the words of Isaiah.  I imagined our Lord holding the hands of each of the women who die here, each victim of the attack, of the war, or the plane, and of me, and saying "I have rescued you... you are very dear. etc." I prayed for and with all who died, resting in the thought that some day we will all be united with Jesus in heaven, in the joy of his love.   I accepted his healing. Thank you for sharing with me.  I pray you may all be at peace..

I am in week nine and can feel the enthusiasm and passion I had for this retreat beginning to wane.  Perhaps it is the business of the season; could be I am expecting lights and bells and not seeing them.  The urge to get to the computer the first thing in the morning isn't as pressing as it was a few weeks ago; I get distracted easily by the paper or answering e-mail. 

I decided to share this morning because the suggested readings included one from Paul to the Ephesians chapter two which reminds me that we are loved and treated much better than we deserve.  I sensed that Paul knew me in that I felt anger at the time of reading this passage.  How could he say that to me; I have been a good person and I work hard at being a nice guy.  I deserve something better than being admonished that I am loved inspite of my mistakes. 

Underneath the defenses, I hear Paul's words and they strike a blow for humility.  In relative terms to what I read on the front page of the paper, I am good, but it doesn't take much effort and I see my failings.  Paul's words are finally comforting.  I can never win God's love; it is just a given.  It is there for me anytime I want.  Like a mother or father's open embrace, God's love is unconditional won by the sacrifice of Jesus.

There, I can feel that enthusiasm picking up speed again!

I don't know if this is appropriate to share or not, but someone in the sharings has mentioned being in an unhappy marriage that they are staying in for the sake of their teenage son.  I would like for them to know about Retrouvaille, the ministry for hurting marriages, sponsored by the Catholic Church.  They can find the information for their area of the country by going to the webpage  This ministry turned my marriage around completely and we have seen many miracles in other couples lives as we have worked in Retrouvaille for the past 11 years.  This retreat continues to be a real blessing in my life in week 9.  It is such a comfort to know that God's love covers all of my wounds and my sins.  I can relax and stop battling myself and allow His power to heal me.  Thanks again for the work of your staff.  May God bless you as He has blessed all of us taking part in this retreat.  

The first time I read the different texts, guides and prayers I thought "that's for me" and I started immediately. My enthusiasm faded a little when I came to weeks 5, 6 and 7 because I found them too heavy to bear : I knew too well that I was a sinner and that I had a strong part in the sin of the world. So ! I really was tempted to skip them and go direct to week 8. I didn't completely give in to the temptation but to be honest, I didn't stay long on these 3 weeks. I'll go back to these pages later when I am a bit stronger. 
I am now beginning week 9 and I know that the way is long to the 34th week but I can already say that I am experiencing slight change in my life. These words are truly mine : "What return can I make to the Lord, for all God's good ness to me !".
Thanks for all your work.  Just one regret : not having the opportunity to discuss with a director about some difficult points that would need explanations.

I am in week nine......forgiving love and now healing mercy.  Events and people seem to want to deny and contradict this good news.  The retreat helps to remind me  of who God is and the Scriptures tell a beautiful  freedom that is a freedom of a loving response to our God.  To be a loved sinner, past, present, future brings peace and a need to say to God...This is really about your love for us  which comes first and  knocks me over because of its abundance and faithfulness.  My heart is slowly opening more and more.  What and where will this lead?  There still is fear but it seems to be decreasing. 

Week 10

I've been been two weeks with Week 10. This has been a particularly busy time for me. Family. Birthdays! Seven. (I try to do something for or with each one, SPECIAL!)

Through all the 'extras' I've continued to pray and reflect on Week 10. God has shown be some important points to reflect on. Four, below:


(Remembering a beautiful print, from the 1970's; a popular phrase.)

Back then I understood it. Now, almost thirty years later I 'receive' it again. I'm a mother and a grand mother! According to scripture, that's a very important gift, and responsibility. I'm realizing now there are things which only grand parents have been 'commissioned" by God to do for the family. What a lovely assurance.

2. I really don't feel called to some foreign place, perhaps because the need is obvious right here. I believe my 'Love' has shown me ministry to do right here, both for the family and in the Church.

3. Interesting observation: When I was young and had the energy, I lacked maturity, and spiritual guidance, or awareness to go into foreign missions. Now, in senior years . . . I realize I've been doing ministry more than fifty years, by trial and error, and the grace of God.

He allowed me to raise four wonderful children, away from home and family (married to a man who traveled Sunday to Thursday, regularly . . . sometimes with assignments overseas, extending several weeks at a time . My mission and energies were devoted to raising my children. (I wasn't aware at the time that I was doing it for God and His Kingdom, but I realize now . . . that is/was my calling.)

4. Years later when I reentered the work force, it was in a children's hospital where I worked as support staff in intensive care. That truly was hands-on ministry. Being there with sick children, grieving families, and often exhausted staff, whom I loved and admired so very much. They, gave it their very best, and remain an inspiration to me even today. God bless them!

Thank you for 'Sharings' . A wonderful place to pray, and come together. Writing thoughts, prayers . . . sorting! It helps. We all benefit through this. God bless you!

Moving on now to Week 11. May the PEACE of Christ be with us all.

throughout week 10 i seemed to hear different calls to different places and people and to different things . one was to remain homecome here till at least the end of the retreat . 3 times in my life i have heard the call which meant leaving everything i owned and following immediately. once brought me into recovery from addiction and the second time i took my children home to our country town and family and the third call beought me here to the tweed. when i read week 10 - i expected to be asked again to leave and go elsewhere but as the week passed - i found increasing peace in staying homecome a little longer here on the hll. travelling a little to my children and going on with the v ery simple things i do in service and in my life apart out here.
on the last day of week 10 - 2 miners were rescued in tasmania after 14 days buried in a small hole underground . other miners had burrowed inch by inch to reach them for 10 days and when they were reached - they walked out. still joking and thanking people who had been there for them. watched it for hours - and i could clearly hear an invitation to a divine optimism which eldues me. to some form of courage and good cheer which defies the logic of earthyl life. the 'experts' were predicting the terrible condition they would be in - and they simply werent. as i watched the invitation to love came clearly that i pay more attention to god and less to THEM. whoever THEY are.
i am familiar with my inclination to despair and dont know how i shall go with this but it is a golden key to me. divine optimism. there is no hole god cant or wont dig me out of. if i stay calm and dont panic or despair and take care of my own end. be of good cheer girl . all is well.
-- nell from tweed.

Thank you for this site - I got to week ten and thought "what am I doing here " I haven't done the weeks perfectely so I went back and reread week 7 -so much more comfortable - I know sin . So i have taken two weeks with week 10 along the way some very poweful thoughts surfaced . One day I woke up very angry and kept thinking " I didn't ask to be born " " How do I know if I even have any faith" Eventually a very wise person said that the invitation wasn't a comand or a demand and the two thoughts were related - to much detail for here but the grace that came was waking up one day with the thought that my life was a gift and that heaven is where I am headed for and I have things to work out here.Today is Easter Sunday and I trust that Jesus is alive and loves me - I don't "feel" Gods' presence but I will trust.I wish I could have a cup of tea and chat with you - so much I don't understand - but I've known the longing for so many years.I am not afraid to continue on to week 11 now and I keep all those making this retreat and those who make it possible in my prayers.
-- Patti

How I needed this Week ! I have been so grieving over the things in my life that Alcholism have stolen from me.

I am grieving over all the mistakes I have made in dealing with this disease that has affected my entire family: parents, 6 children, 11 gchildren.

I need to hear and feel that God loves me.....I so wish to be healed of all this pain.......

All I can do is surrender.....I am powerless !

Thanks to everyone and all the work you do to help people like me !! It restores my faith ! God Bless !

Week 10: To me, this invitation feel like being on a treasure hunt, and sometimes in the dark. You never know where it will take you or what you will find. The paths are uncharted. Only one thing is certain: The invitation reads, "Come as you are." I look at the little girl in the hospital room, decorated with Walt Disney's Bugs Bunny and friend, and remember another little girl-- one of my own, at age 2, in a room similar, even to the Disney scene. My mind fills with memories of my own childhood, and pictures of my daughters, and now, grand-daughters. What's the story behind the picture? What is it Jesus wants me to know, to see? What about the little stranger do I need to attend too? What about my daughters? My grand-daughters? Myself? My husband? There are both good, wonderous memories that fill me, and sad ones. Like the picture, the memories only hint at more...

I've been in Christian ministry for over 30 years, the last 7 were spent traveling, sharing, and responding to the invitation to go, to leave my comfortable pillow behind, to travel the by-ways and behold what is there, --out there,--and if possible, to leave the peace of Jesus and His love, in each place I'd visited. With all my heart, I pray I did. But now it seems the invitation is to see what is right in front of me, asking me to embrace the words of the Master for myself, for my family. Ah-h-h, it would be easy to keep on moving, to keep on seeing what others need. But He has stopped me in my tracks. It is hard. I'd rather minister in a more "professional" way, to the masses. There, I don't have to get close enough to see what isn't working, what still needs healed, where this or that stranger is still in bondage. I don't have to stick around after the meeting to watch when they may fall down, or struggle to find hope again. Ah-h-h, this invitation is harder to accept. I don't feel afraid of the inner journey. I just wonder if I'm up for it? Ever now and again God decides to walk on my soul. This seems like 'heavy walking'. Why? What do I need to see, to embrace, to live in? I think it's the mundaneness of every-day-ness that challenges me. It didn't always, but as I grow older, it feels confining, leaves me wanting and restless. Yet, I know it is LIFE for me right now at this time in my journey. If it weren't so, the invitation would be to something else. God knows and acts for all the right reasons.

I have chosen, after weeks and months of struggle, of letting go, of asking and seeking, to simply sit, and to let the picture speak to me. To wait for its secret to unfold. I've chosen to listen for and too the invitation. To hear it! I've been invited! Wow! Do I understand it? Ha! That makes me think of the question asked parents at a child's baptism: "Do you know what you are undertaking in having this child baptized?" I always giggle. We have found Love, and Love will light the way... The secrets in the invitation must be allowed to unfold, be discovered, embraced. For now, this is enough.

I couldn’t help but remark that, in your example, my loved one doesn’t invite me, as the glossy travel brochures do, off to some tropical paradise or on a cruise, where I’ll be treated like royalty and bathed in delights. No, I’m invited to a children’s hospital, refuge of the atheists’ favorite argument: “If there is an all-powerful, benevolent God, then why do innocent children suffer?”

There is only one invitation, though it comes in many forms. Christ invites us to the cross.

Tom, Pennsylvania

I found this week’s reflections quite a blessing compared with the previous week when I felt restless. I did deeply reflect what I would say if my wife came and said she was deeply committed to moving to quite different environment responding to a deep need or call. At this point in my life I would respond quite positively. Would that always have been so, I’m not sure. I resisted the temptation to answer the question so then “what is God really calling me to do?” I stayed with the invitation. But I contrast other times when I have tried to answer a “call”. I reflected before that I was sure when I was in my early 40’s that I had a deep calling to pack everything up and move to Africa and then surprising myself in deep discernment that my calling was to remain where I was, doing what I was doing. Similarly, after a big disappointment at work when someone else was chosen to be CEO of my company I was sure I had to find something else but I was not going to damage my family and colleagues in finding it. I was restless to find this and maybe even annoyed that God didn’t oblige with a nice CEO role somewhere else. I don’t feel this anymore. So I’m not sure where this journey will take me but I’m thankful for release from restlessness. Week 10.

Amazement is the word I come up with this morning as I share with all of you, my friends, on this journey! God, continually, healing me, His’ forever’ love for me, even in my sinful and undeserving nature! How can it be?! I have stopped asking myself…I am just convinced, truly convinced that there is ‘no rhyme or reason’ for any of it…He is just my loving God…no more, no less! It’s funny how life is going on as it always has, all the struggles and pains are there, but He uses my gifts that I have been holding back. (…too risky…too much work, the usual garbage) Now I seem to be tireless in doing His work!!! Hopefully, all of you and me will continue to revel in His glory and serve Him as He deserves! Someone’s sharing, in particular, touched me this morning. I don’t know when it was written, but it was reflecting on Weeks 9 or 10. It was written by a man whose marriage had been destroyed by his “unfaithfulness to God and his wife”, and how this has caused such pain in his family’s life. He is separated from his wife and she doesn’t want to make amends. Yes, consequences, they’re always there. I pray for your wife, too. Forgiveness, in any situation, ‘sets the captives free’, and we are the captives more than those we forgive. Hopefully, we can learn from the mistakes and help to teach others not to make the same ones. That’s what we are here for. This is how we spread the Kingdom of God. But, just a little encouragement from me to you…God never lets anything bad happen to us, we do that to ourselves, but He will always let many, many, many graces and blessings come from them. If we just remove the ‘scales’ from our eyes, we will see them, oh so clearly! And, even, if the scales are still making things cloudy, He will show us at another time when He knows we will need it more. Peace to you, my friend, and to us all.
As news of the devastation of Katrina unfolds, I'm in the 10th week of this retreat. Would I, could I, go to help those people, suffering from the many ways this hurricane has altered their lives? This retreat makes me feel the possibility. It makes me realize that God has given each of us special gifts, and that this is like Christmas when our gifts are most welcome.
And our world needs all of our gifts, given graciously, not just at this time of tragedy for so many, but in the everyday ordering of our lives. I pray for the possibility that lives may be returned to normalcy, but with the assurance of grace that lifts us up and out of the despondency of life without faith.

