Sharing the Retreat
weeks 20-34

Week 20

Greetings to you all from Nell on tweed. I wont write much this week as i am away in the cold country with my son and his family. and allowing the decision about where i live to evolve with the retreat. i travelled here with an irishman who had interesting stories to tell me about monasteries and convents in Ireland.
for me the images of the temptations are sinking in and i am finding the retreat very deeply comforting in the last few weeks. jesus becomes real in ways i hadnt dreamed of. since i was a little girl i have struggled to understand something about him which is now just beginning to show a glimmer of light for me. my love to you all. Nell

This week I am to think of you in the desert, being challenged to do things which must be near your heart. You came to us, and I think you were aware to some point why you were born, but not yet sure when you came to be baptised. There I think you were sent a public message from your dear Father, your Abba, where everything clarified and you knew who you were and it was a huge shock. You needed time and space after to that to get things clear in your head and your heart.

I think you must have looked back on your life and wondered how you had managed so far to fulfil your Father’s plans for you: by just working unnoticed in Nazareth you must have wondered how you could possibly save the world and teach the people about the love you had been quietly developing over your time at home with your mother Mary. We don’t know at this point whether Joseph was still alive so we don’t know whether you were leaving your mother alone. We don’t know whether you had fallen in love at any point with a particular person, and in any possible thoughts of resolution whether you perhaps you knew for some reason in your heart that you weren’t for one person, you were for all. Your heart was too big for one single person. As God you wanted all to be your children, and you, as God’s Son, would draw all of us to you as our brother….

With such thoughts you must have been going crazy in the desert – and for a long time not even thought of food. Eventually you got hungry: After the mental shock, it may have suddenly occurred to you that you could sort that problem, right now. Then maybe you realised the triviality of such a plan: you remembered the prophets and what they had foretold. God’s larger plan imposed itself in front of you, the words from the Psalm, ‘you will step on the viper…and not be harmed…’ mixed with other words ‘I will give you the nations of the earth…’

You must have thought how these could apply to you – you could do anything and God would look after you. You could do an arrival in style to impress everyone – but think, you might have said to yourself, would that be what God – who had just called you His son - wanted? If it was, He could have done it when you were born, instead of letting your mother give birth to you far from home in a stable….

But how, you must have thought again, how am I going to get the world to listen? I’m a nobody, a village carpenter, I don’t know the famous, the important and the powerful – but then, yes, yes! you must have shouted: I am the Son of God. He told me I was, He will help me…I know His plan, it is written for me. I have studied it since I was a boy…I don’t need anyone else, and certainly not the Evil One. ‘Get thee behind me, Satan…’

It is written, dearest Lord, that you were tempted in every way we are… I am. I have been trying to look at my temptations: I know I drink too much wine, but it is good and I thank you for it. The other thing is wanting to be loved and to be assured of it by everyone, but most importantly by one person in particular. Which would be a disaster for that person and for me. I know it is not the loving that matters, it is the wish to know that I am loved in return, which is where the temptation lies.

It is desirable, but I also know it is not important. It is important that I love all but more important is that I know I am loved fully and unreservedly by one truly faithful and constant lover: my dear God. He gives me everything – everything, from life itself, to the beauty of the world, to my family, to so many people to love – oh, to so many things! - to the overdose of talents he has given me which I am happy to use for him and for the building up of the Kingdom, for that is why they were given to me. He uses his love to mend me when I am broken, but best of all Abba has given me Jesus who loves and accepts me as I am, with whom and through whom and in whom I have everything. ‘The Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want…’

Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you! I love you! I love you always, all the days of my life. I love you, dearest Lord! I shall never understand why you are so kind to me. . .

Two things struck me this week as I reflected on the time Jesus spent in the desert.

First, Jesus was baptized—his identity as Beloved Son of the Father was revealed—BEFORE he went into the desert. This is a reminder that God loves us first and reveals his love to us long before he subjects us to our own experiences of the desert. (Imagine if Jesus had been baptized and his identity revealed AFTER he had been tested in the desert—it would seem like God’s love and favor had been earned.) God’s love is a free gift that never fails us, even when we are tempted, even when we fail the tests of our deserts.

Second, the temptation passages are dynamic events; one senses in the dialogue the struggle of Christ and his adversary. In contrast, I usually envision my desert places—where there is little consolation in prayer, for example—as static, passive, lifeless places. Retreating into the desert with Christ over this past week reminded me that, while our deserts may require surrender to God’s will, still that surrender is active—brilliantly, dazzlingly active—and moreso the greater my surrender.

Like someone once said, “Be kind. Everyone you meet is fighting a terrible battle.”

Tom, Pennsylvania

Lord Jesus, I watch you as you grapple with temptations.
What you seek at first does not seem all that bad … at least by our human standards. You are not seeking flagrant violation of the Ten Commandments. What you seek may even be considered by some to quite normal.

What was wrong with trying to quell your hunger? Especially after 40 days of fasting? But you recognized that this too was an act that might spring from self absorption. Today we face daily the same voices of self absorption: to place more emphasis on ourselves than on others. For myself, I recognize that I am at my most vulnerable to self when I am tired. Traveling too much … overworking … I hear the voices … “it’s OK ... you deserve this”.

But what freedom you receive, Lord, when you reject self for God … when you put your trust in God.

Then I recognize very well the temptation for power and glory. You could even justify that somehow that would help your ministry. Often, decisions I’ve made have been crafted in these terms. But you know, Lord, how easy it is to enjoy the trappings and forget God. You remember even your ancestor David and his son Solomon succumbed to that temptation.

So you are willing to reject power and glory to let God live through you fully. It is natural that you stand back with us and maybe even start to question whether God’s promise is not too good to believe. You listen to the voices that require a sign from God. But the signs we want are often not the signs that God loves us but other signs of affirmation … that we are whole … that we are valued … that we can get what we earnestly want … but not necessarily what God wants of us … I at least strive to see signs that both of these come together.

But Jesus you show another freedom. You recognize these voices but you also recognize and live out the freedom from trusting completely in God … that today God will provide … today God will offer not only what is good for me but if I listen … wait … through me what is good for God’s Kingdom.

Lord, let me hear that voice … and not the voices of self absorption however prevalent they may be.

At the beginning of week 20, I have only one thing to say: OUCH...You got me where I'm living right now.
OK, the 20th week of the retreat has motivated me to finally share what has been happening to me over the past 5 months into this profoundly life changing experience.   I have been motivated all my life by trying to find love everywhere but from my “Dad”…our loving Father God, Brother Jesus and Mother Mary.  The three temptations as described on the main page are mine.  I never, ever saw it this way before.  The wisdom I have been praying for since 1980 at the Notre Dame Charismatic Conference has finally begun to appear in my brain and sink deeply into my heart.  It explains everything I have done right and wrong in my entire life.   I now see myself as the prodigal son, fully welcomed home by my loving Father and totally forgiven for my sins in a new and profound way after being seduced and falling for everyone of the temptations Jesus faced.  I pray for the Holy Spirit’s power, wisdom, insight for myself and everyone to withstand those temptations now and forever.

Thanks for maintaining this web site.  It is life changing and a tremendous blessing.  I am incorporating all of it into my life and my work integrating personal and professional coaching with spiritual companionship with my clients.  I look forward to savoring and with some trepidation about what more I will learn, experiece and grow through completing the remaining 14 weeks. With my prayers, gratitude and deep appreciation.

The biggest realization that I received in the contemplation of the temptation during Week 20 of the Retreat was that in order to be tempted there must be some level of desire there or it would not be a temptation.  I suppose that I always imagined that Jesus while tempted and lured by the Devil just said 'NO' without any real hesitation or thinking about it.  But this week caused me to ponder that if the 'no' were just automatic and the temptations caused no desire in Jesus to accept them then they could not be called temptations.  That gives me a new insight as to how much Jesus does understand us as he experienced human form.  He was tempted in every way possible but did not sin.  He knows the struggle and can help me to come to the correct response because He is not unfamiliar with the process.  He can help me and does understand temptation and struggle.
Temptation in the Desert: Thank you for the beautiful meditations on Jesus in the desert.  His temptations were more than one can imagine, and he struggled, but was triumphant. He did this by preparing himself with prayer and fasting... He wanted to be alert.  It makes me realize that in order to fight temptations, I have to be aware and alert to what it is in me or around me, desires that are attractive yet sinful.

Jesus showed us His love and the ultimate strength of his love,  by resisting the temptations and giving us the role model of facing our temptations... He is there for us... He knows what it is like to face demons.

I felt great compassion for Jesus, and great gratitude that He would do this for me.  When he was in the desert angels attended him, they were his sole companions in this .  I imagine Jesus being exhausted, and spent as he faced those forty days in solitude.  The angels gave him comfort.

I pray that when faced with daily temptations, I will look to Jesus, and remember that He showed me the way... he will send his angels to attend me in my need. He can overcome anything,  I have to turn to Him more, and allow myself to face what he wants me to face about myself.

May God watch over and protect all of us . Week 20

Jesus was tempted to use his power--yes for himself, but the really major temptation would be to use all that power and authority later on for the good of others as he did his ministry. To make himself the center--to be as god to them providing for all their earthly needs. Then with all their needs provided for,  the people would follow Jesus to faith and repentence. The problem with all this is that, as Jesus so clearly understood, he would become their god. Jesus pointed away from himself and to God and God's Word as he went about doing his ministry. I am a pastor and I see the ways that I'm tempted to attract and draw people to me "for their own good."
This week's retreat comes at a good time for me to reflect on my own ways of leading and doing ministry. Throughout this retreat, I see the many ways that I allow my self to be the center of my world, instead of allowing God to occupy the center. Week 20

How I resist "the Spirit lead him into the desert to be tempted" My Goodness, how I resist that thought!  ...

What is important is that Jesus goes into the desert and demonstrates His humanity.  He is tempted, tested, thinks about what to do and asks himself, "What does the Father want me to do?"  Then He does it. 

We sometimes ask ourselves, "What would Jesus do?"  Other times we do as Jesus did do and ask "What do You want me to do, Father?  Please give me guidance and strength"

Thank You, God our Father, for giving us Guidance, Your Son, our Sun and Savior. Week 20

In rejecting the temptation for expediency, Christ was granted a God-centered form of all three of the other “gifts” Satan used to tempt. Instead of turning stones into bread, Christ turned bread into his Body. Instead of ruling as a material king, he became the king of our hearts and souls. Instead of God saving him from a fall, he was raised up from the dead and conquered death.
Here I am toward the end of week 20, reflecting on the temptations of Christ. The week has been hard in a number of ways, but I have found the meditations of the week comforting. For several years I have prayed a daily Rosary (at least 5 mysteries, often 15). This week I made a new set of Mysteries for myself, the Mysteries of the Temptation of Christ: 1) The Fasting in the Desert; 2) The Temptations of the Flesh; 3) The Temptation to Power; 4) the Temptation of Presumption; and 5) the Temptation of Pride. It is the fifth temptation that I found especially intriguing. After ‘defeating’ Satan in the desert, Christ could have thought to Himself, “I have defeated the enemy, I need not fear any longer.” But this would have put too much dependence upon Himself in His ability to overcome further temptations. Instead, He realized Satan would be back and, most importantly, that He would need grace from the Father to overcome it. When we begin to think that we are beyond temptation, then it is that we are weakest against it. I pray for the grace to recognize temptation at its first appearance and to run from it as quickly as I can.

When I wondered whether to give up my long - desired lecture because of joining church activities or not, When my voice grew louder in sharing groups,  I experienced concrete and practical temptations that want to feed myself and to look beautiful. At first, I didn't realize they really are temptations. But repeating reflection upon, I could find out a reality of temptation in everyday lives. I wish a grace to walk more by faith in care of God's Love.

WOW!!!! From Baptism to Temptation!!!! What a challenge,Such  a contrast,and a paradox of humanity and a HUGE responsibility of Christianity . You have the seal of life!?What are you going to do with it now? You are changed forever as a CHILD OF GOD. You are baptised  and you will forever be blessed, offered gifts & graces and offered the challenge of resisting temptation!! If you fall,come to me.and do not repeat your sinfulness.I give you the promise of eternal life  so that you may live this life in abundance. PRAISE GOD!!! In the mystery of this badge of honour, with my life in God's hands,where and what else is there to compare??

I'm finishing week 20. This has been the most powerful week for me. I've always struggled with Jesus being truly human and truly divine.  I guess what I believed was that Jesus was divine, only he walked around in a human body. I never really grasped the concept that He was tempted until I meditated on this. It never dawned on me there was any real possibility that Jesus could have given in to the temptation, until I sat and thought about what the experience of being tempted was like for me. The desire, the  attraction, the feeling of weakness to give in, the struggle, the rationalizing that happens when you are tempted and that you can't be tempted by something that does'nt appeal to you. Now I understand what it means Jesus was like us in all ways but sin. Now I can absorb that He   loves me and understands and forgives me. My prayer is that all who are seeking will experience His overwhelming love.

During week  20  of  the  retreat  I  was  given  a  box  of  chocolates  by  a  friend. The  temptation  to  eat  several  of  these  delicious  bon  bons  was  given  into  even  though  I  kept  trying  not  to  eat  more  than  3  at  a  time!  How  difficult  it  must  have  been  for  Jesus  when  he  was  tempted  in  the  desert.  I  kept  thinking  about  this  as  I  seemed  incapable  of  resistance  to  such  a  tiny  temptation.  Presumably  if  Christ  had  succumbed  to  Satan  we  would  not  be redeemed.  How  grateful  we  should  be  to  the  great  moral  strength  that  Jesus  displays.  Oh  that  we  could  follow  Him  more  closely but  my  weakness  is  so  great  as  is  my  need  for  Him.  Only  through  our  brother  can  any  weaknesses  be  overcome  as  this  so  clearly  shows  in  the  retreat.

The 20th week.  This is the first time that I can truly relate to Jesus' humanity, He was tempted He made a choice, I too can now make choices that are empowered by the knowledge that I am not alone.  To embrace my own humanity and depend on God to give me a new heart so that I also can love. To trust that by turning over temptations to God brings me that much closer to that which I truly am, a work in progress.  What a privilege to be graced with this "Retreat".