OK, now the rubber meets the road. The part I've been afraid of. Would I go for a year to a mission, for example? I don't know if I'm big enough yet to say yes. But I'll keep going on. What else can I do? I can't go back.
I was just rereading the ‘Getting Started’ section of wk 10. My phone rang with an invitation to be one of the people having their feet washed on Holy Thursday. First impulse, no. After hanging up, and again rereading what I’d just read about LISTENING & BEING TOUCHED by the invitation, I called back and said yes. God works in mysterious ways.
Week 10 has really jolted me to face my fears that keep me from being generous in response to Christ's call. I realized that while the call to go overseas has persisted over half my life, my motives needed to be purified. Every time I tried to go, the doors were shut. When I finally wrote to the University of Louvain (Belgium) a month ago and the doors seemed to be opening, all my fears started surfacing. Fears not only of failure in completing the dissertation or that I will not be smart or disciplined enough, but also fears of success. What will it mean for me in terms of taking more responsibility for what I say or write in a public realm? When I read the Newman prayer, I realized not that "I am far from home" but I will be far from home. As I looked up at a photo of me on the coast of France, I remembered the verse in Psalm 139, "If I settle on the far side of the sea, even there my hand will guide you, and my right hand will hold you fast." I am challenged to put out into the deep and leave everything behind for the adventure God may be calling me on. I pray for the grace to say "yes", to trust Jesus more, that He will go before me and make all my paths straight.
Week 10: "I feel a profound call to go there and serve for a year. If we can work out all the details to get time off here, will you please come and be with me? I know we can make a difference together. I need your love, your support. I need you. It won't always be easy, but we will have each other to lean on." - from the Online Retreat Guide 10

Such intimacy. Everytime I felt overwhelmed with the amount of work that had to be done this week, this invitation always came to mind. It reminded me that I'm not alone in this task and that this is a journey that I have taken with the one I love. There is so much intimacy in this journey that I often forget and ignore. There is so much room for sharing and growing with the one I love and the one who loves me more than I can ever love myself. May I not turn away from this realization and may I not forget... and when I do, I know that it'll be okay because we're together on this.

Week 10 When I started this week, it was a little frightening to read the challenge of being a “missionary.”  As I continued to read and study the guide I realized that the contemplation for this week is to determine with God how I can best meet this request.  I have been trying to listen to God and really believe I will be led to “something” that satisfies this desire to serve. The sharing of others is very beneficial - that interaction with others working on the same thing.  It is wonderful.
The invitations in the Guide for Week Ten really touched me.  At first reading how could I want to say anything but "Yes".  However, the fear creeps in.  I 'know' that ultimately God's plan for me will bring me more happiness, peace, contentment, and fulfillment than any other life course.  But there is fear in taking that leap of faith to say "I trust you and will let you lead me completely."  Why do I have this fear?  Part of me knows that there is nothing to fear in trusting God.  However, part of me wants to hang on and maintain some control myself.  I suppose part of the fear is expressed in the Merton prayer from this week in that I can not know without a shadow of a doubt that I am truly following God's desires for me even when I think I am.  Another part of the fear may be in allowing myself to completely trust without reservation the truth that God only wants good for me and has the power to follow through and will be with me every step of the way.  Ultimately it is a matter of faith.  It was reassuring to be reminded that even those disciples and saints who are examples of faith were met by God in their fears and uncertainties as well and that their faith and relationship with God grew and blossomed through it all.
Invitation to love.  God is so patient with me. I do want to follow Jesus and in many ways I do, but the resistance to change is still there at times.  Through this retreat I am becoming more aware that God does indeed want to free me if I will only let Him.

May I follow Him knowing that He is tender and loving and will lead me to where  He wants me to go.  I pray for trust  that with Him all is love. Let me be aware that each day is another opportunity to grow in that love.  Lead the way, Lord and keep me close, for I often forget to lean on you as I should.

Thomas Merton's prayer is my prayer. I want to do God's will. I try to do it as I see it...,ah, but that's the rub. As I see it. Help me to understand what it is You want of me. I like the prayer that suggests I sit with hands opened, palms up beseeching God to speak to me, to guide me toward Him, just be quiet and listen.
I am still working on week 10:  what I think that I am being asked to do by the Lord is to be where I am and to serve Him in the all the tedious and mundane details of life.  Acceptance of this has taken much time and resistance.  I would much rather do something glorious and concrete that points to my doing something for the Lord; yet, in fact, it is in the everyday that I am being called to meet God and extend Him to others.  I am thankful for my involvement with the Holy Family Institute (part of the Pauline Family which provides married and/or widowed individuals with the gift of consecrating their lives to the Lord); although I have been with them for less than a year, it is through the grace of their vision along with the grace of this retreat that I finally realize that here is where the Lord has placed me and it is here that I am to do His work and be with Him.  I am also coming to realize that being with God means not only being with Him in this place or that but with Him in the time of history in which He places us.  I am a returning Catholic, gone after thirty years, and I have many issues with the Church and its many changes.  I do not understand so much.  I grew up pre Vatican II and left the church because I felt lost in the chaos of the post Vatican II church.  I am now realizing that I am being called to update my Catholicism and to embrace the Church where it is now.

It embarrasses me to say that I know well my response to the ‘invitation’ presented in Week 10: Would I go on a mission to the Dominican Republic (or any mission) if my spouse asked me to join her? The answer is that I would go in a heartbeat. That embarrasses me it makes me feel like I’m bragging or saying how good I am. The opposite is in fact true. I would go not because I’m good, but because I need the example of the faith people living in poverty have to strengthen my own. My faith is so weak, and I am so weak. Were I ‘good,’ I would be taking the initiative and asking my wife to go with me. Instead, I sit at home, waiting for ‘the right moment.’ I hear the Lord’s call, and feel like the man at the plough who looks back instead of following without hesitation. I pray for the Lord’s wisdom and for the courage to respond as He wants me to. 

This is the first time since I have begun the retreat that I felt I wanted to share my thinking.  When I first read the readings from this week (week 10), I could feel alot of resistance to responding in gratitude to God's invitation.  I feel like I already know at least some of what God's invitation is for me.  I have a 9 year old son with autism and I feel that God's invitation to me is to give more of my time to spend with my son in teaching him all the things he needs to learn.  This is hard for me because I sometimes feel like I am being swallowed up by his autism and all the things I see that I could be spending time teaching him.  In addition, I have a husband and daughter and I feel quite torn most of the time about where I should be spending my time, and feeling that I am not spending enough time with any of them.  Anyway, I journaled about it some yesterday and got great value out of the time I spent doing this.  I have found that journaling has really helped me during this retreat when I find an idea difficult or I feel that I need to explore my thinking or to deepen my thinking about an idea that has been offered to us.  Yesterday I was able to sort out for myself that I need other people to help me in the teaching of my son.  I always have had other people who have helped, and I see that at this time I might need to find one or two other people who could spend some time with him and help me to teach him the things he needs to learn.  I also have to trust that God is with me in this and that He will help to provide what is needed and that He will guide me on this journey.  I want to do God's will for me in a spirit of gratefulness, not from obligation.  I see what it would cost me if I go through life coming from obligation.  I pray for God to transform my thinking about this so that I might be more at peace and experience more joy in doing God's will.

As I travel through Week 10 of the retreat, I hear God's call to be with Him. The thought, however, scares me a bit like Peter. I might as well have said it: " Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man." And because it means leaving my fishing ( safety ) net, too...and  I have to let go and let God control my life. The world teaches me to rely on earthly power ( domination over others ), obey my thirst for earthly drinks, promote my self-image to succeed, and have money to be counted as having reached the top of the mountain.

The Lord, on the other hand, selects isolated places to show His glory and it can be very lonely places externally and internally ( in my heart ) - so different from the glamour of Hollywood parties. He invites me to be with the ostracized and, in the process, being ostracized also. He asks me to forego the riches of this world, which means I can never have a Lincoln Navigator nor a BMW. It is so counter-cultural and a way to failure in the eyes of my relatives and friends ( never mind the world ).

But the Lord invites me to look at my life in perspective. He has sent strangers to minister to me materially and spiritually : e.g., an acquaintance giving ( not lending ) me food money when my pocket was empty, new friends sprouting out of nowhere to replace those who have abandoned me ( because I am a failure in their eyes ), and a new career in social work beckoning me to be with Him in " distressing disguises. "

Still, the world seems a harsh place with high tuition fees and low salary rates for those who serve His people..because they/we have no paid lobbyists nor trumpeteers in the news media...Somehow, though, I will make it with Him. I just don't know how. I cannot see beyond the bend, although I see sparrows and seagulls thrive through winter without hands nor theories to equip them. The Heavenly Father is more than enough for them. I trust Him to be the same with and for me.

So I drop my nets ( including my earthly wisdom ) and follow Him, dying to my fears and being born into His Kingdom which human eyes hath not seen nor ears hath heard... Because, Yahweh, I know you are near ( Psalm 139 ).

As I read the words and prayers, I thought how relevant. As at this very time I feel or maybe even want a change in how I serve Jesus. However, I never thought of being afraid until tonight. It seems that deep down it is the fear of losing the comfort and comfortable in my life; that is what I am afraid of  --- not knowing what I would have to do to really answer the Call. (10) I pray for direction each and every day, but Lord do I really want it? Do I really want the change required of me? Lord help in my fear, help me my unbelief.

Wow -- Just starting week 10, and see that it's time to start asking the "serious" questions of God.  Not that my prayers to this point haven't been serious, but I sense a much different relationship with God already, developing over the past 10 weeks, and I know that often in the past I have held something back.   Like, I want to know what God wants of me, but I'm afraid to REALLY know, because I've been afraid I will fail and disapppoint.  I have a better understanding now (greater faith) that God is with me, and won't be disappointed as long as I try.  I feel my prayers will be alot more intimate than they've been, because I can put all before God.  For those of you who are just starting, keep it up!  This is a great experience!  Thank you again to those who have created this retreat.  It has done so much for many of us.

I was at a dead standstill about 6wk ago , which is what I shared. I asked for your prayers.   Now I'm on wk 10 . I just had I little insight I wanted to share. 

I had tremendous resistance to going forward when something might and in all probability WOULD be asked of ME. With all my baggage of fear, control, criticism, and judgment I thought I would never move forward. Then I thought of a yard sale or flea market! All you can do is lay the item out , no matter what the condition, and hope to sell it "as is". If no one buys it you can always give it away. Well, I'm laying myself out for the Lord to take, any or all of me, as He sees fit. I can't sell myself, so I'll just "give myself away" to He who collects all the "junk" of His earth. Wishing all of you a great day in God's "flea market" ! 

I'm on week 10 now. God has brought me through many painful 'dyings' in my life, but these ten weeks have brought as many as in the rest of my life put together. Each week has had its share. He is lovingly reshaping me, in his subtle little ways, into I know not what. I only know it will be much better than anything that's gone before.

I started the retreat soon after I met the first person in my life who seemed to understand everything I said, and had been many of the same places in her soul as I had been in mine. For about a month we shared very deeply, enjoyed each other's company nearly every day and were pretty much in love. I can see now how foolish that was, but who sees such things at the time? Then I said things of which I was very ashamed, and since then it has been a struggle to maintain contact and build on what was good in our friendship. This has been the biggest 'dying' of all for me, and is still going on. It revealed how much anger there was under the surface, and that God wants to deal with that before I can go any further. It has probably been the cause of my recurrent depression, which has often paralysed me in my close relationships. Please pray for me as I work through this with my loving heavenly Father. He is showing me how much he loves me in all this, although it doesn't always feel like that!

Again, I want to express my thanks for the opportunity for this spiritual 'workout'. I've never embarked on anything like this before, and I was a liitle wary of starting, but it's turned out to be the biggest adventure of my life. I feel if I can see this through I'll be able to cope with all the frustrations and contradictions of life so much better, and be of so much more help to those around me. It's happening already!

I am in my 10th week of the retreat and I am feeling a great deal of terror. I'm not quite sure why. I am totally sure that I want to follow Christ , that where He wants me to go is safe and the best thing for me. But I am very scared to abandon myself totally to Him. I feel that where He wants me to go with Him is not where I want to be, as though He somehow wants to make me do something I don't want.  I have feelings which stem from my childhood, projections of my earthly parents that are so strong that impede my total abbandonment. I could never trust a soul at home and now I find I'm finding it hard to trust God with my heart although with my head I do somehow. It's the trust of the heart, though that transforms every cell of our body into that which God lovingly desires. For that trust I pray, for that too is a gift, a gift I so ardently desire. I pray for all those in the retreat, that the Lord may gift us with total trust in Him in this journey of transformation. God bless.

You have made the Exercises so real for me-maybe its just that the penny has finally dropped.  In beginning the tenth week I am finding God is touching me in ways I could not image.  Your energies in developing this website have greatly blessed me.

I am thrilled I found your web site and will let as many as I can know about it. My first contact with Jesuits was at Fordham 47 to 51. During the years was busy becoming a doctor, starting family and enjoying life then the Viet Nam war started. Wow! Things changed and Dan and Phil Berrigan came upon the scene. I began to agree with them but wondered if this was becoming too radical. I bought a book on peace by Thomas Merton to see his ideas. The book was dedicated to the Berrigans and Was started on the road to pacifism. Since Sept. 11 being a pacifist is not as easy, for the first time America has suffered a tragedy and people are rightfully angry and demand justice. I agree with stopping the guilty and bringing them to justice but striking out in anger and violence only repeats what the terrorists did. Last Sunday my wife and I joined a small group of people against the war, concerned that this could lead to a much wider war. It was not very well accepted. I'm now in the 10th week of the retreat and the theme of following Jesus will give me the strength to carry on. Once again Thank God for your on line ministry and other Jesuits like Fathers Dan Berrigan and John Dear SJ 

I got bogged down in week 10, so many other things to do this Lent. A major lesson to prepare for Bible Study, an all day diocesan workshop, a fundraiser to attend, daily Mass and Lenten devotions...all important also, but after a week of only cursory attention to the retreat,  today I could feel the Lord calling me back. I re-read all the prayers and guides for week 10.  I cannot say how my awareness of the Lord's love for me has become so real since I started this retreat in Advent.  I am so grateful to Him and to all who put this together.

The greatest part of all is that now I AM able to reach out to others in true love instead of some sense of duty. I have longed to see the good in others the way that God does and now I can.  I have heard the psychology of first having to accept yourself before you can accept others for years. But that was not possible for me without the deepest realization of God's love and acceptance for me first.  It was in my head, but not in my heart or deepest core of my being. For the first time in my life, I have seen Jesus in the eyes of those I help. Thank you Father God, thank you Jesus my savior and Thank you Holy Spirit, for your steadfast love.

I returned after a 2 week absence to the suggetion that I "give" a week with my mate in the service of the Lord. I have felt this call for some time but I felt I was too old (69) and would only be a burden. Now my wife is on oxygen (emphysema) and there is little possibility of answering a call if, in fact, that is what it is. I will continue on with the exercises (11 is next) with hope for the future.  God is love. 

Week 11

This morning as I prayed and read the Printer Friendly Version of Week 11, I couldn't help wondering what "service" or "ministry" Jesus might be calling me to accept. I've pretty much felt 'situated' or 'called' in my position of "mom" and "grandma", plus, I usually facilitate a monthly or weekly bible study or spiritual enrichment study several months a year.

A little background: In July I learned of a young wife and mother who was hospitalized from a brain aneurysm. It happened in June.

I've been daily following updates from the family on a blog, and praying for them. The family is strong in their faith . . . very committed to Jesus Christ; six children, and the mother home-schools. They attend daily Mass, and Holy Communion.

In August, two of their daughters (teens) went with their youth group on a previously arranged mission to Mexico for two weeks. Friends and family have been very supportive.

Seeing God's people ministering to one another in the way that they have for this family has been inspiring . . . a 'mission' or ministry, close with Christ.

At one point, after several weeks, the father put out a request for help. 'Things' have a way of backing up when one parent or the other isn't able to be there for a family of eight. A friend and I decided to respond by offering our service to help with cleaning, etc. This evening the request came: "Could we help with ironing school uniforms?" Praise Jesus!

Please join me in praying for this family. They are precious!

This is a grievous time for them. A big change. Absence of their mother because she's hospitalized; also, for the children beginning parochial school for the first time because their mom is not able to be there to continue home schooling; and for the father who works full time; visits the hospital daily; and does all he can to keep things functioning at home as close to normal as possible.

My friend and I are excited and honored to say "yes" to this family! We're delighted to iron their precious parochial school uniforms, in the name of Jesus, who calls us to this mission service! We thank You, Lord!

just a note this week as i have promised myself the discipline of writing something at the end of each week.
i was able to say yes to things i normally ignore or say no to this week. and paid attention to things that came my way . im edgy and feel unsure as to what im saying yes to this time.
im now in a mountain town about 7 -8hours from my home. staying with family. and im going from here to my daughter in sydney for a few days. i travel on a few dollars and am keeping my eyes open for the direction i am being asked to move in.
-- Nell from Tweed

This week is special and with it came a very special notion. Jesus is inviting me to go alone with him in doing God the Fathers wish for humanity. I'm not being asked to take on any great task. I'm simply asked to go alone with Jesus and give what ever help I can. I don't have to be brave, courageous,or wise. Jesus is already all these things and of course more. I just have to hold on His hand as best as I can as He does the work. I realize that holding on and not letting go and not grabbing for my fear is not easy. Of course it's not. But it's simple. Simple to remember when I let go and get lost again. All I have to do is to grab on again and off I go. There's no reprimand or judgement for letting go just a loving and grateful "welcome back my dear"
Oh most loving gracious Lord your love is perfect and unfathomable.
God bless all my fellow travelers. Pray for me, I'm praying for you.
Bob - Week 11

I have prayed long and hard this week and still have no real concrete idea of what my response will entail, other than saying “yes”. But I do seem to feel that it is my weaknesses and faults that I have to offer to God, rather than my strengths. Or maybe in addition to or beside my strengths? I’m not sure but I know my weaknesses, my patterns of falling into sin, are still very much a part of me and I have to take them into account in my response. Week 11

Christ invites me to the cross. How do I respond?

My first reaction: I am terrified.

But as I look, as I love, I cannot turn away. There is no other way. And my best response (Psalm 100) bursts forth:
“Cry out with joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Serve the Lord with gladness.
Come before him, singing for joy.
Know that he, the Lord, is God.
He made us, we belong to him,
We are his people, the sheep of his flock.
Go within his gates, giving thanks.
Enter his courts with songs of praise.
Give thanks to him and bless his name.
Indeed, how good is the Lord,
Eternal his merciful love.
He is faithful from age to age.”

Tom, Pennsylvania

I found this week both empowering and then latterly challenging. I kept coming back to the central prayer, “in these or similar words”, and resting with it. In fact, when I think of where God might lead me in the longer run I can more authentically say, “I abandon myself into your hands; do with me what you will”. I recognize that as the prayer says God’s invitation is “gentle, not the fear-filled one I fretted over”. But I found it more challenging to respond “yes, Lord” to the everyday events I encountered. Of course, I was more fear filled of some things I had to do t work than I am of God’s invitation which is silly. I also had a concrete sense of my shying away from responding “Yes Lord” on Friday when I went round to visit a friend of mine. He has been ill but is recovering and also just broken up with his partner. I did spend a lot more time with him than I had planned but I felt I should have stayed longer... that he actually needed my presence. I didn’t respond “Yes” as quickly as I should have. I preferred to go back to doing what was on my “To Do List” for the day.

However, I’m writing this in Florida looking over the Gulf as the sun rises and the waves break on the beach. I guess I’m stealing a little time before winter personally starts for me. In some ways, though, using the retreat method of reflection at different moments in our day is for me a little like these quick moments in Florida, they provide the sunshine and warmth that remind me of the power of God’s love in our lives. Thank you for providing this opportunity for grace.

I am on week 11 of this retreat and I thank and praise God for guiding me here. I have done a lot of reflecting and praying over the last couple of months but this week has really touched me. We have many native Canadians in this city of Toronto and I guess I have become complacent like a lot of people I guess. I have always associated them as the other people. I justified my thoughts by thinking what more can they ask for.They get tax free benefits and the government has done their best to compensate them for the injustices done to them long ago. But I realized that this is not about money or compensation but about acceptance into mainstream society. The majority still live on reserves and are basically treated as second class citizens.The fact of the matter is that god says that in his kingdom there are no blacks or whites or red or yellow. We are all children of light. Our faith tells us that God's kingdom is here on earth not just in heaven. I have become more aware that these are people in need of help not just monetarily but to help them become part of the one family of Christ.

God Bless all who are on this retreat.

It is hard to believe…the end of Week 11! When I first came upon this retreat, I thought, “34 weeks! I’ll never make it!”. “Never say ‘never’” Yes, I am and have already been to the “Here I am, Lord…send me: stage, only because Jesus deserves no less from me. This morning, as I was journaling, the thought came to me of all the things you helped me to say ‘yes’ to that I was saying ‘no’ to before. There isn’t any more fear, but I wonder what else you will ask of me and what if I don’t do what you ask me to in the right way? I don’t want to do things halfheartedly anymore. What if I fail in doing things you ask of me? I hear your voice in something I read in one of this retreats’ reflections…”There is no failure in your trying or, even if, you only desire to try and don’t…I am here and I love you…remember that. Always remember that.” All of us need to always remember that. Love and prayers to all of us on this journey together.
-- June

I have said yes many times this week. I have said it out loud, I have said it quietly. I just don't think I really mean it. I hope the Lord will take and use it anyway.
I got stuck on week 11. Perhaps fear of the unknown or perhaps just stubborn unwillingness to give up control over my own path in life. I want to say "yes" but hold back. I decided not to move on to week 12 until I had resolved my hesitation. Then i reread the reflection on the week by Larry Gillick. I was cheered to remember that even Peter, on whom Jesus built his church, was not able to give wholeheartedly but how wonderfully what he did give was used! Fr. Gillick reminds us that Jesus uses whatever bit of ourselves we can give, and uses our gift to make us more truly ourselves (the self he knows using our God-given gifts and potential). This reflection cheered me immensely and so I will continue to re-visit week 11 this week, practising my "YES" before moving forward to week 12. Maybe what i want to say is, don't rush through the retreat, but take as long as you need to "get it". I am still finding the retreat so helpful but would have liked to do it in a group or with a spiritual director. Perhaps there is some possibility for the creation of virtual groups or on line spiritual directors?
Week eleven flew by quickly for me.  It was difficult for me to give a complete 'yes' to an unknown future.  However, during the week I was given the grace to pray to the Lord and say that I do say "Yes" and I asked the Lord for the strength, faith, and courage to follow through with that 'yes'.
I am in the end of the eleventh week, and what a powerful time it has been. I am constantly amazed at where our Beloved God has taken my heart in these few short weeks.  I began by saying "yes" without knowing what that could mean to me, and a plan came to me of how I could begin to divide my time, my energy, and my heart to better serve God and those around me.  I am a retired teacher who remains very interested in education, and this week an opportunity was shown to me; one group of students who are poverty level are struggling in school.  I felt drawn to offer to work one day a week with them, and when I told my wife what I wanted to do for those children, she said that she had been drawn to volunteer to do that as well. So here, in our own area, is an opportunity to serve the poor using gifts that God has so generously given us.  On Monday I began saying "yes" to whatever God wanted of me; on Wednesday I was shown one way to begin.  What a blessing this retreat is for me.
My response to this exquisite invitation to love has changed and developed through the years, only by God's grace.  What was no, and ,sometimes ,and then maybe , is becoming a stronger YES  in my life.  I pray for the grace to trust in God's plan...He knows what he is about , as one of the prayers said this week. I do want to follow and be with Jesus and to be a more responsive  lover of God. It takes courage to answer Yes, to a present and future that only God knows.

There is a prayer at the back of our Sunday misselette , written by St. Ignatius, it used to scare me to read that prayer for it speaks of surrendering  things like will and memory etc.  I now read that prayer in a different light, realizing that to trust is the ultimate gift of love.

I want to say yes to Jesus in things that are easy and yes even to the challenges and loss that comes with age and time.  Hard words to say . Jesus loves me enough to help me  in doing what I am missioned to do.  If I have the courage to know that no matter what , His love will be the answer to all. Week 11

WoW! This weeks prayers are soooo much my prayers! I printed three of them out to keep near my bed. Of course, St Francis of Assisi's strong and powerful request "Lord, make me an instrument of your peace" Well, really we don't have to make that request of God. Our real prayer is let me see how you have created me as an I guess, we may not even know that, but we DO know that we have been created AS an instrument of His peace on earth. WOW, again That makes Cardinal Newman's prayer sooo pertinent. Then the "In these or similar words" the feelings we all feel. We say YES, but we don't always know what that YES means or what it will bring. I like the thought that it isn't the results of my Yes that's important, but the fact that I say YES with earnestness and conviction. I found this week's material inspiring. I will be acting with new conviction as I deal with overcoming my health problems by focusing on my peacekeeping role. Week 11
I am beginning the eleventh week and the effect on me is beginning to be profound.  At first I was so sure that I would be afraid of the consequences of saying "yes."  What is happening today, however, is that whenever I say or read "yes", my heart feels so full and tears spring to my eyes.  I don't believe it is out of fear but out of a wonder that this late in life I am being offered this magnificent gift--the gift of offering my "yes" to our Beloved God.  What a wonderful revelation.
After two weeks of the call of the Lord, this week focuses more on my response, “Lord, I say, ‘yes’.” When I refuse to say “yes,” help my unbelief and give me hope. Refresh me when I lose the enthusiasm to jump up and respond to you.
As I near the end of week 11, I re-read the entries others have made on this week. I feel at one with many of them, especially those who wrote of their own weaknesses, failures, and struggles. Their lives and mine have much in common. Letting go of the past, of my guilt, my shame, my sense of failure is not easy, but, like them, I am learning to trust more in the mercy and presence of Christ in my life. Though I wish in many ways that I had started this retreat with a good friend, I am grateful to all those who share their experience in this retreat. It make the journey so much more meaning, adds impact, and helps me realize I am not alone. Thanks to all of you.