I continue on week 20 reflecting on Jesus' temptation in the desert; how he was tempted to use his gifts and power for his own good rather that to serve the purpose he was sent to this world to achieve.  I so often use my own gifts to satisfy my ego; to win praise from others.  I struggle with this, but yet I know when I do choose to simply allow God to work through me, the inner joy I experience is so much greater than when I receive praise from others.  I am slowly beginning to absorb the fact that my self worth comes from inside of me; that my value is being a beloved child of God so precious that Jesus died forf me.  As I meditate on Jesus' temptation int he desert, I am strengthened and encouraged to believe that God will give me the grace to recognize my own temptations and will also give me the grace to choose his way..

To my fellow retreatants - you are in my prayers today.  May God continue to bless all of us and help us to get what He wants to give us this week.

Week 21

good morning to all of you. i have just finsihed week 21 and was enjoying it deeply but woke this morning feeling very unhappy and alone.
during the week i was able to image on most days and enjoyed the walks on the lake shore. i think i always had jesus moving in fast motion. i liked the comment by one retreatant who said , i think, that he or she had always seen jesus as fully ready for his mission and just waiting for his body to catch up somehow. now i see the possibility of his being tempted by the temptations ( the certainty). and i begin to see that he wasnt sent to wander amongst us as a god but to fully experience those things we experience. this week, i began with my usual "jesus living out the gospel at full speed" choosing disciples -1-2-3. when i slowed it down. saw him coming out of the desert. victorious but ready for a lakeside holiday. wanderinfg the shores . watching the people. mebbe looking for the people he knew he wanted . or perhaps observing and choosing . taking them back to his place. talking and walking.
the last few weeks have somehow relaxed me into my own humanity and i am trying to read these stories as if i do not know what comes next because in a way - i dont. so im going on as if this is the first time i have heard the life of jesus. into the mystery. lvoe to you all .
-- nell from tweed.

I love the stories of Jesus calling his disciples. Though each is different, they all speak of an attraction so powerful that all else is left behind.

I can’t help smiling to myself when I think of St. Peter. We are told he had a mother-in-law—and an ailing one, no less!—but we hear nothing of a wife or children. What if St. Peter’s wife died in childbirth and he was left with only his ailing mother-in-law? That sounds like someone who might be more than ready to “leave everything behind” and follow Christ!

Then I started to think of other apostles: what of the Sons of Zebedee? Perhaps they had grown weary of laboring over the nets under the thunder of their father’s voice. Maybe they were ready to “leave everything behind” too. And Matthew? Though collecting taxes had its financial rewards, perhaps he had grown weary of being ridiculed and despised for collaborating with the Roman occupiers. Perhaps he had been thinking for some time already about finding a way to retire.

Into all these weary lives comes Christ. Though St. Peter’s situation first struck me as almost comical, it occurred to me that I, too, am weary. When I am, do I hear Christ and follow him?
-- Tom, Pennsylvania, Week 21

I started this week quite restless. I am wondering whether I really am in the right ministry. The fact that the alternatives are not immediately apparent is frustrating. I found the prayer Lead Kindly Light very useful in keeping me grounded. Then earlier in the week I was reflecting on the Gospel scene where Jesus has Peter cast again for fish where they have not caught anything all night. I think that Jesus recognized a trait that Peter had (or maybe more accurately that I have). I imagined that Jesus encountered Peter a couple of times before this scene and recognized him as really "gung ho". Peter was already imagining the fantastic social and political transformations that would happen through this man Jesus. Not all of this would be grounded as we know in what the Lord wanted. The last thing on Peter's mind is that this transformation could happen here and now where he was working. But that is precisely what Jesus demonstrated. Where we are now is just as important in the development of discipleship as where we will end up. Peter recognizes this and recognizes his own inadequacies in the face of these possibilities. I pray that when I cast my nets again this week the significance of what I do in Jesus's name will really be apparent ... however humbling that can be.

At first, it was just another retreat week. Some weeks are more fruitful than others, and that's normal. What I find unhelpful one week may be just what you need. At any rate, "What do you want?" "Come and see." I do not think it was mere coincidence that this week coincides with Christmas. All week, the Gospel readings have been in John, with Jesus calling his disciples. So I've had a good hammering all week.
Week 21, It has been a wonderful journey, yet I feel that I am not where I would like to be spiritually. Perhaps it is because, at times, I have allowed the busyness of life to distract me from a more intimate relationship with Jesus. I try to keep things in proper perspective, yet sometimes find myself becoming rather complacent, and not moving forward in my prayer life. This week's readings helped me to realize that I must become more prayer centered, more focused on the one who loved me enough to die for me - Jesus. Today I pray for all on this journey, remember me in your prayers.
Week 21  At the conclusion of this week, I have had many graces that have let me believe that in my small way, I am listening and beginning to follow Christ more willingly.  I am open to serve Him, and I pray that I will have courage to do what He wants.

I have a little fear, and yet excitement at the thought that whatever it is , He will provide the strength to follow.

I pray for a friend of mine who has confided this week that he is discerning a call to a possible vocation to the priesthood, I promised him to pray for him at this time, and I offer my prayers for all on this retreat who are struggling with the yes.  Pray for me as well.

I know that the apostles were very human , very flawed, and yet God saw something in them, that they did not see in themselves.  I believe it is that way with me too. I ask for the grace that Jesus become so attractive, so beautiful, to me that to follow will be the only choice... the true love of all time.

What stood out for me the most in week 21 was the immediateness of the responses to the call of Jesus.  Time and again people left their livelihood and indeed their lives as they knew to follow Jesus in an instant.  They did not have to think about it and ponder over the decision, they just did it.  How much easier life would be if I could just respond 'yes' to the Lord every time without hesitation and pondering.  It is possible!  Andrew, James, John, and Matthew all attest to that.  They left the lives that they knew for an unknown future.  But this was indeed the future they were intended to have with the Lord.
The call of Christ: I wonder if being called had a different significance in Christ’s time. Now, I am always being called; called to buy. I am called on the phone, the television and through the mail; and not just commercial calls. In my home we regularly get appeals in the mail from all sorts of mission groups. The number of calls is overwhelming. But in all this modern calling, I am not called to meaningful relationships very often.

Lord, thank you for coming so that I can clearly see the call of God. It is a call unlike all the others. It brings me joy to know that you are calling me. It brings me hope. It makes me feel worthy. Week 21

" what do you want ?", "come and see..."

Jesus' invitations made his early followers leave their former means of living to live lives that gave them new meaning of life. The most important thing in my reflections was to realize who He is and how much He really loved me and He stayed with me even when I'm a big sinner. In daily lives Jesus wanted me to respond his invitation and reform. but I have always been afraid of leaving and changing. Now I  came and saw and knew who Jesus is as His followers did . From now on I will follow JESUS .(  the 21th week)

I have concluded week 21. I pause to look back, over my mental shoulder, trying to see myself and my god where we have been, what we have resolved. Has he forgiven me? Have I forgiven him? I cannot forget that a penniless kid is a terrible thing. I cannot forget that being irish-mexican made me believe that I fit nothing properly. I cannot forget that I hated kneeling at the communion rail, because those lined-up behind me were gazing and laughing at the cardboard that filled the holes in my shoes. I cannot forget the dizzy prayers for quiet and peace in the midst of absolute unrelenting chaos. I cannot forget walking the nice streets, and hoping that my life was a dream, and that I was really a part of the serenity, the order, that those neighborhoods represented to me. Would I wake with a real set of parents? A good set of clothing? Waking without shame would have been an entire miracle by itself. Did my Jesus actually see me groveling in prayer? Did my Jesus actually hear me screaming silently for help? Was Jesus busy when I took that first drink? Was he busy when I prayed for help? Well, to tell you the truth, these 21 weeks makes me wish that Jesus could write his response. I laugh when I imagine what it might be. 'well, my boy. I must have heard you. I must have loved you. Check yourself out, my boy. Your marriage has reached its 38 uninterrupted years of love. Your children love you both. Your successes are many. You have learned a lesson from where we both walked. You learned compassion. You learned how a smile, a hello, helping hand makes for a very satisfactory life. I allowed you to see parts of life unknown to others as a child, and later overseas, and then right back to the streets where it all began for you. Do you think that you could have stood in all of those storms without me? I do not believe that there is any rancor in your heart whatsoever for me. For if there was, then why did you write a simple statement of your faith and love, by hand, that you have repeated everyday for so many years? "I, as your father,have already granted miracles that you have yet to pray for. Believe this. Have trust and faith in me... I am the author of your life." I rest my case.

All of the weeks have made me a better person. My love for Jesus never dims. His love for me is obviously like a beacon, it is only I who shuts his eyes. Love to all.

This retreat has delivered two graces. First, I have an unprecedented clarity about creation, my friends, family and myself. I see both the beauty of the world and unrelenting challenges of being a worthy human being in modern society.   Second, the building of a trusting relationship with God over weeks and months has given me more courage than I  ever imagined was possible. This week (21) Jesus asked the apostles a simple but powerful question: What do you want? And then, he responds to them with an equally strong challenge: Come with me. For me, the answer to the first question is simple truth and beauty and acceptance. And the answer to the second part is I'm coming. it's not easy. But I'm coming.

Although I am on the 'review' week, following week 21, my heart and mind have been captured and illumined by a line by Fr. Gillick from a prior week:  "When all is gift, we can no longer measure ourselves by what we've accumulated."  I keep coming back to it, reflect and acknowledge this power-filled message; and, with humility, gratitude, awe, open myself up to greater acceptance, forgiveness and courage to "be", journeying with the ever present love of Our Lord, seen in others and within.  Thank you so much for the gifted individuals who have made this Ignatian retreat a reality and a very do-able experience.  The light is slowly dawning!  Prayers from me to all pilgrims involved in this retreat!  Chrissy

When Jesus comes up out of the water (21), and comes to sit beside me and ask me if I want to go with him, how can I refuse.  The joy on his face, reflects my own.  To be called by Him....we all are called by Him.  Yes I will go, but yes it is frightening.  What will happen?  Where will he take me?  What if, what if, what if?  He tells me I will be with you matter what if.  I feel his presence, his love, and want to go where he leads.....Please show me the way, guide me, keep me.

In week 21, I just read Cardinal Newman's prayer this morning to lead me on and light my way. This has been a tough journey, but the guidelines keep bringing me back to the incredible grace of God.  How kind God is and how patient.  I can see the things that still need to change, but I'm on a journey that takes time.  God bless everyone who is cringing as I often do at how far I have to go and who is laughing at the marvel of how kindly God leads them.

Week 22

Week 22. Although I move slowly, almost subconsiously, through this retreat, much is happening. Just as I am asked to be 'poor and humble' I am given the opportunity. And there I am complaining, so ungrateful. Really, it is a gift from God and I am trying to accept it. He shows me myself. But at the same time He is giving me the opportunity to be myself. To move from a situation that sits right with the world, gainful employment, to another where I am learning to pilgrim, to act out my trust in God. I can't even look for another job now because of 'disability'. Am I willing to accept that for myself, for others? Jesus is the vine and the Father is the gardener. He sure knows how to prune. And He tells me to be myself, the naked me. This really is a gift. Continue.

a lovely morning before dawn here in the sub tropics of australia. my prayers are with you all. the further i walk with you and jesus along this walk, the more i am aware of my own newness to this way of life.. im 56 years old and i have been clean and sober for 19 years this month . i have experienced the wonder of working through the 12 steps and being led into worlds i didnt dream existed and now i find myself in the same state of adventure and blessing. during the week i felt as though i were passing my days not only with the one companion but with all the followers. of a night i lay down snuggled in robes with others around me and words in my mind that ive never heard before .
the choice welling up in me is very unexpected and im sure it comes as a result of trying to read these words as if i have never hear them or jesus story before. im also not deciding what is spiritual or not. just listening to the words. and watching the events of my life and feeling things well up in me which are very very new to me. i think each week i will write something intelligent but i seem to get less intelligent each week and more wordless. my love to you all.
-- nell from tweed

“God blesses those people who depend only on him.”

Depending on God in my life often means depending on other people to be generous. However, when I find that people have let me down, I often find myself alone with God— and still trusting. Sometimes I feel that God has let me down too—like when he does not answer my prayers the way I want him to. Then, I feel like I do not know why I continue to pray. Still, I pray, even with a renewed sense of how utterly I depend on God. He gives me what I need, and I am afraid of how well he knows how little I need. He keeps showing me I need less. He keeps showing me I need only him. This is the blessing he promises: to sweep me off my feet like a lover if I will let him.

-- Tom, Pennsylvania

There are so many strong and familiar images this week. I always feel a strong tug when I imagine Jesus in the synagogue announcing his mission in the words of Isaiah. I think how he must have meditated so much on these words and now he is ready. His gaze is steady. There is no doubt he is announcing his calling. What do I need to do to respond … what should I change to "tell the good news to the poor"?

Then I think of Jesus' view of investment. He certainly does not follow the "diversification philosophy". The Kingdom of God is like the finest piece of jewelry you could ever imagine … so fine that you would sell everything … all your savings, investments, IRA, 401k, college fund in order to possess it. My financial advisor is going crazy. "You'll never recoup this investment … you don't know what it's worth …. at least in this world". Pray that I can make that kind of investment. Following Jesus is not a part-time hobby.

Then at the end of the week, I get a real jolt. My younger son tells me about some trouble he is in … reckless … thoughtless. I am so angry that initially I cannot even speak. Then I am very clear … I love him but he must see that actions have consequences and he has to take responsibility. Our society is certainly one where diversification of morals is a great thing … we invest our moral decisions where it is most convenient. I tell him I don't see that way of acting as consistent with God's call to us.