Week 11, and I’m beginning to feel like my sharing has become a ‘broken record.’ Timing. Again, this week, it is timing that strikes me. I started this retreat for discernment, and now, in this week, I’m asked to ‘discern’ God’s call. Options face me. One offers the opportunity to be of service to many, at possibly great expense to me. The other offers the opportunity of serving one who is very close, and whose cooperation, if not direct involvement, would be very helpful in fulfilling Option 1. Looking at it from this perspective (the ‘written’ one) makes it seem clear. Choose Option 2, and, if it is indeed His will, Option 1 may follow. Having taken even this brief moment to put into print the choices I have seems to be opening the door to the answer. I pray that the Lord continue to guide me in this process, and trust that His will WILL be done, whatever I choose

In the Getting Started portion of Week 11, there was a suggestion to "just say yes" to God's invitation of love, and to say it out loud and in different ways.  I tried this yesterday on the drive home from work, and I felt silly saying "yes" out loud,  as if I were just talking to myself. This morning, I tried putting the words "yes" and "Lord" into a little song made up of only those words, repeated over and over in a simple tune that just made itself up as it went along.  I wanted to share what a great discovery it was to find this song inside me, and now I can sing it on my way to work with the feeling that I'm singing it to God! I had the distinct impression that He laughed when He heard it for the first time, and that was just great.  If you too have a song inside, let it out this week so you can hear that happy laugh!

The one thing I am learning over and over again is the power of prayer, and the comfort I get through faith and reminding myself that the good Lord has always taken care of me, no matter how rough things were. I am a real fighter and often I forget when it is time to step back and place things in the hand of God to take care of.  I become afraid and I have a hard time being patient.  I will appreciate if you will include my son in your prayers this week.  He is a senior in high school and has had a rough few months.  It is so difficult as a parent to watch your children struggle.  I pray everyday that the Lord will keep him safe and bring him a little joy and comfort.

During the 11th week of this retreat I was touched and so delighted to receive the invitation by God. My priest asked me if I could help lead reading of the Old Statement. I answered " Yes". How soon the invitation from God comes !! Of course I am a little worried about it. But I believe that My God would help me in doing it. 

It is, thankfully, about saying yes.  Yes to Christ!  I am beginning to see(in week 11) that He does move in my life through those I work with, my family, and all who I meet each day. I can say yes to Christ in spite of everything unworthy of Him that still remains in me.  Thanks to you.

I am in week 11, and what a week it has been!  We have so many blessings and wonderful ministries in our city, but they all have been under attack this past week over the most trivial issues. It was like in the reading at mass this week, the Pharisees were upset because Jesus healed on the Sabbath instead of rejoicing that a man they knew  could now see! It is been a week of Pharisees who have hurt others so unnecessarily over trivial and legalistic points.  I am praying for the legalists, I am praying for those they hurt, our priest in particular and I am praying for the trouble to die down to be able to focus again on the peaceful image at the start of this weeks retreat in these weeks of Lent.

Responding to God's love. During week 11 I was in the UK visiting my 85 yr old father. I found him confused and really unable to live alone any longer. What could I do to make his last days comfortable?  Prayer was dry, no help seemed to come but I invited Dad to come to the USA and live with me. We rarely see eye to eye, this will not be easy but the only question I ever ask now is, "What is the most loving thing to do?" and the answer to that is to take care of him. Without God's love I cannot do this, with it I can try.   Veronica

I have been following the retreat sessions week by week..on week 11. I must confess I have not done them well perhaps I have no put very much effort into them. I wish i had a spiritual director .....but I think God still takes that little bit of effort I have put into it and uses it.  I wish i could get out of shame.  I know it does me no good to wallow in it....... but Ilook back on my life and I see how much time i wasted, what talents I wasted, how much I complained about my lot in life, how much gossipping I did, and devaluing ot others, etc..and I called myself a christian.  I was not even very kind. you know the strangest things is....God still will not give up on me..there is always this call to love......even with the little effort I am making with this retreat..I know he is doing something.......I feel the magnitude of my sinfulness, I know he still cares about me, and I know he still calling me, to do what? I have not idea....but, I know I cannot do it without loving..........and when I love I follow Him.......the problem is....... I am stubborn and think i know the way.

I am now getting ready to move into my eleventh week of my retreat.  There have been times when It seemed that too many obstacles exist and I will not be able to continue my journey.  But here I am.  Right on time. As the reading for the day says, if we forget, God knows where we are and will come to us and bring whatever strength we need to get through our days.  My CD ROM was damaged and thru my doing the retreat I found this out and it was repaired free of charge.  I only wanted to play a Praise and Worship Tape during the Christmas Season.  I now play the tape as I try to get into the prayers suggested, Scriptures offered and the wonderful reflections by each of the staff that contribute.  God is good and his love of me despite all the obstacles I see and feel in my life is just overwhelming.  I know He wants me to have the desires of my heart, but I think I am finally turning those desires over to Him.  Let Him decide what is best for me.  He told me that once when I was feeling sad because of the extra care I needed to give to my husband.  But I seem to forget so easily the  moments when I know He has spoken.  Thanks again for helping when I do feel very alone.  Today, O Lord, I am emptying my heart.  Come take your rest in me. Amen

I am in week 11 and think I'm finally coming out of a dry period. The past few weeks, while continuing the retreat, I have been pre-occupied with my sister leaving the Church. This scandal has been difficult! I desire that my Yes is complete! Interesting, that one of the prayers was Psalm 116. This was my prayer of gratitude for surviving cancer. It came at a good time in the retreat - pulled me back to where I needed to be! I seemed to have a heightened awareness of God's love and my response. I am grateful for the grace. Robin

I am in week eleven but I would like to comment on my feelings from last week (week 10).  It was an interesting feeling of debating how much I would have to give up to do something like the invitation was inviting me to do. It was strange, even before I read the helps that talked about considering how much I would have to sacrifice that my mind went to that.  Whenever I was called to do something I would always weigh what I would have to give up to do it - so that just came naturally. I have weighed in favor of the unknown before at the call of God but I fear that I may have also held back at that call too.  It was a thought provoking week.

I'm thinking about doing the next few weeks in a shortened form (Sun-Wed and Wed-Sat) so that I can get on with the Liturgical Year for Lent.  I hope that works out well.

As I pondered "In these or similar words" in Week 11, I felt as if God were speaking directly to me, urging me to give Him my wholehearted yes to His invitation to follow Him.  The old familiar fear and hesitancy that I have always experienced when I have believed He was calling me quickly rose to the surface as I considered my answer.  What would He ask of me, what will I have to give up?

Then, as I continued to read the part about how in responding to Him, I become the authentic person He created me to be my fears evaporated!  What a chord this struck with me.  I have been focusing for the last couples of years on trying to become the person God created me to be!  I can see where my unique experiences in live have equipped me to be of service to others.  I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and have been able to share that with many others.  My husband and I have experienced God working profoundly in our marriage and we have been given the opportunity to share His healing with other hurting couples through the ministry of Retrouvaille.  I also meet with two other women weekly in an open 12 Step group where we share and minister to each other on a deep level.

God, I believe, is saying, "don't look at where I'm leading you in the future.  Look at where I've brought you today".  When I look at just today, I find it much easier to give Him my "yes" wholeheartedly.

May God bless all of you who are on this journey with me. 

I am now in my eleventh week and this message to be outstanding as a sign of Jesus working in us is more subtle than the other weeks messages. I have sinned grievously against others, some terrorizing enemies, and mostly myself but it took a serious life threatening event with our son near death to bring my awakening to completion. These passed weeks I have prayed harder to have my will change my behavior because I think the Lord needs this purification and consecration of my life in the Present. I am afraid of the need to rededicate for the consistent Present of a Daily Faith.The past has much pain and fleeting glory for me personally to matter much now. Living your life honestly in your need to serve Him and have integrity in your relationship with the Lord will save me to grow spiritually with and in Him. Yes, my wordily enemy is very real and powerful and vengeful but my life in him as he tests me brings the only peace in prayer to move me to love Him in my daily works with my family and self. How very long it has taken me to know this. How stupid and painful it was to know my temper and uncontrolled behavior through the real evil that is in the world. I pray for my self to keep on strong daily in my Faith. And when I fail as I sometimes do, I try to recall the grace working in me with Christ and my response for a consecrated life to him in Honesty, Integrity, Community, Responsibility, and last but most important for me, Simplicity in delivering your needs and faith daily to yourself in the world, others, and Jesus Christ. 

Day 78 (Week 11)  Lord Jesus, how I long to meet You on the way. I know that life’s journey to You, God the Son, is made easier if only I could put my trust in You, Jesus, my loving Friend, and truly believe that you are walking by my side. There are days when you seem so distant, when my heart feels the chill of your absence, and when my mind cannot vision your presence. How lonely and forsaken I feel on those days. And how strange that even though I know I can find you if I would take the time visit you in the Sanctuary of our Church, or even in the sanctuary of my heart, I won’t. Why? Is it the guilt I feel because I know that You have not abandoned me, but it is I that have abandoned You? Oh dear Jesus, I know the answer. How many times must I remind myself that Your love for me is infinite. That even when I fall into sin, You are ready to rescue me, to lift me up, and embrace me. Lord Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner. Come, be with me today, fill my heart with your love, my mind with your peace, and give me the strength to prevail against the wiles of Satan. Amen.

Week 12

Part way through week 12, falling in love with Jesus. I have loved Jesus for a long time, but this is a time to let Jesus show me more of Himself. As I try to be open, I am also finding that I am seeing God the Father. They are One, so when I see Jesus touching people, I am starting to see the Father touch them as well. (This is new for me.) Can it really be that the Father not only gave His only Son for us, but He also gave Himself? I want to love God more. As with last week, every yes brings love closer. May I always speak and live that yes. And when I don't, lead me back.

hello to all on retreat.i was travelling to family throughout week 12 and i tried to have the background theme running but i couldnt quite understand it. and battled to grasp the feeling of jesus here on a mission from god. i suppose that seemes foolish. i could glimpse the compassion of the father looking at this world and sending his son to us . i could see me travelling from my son in one city to my daughter in another and understand just a glimmer of the divine taking care of his loved ones. and when i was with my son and his family the joy and delight in seeing these young people who have struggled and run wild - now fine young adults - warmed my heart.
on the last day of my trip i went to work in sydney with my daughter to see what her daily life is like so i can imagine her there when im home here 1000 kiloometres from her and as we walked through a long cold railway tunnel in winter - this lovely young woman bent to each busker and each homeless person and smiled and put gold coins down for them. and her compassion was a beautiful thing to watch. it was just one element of a loving and blessed week . im glad to be done with week 12 but i cant quite tell you why.
as i roamed over 1000s kilometres here on buses and trains and planes - i was aware of the concept of following to whatever jerusalem i am led to and now i can picture the light again. lighting the path god wants me to follow. god bless you all.
-- nell from tweed

I had a hard time making sense of this week’s material. There was talk of falling in love and of Jesus’ photo album and of why Jesus took on flesh to be with us. None of it seemed to line up for me.

I kept thinking about this week’s picture: the tree—what does it represent? Eden or the Cross? And the barrier of yellow tape that surrounds it—what does it say? “MINE! MINE! MINE!” More ambiguity—though I know the tape warns of land mines, it also seems to shout out someone’s ownership…

“God’s compassion missions Jesus.”

The best I can do is this: at the center of my heart is the Cross. From before time it waited for Christ. Christ saw the barrenness of that cross. He has navigated the MINES! of my heart—all the selfish attachments I cling to—so that my cross, all suffering, will not be empty any more, but bear his image. If I want to see him there, I must, too, navigate the MINES! They will be suddenly behind me, just as the glories of heaven were left behind when Christ chose incarnation. And he and I will be together, there between heaven and earth.

Tom, Pennsylvania

Lord, as I have sat with you this week, contemplating your story … trying to understand it more fully … relating it to my life … I am struck even more by the immensity of your creation and loving power.

You created a world which could be self sustaining … a world which evolves in dynamic ways. You created variation. Our ancient wisdom texts saw variation as a sign of your majesty … whether it was variation in language or variation in nature. The fact that we can understand the dynamics of most natural systems through the eyes of probabilities does not imply that creation was a random event. Randomness is a “null state”. Probability distributions illustrate the dynamic development of your original plan.

That original plan offered us the opportunity to live with you in perfect freedom. But free to explore the world we lived in we chose not to live with you. Rather, we saw opportunities to put ourselves at the center of things often for our temporary good and at the expense of others around us. We have repeated this pattern century after century … passing on our self-centeredness to other generations … seeing our creativeness as evidence of our superiority rather than as part of your creative plan.

How frustrating for you, Lord, who only wanted to put all things at our disposal to understand you better and to live in perfect freedom with you. Variation also can have catastrophic effects not only dividing and separating people but causing the powerful to continue to flourish and to ignore the center of creation as being in you. So you also demonstrated even more love. You breathed your Spirit on your people so that they would see the effects of our disobedience and return to you. As we repeat in the Eucharistic Prayer, “”From age to age you gather a people to yourself … from East to West … so that a perfect offering may be made”. The witness to your loving correction is played out over and over again. But still we have a hard time taking up your offer.

So you come to us in the form of your Son to show us your love in concrete ways. But, Lord, you are realistic. That event is transformational because He touched deeply a small group of people who saw again your transforming power. You were realistic because you saw that the probability that the rich and powerful and those who thought they depended on them would not necessarily be changed by you in this form. You engaged where it most hurt … becoming a victim to their ultimate cruelty … and then having the audacity to rise again and show that even death could be overcome.

So I look at the picture of Sarajevo and I ask … how is this playing out here? I see the depth of cruelty and inhumanity and realize that you ask me to be there with you because if I’m not it is to deny your ultimate action on Calvary. But I look beyond there at the skyscrapers in a city that could be any 21st century city. I see the creativity that springs from that then I see that there we have the sponsors of inhumanity, the indifferent and the refugees. Then, I think of my friend and mentor, Luis, who month after month, consistent with his Ignatian roots, during the heights of the Yugoslavian troubles flew secret missions to Kosovo and other places to try to broker peace. I think of my friend Justin’s father who despite having suffered terrible cruelty himself in Central Africa, true to his Catholic upbringing, worked tirelessly in East Timor and now in Cote de Ivory for peace. I see in these people that your transforming presence, Lord, still lives on.

So I ask … what part of your transforming presence do you want me to take on?

On Friday of this week, Jesus spoke to me, as always, through the Gospel…”Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will save it.” Luke 17:33 Then the reflection written by Mitch Finley said, “The only way to be a channel of the presence of the risen Christ in the world is to let your life slip right through your fingers in whatever way you can.” At this point on this journey, I have been more able and willing to let that happen. “I just can’t seem to do enough for you, my Jesus!” Now, as I am assured of His love for me, it has become so much easier. I cry in thanks everyday at one time or another. Somewhere I read that we experience true joy only at the foot of the cross. Before I always separated the two…now they are enmeshed and my peace is overflowing. Week 12


Week 12 was difficult for me. I have a 36 year old son who has retreated from life, fails to work, lives off a small inheritence and does not communicate with me or much of anyone. I continue to write to him, expressing my love but getting no response. His stepmother contacted me to say that she thought I should take guardianship of him so he does not lose the house that he was given free and clear. I could not do so, because while he is self-destructive and irresponsible, he is not mentally incompetent. Twice before recently I have struggled in prayer with how to help him and the message has been "let go and let Me take over ." I have done so knowing that because of family history, this could mean some rough times ahead for him. I have been given the Scripture of the prodigal son who had to come to his senses and the lame man who was asked if he wanted to get well, and then told to take up his bed and walk--both requiring something of the person involved. This time again I asked for Scripture and the passage in Matthew came to mind (most like because of our study this week)--Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how I longed to gather you under my wing like a mother hen gathers her chicks, but you would not. I felt such sadness and compassion for my son and realized that the Father and the Son look at all their children in this world with the same compassion and desire to act that I have felt for my son---but they too need our response.
I did not feel as though I was bearing much fruit in week twelve because it seemed to call to mind some of the same feelings and images I had in week five (perhaps because of the similarity of the pictures for these two weeks).  My interpretation seemed to be of a God looking with feeling from a distance at what was happening to the earth where people were not valuing one another and creation.  From this vantage point, God saw the big picture and felt the anguish of seeing what had been created for happiness and good abusing and hurting and being abused and being hurt.  It just seemed that people did not get the truth that we are all equal in the eyes of God and that God wants happiness, joy, love, and peace for all.  God wants all of us to understand that and so became incarnate.  After I went back and read my reflection from week five, I realized that this week did produce slightly different fruit.
Ask and you shall receive! We have our song for this week. Day by Day. Another powerful prayer. Help me to know You more clearly, love You more dearly and follow You more by day.  Sing that one as you smile through your everyday routines. I will!  Week 12
Come Lord Jesus!

The most loving ,compassionate act ever was realized by the missioning of Jesus to bring his light and salvation into our bombed out worlds, both personal and global.

God's greatest act of love came to us in such a obscure way... His Son changed everything! This week I had such mixed insights and actions... at times looking at friends, neighbors, strangers with the thought that His mission of love and salvation is for all. Why do I so easily forget this in the middle of challenges?  I know that Jesus is there and that His mission is to save all.  I just need to keep reminding myself that in the middle of  lifes harshness, disappointments, and heartbreak that the Light is there to overcome the darkness of my soul and heart at times.

Lead me on by your light Lord Jesus.  The line in one of the prayers struck a chord with me,   "to give me the courage to follow Him to whatever Jerusalem He leads me, today, and everyday, for ever and ever.

Thank you for allowing me to know that He is working in me in moments of great light, and in moments of darkness, He has overcome the darkness and is continuing to do so, if I allow the Light into my heart.  Come Lord Jesus, break into my heart.

This week the retreat focuses on a general view of Christ. The readings I have reviewed so far have focused on Jesus as God, Son of God and Savior. The photo for the week is a bombed out village with the saying about God loving man so much that he sent his Son. I was initially confused by this photo and its accompanying but contrasting statement. Eventually, it made sense. I started this retreat with the hope of finding God in the ordinary. I thought it would be good to attempt to retreat while in the throngs of my everyday life. In this retreat, I did not want a series of consolations that would be granted in the beautiful solitude of a country retreat center. Therefore, it makes sense that I should focus on Christ while thinking about a burnt, deserted village and not just focus on His Godliness and unconditional love within the blessings of life. Christ should be as easy to find in the turmoil as He is in more peaceful and idealistic settings. It is in the smoke and dirt that Mother Theresa and so many saints found Him.

Lord, let me find you in the bombed out villages of my world.  Of course added to the problems of finding Jesus in the external turmoil, I have an additional problem. While I may want to follow Jesus, often I ask him to wait so I can go back and “bury the dead.” I wait the fact that I make him wait because One thing is clear, without the Lord there is no peace in my life. I wish I could be sinless and always in his presence.

Today I start week 12. Last night just before a service for peace at St. Mary’s, I prayed the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary. St. Louis de Montfort wrote some thought provoking (and attention retaining) phrases inserted into the Hail Marys of the Rosary that I have used for years. He did not have the Luminous Mysteries in his day, so I have been struggling to find my own short phrases to insert. The second Luminous Mystery, the Miracle of the Wedding Feast at Cana, caused more difficulty for me than the others. Last nite, however, the Lord revealed something to me. For so long I have wondered what great works He wants me to do for him. At the very beginning of my reflection on the Cana miracle, it hit me: Mary said “Do whatever He tells you.” Then Jesus said “Fill these jars with water.” A very ordinary task. Nothing at all unusual or especially difficult. I realized then that He does not ask me to do ‘great’ things, but only little things that He can make great. It is such a privilege to be an instrument of His love. He doesn’t expect much from me because He is the miracle worker. My pride had again been in the way. I insisted on asking what I could do. All I need do is act in faith and love, as He did. He takes care of the rest. As I enter this week, I pray for the grace to know Him and to follow Him, and, most of all, to ‘do whatever He tells me.’

First of all, in Advent I am happy to reflect the mystery of incarnation.(the 12th week) the picture inspired me about many sins and God's love much more than a couple of weeks before. Pondering Jesus is God's only son and a man like me, I was so touched by Jesus missioning and my mind had a deeper bonding with God. and I came to understand Wherever there are hatred and distrust and struggle,  Jesus is always with us for ever because of God's love and forgiveness. I will await Jesus' s coming and prayer to see Him more clearly, to love Him more dearly, and to follow Him more near

Week 12. I end this week on a high note! At last night’s Vigil Mass, Father John delievered a homily that caught my imagination, and struck at my heart. "Doubting Thomas" represents all "mankind". It is difficult for us to "believe" in what we can’t see. But, when he saw, Thomas, immediately responded with the words that still ring out to all, even unto this day; "My Lord and My God!" I pray for the grace to live my life as God our Father intended for me, I pray that one day, I too, will fall on my knees, and looking into the Face of Our Lord Jesus, and cry out, "My Lord and My God!" I know now that the Way will not always be smooth, that my path will be filled with "potholes", if not deep pits of despair, but I also know that I will not be abandoned, that the Holy Spirit will be my guide, my strength, and my will, and that I need only call out to Him to make it to another Easter, when I will be renewed in the Baptism Waters, until that final Easter when I meet My Lord and My God face to face!. Amen

I am beginning week 12.  Some of the weeks have taken more than 7 days.  I have for the first time in my 58 years felt such a closeness with Jesus. Many things have flooded back about my early religious education and experiences and I am amazed to see how much I didn't see.  For the first time my eyes are opening.  Each day, several times during the day, I feel God's presence in my life.  It's the most incredible feeling.  Recently, I was at Mass reflecting on some family turmoil and feeling very rejected.  I was sitting there thinking about how much I had done and how little I was appreciated and asking God to give me the grace the get through things. Suddenly I was thinking about Jesus on the cross and how He was rejected by his people and He loved them in spite of themselves.  My pain was inconsequential by comparison.  Getting out of myself has been an amazing gift of this retreat.  Each week brings a closeness with God that I could not have imagined.  I never knew what it was like to have an intimate relationship with Him.  I give thanks every day for seeing the newspaper article which brought me to this on-line retreat.

The mystery of the Incarnation (12) became more present to me as I pondered the Trinity looking down on Bosnia...starving children in Ethiopia,...AIDS  in Africa...the family down the block...and myself...The Incarnation is NOW.  The same movement of love that brought Jesus to Bethlehem and to Calvary, is active in our world. Would that I only believe it more!

Week 12, Luke 24:13-35, "On the road to Emmaus", has always been one of my favorite Gospel readings. How often I wished that I were one of those two men! Imagine meeting Jesus in person, listening to His voice as he talks about His life, and sharing a meal with Him! As I wrote this I was struck by these thoughts. Don’t I still meet Jesus every Sunday (and everyday if I choose) when we celebrate Mass? Isn’t it then that He is fully present to us in His Words, the Gospel? Isn’t it then that the meaning of His life, death and resurrection are made clear to us in the reading of the scriptures, from Moses and all the prophets? And finally, in the Eucharistic meal, doesn’t He make Himself fully present to us as He feeds us with His Body and Blood? Yes! Yes! Yes! and Yes! I thank you Lord Jesus for this moment, and this reflection that I know was inspired by You. I love you Lord Jesus, increase my Faith so that I may love You more. (An afterthought). And in loving You, learn to love others, especially those I find it difficult to love.

Week 13

i found myself very sombre this week and wishing i had access to spiritual feedback. i read in one of the sharings that they recieved emails from creighton and wish that were in place for those of us who are alone with this process. nonetheless it felt rich for me this week. and i didnt get too busy once i came home from travelling to my children and grandchildren. that enabled me to embrace the ancient longing as well as the present longing for the love and presence of my family. several of the readings touched my heart and spirit. i was feeling older than sarah and very lonely to come back to my little rented cottage . ths beginning of this century has seen many seeming losses for me. and driving dark country roads late at night to come to my place where i live alone was pretty tough.
then i downloaded the weeks retreat and despite the sombre nature of it - i enjoyed it. can this happiness be mine ? am i too old ? is the way before me still being prepared ? the questions dominoed through me all week - but i felt as if i were in the presence of the beloved and although the answers havent yet come - i did feel that i had someone to ask them of . and now i wait.
-- nell from tweed

The retreat was with me a lot this week, especially as I helped my son make an ornament for the “Jesse tree” in the classroom at his Catholic school. He happened to draw, as his assignment, King David. I enjoyed showing my son how to make the six pointed star and wondered how Jesus must have felt to be Son of David. I imagined Jesus knowing all his ancestors with divine intimacy and tenderness. Those who gave him the form of his flesh were not mysterious to him. How marvelous his body must have been to him! As Son of David, he knew his heritage and his father’s will. Christ gives me a new understanding of how little I know of my own heritage, how little I know of God’s will for me. All the more, I must trust his knowledge, his will.

I am grateful for the Jewish people and their faithfulness to their covenant with the living God. As the psalmist says, “your heritage is my delight!”

Tom, Pennsylvania

I enjoyed this week and felt more focused although as is typical for this time of year it was a disjointed and busy week. I entered more fully into reflecting on this week’s screen saver picture along with the direction to understand “Jesus’ family album”. This was an interesting exercise to do when the WTO talks are happening in Hong Kong. If ever there was concrete evidence of how nationalistic self-interest can thwart reaching out to the poorest of the poor this was it. But looking at the Old Testament stories I can see how it is so easy to look at these familiar stories and see them as history … maybe even our history or to see them as the basis for nationalistic or tribal dogmas. However, seeing them through Jesus’ eyes I felt a strong sense of the endurance of God as a strongly loving God. Then I look at the family in the screensaver. Initially I want to avoid looking at the suffering … the father has obviously been hurt … and the poverty. But looking at it with a strong sense of the God of Love from “Jesus’s family album” I understand that God wants more from me. He wants not just intellectual arguments or clever dogma. He wants active love. I reread the daily readings as if I’m reading them with our family in the picture. The words of scriptures from Isaiah “to me you are very dear and I love you” demands that in my everyday life I move beyond intellectual argument to reach out to our screensaver family and others in need.