But then I am back to the retreat and Jesus' teaching on the hill takes full force. Of course, I want purity … holiness … and Jesus promises that desire can be satisfied. But don't get too self-righteous. You've said your piece. Now is the time to be merciful. I also feel so poor because my own patterns of sin earlier in my life could easily have taken me on the same road as my son. Jesus sees my poverty of spirit … my disappointment … my sorrow. He asks that I follow the road of peace here and keep my strong views of what is right clear in front of me.

This has happened to me before. I start being with Jesus in the synagogue wanting desperately to "free everyone who suffers and proclaim this is the year the Lord has chosen". Then I am brought back to the here and now … this is where you have to start it.

Week 22. Lord God, take me over and be gentle to me. I beg you to heal and not to inflict. I know that I am careless and even foolish, but have pity on me. I do not want to hurt you and I do not want to offend you--but please understand that I am mentally ill. I long for your love, but fear your power. I long for your healing, but am afraid of the cure.

Lord, take this body and soul which I have desecrated, and make it acceptable. And if it be your will, lead me to help others.


I am on week 22 of the retreat and I have to admit it has been a blessing for the most part. I guess this retreat was meant as a preparation for me to know who I am and who God is in my life. I have grown in faith and love to the Lord never questioning any thing that has happened in my life. On December 23 ny dad was diagnosed with Liver cancer with no hope. So I prayed to Jesus and I entrusted my dad into his hands. My prayer was that the Lord would spare him suffering. The Lord listens to the cry of his people. On January 16,2006 my dad passed away peacefully with all family members present. The lord gave him strength but also gave me strength in that I was able to be with him in passing something that I did not thing I would be able to do. I praise God for the 87 years of life he gave to my dad and for giving me the grace to continue this journey I started September 18. I miss my dad greatly but God assured me through his word that he has gone to the home that Jesus had prepared for him. I ask for prayers that the lord continue to strengthen me on my journey.

God Bless

I started week 22 (very early) this morning. It has spoken to me so powerfully. I recently reached a point in a 30 plus year marriage where I did not want to continue with the relationship. The marriage has never been a really close or happy one. I knew when i married him that my husband had had a very damaged childhood but felt that together we would bring security and wholeness into each other's lives. Just over two years after our marriage when I was expecting our first child, my husband had an affair. Of course, when I discovered this (did he "let" me find out?) I was devastated but my husband asked my forgiveness and I was determined we could build a strong marriage in which to bring up our child. In recent years during a bout of depression he told me that he had not ended the affair, that he continued to see his girlfriend until she ended the relationship sometime in the first year of our child's life. In fact, he went straight from sharing the birth with me to his girlfriend and she was (unknown to me) also present at another very important event in our lives just before our baby was born....

Perhaps I am not good at forgiveness and like to let old hurts fester as my husband claims but it seems to me that the pain would have healed if the following years had been happy but they weren't. I always felt I wasn't "good enough" somehow for my husband, that he was always critical of me and I learned to accept far less than the marriage I had hoped for as if I tried to make any demands, he would be angry so I learned to accept whatever crumbs he offered. It was not the best environment to bring up children and they suffered their own feelings of rejection. We never had mutual friends, interests or a social life. Throughout our life together I have had to develop these things on my own and I recently reached the stage where I thought "what is the point'. I even told some family and friends I was planning to separate from my husband. However, I didn't want to pray about the situation but recently I have begun to realize that Jesus loves my husband just as much as he loves me (maybe more as he is a 'lost sheep', and has not been to church in about 20 years). I went to confession this weekend and asked forgiveness for hardening my heart against my husband. My priest was so kind and gentle in his advise.
Then I started week 22 this morning and the message spoke to me so powerfully. Jesus asks us to reject what the world might call happiness and just keep our eyes on him. This retreat is helping me to do that.
Thank you for putting it on-line where it reaches so many people.

"And then, can I experience these words as addressed to my heart?"
One bright morning I started to read the scripture readings for week 22.  "The Lord's Spirit has come to me, because he has chosen me."  Quietly these words became my words and I was praying to the Lord.  I was overwhelmed with an vague understanding of the meaning of humility

One of the things that stood out for me in Week Twenty-two of the Retreat was the prayer "Thank You".  How beautifully the words of this prayer express a wonderful truth.  God does indeed notice every aspect of who I am and when God does take note of those parts of my life that I would rather hide it is a true grace.  It is only then that I can be open to accept the healing that God can give.  It is something for which I need to offer thanks to God.
I was going to postpone my doing the retreat through Lent, as I substituted other devotional material, but after seeing the Mel Gibson movie, "The Passion of the Christ" I needed to come back to this Retreat--the place where there is closeness to our Lord, the place where I am reminded of his love, and the place where I come to draw closer to Jesus at his invitation. The movie made me feel separated from God by my sins--something I have almost never felt in my life. The movie made me feel shame and guilt for my sin--something that God has already cleansed me from in Baptism. I needed to come back to this retreat to reclaim and renew my awareness of and acceptance of God's unconditional and wonderfully arbitrary grace.
Week 22 is the perfect place to begin again.

In this 22nd week I have finally been blessed with the vision of actually walking next to Jesus. In our early 20s I lost my closest childhood friend and companion to an auto accident. Even now at age 66 he continues to be my companion.
This week's picture brought home to me the realization that just as Raymond continues to be my frequent companion so too does our Lord Jesus Christ walk with me and invite me to be his companion.

Thanks  very much for this retreat.I am in week 22 and I am beginning  to accept myself, with all my faults, all my fears and all my anxieties.It seems to finally  make sense that where I am is where I am supposed to be.'where I am is the only way to my destiny. God gives me what to do in 'this place' where I am.If I  learn this I cannot but have peace in my heart.Once again thanks for the retreat. 
I was moved by the John Dunne, Batter My Heart poem. It is so much of my relationship with the Lord. So often, I feel married to the enemy and need Christ to batter me home. I so much crave the peace of the Lord, it is a wonder I waste time on anything else, but I do.  

All the readings this week seemed to business-like and direct. Even more so than the “call” of last week, this week seems to indicate the responsibility and rewards of following Christ. I guess it is the difference between the thrill of an engagement and the work of marriage. All week long I have been looking at the picture of the two, poor boys. They are on my work and home desktop. When hearing the beatitudes, I see them in the crowd and in the thoughts of Jesus. For me, they are now part of that scene in Christ’s life.  These two children have enough poverty that dependency on God would seem to be easy. It is as if the beatitudes were written for them. I, on the other hand, with my USA, wealthy life-style wonder if I fit in to the group of those “who depend on Him.” Hopefully I will take more opportunities in my life to know these two children. When I spend time with them, I hope they can tell me about the day they were present for the Sermon on the Mount. Week 22

For many weeks I continued to refrect JESUS' words - especially in Mattew 5 - the 22th week. I kept on refrecting what "poor and humble" means to me in everyday life. But it was very difficult for me. One day when I heard the poverty of Franscican spirit was based on Jesus' weakness and vulnerableness as a baby, I came to understand a little what it means. and it helped me meditate this week. The word "Just depend only on God " was striking my mind. I thought I did my best and kept on doing in lifetime. but i didn't know that the most important thing was to listen to my God's invitation and turn to Him. I came to know that I have to change the way I live to become poor and humble.
This is my 22nd week in the retreat process. I have less need for food that is unhealthy for me as I want to become leaner and more clear minded to better hear and feel the presence of the holy spirit calling me closer. I stay joined even though I am filled with the tension of doubt and fear. I am reading with more careful attention and more understanding and belief in the love God has for me in all my weakness. I believe that God is calling me through all the weakness God accepts in me. I believe he has chosen me for some work we will do together. Work that will be filled with difficulty. I pray for the grace to hear the words that will lead me to where the spirit wants me to be and do what the spirit wants me to do for the greater glory of the kingdom of God.

I'm in week 22 which both challenges and comforts me.  I am challenged by the readings and reflections to listen more closely to God's call to me; to love others as I experience His love in my life.  I am encouraged that God's knows my resistance to follow this call, but calls me nonetheless.  I am learning that being poor in spirit is indeed a blessing; that God truly does provide when I acknowledge my poverty.  I am encouraged by the calling to be a peacemaker as my husband and I try to do this for hurting couples who come to Retrouvaille.

May we all be open to God's call to each of us this week as we continue our journey.  God bless each of you and me too!

This  week was No 22  of  the  retreat  for  me.  As  a  doctor,  a  patient  came  in to  evening surgery  who  has  severe  learning  disabilities.  Probably  because  this  man  is   so  vulnerable  I  felt  very  close  to  my Lord.  The  patient  cannot  speak  but  grunts  and  gesticulates.  He  is  not attractive  but  so  obviously  needs  love  that  you  have  an  overwhelming  desire  to  do  as  much  as  possible  for  him  in  his  great  need.  He  is  not  cluttered  with  material  possessions  and  up to date  clothes  as  is  not  capable of  knowing  about  these.  In  other  words  his  simplicity  and  lack  of  evil  makes  him  very  lovable.  He  is  also  like  a  child.  It  made  me  think  of  Christ  saying  that  the  kingdom  of  heaven  is  for  such.  What  a privilege  we  have  in  serving  these  patients  who  are  our  brothers  and  can  teach  us so  much. 

Week 23

this week my car broke down leaving me out in the bush for 6 of the days at home. that drove me to the centre of my self. i encountered this week the resistance i am very familiar with. the resistance to healing. to the prospect of what being well could mean to me. and fear surfaced. i have developed a life at last which feels do-able by me. a very quiet and simple life. i am in recovery from drug addiction 19 years this week and on a disability pension.
i imaged walking with jesus which is a comfort for me and has become a rich experience in the last months . but limping a little . not asked to do more than i think i can cope with. at last a rested woman leading a kindly life and i seem to think healing would cast me back inot harshness and pressures and into doign things which mean little to me in the world out there.
most of the week i stayed beside him - not asking for healing. not touching the hem of his garment. and as you have taught us - standing free within the unfreedom of not being really whole.
in my life as it is i have plenty of quiet times for study and prayer and i live in a very beautiful place. i have meetings and people and am often amongst addicts needing help. i miss my family who are in other places but we communicate frequently and are close in love.
i think being healed will mean i have to get a job which takes me away from this .
so at the end of the week. im aware that i dont know that i do want to see. dont know whether i want to walk. dont know that i do want the pox removed which could give me no excuse not to enter into a loving relationship which may be developing with a good man as this retreat continues.
neverhtless i have said YES - and this means reaching out and touching the hem. no courageous begging or yelling for me this week. but an hesistant touch,
and i seem to glimpse what it would be like . that he wont leave me to go on alone if i am well. that he wont direct me into work or a life which is abhorrent to him or me. i am like a prisoner who is afraid of the outside world or a patient long hospitalised . so i have merely touched the garment fearfully .
i have also begun to see Him - as increasingly human. he tells them not to speak but they are so excited that they do. and i see him going off into the remote places because he , like us , doesnt have full control of affairs nor full knowledge of whats to happen on this earth. i had never considered before that he were asked to and had agreed to walk in uncertainty and without using the power he had.
my prayers are with you all and my love .
-- Nell from tweed

I had been going along seemingly without too much effort in reading and reflecting on the daily scripture provided and also the helps given for each week.
Then my sister passed away. I had been appointed her primary care giver and though she was in a nursing home there were many things to considered. I visited her at least four times a week, saw that she was clean, had proper clothes to wear, etc. She had good care and I was content to know that she would live for some years. She was then diagonsed with Alzhiemier's disease and lost her memory of current events very quickly. For a time, she did not know any family member but gradually she came to recognize me when I would visit. After her death, my reflections on scripture stopped as well as the weekly reflections. None of them seemed to have any meaning and my prayer was nothing but sitting in our parish chapel and finding comfort being with the Lord. Then I discovered that Week 23, the week I had been on, was on Jesus, healing physical and spiritual ailments. Gradually, I began to read and reflect again on week 23 and, thank God, started with the daily reflections again. Something made me start again and I could feel the healing that I need gradually taken place. I still miss my sister but now I remember all the happy times we had together before she was ill and not so much the last few weeks of her life. I hope, with God's help, to continue the scripture readings and go on to reflect on the life of Christ by following the weekly reflections of the retreat. I ask for your prayers.

When Jesus healed the blind), Jesus “warned them sternly, ‘See that no one knows about this.’ But they went out and spread word of him through all that land.” (Matthew 9:27-31)

All my life, I have wondered at Jesus’ admonitions to keep silent about the healing he has done, and wondered just as much at the disobedience of those who have just received such a great gift! Indeed, anyone who spreads the gospel seems to disobey this directive. It is one of those biblical paradoxes that I don’t imagine I’ll ever understand.

A few years ago, I went on a weekend retreat where many of the participants shared profoundly moving—even miraculous—stories of how Christ had revealed his healing power to them. Many of us shed tears of recognition, relief, and release; many of us had carried inside us for years stories of healing that seemed too preposterous to breathe aloud. How astonishing—that such miracles are so common!

I imagine that the blind men whom Jesus healed were so full of joy and love—not only could they see, but they had seen their Savior’s love!—that they could not contain themselves, even at Jesus’ request! They are filled with something like young love, which so overwhelms the lovers that sometimes discretion is abandoned. Perhaps such indiscretion is a form of disobedience, yet wouldn’t it be wonderful to know that enthusiasm where joy cannot be contained, where the love that has been revealed to us must be revealed to others, where we can recognize and proclaim and celebrate the miracles in our lives? Then, perhaps, people would see us and respond as St. Luke describes the crowds around Jesus: “Everyone was amazed and praised God.’”

Tom, Pennsylvania

We’re walking along the road with Jesus. I’m excited to be there with him since I know his words touch me. I’m hungry for more and the journey to Jericho is long enough that I’m hoping to hear more of his teaching even if it’s informal as I follow him along that road. Now it’s quite demanding to try to keep up with him and ask questions and hear his responses. I’m not the only one seeking answers. This is aerobic learning!