I have just finished week 13 of the on-line retreat and it is really touching my heart. I want everybody to know how much God loves each person and how His generosity, love, mercy, and forgiveness cannot be outdone. God does not want to remain a mystery to us. He wants us to know Him because He is our creator. He made us from nothing and loves us as his only child. Many of the pictures that go with each week personally touch my heart. i was at the Red Cloud Indian Mission school two summers ago and stood in the same room where the picture was taken. In April I went to Bosnia-Hercegovnia and saw the destruction from the war. I visited a refugee camp for the first time in my life and saw first-hand the injustice of war on the lives of so many people. I am no longer apathetic about the evils that go on around me, but have taken an active stance by becoming a volunteer counselor for women in crisis pregnancies at Right To Life. I am also leading two adult Catholic Faith Formation classes in my parish and am a Religious Education teacher for 4th and 5th graders. Thank you for making this retreat possible.
-- Sandy

It was slow getting into week 13, but God is so good, as we all know! I was, what I thought of as, behind, letting my weeks go longer than 7 days…but then, just what I needed happened! Advent came upon me with the beautiful readings of Isaiah and David’s Psalms…all that Jesus heard in His own life! Reminders of how I (and, we) am so connected with Him! Stories of His (and, our) ancestors that He (and, we) had heard over and over, again. Their sufferings and joys, their sinfulness and sorrow for theirs sins, their doubts, fears, hopes, dreams and faith that carried them through all the rest.

This morning, as I began week 14 and how to reflect on God’s Words by putting myself in the stories, I thought this may be difficult, since I have never reflected on Scripture this way. However, I want to share how Jesus came to me through this exercise. The reading from Luke 1: 5-25, 57-66…Zechariah in the temple when the Angel Gabriel gives him the unbelievable news about John. First, I imagined myself and how I would be if an angel appeared to me. I, too, would be scared to death!! Then to give me news of the most unlikely thing that could ever happen!! I, too, would have questioned this. In fact, I am afraid and I question many things that go on in my life. My tears came freely and I told Jesus I was so sorry for these fears and doubts, telling Him I don’t understand why I have them when I say my faith and trust are in Him alone. The words that He said on the cross to His Father came into my thoughts so powerfully at that moment…”My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?” By putting this in my thoughts, He reminded me that He, Himself, in His humanness, was afraid and questioned, too. In this way, in a way I have never experienced, He told me, so lovingly, how much He understands me. What a wonderful God we have!!!
-- June

This is my thirteenth week and my first sharing. I just read the prayer How Silently and it is perfect for Advent. The whole week is perfect for Advent when we are awaiting the celebration of Jesus' birth.

I want to say yes to God as Mary did and as Jesus did. Sometimes it is so hard to know what to do. We feel we need to accomplish tasks that are necessary for a traditional Christmas, yet none of these traditions mean anything if we do not accept "the gift we need so that we can be the gift others need", which is not always a material gift. Like children we keep unwrapping packages until we find the gift that satisfies. Jesus working through me is that gift.

This is week 13 for me, and it speaks so much to how I have lived for almost 70 years. I have had a come hither-go away with my spiritual yearnings for as long as I can remember. I have had some times of incredible "highs" when I thought constantly of God, and saw Jesus in all I met and was led to do. Then there have been those time, too many I am afraid, when I turned deliberately or through simple neglect from the path of my "highs". This week is helping me deal with that! Even in this week I have found myself slipping into that pattern; however, I have asked for the grace to be drawn back into a Jesus consciousness often and for longer periods. I have so far to go, but the path does become clearer and clearer whether I walk on it or over to the side.

As Christmas approaches I visit with Jesus about the joy of the season and the nearness of His coming as a child in poverty and into a cold world that even denied Him a home as a newborn. I ask him to give us all the grace to somehow continue to hang on to the spirit of this season. I ask for this every year; perhaps this is the one that will be my year of remembering. Perhaps as I continue this retreat it will become the prodding that I need to keep me close to the enduring spirit of the newborn Jesus.

I just finished week 13 of the on-line retreat: “God prepares the way” and have most certainly experienced, through these exercises, that God has prepared the way for me to move away from fear and cowardice to lovingly and fearless proclaiming of His good news.  I did not realize that was what He was doing at first…but why should I:  I am creature; He is Creator.  I have been struggling for a long, long time with trying to overcome my fear of speaking the truth regarding my beliefs on moral issues, particularly abortion and same-sex marriages.  I used as my excuse the fact that I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and that it was not safe to voice such scorned minority opinion; nonetheless, this lack of bearing true witness did not sit well with me.  I love my God and I believe in the sanctity of life and marriage:  why could I not bear witness to this.

I thought that if I looked over my life, I could find the core of the fear and weed it out…like magic I would be free of my fear.  I found most quickly that this attempt at an easy fix did not work.  I still feared to speak the truth.  Then I started week 13.  It seemed rather mundane to me…to look at the Old Testament and Jesus’ Jewish heritage.  Little did I know the graces that I would receive.  It has taken me about 3 to 4 weeks to move through the lessons and challenges found within the context and content of the lesson.  I think that it started with the question of “what do I long for from God” and the directive to learn “to ache with the world and its ancient longing for return and unity with its loving Creator.”  I realized that I long for freedom from all that keeps me from the love of my God and from my returning that love, i.e., freedom from my ego, my fears, my self.   I saw my fears and lack of true witness as hindering me in my love relationship with Love....

...And so I am so grateful for the many graces that I have received from week 13 on the on-line retreat and pray that I continue to bear true witness to the loving kindness and magnificent goodness of my God and the truth of His Word

I am beginning week 13 of the Online Retreat. I was so blessed to find this site in January, and the journey continues to bless. For me, the tremendous amounts of "grace reminders" have been so helpful. I am constantly and lovingly reminded that this is a journey. While I look at sins and failures, I'm also encouraged to turn everything over to God and let Him work even through them! What a profound gift.
I believe that the biggest grace for week thirteen happened right at the beginning of the week.  It just hit me that Jesus coming into the world was known and planned by God from the beginning of time.  It just always seemed to me that Jesus came in to the world because the people were not listening and paying attention to the God who had created them and sent them signs and messengers etc.  Then, with the information for this week it helped me to realize that while Jesus was sent into the world to save the world that His coming was planned from all time.
These past few weeks, the centering is on God and God's revealing self throughout time, like looking at God's personal scrapbook. After reflecting on today's readings, I am beginning to think that God loves being the "ultimate mystery".  I chuckled at the thought, as it rolled across my inward spiritual screen today, that God indeed loves being the  "Mystery". Jesus spoke in parables and puzzled the proud and ignorant and I agree, how could Elijah come again as John the Baptist. I think Jesus love his ability to be sharp. It's almost like a game. But what kind of game? Why are we always needing an explaination?

In child psychology there is the test of object permanence that little children play. (peek a  boo). We adults are kind of like this with God. It is only when we uncover our eyes and open them widely that we see God, yet God is always there, yet as mystery, until we seek to see more deeply. Only those who are sparked to seek and find are open to knowing God. You keep directing me towards the Trinity and I am learning that Trinity is God's self-portrait.

It is different with children, God is not found in the object permanence. Little children reveal God. They are so spiritually connected with God that they cannot be hidden from their master teacher who guides them and carries continual  conversation with their very souls.

So as I write and read what I just wrote here, I remember those things Jesus said about the children. I always attributed Jesus' words to mean "faith/belief". I never once thought that Jesus meant that we must reflect God as master teacher from within our souls as children and not play the game of object permenance with God as adults tend to do.

I see how desiring God is for us to long in our souls for this Emmanual. It appears as though the  Mystery is almost unknowable and unreachable and that our reaching out is only filling us piece by piece, like the bread at the table, not ever realizing the whole of God and yet there is given us- Emmanual. I wonder why. Week 13

God does not make clones.  Each of us is unique, precious, no two of us alike.  Yet it is such a pleasure to share, to see that we are alike - in some ways.  We are loved.  We love.  We wish to learn more about each other, about our beloveds.  We wish to be known, understood, loved.  Only God understands us perfectly.  We will never understand God - perfectly.  What a blessing it is to have the Old Testament, a kind of picture book.  It is such a good help in learning more about Our Most Beloved. We learn things to help us understand Jesus just a little better, a little more.

After 50 years of marriage, we are still learning things about each other.  Yesterday I learned something about my wife's childhood.  Something happened 80 years ago.  Now I understand her - just a little better.

All we have to do is listen, pray and listen and - pray.

The prayer Silently... was very powerful for me. It reminds me that all is for Purpose. He has a plan.
Then, of course, that fit with all the rest, the history from the Bible stories which directly relate to the life cycles of growing up. The search for Meaning, then having found direction the need for "Judges" to help deal with differences in our concept of Good, then our need for leadership and when the leaders get self absorbed the need for prophets to challenge them. And all this to establish a place of peace and harmony, a union with God, heaven. The model applies whether it is applied to governments, churches, schools, families, or individuals. Along the Way we are called on to fill these different roles in different ways
Patience to know, to listen for which roles I am to fulfill today, Silently...expectantly. Week 13.

The directions for this week are in contrast to the first few weeks of the retreat. Then, we were to review our life through reviewing old photo albums (figuratively or literally). This week we are to look at God’s photo album as it moves through salvation history. In reading a few of the suggested scriptures, and also reading the liturgical readings for the last couple of days, I recall Dorothy Day’s comments that God is not bound by time. She was saying something that had never occurred to me before: We can pray for things that happened in the past because with God there are not limits in time. He is Lord over the past and our prayers for things in past can bear fruit.

The Scriptures are also without time restraints in many ways. Reading the Genesis readings for the retreat and the Letters of Paul from the liturgical calendar, the concept of time explained by Dorothy Day came to mind because I was strongly struck with the fact that both readings were written today. It strikes me that God’s photo album (as seen in the scriptures) can be viewed as a series of digital pictures just taken of subjects still alive and in front of me. But his photo album can also a viewed as a series of old black and white photos reflecting images and subjects I will never actually see, but that reflect my very roots. God’s photos are new like the first cool breeze of fall and old like the depth of hard, dark wood.

The other thing I noticed about God’s photo album is that He puts a lot of unpleasant photos in his album of bad experiences. It’s not just a bunch of birthday parties. Week 13

Your suggestions about "waiting" in last week's general direction was a great help to me.  I am not a patient person...I hate standing in line for anything...and long traffic lights do me in!  I followed your direction last week and everything was so much better.  I almost looked forward to the "waiting" times so that I could be in touch with the spirit of Advent.  Thank you.  Looking at the album of Jesus and questioning him about some of his relatives was very rewarding and this week I am already walking with Mary the hills of Judea to the home of Elizabeth.  Thank for all the wonderful material and thoughts for this time of year.

I am starting week 13.  I did week 12 twice because I judged myself to be unfocused.  The second of these weeks was just as unfocused.  Until now, my retreat experience has been mostly one of insight and new-found love and intimacy.

Now, I am challenged with a desert-like experience where I thirst and feel distant from the one I love.  My heart longs for a sense of the intimate. Before this retreat my awareness stopped at this point and I felt abandoned and alone.  Now, I know that my heart's longing is itself my current expression of love and intimacy and that my Lord want the same thing I do. I will read and listen to his word.  I will look for Him and pray for an increased sense of His presence. 

I return to what I have learned in this retreat and I remember that He speaks to me in many ways. His love reaches me in many ways.  I reach for Him, too, in many ways.  Thank you Lord for changing my heart.  I will keep the change.

I have just started week 13 of the Retreat.  Until now, I haven't really read much of the sharings, then a couple of days ago I accidently hit the wrong computer key and printed out last weeks essays.  I was stunned to read two sharings that a year ago could have been written by me!  This message is to the people who don't believe that they can ever have a heart felt relationship with God. I started searching for God more than 30 years ago.  During that time I came to believe that God had rejected me.  Being Protestant that meant I was bound for Hell and eternal suffering.  I fought against this belief the best I could.  I went to church every Sunday, read the Bible daily, prayed and did all the things Christians should do.  I also went through periods where I just got tired of trying and did none of those things.  Then there were the years of anger toward God.  After all, I was trying to do everything I was supposed to do so where was He? Finally a year ago I decided to start over with the simple but complex question..Who is God?  I contacted churches and synagogues and asked to speak to people about this.  The almost universal answer was ..God is Love! One of the churches I contacted was a campus Catholic center.  The priest there took me under his wing and little by little I have gained a degree of real faith that I never had before. I did nothing different except that I listened to what I was being taught and allowed myself to accept it.  I stopped trying to take the Gift and instead allowed it to be given to me! For the first time in my life I can honestly say that God is real to me!  I can't thank Him enought for this Gift. Don't give up, no matter how long it may seem to take.  It's definitely worth it!  -- Susan

Week 14

well i found week 14 much easier emotionally and visually. almost as if i had some colour in gospel stories which i havent often had. and i could FEEL with the people. i could feel marys certainty and acceptance . i also realised that being blessed by god didnt mean an easy path but was still cause for joy.
i also felt some delight at the thought of the baby john leaping in the womb to know that his cousin was coming along. i had never thought of the 2 little boys as companion spirits come to earth before and i loved that image of ' here he is. we are both here now ' .
i did feel what i thought a rather unholy delight at both women being lifted from their shame and failure as the little people of the world into gods chosen ones.
sometimes when im aching and tired and alone - broke and thinking myself a less than as a heroin addict and alcoholic and rather a failure in worldly terms - i have wanted to have an angel come along and announce the way and tell me im doing ok and that im loved. so i was able to feel with them. " people wont look down on me anymore" she said. hidden away in her home. it gave me permission for the less noble thoughts and emotions i have . week 14 took the sting out of things for to you all.
-- nell from tweed

I couldn’t get Zechariah off my mind this week. His story is kind of comical, in a way. When the angel tells him, “Your wife Elizabeth will have a son,” he answers, “How do I know this will happen? My wife and I are both very old.” And then his doubt strikes him dumb.