We pass a blind man begging and he asks us what’s going on. “Jesus of Nazareth is walking by”, I tell him. Suddenly he starts shouting … “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me”. Now we can hardly hear what Jesus is saying and I’ve lost my position close to him. I find this annoying. He keeps yelling, “Son of David, have pity on me” … others around keep telling him to be quiet. This only creates more noise. I’m really getting agitated. Now he is really yelling and screaming, “Have pity on me”. I utter a rather loud “Please …”

Then Jesus stops and asks me to bring the blind beggar over to him. I gently lead him and Jesus asks him what he wants. “I want to see”, he replies. Jesus looks at him gently and puts his hands on his head, telling him in a quiet voice, “Look and you will see … your faith has saved you”. The man looks up as Jesus removes his hands from his head and he can obviously see now. He looks so thankful.

Jesus starts walking again and the beggar follows as I do. It doesn’t really matter anymore that for this part of the trip I hear Jesus. I feel different. I see more clearly myself. My own needs were first even as I tried to be close to Jesus. That made me blind to others around me even if they were yelling in my ear that they needed help.

May I follow Jesus now with my eyes and ears open to those around me.

In Week 23 reflections, we were called to become more aware of how Jesus loves us in the real scenes of our lives. I was amazed and grateful as I reflected on each reading this week. In Luke 4, I was reminded of two profound times Jesus came to heal me. Both times were when I didn't know where to turn. Both times I begged for Jesus' help. The first was when my husband and I experienced disillusionment in our marriage (over 22 years ago) and He sent us on a Marriage Encounter Weekend. The second was at the height of our daughter's rebellious years (11 years ago) and I promised Jesus I'd never turn my back on Him again.

Both times of healing He evidenced to me the need for me to get a grip on my self-righteous and judgemental attitudes so that I could love my husband and my daughters as He does. Like in Luke 4, He ordered out my evil spirits and gave me eyes to see, ears to hear and a heart to listen with love. As I reflected on those hard times, I can only remember growing closer and more in love with Our Lord.

Reflecting on Luke 5:17 made me recall a similar remark to "We have seen a great miracle today." It was a statement my husband said a few years after my conversion experience in '95. Jim remarked that he couldn't understand how our daughters had been transformed from rebellious teenagers into mature caring women. I immediately told him that it was prayer and the grace of God. I have no doubt that God was beginning to transform me too since He'd told me to look inside myself, to work on myself and to leave the girls to Him. By my listening, letting go and taking a good hard look at myself, I've come to know how much I need to be transformed.

There are times I feel ashamed (like Jesus' enemies in Luke 13:10-17) when He reveals to me my rigid and anal personality. I tend to be one who "does the right thing" or "follows the rules" but at whose expense? my family, friends, co-workers? I still struggle with being open, flexible and compassionate. I still struggle with materialism and selfishness and yet I am so grateful for God's love, presence and guidance. He's teaching me that there is only one way to bring peace to my heart, joy to my mind, beauty to my life and that is to accept and to do His will. Fortunately, I couldn't have a better teacher and friend to show me the way.

How many times has Jesus healed me in the whole of my life? He has healed me in physical, emotional, and spiritual matters.  I am still broken and will not be totally healed until I can reach the point that I can become more and more like Him.

Through this retreat, prayer, and the sacraments, I have come closer to Jesus.  I am truly grateful that Jesus loves us most when we are broken, He does not give up.  When emotional hurts from the past and present come to the surface, it is there that I struggle.  It is easy to be loving when there is no "cost", but true love is very costly.  The prayer for generosity is one that I hope to pray and hopefully internalize.

The lesson of love is a lifelong journey, not just for these 34 weeks.  I pray for the grace to love with more authenticity. I give thanks for the opportunities to love, and to heal and be healed. Thanks for the reminders to love and forgive those who Jesus loves so much.  Who am I not to love and forgive? Week 23

The photo for Week Twenty-three of the Retreat really touched me form the time that I first saw it.  My interpretation of the photo follows.  The priest is extending the healing gift of Christ to one man in the photo who appears to be totally into the prayer with him.  The other two people are intensely and reverently waiting as the priest will soon come to them as well.  I can almost feel the power and presence of the Spirit in that place.  It is almost tangible as I look at the four people in the photo.  They appear to have a true sense of the Sacred in this prayer for healing.
So long ago I learned the poem:    
                                  I could not pray as one should pray
                                  Nor trust as one should trust,
                                  Until sin took my boasted strength
                                  And dragged it in the dust.
                                  I could not pity those who fall
                                  Until as they, I fell.
                                  God has so many different ways
                                  To save a soul from hell!

(Whitney Montgomery wrote the poem.) 

This week (23) reminded me of the poem and my reaction to it.  Shall I tell how my reaction has changed over the last seventy years?  Shall I tell how my understanding has grown?  Perhaps it would be good to say I've learned my understanding has more, much more, to grow.  God loves me when I'm broken.  God loves me into wholeness.  God has so very many different ways.

Week 23: love. I think it is the most difficult topic. We all want love, to give and to receive love. And we so often fail, especially to those who are closest - what is love? I have been married for 24 years - the image of love seems to change and often enough I ask myself if I actually love my man. I really don't know. We share a lot, we have a lot in common - but love? I truly don't know. Maybe wrong concept of love? (ie being in love?), is love rather "agape" than "eros"? how can I combine both? is it possible to have a combination of eros and agape for the same person over all the years? In that case, we ought to be perfect... and then, having a bad conscience having truly experienced the love of god (during meditation, during communion) and longing for him, and not longing for my husband.
Jesus says, “Of course I want to!” when talking about healing. The conflict between his desire to heal, our desire to be healed and the amount of brokenness in the world is too difficult to reconcile. Yet I know Jesus has touched and healed critical parts of me. I have faith that he will do the same for each person that opens themselves to his love. I pray he gives me the strength to have faith in this and the ability to draw those around me to his healing power. Week 23
In the 23rd week, I am feeling the healing to be free from and to be free for.  For over a year I have struggled with depression over the loss of my professional identity as well as the struggle to accept that I am no longer a young woman with her whole life before her.  At 58, I have decided as a result of this retreat,  to be honest and to give up my attachment to the false image of my "self" that I invested the greater part of my lifetime creating.  I have dared to let my hair go to its natural color, white, this is no easy feat for someone as vain about my appearance as I have been.  I am taking responsibility for who I am in the world of the "ordinary" where I am no longer the "office" I held in my career.  I have become God's favorite child and rather than try to control eveything, I have let go and give my trust to God.  I don't know what God expects of me at this stage of my life but I am no longer deperate to forge a new worldly identity rather I wish to be what God has planned for me.

I am in the 23rd week of this retreat.  My life is everything I dreamed it might be, after many, many false starts, and many big changes in the "dream."  As one of the fortunate few, I am a professor and a social scientist -- a teacher.  For a long time I thought, just as in our Sunday reading from Mark, that I should be promised an important place on this earth.  And, it was a gift from God that I actually achieved such an important place, early in life -- early enough to see how empty most of our aspirations turn out to be.  And, it was a gift from God that all of my material accomplishments were snatched away, as quickly as they came, leaving only the memory of humans who were part of it.  I miss the them.

The life I have now came after ten years of doubt, study, and a total revision of my aspirations.  After I reached the absolute bottomless pit of human want and need, I met and married the most wonderful man.  We have redesigned our lives together, with our love and the church at the very center.  So, it isn't my life anymore -- it is our lives together.  I pray for each of you here -- a prayer that you might also find the very center of your being and with it, the happiness and grace deserving to all.

This retreat has been very helpful for me.  This week, Ash Wednesday, week 23 of the retreat for me, will be difficult to forget - I live in Seattle, WA, where we experienced quite a major earthquake that day.  I was in a building on the waterfront where windows broke out and shattered next to me, and all the glassware broken during the quake.  As I huddled next to the wall hearing this noise and rolling with the earth, I was sure this was going to end with all of us in the Puget Sound.  But God's protection was with us, the earth stopped moving and we all walked out unharmed.  Amazing!  While there was a lot of damage in the Western WA area as a result of the quake, injuries were few and minor.  There was only one death, that of a heart attack, in spite of much falling debris and bricks and glass.

My prayer has become one of deeper gratitude for the life we have been gifted with and that more people will come to the understanding of God's special love for us through the miracles of that day.

Thank you again for this special online retreat - I am sure that my peaceful heart during the turmoil of the quake was a result of the prayer that I have been able to make part of my life over these last 23 weeks.

As I reflect on Week 23, I am challenged to look deep to the spiritual/emotional cause of my chronic sinus problems.  For the first time, I saw that my selfishness, my wanting control of my live may be a factor and that the sinus condition is simply the physical manisfestation of deeply submerged inner pressures.  As I meditate on these words, I am trying to accept that Jesus loves me even with these sinful patterns in my life; that he does indeed want to heal the physical disdcomfort of the sinus headaches and pressure, but more than that he wants to free me from the inner sickness.  Although I have worked hard at turning loose of selfishness and the desire to control, I realize that I have not fully committed these two areas completely to the Lord.  Perhaps during this week of reflection I will have the courage and the desire to do so.

Dear fellow retreatants, I ask for your prayers for me in my struggle as I continue to pray for you in yours.

To the sex addict: Whoever you are, you are certainly in my prayers.  I think I understand what you're going through as I've waged a tremendous battle over the past couple of years with my fears which seemed to have had as terrible and restricting effect on me as your addiction has had on you. My fears, like your addiction, have tried to tell me that they are my authentic self and done everything to keep their hold over me.  But I made up my mind that I would let God take over my life, instead of those immobilising fears.  I'm on Week 23 of this retreat and it is wonderful to meet with Jesus, the Healer, who is not afraid to touch even those with awful skin diseases and so on.  With His help, the battle with those fears is being won.  All of you out there are in my prayers, and thank you all of you who have shared, as I've found many of your stories nothing less than inspiring.  We all should be most grateful to the very gifted staff at Creighton who have put this together and made it possible for us all to have this wonderful healing experience, even all the way from Australia.

The words "Jesus Heals" have been with me all week.  (23) They call me, like a blinking billboard, to look more deeply, to feel more deeply, and to finally approach the One who heals by loving.  I experienced a powerful sense of being "forgiven" in the eariler weeks of the retreat.  For me, this week was not a return there, but something new.  If Jesus heals, then I don't need to be so afraid of following him more completely.  If I get hurt, Jesus is there to love and heal me. It changes the way I think about how this retreat is going to affect how I live my life.  I've been just too afraid of being hurt, to be very courageous. 

The other very simple grace of this week was to see more clearly that it is Jesus that does the healing, not me.  When I try to follow him in loving others, I look at people in my everyday life differently, particularly difficult people.  Jesus is already loving them unconditionally and offering them healing.  I'm there to contribute to his healing, by contributing to his acceptance of them.

I've been printing out the Retreat for people in our Retirement Community who don't have computers.  Last week I developed a little survey and asked the retreatants to discuss them at our Faith Sharing .   Everyone expressed gratitute towards those who shared online.  (I read several to our group)  One woman (in her 80's) said that three three meetings each week are making up for the education she missed from after high school to now!   Her husband doesn't come to Faith Sharing, but he reads all the material and they share together.

I was particularly moved by the meditation on healing (23).  A few years ago, doctors didn't expect me to live.  But so many people were praying for me! Even Fr. Andy!   Maybe my coordinating this retreat is a way of thanking him for his prayers!    And thanking God for a chance to serve him.  There are so many things I can't do any more, yet God allows me to do this.     May you each hear your call from God.   May he bless you especially this Lent.

What a beautiful thing the Lord is doing through this Retreat.  The sharings are beautiful.  Such honesty, and genuine seeking.  I am often moved to tears.  Thank you for your sharings.  The expanse of this Retreat, it's immeasurable, height, depth, and width of God's love and mercy, is feeding our spirits.  Praise God!

Yesterday, I attended funeral services for a young father of three who died suddenly, quite unexpectedly or a massive heart attack.  You can imagine the grief!  I'd like to say that underneath it all though, because of the love and strength Jesus the Healer, has demonstrated (Wk. 23), somewhere in all of this I see His gentle mercy and healing Love.

My point:  this Retreat has empowered me to grow in my faith, so that even in the face of death, I know He is in charge, and while we are grieving, I know he cares and hurts far more for these children and their mother, who've just lost their 45-y.o. dad.  And, I know without doubt ...... He has a Plan. And His Plan is for our (their) welfare, not harm.  His Plan is Perfect!

Week 24

good morning to you all. from nell on the tweed. what a week ! never a dull moment following this retreat through is there ? i was anxious when i saw the theme. i have spent the last few years stepping back from controversy and conflict and developing a more peaceful relationship with the world. so i found it unnerving to think again of what might be asked of me.
for the moment i think i still need to remain quiet and allow the master to do the confronting because i seem to become either self righteous or too aggressive. i am begining to understand a gentle path with strength but i am in kindergarten in these matters.
my love to you all.
-- Nell,

This retreat continues to be a blessing in my life – I can feel that God is calling me to surrender, steadfastness, passion and boldness. The thought of those four together is a scary thing for me, but He has shown me His faithfulness and love. He calls me to intimacy. Week 24

With these thoughts in the back of my mind, I struggled as I listened to a friend preemptively assume that I would not be accepting or her decision to consider becoming a minister with a Protestant denomination. As she patiently explained to me, she’s a liberal Catholic and women aren’t treated well by the Church. She is highly educated and well-learned in the liturgy. I have felt similar feelings about the Church, but I do not consider myself a “conservative Catholic.” Nor was I a “liberal” Catholic. My metanoia experience a few years ago ensured that I was no longer a member of a faction in the Church. I had a great deal of sympathy that the Church’s explanation of what a woman should be seems to be far apart from who they really are – God’s beloved. Having a friend tell me that she couldn’t share her feelings or her decision with me on this choice told me a lot more about her wavering feelings than my own, but I was truly wounded in my heart that she should judge me that way. I remember offering her explanations of how “open” I was and how “understanding” I would strive to be.

Later that week, I went out to a happy hour with a few colleagues who were concerned that I didn’t have, as they termed it, “a bunk-buddy.” Their concern, they said, was that I didn’t have a life outside of my job. They saw that I didn’t hang out at bars to pick up men and that I was single with no kids. I defended myself by saying I had filled my life up with courses and activities and the Church. I was so embarrassed! I heard myself complaining how I couldn’t meet anyone anyway, but all I could think about was that my will no longer matters! It’s up to God and I didn’t have the courage to admit it. Just a few weeks ago, I had a priest suggest to me that I should be a nun. I can honestly say that I have been open to the idea – but I have no calling or vocation to join a religious sisterhood. My will is that I want a husband, a family, and a fulfilling life, but I am waiting for God’s will to show me my path in life.

I had jumped to self-blame and doubt in all of these areas – thinking that what they said was true: I am judgmental, alone, and without a life. Jesus is beside me in helping me to realize that I am a single, chaste (heck, celibate) woman in her early thirties, who would love a husband and a child, but was not willing to sacrifice who I was, beloved by God, to obtain them. I am a person filled with joy in the knowledge that I am trying to follow God’s will rather than my own. I am free as a child of God. I am not a loser for not having someone to sleep with, nor will I be one if it turns out that I am still unmarried, not a nun, and celibate at the age of 50. That is today’s society’s dictate – not God’s will – of what kind of life I am to lead.

How are single women to be in the church? How am I to be myself? I realized that I could let others define me or that I could just simply be myself. Then, it hit me: This past week’s guide for the Ignatian retreat showed Jesus as one who stood up for what he believed and, most importantly, for whom he was in Truth. I hadn’t understood what those reading meant until now. I, too, am a disturber of the people. I am undefined by society’s (including the practicing Church) dictates. And this is upsetting to most people. Apparently, I am supposed to be a nun or somebody’s date. I am supposed to be a conservative Catholic or a liberal Catholic. Pick a faction; pick an Order; pick a man. I am inspired by Christ’s outspokenness about who he truly was and what he truly believed. I pray for the strength to reply to those who question my lack of a label that I am myself, beloved by God. I am following God’s will rather than my own or society’s.

When Jesus rebukes the Scribes and Pharisees, I imagine him speaking these words to all of us today. Many of the “holiest” people I know LOVE to make known their holiness, love to be seen doing good, even to the point when they “sacrifice” the good of their families “for the good of the parish”, running every ministry they can, as if compiling a resume for sainthood. For a long time, I loved being seen, despite what I knew were great dangers spiritually: that feeling of importance, receiving praise and gratitude, knowing that my opinion mattered, coming to the conclusion that the parish couldn’t possibly survive a week without me. Thank God that someone else wanted these “honors” more than I did: when I refused pay and title, I was accused of all sorts of things, made unwelcome in my parish and thrown back into silence and solitude. Maybe it’s just sour grapes, but I look at a lot of these “holy” people and it seems to me that they’re just climbing up the back of the next guy to get themselves closer to heaven.

The people whom God has chosen to toil for him in the public eye need all our prayers. We need leaders, but oh how tempting it is to be a leader, even if you are clever enough to call yourself a servant.

Tom, Pennsylvania

My relflections this week seemed to swing wildly. I started the week reflecting on Jesus's love for the children and how they flocked to him and felt unencumbered to sing praises to Him. The religious authorities were offended by the noise. On one level I see myself wanting comfortable worship, rules, the way we have always done things and not seeing out there that Jesus is really in our midst and that changes the rules. But on another level I think of the abuse that has been committed to children. I think from personal experience of counselling a young man badly abused as a child and how at very fundemental levels this disabled him. I prayed again for him. But I also thought through how Jesus would have dealt with this. His disapproval would have been clear. But I also felt a deeper need to pray for the abuser and the abused.

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

Yesterday I visited with a retired Vincentian priest in his 90's ... very lively ... full of great stories ... had been thrown out of China in early 50's. His whole life has been devoted to a simple premise that "God loves us but particularly God loves the poor ... we return that love by being there with Him with the poor". Jesus's condemnation of the Pharisees is as much about their unwillingness to return to God what He is due. Tieing that visit with this week's relflection, I see more clearly that my mission must be to give or return to God what he demands and this means a more intense focus on preference for the poor.

I am in week 24, still reading and letting the thought that Jesus stood up to oppressors, hypocrites, and people who used power for selfish motives to be in the background of my days. Jesus was heroic in his actions, yet some thought him crazy, or misguided.  He challenged motives and tested those who used power to oppress.  He challenged complacency.

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

I pray for the grace to be courageous  in seeking  truth and justice in the events that happen in my daily life and to support justice in the world . At times I feel weak and afraid to confront, but I will continue to ask for the grace to be true to the name Christian.

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

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

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

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

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

Week 25

greetings from nell on tweed. what a wonderful week that was for me. my readings of the gospels are being shaken loose from some fixed ideas i seem to have had from childhood and just held ever since. i even wondered whether the samaritan woman were such an outcast or whether she just did things as and when she pleased. she certainly seemed to be able to convince a lot of people quickly about what had happened. sometimes i just want to get away from people which was a theme of last week for me. and i could see her going to the well for privacy as well as water and then being struck by the sheer presence of this man. since then i have been able to take my conversations with my lord to a low stone wall at a well. sitting and talking and listening and drinking both forms of cool water.
i also noted that jesus sent the blind man off but later when he knew the man had stood true to him - then he went looking for him. and found him. i like to think he was both checking on his wellbeing and also pleased to have found another believer.

and in the story of mary and her brother and sister. my heart moved at the wording i read which said "jesus groaned within " . i could feel the earth moving love and the humanity of him. groaning within. asking his father for something he would not normally ask for. that someone be brought back to life - from love.i have a selection of bibles at home and some are crefully illustrated in black and white but one is the childrens bible that my kids had when they were little and its beautiful with coloured pictures and bright robes. this retreat is restoring to me the colour of the childrens bible. tears and groans. and loneliness . and an excited saviour. its like actually being in a place instead of looking at the street directory or the map. my love to you all.
-- Nell

Jesus is the water for which I thirst. He is the water in which I need to be cleansed. And so I think, “Yes, I want to be immersed in Jesus.”

But that is only what I think, not what I do. When I’m thirsty, I do not drink. And when I am hot and sweaty, I do not leap into the pool. My desire stops at the inconvenience of interrupting what I am doing to go only as far as the kitchen for some water. My need is confounded by my fear of the water’s shocking cool. And when I go for my drink at last, is it water, or is it something that only appears to quench, but actually dehydrates, like beer or wine or coffee? And when I finally get in the pool, isn’t it after all only with the most agonizing slowness, as if submerging inch by inch were somehow better than diving in?

Yet, knowing this is my nature, I still think, “I want to be immersed in Jesus.” I am tentative, but the Lord God is all powerful. Come Lord Jesus!

Son of David, have pity on me!
-- Tom, Pennsylvania - Week 25

These are such powerful scenes this week. I had expected something quite profound in my meditations and I think I experienced this but in a different way than I had expected. In the scene with Jesus and the Samaritan woman, I felt much more profoundly Jesus' love and probing ... so that he really understood this and she felt this. How often do we go through life with cursory or self serving interactions with other people? To be known, understood, loved and forgiven is very powerful.

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

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

But what binds me today and what is Jesus calling me to unleash? As part of my Lenten observance I started to pray the "Four Prayers for Social Justice". Somehow, in my meditation on this part this week I connected them. When I think of the extensive ways we have constructed to hold down, imprison and even kill. I see Jesus asking me to come forward and to see these unleashed. Eliminating poverty ... does that seem as unrealistic as shouting at a man supposedly dead, "Lazarus, come out"?

Three familiar stories: the woman at the well, the man born blind, the death of Lazarus. For 60+ years I have heard about the woman at the well. At the end of the story, Jesus declines the food the disciples bring him, saying, “My food is to do what God wants! He is the one who sent me, and I must finish the work that he gave me to do.“ Jesus was too busy to eat, busy doing his Father’s will. I relate to that. I have been there many times. Pricing items for the school rummage sale tomorrow, too busy to stop and eat. Cleaning the house before company arrives, too busy to stop and eat. Finishing the gift for a grandchild’s birthday, too busy to take time to eat. So engrossed in getting the job done that I was not even hungry. That’s how I have always related to this verse of scripture, this verse that was almost a side note, not the main point. But to my surprise it became my focal point this week.

When I imagined the story of the woman at the well this week, the ending took an unexpected turn for me. There was Jesus at the well with the woman, the disciples came, the woman left to tell the other villagers about Jesus, and the disciples offered him food. He couldn’t eat. He wasn’t too busy- he was just waiting- waiting for the woman to return with the villagers. He was too excited to eat! He was so thrilled that this Samaritan woman had been looking for the Messiah to come and had taken the first steps of believing in him. The woman didn’t have all the correct answers theologically and she wasn’t living up to the moral expectations of the theology she knew. But she saw in Jesus the promised one and went to spread the good news and was coming back to learn from him. And Jesus was ecstatic about it. In his divinity Jesus is the omnipotent creator of the universe and in his humanity he was too excited to eat because this woman had taken the first steps of belief. And I saw Jesus too excited to eat over me, delighted that I am searching to know him better and follow him more closely. Never mind that I have a long way to go. In the background moments of this week Jesus keeps popping up, too excited to eat, and joy wells up within me. I don’t think it matters if my visualization of the woman at the well is historically accurate. I have been gifted this week with a joy that has eluded me for some time, and I am so thankful for this grace.

I have just printed up the gospel readings for Week 25. They are very beautiful. In the story of Lazarus I was overwhelmed by the words, "Jesus started crying." I could see Him standing there. And tears streamed from my eyes. I felt His love, so gentle and overwhelming. My smallness and unfaithfulness was so present to me. I cried some more.
As I read the readings of the 25th week, I felt something new that didn't realize before. And I came to reflct the readings deeply. my losses are related to give up my study after finishing a graduate shool. at that time, I was tired out from many housechores and raising my son. it was impossible to continue my own work. after my son became a student of junior high school, I began to resent my stupid decision. But this week took me to a graceful time to realize that the losses led me to read God's words and meet Him in everyday life and feel his love more and more. Now Jesus is shouting to me, " come forth." From what ? from not liberating me, especially, from all that bind myself up lest I should make choices to be with Jesus. Actually Jesus is the only man to satisfy my thirst and to let me - blind before - see the truth.
Week 25: This week's readings and reflections are very powerful ; there is so much to think about and reflect on.  Jesus is so loving in every  gospel story. He is loving, but he allows each person to come to their own realization of why he is reaching out to them.  He offers the Samaritan woman water that will quench her thirst eternally, and she doubts his power or ability to do so.  He allows the blind man to think and defend this believe in him.  Jesus allows Martha and Mary their grief and resentment, and still shows them that He can bring glory out of this. I have been the Samaritan woman , the blind man, and like Martha and Mary.  I have lacked trust that God would come to my assistance or save me. I have not faced truths about myself, and am still working on this. I have grieved and forgotten that Jesus grieves along with me.  Thanks to the many graces received in this retreat and through the Eucharist, I have begun to realize that He will not allow me to be lost, forsaken, or unhealed . It will take faith and trust on my part, but He is there reaching out to me . I pray for the grace to recognize that He wants to bring glory out of all  things. He will make everything new.

When I pray each week at Sodality , the line from a prayer " God chose the weak things of the world, that no flesh may glory in his sight" makes me realize that  He will make all well. The expression "God writes straight with crooked lines" has also run through my mind this week. A special sign came to me this week , a friend of mine out of the blue, gave me a beautiful old picture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, she  has had it for years . She explained about the devotion to the Sacred Heart particularly in Ireland. I felt that Jesus was showing  me His love through her thoughtfulness, and that the  prayer that I often whisper throughout the day  "Jesus meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto thine", was being answered. Thank you for this retreat

The Readings for Week Twenty-five of the retreat are quite familiar to me.  Many years ago they were dramatized at my Parish and that did leave a profound impact on the importance and message of these passages.  In particular, the story of the Woman at the Well stands out for many reasons.  One such phrase from this passage that has resounded in the depths of my being is when Jesus says to the woman the the water that He gives will be like a spring of water welling up unto eternal life.  Having experienced physical thirst and the longing for cool living water and the relief that it could bring can be analogous to the spiritual thirst that I have for God.  Jesus will provide in me cool living water welling up and overflowing that will not only satisfy my spiritual thirst but will provide more that I can ever imagine by leading to eternal life.  How awesome and refreshing and enlivening that is!
We are so quick to judge!  We think of one possibility and because we think of it, we believe it is true.  It may be.  It may be there are other good explanations.  The Samaritan woman is well spoken.  She has a good mind.  She was attractive to at least five husbands.  She is listened to by the townspeople - including the women.  I have known many prostitutes.  The Samaritan woman is not unlike many I've known and worked with.  Why did she go to the well in the heat of the day?  Many, quick to judge, say she wanted to avoid the (respectable) women of the village.  Why can't we say we are not sure?  I say it is probable that the Samaritan woman went to the well in the heat of the day for water.  She went for water because her neighbor, an old disabled person, needed water.  Of course the Samaritans listened to this woman.  She was an open hearted person with a good mind.  She was a loving person.  Love is an intellectual process.  Jesus told us we will know it by the actions of people.  Paul told us what to look for.  The Samaritan woman loved.  Jesus chooses to save people who are hot or cold.  He doesn't talk with the indifferent, the "luke warm."  The doers, the ones who go for water for others even in the heat, Jesus speaks to.  Please God we shall one day learn to stop condemning, judging without the right to judge.  Jesus didn't judge.  We must not.  We must love. Week 25
The readings this week are from lent, but the season during my retreat is advent. In both readings there is longing and hunger for spiritual and physical peace. The retreat readings are significant in dealing with the need for healing and the fact that the healing only comes through Jesus. It is in His peace that the insignificance of things that would possess and ravish us can be viewed in a realistic perspective. Lord let me desire only what you have to offer and reject the cravings of this world. Week 25
JESUS SAVES, JESUS HEALS, JESUS GIVES US NEW LIFE..(the light of Christ) through the gifts of the Holy Spirit, God guides and teaches us to draw closer to Him to follow what He has planned for us. (the truth) Each day provides us with proclaiming his Love to each other and to experience the joy and peace of being aware that God truly loves us all. When we share in the trials and burdens of one another, we share in the sufferings and love that God has for each one of us.(the way)

EVERLASTING LIFE WITH HIM!(the Holy Eucharist) and the joy of eternal salvation in the kingdom of God. Week 25

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

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

Week 26

hello to all of you from nell on tweed. i dont know what to write this week. im trying to do this as if i do not know what lies ahead on jesus journey because i know there are ways of seeing which i havent yet been blessed with.but this week - i havent felt graced as i usually am. and at the end of the week i am sad. i have lost my voice today and mebbe thats for the best. i can only continue the following - without a voice for now. love to you all.
-- Nell

This past week, I have been struck by how much Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem, with its healings of blind men and instruction of the apostles, is itself a sort of parable about awareness and presence.