So. I’m imagining poor old Zechariah. He’s been away to the big city with the guys for a week and when he comes home, he can’t speak. Imagine how that goes over with the wife! And best of all, mute as he is, he needs to communicate to Elizabeth that she’s going to have a son!

Imagine how poor old Zechariah worried over this all the long walk home. Elizabeth was barren—a disgrace in that time and place. After so many years of her being a disgrace to him, was she sexually repulsive to him? But he had received the promise of an angel; this must have awakened in him courage, determination, even a youthful vigor and a willingness to look upon Elizabeth with new eyes, to forget her disgrace and look upon her, not as hopeless, but as the source of great hope: a son—and not just any son, but a son who will bring happiness and gladness and the same power and spirit that Elijah had. Imagine how his pace quickens along the road.

But still—to communicate all this to his wife without words! Zechariah must have been a very tender lover when he returned home.

Tom, Pennsylvania

I really focused early in the week on imagining Zechariah. Why the silence? I don't think that the explanation that he asked for a sign is really sufficient. It makes God a bit of a lover of semantics to compare his response to Mary's. I think there are other good reasons. The first is practical ... think what would happen if he announced his vision. The 1st century equivalent of CNN and Fox News would be vying to follow the story. Elizabeth was already in seclusion. She really would have had to go into hiding. But there is a more profound reason. I think Zechariah like me had Celtic roots. We love to process our uncertainties through speaking … Listening to God at the top of our voices. But God sometimes asks for another way. To listen to him and feel his faithfulness ... to actually see this develop as Zechariah would have seen with Elizabeth and also Mary's visit to them. So at times this week I tried to talk less. I found that the moments of silence allowed me to relate to the theme of God's faithfulness more fully. And yes work did get done

Continuing this reflection from earlier in the week, as I contemplate Elizabeth and Zechariah, Mary and Joseph I ask the question, “what gave them that special courage to discern and follow through on God’s call to them?” They certainly embodied the message of God’s love and faithfulness which they would have learned by special attention to the Hebrew Scriptures. They saw how that applied to their lives. Around them others had equal access to these scriptures and the message that is so clearly laid out. I’m sure it was the same in their day. Theoretical argument blunted the messages of grace. Used for political or nationalistic purposes the message of love was lost. But God intervenes in their lives and they respond. I feel that what is remarkable about Mary is not that she says “Let it happen” but that she doesn’t change her mind afterwards. If I were in her position then maybe I would have bargained with God. She follows through. Likewise with Joseph … and what is also clear is that even responding and saying yes does not mean that the road from then on is smooth.

What does this mean for my own call? I feel a strong need to rethink and respond. I will try to model the trust in God demonstrated in these strong pictures this week.

Yesterday in anticipation of Christmas, I was imagining what it would be like to be Mary. To hold the baby Jesus. To hold God. I could feel him in my arms. So small, so vulnerable, so perfect in his peaceful sleep.
God, an infant. Held. The love I felt holding that baby was almost overwhelming. Then I reversed the roles and imagined God holding me as an infant feeling the love one feels for the most precious and the most vulnerable. Oh what a Christmas gift! Come let us adore Him.


The reading for today is Luke 1: 39-45 (The Visitation)

We were asked to put ourselves in the situation of the reading either as an observer or as one of the characters. As I settled to meditate on the reading, this is what happened.

I woke early, as today I was to go and stay with my cousin Elizabeth for a time. It was a fairly long walk and although the weather was still reasonably cool, I liked to travel in the cooler part of the day.

Should I take food and drink? A little food, but it wasn’t too hot, and I could do without a heavy water skin.

The weather was calm, the morning light softened the landscape and I set out with a light heart and thanking God for the gift I was to bear. I marvelled at the colours on the distant hills, and the deep, soft blue of the sky. After travelling for nearly an hour, the sun had warmed up and the smells of the animal droppings and outhouses got to me. I began to feel decidedly unwell – morning sickness! There was nowhere for me to conceal myself and I was sick on the side of the road, hoping that no one would notice. Some hope. Several people commented but made no attempt to approach me. After another half hour I was sick again and feeling ready to collapse. My head ached, probably with anxiety, and I wanted so much to just reach Elizabeth as soon as possible. After the third bout of sickness, a woman came to me, and gave me few sips of water. “Well lass, I reckon you’ll be worse before you are better.” How reassuring! However, she accompanied me the rest of the way to Elizabeth’s house where she left me with a cheerful “Make the most of your peace because after you have kids there is no more of it.”

Elizabeth greeted me with great love and tenderness, saying that she was glad I had come because now she could sit down and talk, her baby had been leaping around in her womb all day and she was exhausted. She thought he would be a very active man. As we sat and talked and drank cool drinks, I explained to Elizabeth how I had a feeling that my child would be a leveller – he would take the side of the poor and lowly and have hard words for those who put themselves above others. We talked for ages about this wondrous child I carried. Like most mothers, we liked to wonder what God’s plan would be for our children. Luke later wrote a poem about it, and embellished it somewhat, but I must say we did talk of many of those things.

And so I go to sleep in Elizabeth’s house, in the certainty of God’s love and protection.

I am starting week 14 of this retreat and I must say Our Lord never ceases to amaze me. My reflection as we approach the birth of our Lord is on Mary's unconditional response of yes. Our Mother trusted in God's Love and the fulfillment of her plan according to His Divine will not her own. She abandoned herself to Him who would make Her whole in Him. We too are called to trust and surrender to the Lord. It is up to me to say Lord let Your Will be done in my life knowing that he will truly do as he promised. I reflect on my own situation as a father of 2 teenaged children Andrew 19 and Sarah 17. I did all possible to raise my children in the faith. I brought them to church faithfully and raided them as good Catholics. About two years ago I was floored. My children stopped going to church and I realized there was nothing I could do about it but pray for them and Trust That the Lord would guide them the rest of the way. As difficult as it was for me I had to surrender them to the Lord and Trust just as Mary trusted that he would guide them. My prayer is that the Lord would bring my children Home where they belong.

God Bless Everyone on this retreat.

I am in Week 14 and so glad that I have continued on so far. Week 14 for me has come during the fourth week of Advent. The scripture readings and prayers are very appropriate for this week, all about Zachariah, Elizabeth, Mary and Joseph and how they prepared for the coming of Jesus. It has given me fresh insights into the heritage of Jesus and the faith these people possessed, dealing with so many uncertainties. I would also recommend a prayer from Week 10 by Thomas Merton which has been for me a great help in strengthening my trust in God. The prayer is entitled, "The Road Ahead" and has been my morning and evening prayer since I first read it. I wish all of you well and hope you will continue with the retreat. I ask prayers from you that I will also continue. With all of us praying for each other, how can we fail.
-- Catherine

I am in week 14 of the on-line retreat and there has been a growing sense of a need to share what is happening in my time of prayer. I have been praying with the people of the Christmas story. Today I spent time with Zachary and all that happened to him in the temple that day. I imagined the fear and joy, the challenge and surprise, the hope and disappointment that he must have experienced that day. And yet he remained faithful and true through it all.

What has happened for me is that I have a deeper appreciation of all that is a part of the unfolding plan of salvation. Usually this is such a hectic time, I find myself "way too busy" for prayer time that has any real depth to it, yet now I find myself drawn to the quiet and the reflection. I find that I am so grateful for all that I have received that my heart desires to give praise as did Zachary and Mary and all who are a part of this tremendous gift of God. In some ways it is as if the story were unfolding for the first time.
-- Mary

I really struggled through week 13 because my old testament background is very sketchy. The faith background of Jesus isn't that familiar to me. In week 14 ,I feel much more comfortable. This is prayer with which I am familiar. I will continue to look for the angels that God sends to me every day in my coworkers and young students. I just finished watching the life of John Paul II and could see how he trusted and followed God's invitations. He accepted his pain as a sacrifice to help others. Hopefully, he will encourage me to do the same.
As I start this 14th week I am in my "gloomy" mood. Every year at this time, I start to feel isolated and very alone. My children all live far from me, I have a sister who lives nearby but seldom see her. She seems to have a very busy life and no time for me. I am a widow and although I participate in parish life often and attend many special services at church, I still feel useless. It suddenly dawned on me that putting myself into the life of Mary and Elizabeth was a help. I just need to know when to give and when to receive. I think I try too hard to give and neglect the grace of receiving. I hope I can sort this out with God's help and His enormous love for me and the world.
I fell at week 14. I didn't feel Gods presence in my life, and I allowed my burdens to take control. I stayed down for 3-weeks, felt
lonely and isolated. I had time to really think about what was
most important to me. All that I desire will be provided to me by God. I know its not going to be what I ask for, but what God desires for me. The "Prayer to Start Each Day" has inspired me to discard with things that have become an obstacle. As I look around my home I see many. Lord give me the strength, knowledge and will to persevere.

Before I started the retreat I firmly believed that I could start the retreat at any time of the year, but from the 13th week (24th July) I feel out of time and place as the readings and thoughts, words and pictures all help us to prepare for Christmas. I've 5 months more for Christmas. I'm a bit disappointed and I'm wondering whether I should continue or drop it. I'm afraid if I stop I'll never find the time to start at the right moment. I suggest you have 2 readings and 2 prayers at least for ordinary times, for those who start the retreat at any time of the year. Before I continue with the retreat or stop I would like to share the special graces I received during these 14 weeks.

Ever since I started the retreat, whenever I'm alone and before I go to bed I offer praise, thanks and petitions to God. Whenever I see or hear someone in trouble, I pray for them and try to understand their situation and ask God forgiveness. In the past I hated young boys and men for the unpleasant things they said or did disgusted me and I kept far away from them. But now when I see/hear the unpleasant things done by them, I pray for them and say to myself that I have 2 sons whom I love very much, these men are loved by God and they need our prayers. One night before going to bed as I was saying my prayers I felt a very close relationship to Jesus which I don't remember experiencing before and this feeling was very wonderful. Then one day I was very upset with our second son's behaviour and prayed to God very much for him and asked God with St Ignatius, To allow me to see Him more clearly, to love Him more dearly and to follow Him more nearly. The next day I got up with Mickael Jackson's song : "But you are not alone, for I'm here with you. Though we're far apart, you're always in my heart..." It was the end of the song. I jumped out of bed thanking my God and Saviour for helping me to see/hear Him more clearly. He then opened my eyes to : "When I was young and lived in a poor country, I had lots of opportunities of helping the poor which I didn't do". Today I have a very strong urge of wanting to be humble and help the poor and I'm searching for ways of doing so...
Please remember our second son in your prayers, our little lost lamb, whom I'm sure we'll find again with the Lord as our Shepherd for guide.

Week 14. It's the first day of the week and I was frustrated when I opened the website. I had tried to encourage an old man to take his lunch without success, instead he turned the bowl upsdie-down. I felt as it I were 'useless'.

As I read the message of this week talking about the faith of Zechariah and Mary. I wonder how I should perceive God's act and presence in this event?

I am on week 14 of the on-line retreat.  It has been difficult for me this week trying to enter into the same spirit of faith and trust in God as  that of Elizabeth and Mary. So often, I cannot wait and keep still and quiet in the trust of God but instead create problems in my own relationships when I become despondant or frustrated in my life. Please pray for me. The retreat has given me many insights and graces.
It was nice to contemplate Zechariah, Elizabeth, Mary, and Joseph in the exercises for week fourteen.  I attempted to set aside special time with each of the three readings that were presented for this week.  The feeling that kept coming to me as I reflected on each of these people was questioning.  These were people of faith and I recognize that the questions that came to mind were probably more a reflection of me than of those whom I was contemplating.  At the time of and following the revelation of the special events that were part of each of their lives, did they question what was going on?  Did they doubt if the messenger was authentic?  Did they doubt if there would be a happy ending?  Did they doubt their abilities to fulfill the special responsibilities they were each entrusted with?  Obviously all of these people were people of faith and ultimately believed in faith what was presented to them.  It must have been a powerful experience for each of them to have the events in their lives play out just as messengers had told them.  Elizabeth did conceive and had a son whom they named John who then grew up to have a special role in preparing the people for the Messiah.  Zechariah was able to once again speak after the announced special event happened.  Joseph did marry Mary and she had a male Child whom they named Jesus who was God's Son.  Week 14
The hunger continues to grow.  It's a different kind of hunger from the ordinary hunger.  It has a little something in it that almost tastes good.  Isn't that funny?  It's a hunger that almost tastes good!