Jesus is already suffering. He knows that his enemies lie in wait for him and that they will kill him, but he goes to Jerusalem, not only to follow the Law for the Passover, but to follow the will of God for him as an individual.

Meanwhile, the apostles are almost comical, childish: I can almost imagine them SKIPPING down the road as they talk about who will be greatest, who will get to sit next to Jesus’ throne, imagining the GLORY that awaits them all. They seem so unaware of Jesus’ suffering or the reality of what awaits them that their behavior is kind of like dancing through a rough neighborhood after dark singing, “I’m in the money!”

Although the apostles are not altogether wrong about future glory—don’t we all hope for heaven?—they are not being present for Christ RIGHT NOW, when and where he needs them. Like them, I hope—and worry—about the future. I forget that Christ is with me RIGHT NOW, that I need to be present for him and present for others in whose hearts he resides. I must frequently turn to him with my own “Lord, I want to see!” so that I might know God’s will for me in THIS moment, be aware of it, be present, be healed. Being aware and present and healed, I live in Christ. This is what it means to take up my cross and follow him.
Tom, Pennsylvania - Week 26

Blessed Sunday to all those participating in this Retreat - Starting Week 26 - and I'm trying to incorporate all pieces of God's life into my own. It is a struggle. My real-world analogy is a report I've been trying to finish for two weeks: it is in pieces - one section section there....the connecting lines and themes seem very clear and then they disappear when competing <selfish> activities win over "doing the right thing." At week 26, I am still afraid of failure and I worry....paralyzing my growth; afraid to take "the leap" because the unknown is on the other side. Please know that your sharings are important to people taking this retreat - like me. I find inspiration in your stories, I share in your joys, and say a prayer when events/life are not at their best. May God continue to lovingly provide the graces you need - not only for this retreat, but for all you do.

Week 26. When I began this retreat I was not sure how far I go with it; 26 weeks later, I really look forward to each week. Today's teachings were especially beneficial for me, for I was having a really pity party over being misjudged by some of my own family members. Today I was reminded that as a follower of Jesus, criticisms, false accusations, and misjudgments are to be expected, but in surrendering it all to God and continuing to follow in the ways of Jesus, he is the one who will exalt us. Like Peter, we need to recognize who Jesus really is, but unlike Peter we must never try to hinder his work in our lives. Following Jesus is often a painful journey but the rewards are worth it.

At the end of Week 26 I left for Florida for a few months, my computer in hand expecting to continue with Week 27 in warmth and sunshine. Not so. At St. Cecilia's Church in Fort Myers there was an invitation to join fellow parishioners in a seminar on Salesian Spirituality. It just so happened that during Week 4 of my retreat, (A Picture on Harmony) in response to the question, who are the people who show us the way to getting it right for ourselves, I had chosen among others, Saint Francis de Sales. I liked him very much. My husband and I signed up for the seminar. (Hence the interruption in my retreat} We read and discussed "Heart to Heart", a story of Salesian spirituality. This prompted us to read St. Francis' own words in his book, "On the Devout Life." It seemed to us that this book was St. Francis' thoughts on implementing day to day in our lives in a simple way, the challenges offered to us in the Spiritual Exercises. St. Francis himself had made the Exercises way back in the 16th century. (small world) I wanted to share my experience with my fellow retreatents. I have enthusiastically resumed Week 27 of my retreat.
Week 26: Suddenly, this week is emerging as a turning point week. For the past month or more, I have felt scattered, unfocused, undisciplined and unproductive, especially at work. I have asked Jesus for redirection away from self absorption and material focus. But my prayers for redirection have been half-hearted, because I'm fearful of giving up material and career success. I have been unwilling to move beyond these risks, to place full confidence in the Lord. I aspire to this, and admire the courage and selflessness of those who have made the leap, but I am not there, at least not yet.

This week, I began to realize that this time of self-doubt and confusion has actually been God at work -- He's loosen the moorings. I'm still stuck at port, but with grace and humility and courage, the letting go will come.

Ted Loder's prayer, "Gather Me to Be With You" says it well:

"O Lord, release me
from the fears and guilts
which grip me so tightly,
from the expectations and opinions
which I so tightly grip,
that I may be open
to receiving what you give,
to risking something genuinely new,
to learning something refreshingly different."

During the 26th week of the retreat, placing my life in GOD's hand is very hard for me. My God permitted me to possess All I has had, such as prosperity, talent , my family and even my life. In my thought I agreed with it, but actually it is not easy to accept it in my everyday life. When My husband lost lots of money because of investing on stocks,  I couldn't bear getting angry with my husband's being stupid. Throughout this week, " you are thinking like everyone and not as GOD" , the word Peter was told by Jesus impressed me deeply. So far I realized I was not  thinking and acting needless of faith. I always wanted to follow the spirit of poverty that Assis's Franscisco said and acted in his lifelong and to become ' the little one'.  In fact, however, I never embraced the little ones, except the money in everyday life. How graceful !!! How thankful !!!
This week 26 has been full of moments to reflect on the journey to Jerusalem in my life and others lives. So much pain, in situations that require a surrendering  to God's will. These week I have seen my fears arise when total trust is needed. Jesus asks what do you want me to do for you?

In situations that require facing terminal illness, stressful family situations, and everyday tensions in home and workplace, I need to remember to imitate Jesus. He kept faithful , he kept going, and he kept loving.

I ask for the grace to keep going , keep faithful, and keep loving in my way to my own Jerusalem. I pray for all those people who have asked me to pray for them as they face crosses. Alzheimer's disease, terminal cancer, broken relationships, discernment issues of where to follow and say yes.

I do find great comfort looking at the crucified Jesus on the cross , knowing that He will not forsake us. Jesus is triumphant and will lead us on to our victory over selfishness if we just ask Him . Lord help me.

Beginning this week 26, and reflecting on my growing desire to be with Jesus, to become more like Jesus, and to answer the call to take up my cross. I am aware of great tensions in this desire and some resistance. I am being tested on different levels: physical , mental , an spiritual and at times become absorbed in the difficulties instead of seeing this as a sharing and growing intimacy with Jesus. It is easy to see suffering and pain and darkness in the world,  in others ,and in  myself., yet it is difficult to see these things without getting self -absorbed. I have experienced first hand the feeling of redemptive suffering in others, and have witnessed great faith, strength , and love in people in my family who have suffered physically,or experienced great loss. I have seen the face of Jesus in the suffering. It is in situations of injustice, or when relationships are broken and unhealthy that I have a hard time seeing those situations as clearly redemptive . So I ask for the grace of clearer vision, in situations in my life, and in the lives of others, and in the world that do require God's eyes.

I ask for the grace to keep giving ,and healing others and myself in the midst of trials. I ask also for the grace to handle a family situation without feeling resentment that others are not doing their part, that I should rely on God to take this situation ,and surrender my fears and frustrations to Him.  Praying for all . May we all take up the cross, and let God carry us home.

Week Twenty-six of this Retreat was one where I needed to once again confront my own hesitation and fear of completely following.  The questions about how I will look to others, what will others think etc. are still part of my life.  I know that I need firmer resolve to go and do as Jesus went and did what he was called to do.  I thought about what it must have been like for Jesus to know that he was going into his torture and death with his trip to Jerusalem.  I know that there have been a few things in my life that I have dreaded doing and the anticipation is horrible and if I found a way out, I sometimes took it.  It would have been so easy for Jesus to find a way out because he is God.  He did not have to do any of what he did because he had the power to always do as He wills.  How amazing and reassuring it is to know that Jesus did not back down for me and went through the anticipation and ultimately the horror of what it would take to free me. 
Perhaps what happens as I go through these past 6 weeks is this experience of being pulled-...drawn into Christ, pulled into himself, drawn into his cross.  The focus is simply being with Jesus and Jesus with me. It is a silence, a revelation of Jesus, that has me dwelling on his mystery--- and my mystery---- and a kind of preparation for something else that will cause my life to change. I anticipate this, but I don't know what it is. For weeks now, I am not moved to write or share, but just to dwell. I think this dwelling praises God, is not self -centered, but self- gracing and God -centered and meant to strenghten my heart for what will be forthcoming. Way back in September, I had no real belief that I would be disciplined enough to make it to week 26. Now I wonder what I will do when the exercises are completed. May this day give praise to God!
Like last week, the retreat is in lent, but the liturgical calendar is advent. So while the liturgical calendar is full of hope the 26th week of the retreat concerns the harsh reality of Jesus coming to his death.  The conflict in these two spiritual concepts has made me want to mentally reject one over the other. Of course, I would rather hear the story of hope, so I have not spent much time of the concepts suggested for the retreat. Yet  as I pray over the journey to Jerusalem, it does have something in common with the hope of Advent. In the retreat Jesus enters the final stages of his in persona earthly ministry. In this week of advent, the readings concern God’s prepares for the in persona entry into a broken world as savior and at the end of time. All three represent a critical change for mankind. All three are decisions by God severely change the world knowing such change will cause physical and emotional upheaval.
While Christ makes his way to Jerusalem to meet his death, he does not become pre-occupied.  He continues to heal and guide. God uses the birth of Christ as a healing of John the Baptist family, Mary, Joseph, the shepherd, the Magi, and the world. And the last coming will be the final, ultimate healing from the pains of death and sin. But all three events have elements of loss, sacrifice, and suffering. Of these three transitions, the one I can best understand is the trip of Jesus to Jerusalem. Isn’t it ironic that I tried to avoid that topic during the week?  I guess I don’t like to be reminded that Jesus calls me to walk toward self-sacrifice.

Lord, please aid me that I may face my fears and my obligations. During times when I am called upon to give a small piece of myself in imitation of your large giving, allow me to see beyond myself.

This week I started Week 26 of my retreat, after a lapse of a year.  I started this retreat in March 2001.  As Fr. Gillick stated in the Guideposts for this week, I think I took one of those 'Jerusalem  by-passes.'  Now after a year I am ready to continue my journey with the Lord on this retreat. 

I am in week 26 of the retreat and the call from Jesus to follow him more closely is intensifying.  I am having to confront my fears; the feeling of powerlessness in surrendering completely to Him.  I want His Peace, I want to be in His will, but at times I'm so afraid of what it will cost for me to enter into this following Him.  I want to cling to that absurd notion that I have control over my life rather than embracing the life that He wants to give me.  I fear suffering yet I create suffering in my life my resisting Him; not allowing Him to gather me into His arms  As I continue this retreat coupled with my 12-Step work, I pray that just for today, I can turn over the control of my life to Jesus, my Higher Power, and can be open to His gifts for me and to to live as He would have me live in all the circumstances of my day.  I pray for you, my fellow retreatants and asks that you pray for me that we can all have the courage and faith to go where Jesus is leading each one of us today. 

Week 27

greetings to you all from Nell on Tweed. this is the end of week 27 for me. i am becoming more and more quiet as the retreat progresses and very conscious of the presence of jesus in my life. this week i could feel my head drop with easing of tension as he smiled and sat at my feet . and even knowing that things were now becoming very serious i could feel the companionship that will take me through anything that i am led into. it was a week of deep inbreathing sighing for me. Another thing that happened was that when i ate or drank this week i found myself REMEMBERING. i eat and drink alone most of the time and live a vsry solitary life and this week it were as if i were with someone i had shared much of my life with and we sat and remembered. all the doings and happenings which have brought us together to this point. i also have very little physical contact with people and the sense of a beloved companion resting with me before the next great adventure was very physical. a good few tears this week and physical sickness again amongst a deep peace and a lot of laughs and smiles for othertimes. i know i dont understand the cathoilic education that might direct this more clearly but it means a great deal to me . my love to you all
-- Nell from Tweed.

“Judas took the piece of bread and went out.”

What does it mean for me that Jesus did not refuse to give Judas a share in the First Eucharist? Sure it is a sign of great hope.

What does it mean for me that Judas “took the piece of bread and went out”? Did he consume the Bread of Life? John only tells us what he saw, and it is a troubling detail. I think it is a reminder to me that one of the most important ways that I can witness to my belief in Christ is in that simple act of consuming the Body and Blood of Christ in the consecrated host. It is a public act because the bread that is now his body is not just for me, but for the life of the world. Indeed, it has long been one of my favorite moments at mass to watch all of the communicants receive and then walk by, returning to their seats with Christ living within them. I am mystically united to every one of them at that moment in the body of Christ. It is a source of great and quiet joy to see them and remember this. Christ extends this opportunity for unity even to Judas.
May we all be one!
-- Tom, Pennsylvania

This week's retreat I felt very powerful. Over the last few weeks I have been asking myself if what I am doing in my work is really useful and what might be alternatives. This week I somehow feel energized ... not because I get a direct answer to my questions about whether what I do is useful but because I hear Jesus' call to "usefulness" by giving up selfishness and moving onto selflessness.

I feel myself there and feel Jesus' anxiety. We know that leaders' anxieties "infect" their followers. So I am disturbed. I promise that I won't betray Him ... but that is more to provide comfort ... have I really thought through that it is not only the big betrayals that I am avoiding but also the little everyday betrayals as well. So with the disciples I try to comfort Him ... hope it will be different and then know that in the washing of feet ... in His gentle instruction on serving others ... in the breaking of bread and sanctifying wine ... Jesus' resolution is firm ... and I must follow.

Thank you for providing this Retreat.

I am reflecting this week on the passion of our lord and saviour Jesus Christ who died for me. He gave up everthing so that I might have everything. At the same time I think about my life. When I started this retreat I was battling depression but with the grace of God he saw me through it. No sooner than that happened I lost my Father. It seems that I am been bombared with no reprieve. Then I loom to the cross and realize that the Lord had no reprieve either. He just says pick up your cross and follow me. I guess I wanted a magic cure or I quick fix. But that is not what it is about. It is about me picking up my cross and following him who promised me eternal life.He calls me to pray each day and when I have moments of dispair or anguish I give it to the Lord and pick up His yoke for it is light.Jesus thank you for suffering and dieing for me. Help to embrace the crosses and sufferings that come my just as you did.
Jesus I love You Amen

Pat, Toronto

I was struck today when reading the practical help page for this week by the image of Christ as a servant: a washer of dirty feet, a shoeshiner. I am disabled and work (quarter time) at a kitchen in a residence hall for the disabled. I never thought that preparing and serving food could be so rewarding. I have been told that the meals are very important to the clients who live there. They look forward to eating. So its very gratifying to my work associate and to myself when they enjoy what we've prepared.

Yesterday, I was payed a visit by one of the case manager's who handles our employment. She meant business and was going to find out why the office staff had been complaining about us. I was able to convince the case manager that my work associate and I were doing our best and that we had a good attitude about the work. After she left, I was bothered by the fact that the office staff's opinion of our work seemed so different from the feedback that we received from the clients. But I have concluded that this is "part of the deal." To be a servant like Christ does not mean that you receive compliments from everyone. As simple as the task might be, we carry it out in a complex reality where there are plenty of toes to step on. I believe, by the Grace of God, that this job is helping me to work out my emotional problems.

I found this week difficult. I can relate clearly to the disciples this week. After all they have just found what they believed was "the answer". Their lives are renewed … they are learning … growing … seeing possibilities that they never thought possible. Political transformation is possible but so is personal transformation. Then the thinking … "how far can I go?" … all the way?

Then there is the reality of Jerusalem … Jesus' real destination … isn't this avoidable?

This struggle emerges in the midst of my travels, which is a business trip to Europe. We spend the weekend in Mallorca where a close friend stays. I like returning to the island. I start to imagine a life here … get a couple of board jobs … fly off to London when I want … go back to US to my other house when we want … sounds possible. But is it really what Jesus wants?

Then I participate in a conference on "leadership and peak performance". I find some of the speeches quite motivational … a female climber describing her journey to the summit of Everest (twice!). Lots of imagery about overcoming struggle … testing yourself … being the best you can be. Then a championship driver describes how he prepared himself, his teams and his organization to win … over and over again. I can relate to this. I want this. But is this what Jesus wants?

I struggle continually with the "god of success" and the "god of perfection". I realize I always want to be in control … and I want to be on top. So where is the Cross in this?

In trying to be in control but at the same time move beyond the disciples' misunderstanding I find myself getting frustrated with some parts of my work. Why do I really have to pay attention to some of these things? At this point, I find it helpful to see myself as "servant". Seeing myself as a "helper" is a motif I have worked with as a leader. I return to that again. So when I take time to clarify an issue, which I initially thought was quite simple and an annoyance to go over again, I am serving my team. When I'm taking time to talk to a disgruntled employee, I'm serving their needs.

I can hear Jesus' call to follow him. Could I give this up … these yearnings … strivings? The pattern is deeply ingrained. Sometimes I feel that I am closer to the blind man whom Jesus heals and sees the world again but only as shapes. Am I seeing the poor only as shapes? I pray for Jesus' healing touch again … so that I can give up my yearnings and strivings to him …let him be in control. Let the world take new shape again.

There have been countless opportunities for prayer as well as praise. As I companion an elderly gentleman towards baptism at Easter, I reflect on how meeting and falling in love with Jesus has penetrated deeply into my heart and life. What joy I receive each time I open the Bible with the baptized and not-yet baptized persons who grace my life.

This week a bit ahead of Holy Week, meditating on Jesus washing the disciples feet will be most helpful in getting me through what I know is going to be a very busy week.

I keep you all in prayer and look forward to hearing from you.
-- Maureen

WEEK 27: I preside at the Eucharist in our parish community regularly... I say the words of Christ in the Eucharistic prayer. But is my life like that of the prayer that I pray? Am I taken, blessed and broken for others? Is my life really in memory of him who gave everything for us? Often not.
Week 27 of retreat made me renew  my faith.
Almost every day I go to mass and take holy communion.
But so far I found out that  I never realized the real meaning of the bread and the wine.
When I discoverd that I habitually went to mass, I was very sorry for JESUS. And it probably is  why my everyday life was not much changed , although I went to mass hard.
Now I came to know that I must have in mind the image of JESUS as the foot washer , servant. From now on I am sure to remember that Jesus is calling us to be taken, blessed, broken and given, that our lives might be poured out in service of others during mass.

Week 27: It has been a rough couple of weeks. Various difficulties have caused me to lose ground with the retreat and prayer. I need to pray more, not less during times when I am feeling like I am going backwards instead of forward.

I did try to place myself at the last supper tonight. It was difficult because right now I feel like all the work I have done to become a disciple is now being tested. I know that old ways of responding have been rearing its ugly head. How I need to have Jesus wash my feet, yet I pull away in fear that He will see the ugly calluses( my sin, my lack of trust, my inability to erase scars that I have caused, and scars that I have). Do I hide, or do I go to Him and lay my head on His shoulder as John did?

Jesus ate and drank with sinners, He knew all of the human failings of His apostles and yet He still gave thanks, and shared Himself with this lowly group. I  am very low right now, feeling unclean and unworthy to be with Jesus. I beg for the grace to go to Jesus and place my Head on His shoulder in the sacraments, and ask for forgiveness and strength for the journey.  I feel weary and not able to do this without Him. He is asking me to accompany Him to Calvary. Why is this so hard ? Especially in the most intimate relationships, where deep emotions exist. Why do I not respond in love or at least in trust that Jesus will make all things new?  My self , my wounds scars and ego cause me to fail. I need to REMEMBER HIM. He asked us to do this in remembrance of me.

I ask for the grace to REMEMBER HIM, especially in those times when I am being tested. I feel that I am being tested in a great way right now. I have failed, by lack of love, in fact I have resorted to hate. Just like Peter in the Garden of Gethsemane, I too often want to cut off people when they taunt out of their own woundedness and sin.

I pray for the grace to act in union with Jesus this coming week to reach out with love, when my base instinct is to lash out. I pray for patience and clarity in doing what I should do , follow the commandment  of love whatever that means in this situation. God bless all  who are making this retreat.

Thank you Jesus for loving me so much that you will wash me clean, so that I can serve and love you.

Week Twenty-seven of this Retreat calls us to contemplate the Foot Washing.  A line of "In These or Similar Words" really stood out to me that read "I realize that the places where I can let you love me the most deeply are the places where I am embarrassed, the parts I want to hide from others, my weaknesses."  This is a powerful statement that helped me to realize that Jesus already knows those places and wants to help me there and that instead of trying to hide them from Him or pretend that they do not exist before Him I must acknowledge them and allow His love and presence to transform my perception of them.  Only then, can I fully accept the love and guidance of Jesus in my life.
To be at the Last Supper with Him. To be the one to betray him. To be the one who would not allow him to wash my feet, yet I would soon deny him. To be the one “whom he loved,” but who did not stay awake with him or stand by him. To be one of those who sat through a turning point in history yet remained unaware of its significance until a Pentecost. I am reminded of the portrayal in Jesus Christ, Superstar of the Apostles at the Last Super acting like drunk, oblivious fools. What a life of foolishness and sin I have been born into. Had it not been for you Lord, I would never have overcome the worthless aspects of myself to see the value within me. I am so valuable you fed me with your body and blood. I am eternally humbled and grateful. Week 27
This week we reflect on the Last Supper, from the foot-washing to the ‘bread and wine become body and blood’ to the identification of the betrayer. The broken record in me (about God’s timing) played again. I had been thinking about how far I have come when something I had done months ago came back to remind me how far I have yet to go. Then today’s readings included Jesus’s warning to those who seek to remove splinters from a neighbor’s eye while ignoring the plank in their own. I know I have been on both ends of that kind of blindness. My prayers this week have been for an opening of my eyes to my ‘blind spots,’ for the graces of a good foot washing, and for the courage to offer myself in service as Christ did. Such a long way to go – Lord, help me.Week 27
I am in the 27 week of this retreat. WHAT MARVELOUS GRACE I GOT! I got possibility to love and to embrace the people. Please, imagine me like person who was in the beggining of this retreat full of anxiety and despeartions. I couldnt accept people around, they were irritated me and made me nervous. NOW, I can really feel WHAT LOVE IS and I decided to spent my life in service others. It makes me happy, full of joy!

I’m nearing the conclusion of my 66th year on earth and the 27th week of the retreat.    Even with ups and downs my life has been blessed with good parents, a loving wife and children, and certainly I’m not forgetting good health and a successfully completed career.

The realities of every day life, the good and the bad, present a challenge and question as to where my religious faith really plays a significant role.  Yet,  I continue to seek the grace to identify my mission for whatever time remains.  In the retreat meditation of Cardinal Newman maybe I’ll never know in this life.  The retreat has thus far led me to pray for trust that I am now or will soon be doing what I should.

week  27  of  the  retreat,  about  Jesus  being  recognised  by  the  breaking  of  bread,  a  flood  of  gratitude  hit  me   when  this  sharing  action  of the  child  took  place.  In  fact  some  glucose  was  desperately  needed  making  the  point  even  more relevant.  As  I  accepted  her  offer  and  thanked  her  the  little  girl  gave  me  a  gorgeous  smile  and  Christ was  seen  in  her  for a  brief  moment.  The  whole  incident  made  the  rest   of  the  work  so  much  easier  and   lightened  the  burden  of  the  day.

If  only  we  could  be  like  this   child  in  her  generosity,  simplicity,  willingness  to  share  and  trustfulness  perhaps  we  would  recognise  Christ  more  easily  and  life  would  be   more   meaningful  for  everyone.

This is week 27 for me.   I've been here longer than 27 weeks, though, since some weeks were much longer than  others.   Today my father-in-law passed away. He was getting out of bed, and died lying sideways on the bed with his feet still on the floor, his glasses on, and the walker situated for him to stand up where he had sat on the edge of the bed.  He lived alone, and though none of us, his family or friends, were with him when he died, I am comforted to know he was not alone.  His name is Josef, and he told me yesterday (Tuesday), on the phone that the day before was his patron saint, Saint Joseph's Feast Day, and that he had asked Saint Joseph to look after him.

My father-in-law was 86 years old, and he died of congestive heart failure. He had shared with me several weeks earlier that he was afraid of falling and not being found or of losing his faculties.  He was found shortly after he died by the visiting nurse who had come to check his blood pressure.  He had not fallen; he showed no signs of pain or struggle.  He had been of sound mind.  Surely, St. Joseph accompanied him.  Surely St. Joseph was at his side, in God's presence; and he died ­not in fear, but in faith ­ with God's love abiding.

The On-Line Retreat,  Daily Reflections,  Lenten guides, and another site - Sacred Space - have been a source of self examination, of love and of guidance for me -- for me it has been an all encompassing journey.  It has given me more depth of knowing and comprehending the first prayer my mother ever taught me -- "Ich bin klein.  Mein Herz ist rhine.  Kann niemand darin wohnen, als Jesus alein."  She translated it for me -- "I am small, my heart is pure. No one lives there except Jesus."  I am not a Roman Catholic (a Missouri Synod Lutheran/Episcopalian).  My father-in-law, a very learned man -- a scientist -- was Roman Catholic. We talked from time to time about God and prayer -- faith and our spiritual selves.

Week 28

As I look at the picture of the tortured man and women I try to imagine being there w/ them. My mind seems to rush all about. I imagine me doing some heroic deed only to have that image replaced w/ one of me running away in fear that I may be tortured too. My mind is trying to protect from the feeling of helplessness the picture evokes. Then grace comes to me w/ the strength to stay a moment w/ my helplessness. There is nothing I can do. But then I'm graced again w/ the thought that I can kneel and pray for them. I pray that Christ be w/ them in their suffering. I pray and pray w/ everything I have and I'm able to endure the the injustice and horror of this scene.
Thank you Dear Lord for helping w/ this exercise. Bob

greetings from nell on tweed. for me this week matched september 11th and the two things for me are similar in that i am not simply turning my eyes away from the things i have previously found too diffiuclt to look at. so i have breathed into the stations of the cross which are unfamiliar to me. and i have also watched 9/11 shows. its also 5 years since my mothers death.
once again i know i am a novice in these matters and will not try to write much because i am learning from you.
i think i was fairly stuck in the garden and in the agonising into surrender. there were a lot of concepts in that week. and im sure they will filter through in coming weeks. i continue to learn the love of a woman - walking behind and 'ministering' and holding the tensions and energies and pain. i consider this a grace for me. i have always felt i must DO something to fix things. now i understand the passionate love of the one seeming to do nothing. my love to you all
--NELL. from tweed.

I want to share three thoughts.

First: when I suffer, I feel profound tenderness and affection for those I love. I imagine our Lord had similar—though infinitely more powerful—feelings on the cross. Like someone told me once: when you hear the song ask “were you there when they crucified my Lord?” the answer is YES!—the faces of each of us were in his Sacred Heart.

Second: I saw a presentation of the Stations of the Cross this past week, enacted by some students at the Catholic school. At some point, I could no longer bear it, and closed my eyes. How difficult it is to be present to the ones we love when they suffer! What courage, what strength Mary must have had to accompany Jesus on his way and to stand beneath the cross! Mary! Give us your courage and strength to stand with you and be present with Jesus and all who suffer!