When we were children, the night before Christmas was like that.  There was an intensity in it.  We almost "couldn't wait."  The tension built and the hunger grew.  Then there was the morning and anticipation as we went to see what Santa had left us.  Then there was such pleasure, such joy.  We had been remembered, rewarded for being good, forgiven for being "bad."

Now we are older.  We are not old.  None of us is old.  We are all older, though.  We are growing and growing older.  We are not growing old, just growing and older. 

The hunger lasts longer.  The anticipation is sweeter.  Now we know what to expect.  Or do we?  Could we ever know exactly what to expect?  That doesn't matter, though because

He's coming!  He's coming!

Week 14 This week I have been extremely busy and it has been difficult to settle into the 35 or 40 minute period for the imaginative prayer with the readings.  I have been able to read "His Name is John".  I definitely was there in the temple and I could feel myself react the way Zechariah did.

I am like Elizabeth, an infertile woman who has longed for a child and has been unable to conceive.  I have come to terms with that and have moved on in my life, though the pain is there still under the surface.God has sent other beautiful gifts into my life and I, like Zechariah have been afraid to believe that God could do for me so many wonderful things after years of feeling as if God was punishing me .  He has given me a new heart, a conversion experience which has lead me into a beautiful love relationship with Him.

Until I could see Gods power and grace in my life, not in the birth of a child, but in the rebirth of my life with Him, I could not speak of His love for me, now like Zechariah I will praise God in all his glory.  My prayer and desire is to continue to grow in trust in God and to accept the difficulties and joys that are part of His plan for me. I am going to meditate on the words of the angel Gabriel  "Do Not Be Afraid"

In life it is easy for me to feel cheated because life is not everything I expected it to be.  People around me also disappoint me at times. Spouse, children, parents, siblings, co-workers, and friends are never as good as they could be. Because they are less than they could be, I sometimes believe that they prevent me from getting closer to my idea of the “perfect life.” When this happens to me, it is easy to be disappointed in the person or to get angry with the person. It is easy to lose hope and faith in the future. I know in my heart that there is no “perfect life.” I also know that any failings I see around me are because of my own sinfulness. If I were a better person, I could better accept the imperfections of those around me. If I were more perfect, like Christ, the people around me would grow and be better persons. In any relationship, I know there is no one factor that makes it less than perfect. But knowing these truths does not change my gut, emotional frustration with the people around me when they do not meet my expectations. This week, the shortcomings of several people were on my mind.

Maybe that is why God gifted me with focusing on St. Joseph this week. During this retreat, I usually read the readings in the order they appear in the guide. I will read one every day or every other day. For some reason, during the first day of this week, I jumped to the last reading of Matthew 1:18-24. This is the reading where Joseph is told by the angel to marry Mary. I found myself in the shoes of Joseph. In his shoes, I found myself in an arrangement where I will marry an attractive, young virgin. I expect to marry her, enjoy her physical and emotional support, raise a family with several children, and continue my work. What I end up with is a pregnant woman with whom I will never be physically intimate. I also end up with a child that is not my own who forces me to flee to Egypt. I have no children of my own. Yet, despite these unexpected events, despite the fact that many of the goals of my life will never be realized, and despite the fact that this woman is not what I expected, I accept the mother and child. I love the woman and child. I know them as my wife and son. I am able to let go of my expectations and any anger associated with giving up my idea of a “perfect life.” 

Joseph, like Mary, was able to say, “Not my will but Your will, Lord.” His actions also resulted in him “Exulting the Lord.” Hopefully, this exercise will help me to be more accepting and I too can exult the Lord in my small way by accepting the people around me and realize Christ is working in each of our lives.

As I near the end of week 14, I continue to find the exercises of the week challenging. It has been difficult for me to ‘enter into’ the scenes of Zecharia in the “Holy of Holies,” of Joseph in his dream, and of Mary with the Angel Gabriel. Distractions flood my mind as I attempt to focus on these scenes. In spite of these distractions, I feel closer to the family of Jesus. I started to wonder this week how Mary thought of herself. We are reminded often that we are sinners, but she never sinned. Did she consider herself a sinner? I doubt it. She certainly knew she was unworthy of the grace given to her, and she expressed that awareness in her Magnificat. It causes amazement when I consider her state. Totally sinless. How did she do it? She saw all the evil and injustice in her world, yet never succumbed to anger or hatred. Always doing the will of God, she lived her life perfectly. I pray for the grace to live the next minute or two perfectly, knowing that soon I will fall again into my sinful ways. Mary, Mother of God, pray for me. St. Joseph, pray for me. Jesus, have mercy on me

This week reminds me of being there with you Jesus, it was so real trying to keep awake as you prayed. It was so real the contemplation scared me . I could feel the wind at the mountain of olives, your presence was so close , the touch of your hem as you walked past me that I  'ran away' and you were gone. I WAS SO SCARED. I will try and be more trusting this time, Jesus, as I try to be humble instead of afraid,.This week I will contemplate your life with your family and friends from the beginning before you were born to Mary.You are with me today at this moment, dear Lord, everything is O.K. in my sadness.PRAISE GOD!!!!!

At the time when I was in trouble, I couldn't feel God's presence and love, but throughout the 14th week I found God is so faithful for me and my family, though I haven't trusted God so much. Even now I am not sure that if the things like Mary happened, I would answer 'yes'. Nonetheless, I can  believe this can happen. Because He is God and God is faithful. In this retreat I learned what the longing means and I'd like to ponder the "humility". 

Do you hear what I hear? (14) Faith-actual intimate trust in the Lord to lead us to the Kingdom. Mary, Joseph, Jesus, Elizabeth and all the people surrounding Christ birth were led. Trusting voices in the night.  Are we quiet?  Can we settle the noise of the day to hear the Father's call?  I am listening.  I have turned over control to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  He is speaking to me through people, actions and events.  I  consent to hear and follow his direction.

This is the second time I have gotten to the 14th week and run into a cement wall. I have no more interest in continuing than I did before. As another writer said, I know it in my head ( I've always been cerebral ) , but it's not getting out of there into my hands and heart. It was not like this when I started. I can conceptualize the many topics but have never been able to carry those thoughts around with me during the day. Once I'm out of my prayer room, it's business as usual. Say a short prayer for me that I may be able to break this barrier and by the grace of God. discover what I don't want to see or do that makes me stop well short of my goal.

I am in my 14th week and I feel as though the retreat is now starting to really touch me.  I am quite comfortable with this manner of prayer and have used it quite frequently with my 6th grade religious education class.  It does get the whole person involved and when used in a group there is usually much to share.  However, this is not the reason for my sharing.  This is the third day of this week and the same phrase is really jumping out at me.  It is from the "In these words..." section and it comes at the end - "Dear Jesus, help me to recognize the messenger".  I feel that I will have no problem getting to YES but I have the problem of who to say yes to.  Maybe I am looking for wings!  Maybe I am looking for halos!  Maybe I shouldn't be.  But that is one of my most repetitive prayers - please make it clear to me Lord for I am really unsure of where to go.  I don't want to waste any more time - I just want to recognize the direction to take.  Help me Lord.

During this 14th week as we were "in the story" I became very tired journeying with Mary on TWO trips from Nazareth - each about 90 miles one way - one to Ein Karim to visit Elizabeth (very close to Jerusalem), the other to Bethlehem, also very close (about 6 miles or so from Jerusalem). There is not a level place in the Holy Land and in those 9 days (according to the Posada tradition) there would have been overnight stops, the possibility of robbers on the highway, inconveniences of every sort.  i went with Mary to Elizabeth's.  The Bible doesn't say she travelled alone and in that time probably didn't.  I got cold at night and was really grubby when I arrived with her not having bathed in all that time, nor changing clothes much. The bread we ate was stale & dry and we had to use water sparingly.  What a great gift of love to Eliz. by a pregnant youngster!  The journey with Joseph to Bethlehem was a little less uncomfortable, for me, because there were so many of us on the road, all going to be counted.  This journey has not ended yet.

Beginning the 14th week of the retreat I am moved especially this moment by "Mary's Song of Praise".   Had I never read this in Luke I'm thinking?  Why suddenly when I need to keep praising for unanswered ???'s does this song suddenly pop up for me.   It says just what I needed to hear this day.   I am so moved to tears by the simple HE CARES FOR ME.    It spoke directly to my heart this time, not just my head. This on line retreat was just another of the many many gifts Jesus has blessed me with.   But first I had had to spend many many yrs. in the valley wanting death to be able to look back now at HIS hand in my life process. God Bless everyone involved in setting this up.    Thank you....I love each of you.

In the 14th week of this retreat I am vascillating between euphoria  in the joy and blessings of new trust in god and despair over past sins and cowardice, and laziness. Especially painful are memories and imagination. Especially joyous and amazing is the help of the holy spirit and blessed mother. Creighton's daily retreat is a godsend, the Jesuits encouraging coaches. God bless their work. God keep us all. Merry Christmas to all retreatants and our coaches. 

I've been working so hard to become a better Christian.  Last week I came to the realization that what is holding me back is a lack of trust.  What a blessing this week (14) to hear the stories of Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth, and Zechariah.  They each were challenged by God.  To meet that challenge they had to have a deep trust in God and in others.  I pray that I can learn to have even a drop of the trust that these great people had.

As the phone rings at 5:15am for my husband to go to work on a power outage because someone's house was on fire, it gave me time this morning to think about advent and why did God choose that particular time to send his son, he could have done it sooner, or even later, he could have even chosen now to send his son, but God choose Mary and the time of 2000 years ago. As I was thinking it occurred to me that perhaps people where so caught up in the rules that they forgot what it was like to be part of God's kingdom, not so unlike today but perhaps more so back then. We get caught up in the rules of the church that we have forgotten the one thing that Jesus came to teach us LOVE, if we all just Loved ourselves and one another we would not need to light any candles needing to light those dark places in our lives or light any candles for others. We would have all the peace and justice we would need to live here and we would have heaven on earth just like in the Lords prayer. However I am grateful that God loved me enough to send Jesus and to choose Mary, I am grateful for this exercise, and for God showing me the places that are still dark in my life, the places that I have not let go where I still let people trespass on me (kinda like a grudge towards the people who have caused me pain) I am grate full that I can ask God to show me where my life is still dark and he will show me if I but look. Thank you for this exercise during advent. Thanks to Ignatus for looking and listening to God and showing us all a better way. thank you.

From the 'guideposts".....Mary wants to serve God "but does it have to be so hard".   The hard part struck my soul and heart and tears began to flow.  Here it is the week before Christmas and the family is fighting, our Chicago weather is horrible,  and one of the Churches where I work said I am not needed because they have a new resident  priest. ....  there went half of my monthly income which helps to support my 87 year old mom.  I will try this 14th week and try to live 10 or 15 minutes at a time.  I forgot to mention also that the home heating units seem to be breaking.  One friend said to me  that even when we try to do good it doesn't mean all will be peaches and cream; we have to let God lead the way...we can't control or manipulate God.

In our faith-sharing group last week, one person said that Week 14 had shown her a new way to pray.   She has been a daily communicant for years, receiting the Rosary, making the Stations, receiting other prayers, but Ignatian contemplation is new to her.   She said she's looking forward to contemplating the Passion.   Well, she'll begin with the Incarnation this week!   This retreat is teaching me how to pray and also how others pray. I'm learning how to help others to pray.  WOW  what a blessing! 

This is my first sharing and I am very anxious to go ahead and say what has popped into me this evening.    I am in week 14 and I was reading the annunciation and sorting out the various figures in the story to attach myself to and picture myself there.    Suddenly I realized that I feel like Joseph must have felt.    Angry!
I have been caring for my sick wife for over 12 years. I did not ask for this assignment.    LikeJjoseph hearing from Mary that she is pregnant and stunned by this revelation of having to let go of the fantasy of marrying and having a 'normal' life he must decide what to do. He never had a chance to discuss this with Mary nor with God. God just ups and places him in the position of having to decide.    Not only whether to believe Mary, but also what does his love for Mary actually mean.    I know the story of Joseph having a dream which reassures him,    Yet he must decide to honor his love for Mary and do what God asks of him.    So I was sitting there feeling all this anger when my heart felt that was not the total story.    I have not had any dreams to tell me I must or should remain faithfully married to my wife, but I have felt with certainty this is what I must do.    Not for her but for me.    And not really for me as much as for the notion of doing what is plainly in front of me and over which I clearly have complete freedom to chose one way or the other.    People around me say I must 'have a life' and so on and I have given up the reply of 'this is my life!' and have slowly left my social contacts.    I have deepened instead my spiritual contact with God, towards whom I direct alternatively lots of anger, then resignation, then renewal, then peace of knowing that I absolutely do not know what to do (about being so tired) other than keep doing these exercises and downloading every sunday the next week's retreat. Thank you for having this on the web.

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