Third: I went to confession this week. Due to circumstances beyond my control, this was not my usual confessor. I was struck by the way he empathized with my sins—not excusing them nor condoning them, but acknowledging his own humanity, his own inclination to sin, his own struggle. I was amazed by how comforting I found this and realized that the comfort lie in the priest’s imitation of Christ: though one with God, he became human. In that priest, I saw Christ, felt the consolation of Christ, more clearly than I have in a long time. All because he, like Christ, shared my humanity. And in sharing my humanity, he showed me divinity: Christ’s, the priest’s, and that to which even I became heir at my baptism. What a tremendous gift is the humility of Christ. And what a tremendous gift is the humble priest!
-- Tom, Pennsylvania

Again I wonder this week where Jesus' thoughts really are on this journey. Are they on his resurrection or on his suffering? I want to think resurrection because I want to avoid suffering. But I know there is no resurrection without suffering. Jesus has to be true to His Father in all ways. Then as I do the Stations of the Cross, I wonder where am I really in these scenes? I'm probably with the disciples ... not present ... full of great hopes for transformation ... but on my terms ... my priorities ... and not Jesus'. Then I'm asked to reflect that this is for me ... how can this be? Please, I beg, you don't really have to go through this for me ... I'm not worth it. But Jesus' still calls gently ... just as he called John from the Cross. If this is how much He loves me ... what do I really have to do to return that love?

Thank you for letting me be part of the group. I am about to begin the 28th Week, and I hope to continue reading all the material I have downloaded so far.

Actually I shall restart all over after the weeks are over, because i feel i have been mechanically reading and not doing much in practice, and so everyday shall be Ignatian exercise for the rest of my life, trying to follow in His footsteps with you all. Praying with you, thank you.

Week 28: Jesus knew from back in His days how incredibly resistant are His followers to His guidance, even when His guidance will save them from disaster or death! Thousands of bible stories are stories of pride and an ever patient, forgiving Father who will keep calling and inviting the faithful to His guidance.

To this day, it’s the same God nagging us still, to come and follow Him! And Jesus calls the same “proud and self-focused” believer! But thank God, it is both our human weakness and human strength to long for peace, to want answers, to do what is right in this life, and even right the wrong, and so, we search for guidance.

On this Christ’s Passion season, let us not pass up the opportunity to dwell on ourselves as Jesus calls us to “soften our hearts” and maybe even “soften our minds” since it is “no brainer” to realize that in order to fall in love with Jesus, we have to come closer to Him, know Him and follow Him.

Pride and selfishness were all the reasons Jesus carried that cross and died. Let us not pass up the opportunity to focus on our pride and selfishness these coming days. But as we self-focus, let’s stay close to Jesus for His guidance through His Word and His invitation to, “do this in memory of me!”

During the 28th week, in the praying in the Garden, Jesus said," if there is no other way and I must suffer, I will still do what you want."  this meant for me how deep God's love for us is and Jesus's trust and love for God is.  The Station of the Cross and the photo of the drawing from El Salvador helped me to meditate Jesus's passion more actually than before. Especially when I meditated Jesus was whipped, beaten, mocked, and stripped, I felt so helpless and angry and insulted.
I experienced the same feelings when watching the scenes that the Iraqis was stripped and mocked, beaten by some of US army- through they are enemies at war- on tv.
Now brutality of the terror and war, many innocent deaths  is connected with Jesus's suffering.  As little students hostaged by terrorist in Russian school were suffering from fear without food and water, l surely acknowledg that Jesus was suffering with them there because of love.

Thank you for the beautiful reflections for this week. I have been reading two stations a day, because that is all I can handle. I am overcome with emotion at the depth of his total self giving love. There really are no words to describe how I feel when I contemplate on the stations. The reflections have aided in my understanding and contemplation in a way that is new. Always moved by the passion, and feeling great sorrow for what Jesus went through is nothing new to me, but I never took this so personally before. He did this for me. I experience His passion through the actual passion and through the passion scenes of my own life experiences .

I saw Christ crucified in situations in my own family and friends ,acquaintances, and strangers.  The brutality of war, the loss of life, and the daily Calvary of humanity is somehow connected with Christs suffering. We are not alone in our suffering , He is there . He has gone before us to lead us to himself in these circumstances.

I really am speechless , and can't articulate how God could humbly subject himself to every kind of insult, pain, and abandonment that Jesus did for me. It is the most beautiful love offering  for eternity.

I pray for all who are and will join in Christs sufferings, that we may always turn to the one in three trinity for heavenly support to guide us onward to our true home.  God please come to my assistance. Week 28

The reflections for the Twenty-eighth Week of the Retreat were focused on the events around the Passion and the actual Stations of the Cross.  The Thirteenth Station in the provided online version has the line "He has fallen into God's hands".  This line meant so much to me as I read it.  Throughout all of the events associated with the Passion, Jesus had to ultimately surrender to God.  From His praying in the Garden that the Father's will be done to His actually accepting the injustice given Him at His trail and the carrying of the instrument of His death, Jesus had to choose to let this occur.  He was constantly surrendering to His all loving Father. Little by little he fell into the hands of God in each of these steps so that when ultimately He breathed His last he totally fell into the hands of God.  The word 'falling' implies that one has let go and is not directing the movement.  Jesus as well as we need to let go and trust God's plan.  What a marvelous reception awaited Jesus as he let Himself fall into the hands of God - the God that loved Him so much that he raised him from the dead and glorified Him forever.
Week 28: I'm doing the Stations of the Cross this week. I've haven't wanted to do them in the past--it's too painful to see so much suffering and to think that it is for my sake. I am uncomfortable looking at the consequences of evil--the suffering and the agony. It makes me want to look away, to concede that I'm helpless to make a difference, to change anything. But this week I felt drawn to the Stations of the Cross for these very reasons and I wondered what would happen to me as I did them.
I am finding that what is important is to be present with Jesus as he suffers--to offer my love and my presence, my sadness at his pain--and that it is enough. I am there with him. And because of this I think that I may learn to be present with others who suffer because of evil- I may learn not to allow the consequences of evil to make me feel helpless and impotent. I don't want to turn away, or to go away. Maybe just being present with love and compassion is enough.

I was most struck this week by two things:The first was a comment in the Stations of The Cross that accompanied this weeks readings.  In the past when I am praying over Simon’s forced assistance to Jesus, I have focused on Simon’s heart and soul. Herein, the contemplation that accompanies the station comments about the suffering Jesus may have endured by needing help. This is an important insight I had not considered.  Jesus had to overcome the temptations associated with guilt and shame during this encounter. In the gospels Jesus always seemed to be in control, but here he is helpless.  This encounter must have been one more nail in the mental suffering of His crucifixion experience.  Furthermore, it must have also hurt Jesus to cause another person to suffer for him. This must have been especially difficult for Jesus when his mental state was so fragile from the torture. He had to overcome temptations concerning an injustice against him and Simon as he took on the burden our sins.

The second thing that struck me this week was the horrifying picture I had on my desktop all week. I could not wait to get rid of this picture of two partially naked and tortured women with their hands wired behind their backs. Looking at the picture, I spent the entire week realizing that at every minute of every day some…many persons are being tortured and abused. I know that as I sit here at my computer in my nice home some poor souls are hungry and lonely in some dark, prison hole; some other poor souls are being tortured; some other poor souls are starving; others are being sexually abused, and others mentally abused. The constant reminder of this is unpleasant, but it did help me see Christ’s pain and made me more socially responsible.  I pray that the death of Our Lord and the Holy Spirit he unveiled by means of his death will comfort these persons. I am humbled by the brutality of my species. It is only through Christ’s example that I find any hope that the cruel ones will overcome their twisted values and find peace as did St. Paul.

O my goodness, How I abhor violence and witnessing such cruelty as the 'passion' pictures from El Salvador! As I am a passenger in the car driving along the autumn freeway on a most magnificent day in Perth West Australia I contemplate the pain and sacrifice and cruelty on this day. Your presence is nearby, Dear  Lord!

I imagine driving this freeway on such a pleasant afternoon at present, on a wild stormy day as we have the best weather in the world except when it isn't! I thankyou and praise you, dear God for the paradoxes of this life bound in your eternal love in joy and in pain!

Week 28 has challenged me as I meditate on Christ's suffering in his passion.  I cringe as I read the scriptures  and I hold back from entering fully into the meditations as I realize you were dragging my sins to the cross.  To enter into your sufferings, even in my imagination, is overwhelming.  What fear you must have felt.  What a temptation it must have been to use your power to avoid the pain.  How alone you must have felt as your friends deserted you.  Forgive me Lord Jesus for those times when I have been ungrateful for your sacrifice for me; for the times I have denied you and deserted you.  Thank you Lord Jesus for your forgiveness and thank you for your great love. 

Thank you for this wonderful site, I found it by the grace of God. I have a disability and have not been out of my home since October, waiting for a ramp to be built for my electric wheelchair, I think it will be soon. I have missed going to Mass although I watch it on TV. This site has given me a way to make a retreat that otherwise would be impossible, the Stations of the Cross are also a blessing and help me feel more connected to the Body of Christ. I have chosen to begin the retreat on week 28 since I feel a deep connection to the rhythm of the liturgical year . Thank you, thank you and God bless you! 

Week 29

greetings from nell on tweed. the end of week 29. and again i am short of words. as i wrestle with the images and concepts of Calvary. i could feel the pieta grief of a mother and the devastating love of a mother for an adult son. but still i seem a little lost and seem to be missing an understanding that others seem to have. i would take longer over the week - but life dont go that way. death comes when it comes and i think i will miss even more of the sense of this if i dont go with the rhythm of the retreat as it is presented . the only words which come to my mind are some i read which said ONLY A SUFFERING GOD WILL DO. love to you all.
-- Nell.

I see myself as Joseph of Arimathea. Oh how difficult that final Council of Jewish Leaders had been. I had tried to argue along with Nicodemus that there was no evidence to convict this man Jesus. Actually, it wasn’t just that there was no evidence. For some time I felt myself attracted to his teachings. Yes he challenged me to the core. Were my beliefs and what I was doing really consistent with the God of Creation whom we worshipped? Were my practices really self-serving? There is so much need around me... yet I go by it each day. I am very good at finding the intellectual argument that prevents action. I am very good about thinking about my own desires first … sometimes these are banal … other times quite profound. But nevertheless I ignore God’s call to love those around me.

In the Council, this became even more apparent. Rather than leap to his defense by going to the core of the argument and why we were really here … because all of us felt the same challenge, I let Caiaphas remind us of the pragmatism of our case. I got into pragmatic arguments. It was easy to lose and frankly the Council also stirred up quite a bit of emotion among those outside. I became afraid. I saw the potential for ridicule. Worse, I saw the potential to lose my comfortable position. I caved in and supported the rest of the Council.

But it bothered me. I contrasted the Man we ridiculed and allowed to be cruelly beaten with the Man I observed … the Man who engaged children … the Man who reached out to the poor and outcasts … the Man who transformed lives. Then I went out with everyone else to the place where the crucifixion was taking place. Most of the onlookers were curious. Some of them, including some of my colleagues from Council, continued to ridicule Jesus. But most of us just watched from a distance. Even from far away I could see what terrible agony he was in. All of us could see. Most people were repelled by this sight. We came to realize that he did not deserve this. We are torturing to death a man just because he loved and because of that challenged us. This is too much. Too much pain and most people went away sickened and determined to forget. The crowd had gotten out of hand. Tomorrow hopefully we can get back to normal.

But I know there is no normality now. As the crowd departs I get closer to the Cross. I see His mother there with a few more women and one of his disciples. I see how lovingly he still talks to his mother and how in her grief she looks at Him and understands what he is doing even though she clearly grieves for him. I see him forgive one of the terrorists who are crucified with him and I see how finally he gives himself up totally to God the Father.

At that moment, I knew I had to change. I went to see Nicodemus who had not bothered to go to the hill. He was so upset. We went together to Pilate’s office but I went in and asked for the body. By this time I did not care what anyone else in Council said. I may have been too late to save him but I am determined tomorrow will not be a return to “normalcy”. Nicodemus and I go back to the hill and help the women extract his tortured and beaten body from the cross. We hastily clean it and wrap it in cloth. Nicodemus has brought some burial spices. Probably this is not enough, but we must respect Him and we need out of that respect to bury him before the Passover is to begin. There is an empty tomb close by and at least we know we can bury him there at least for the short run. The women follow us … still grieving.

As I place him in the tomb I allow his mother to kiss him one final time. I see the love in her eyes. I talk with her. I tell her that I am sorry. I should have done more. Then she quietly tells me … speaking still in her grief … that she appreciates this but I should know that this was not in vain … this was for me.

So that is how I became his disciple. No more pragmatism … no more selfishness … God will work through me … even though these patterns are difficult to change. I in turn will live first to serve God … love God … returning his great love for me. God will help me complete whatever mission he has for me. There is no shortage of people needing his love.

Much as I have tried I cannot fathom Jesus being crucified. How could he have stood being nailed to a cross. If you have ever experienced a deep cut or a stab wound can you possibly imagine having a nail driven throuh your hand!!
It is truly mind boggling. And all so we have a chance to someday join him.

As I read again the sufferings of Jesus, suddenly the thought of how heavy that cross must have been - carrying the sins of the world on His shoulders! Though Mary, the mother of Jesus and our mother, was not carrying a wooden cross as her son Jesus, the cross she carried must have been just as heavy - watching the sufferings of her only son, Jesus. Realizing all the sufferings Jesus endured for my sins causes me to never want to stumble again, but because I am merely a human, not yet perfect, I know there may be times when I will stumble. Like Jesus, each time we stumble, we must get up and keep going until we come into the fullness of life and are in heaven with Jesus, Mary, and all the saints who persevered to the very beginning of the end. Week 29 and continuing.
Week Twenty-nine of the Retreat called us to reflect upon the death of Jesus.  Thinking about not only the moment of the death of Jesus but also the feelings that must have come in the moments, hours, and days after his death caused me to think about the feelings and thoughts that I have had surrounding the death of some special people.  I was particularly remembering the calling hours and funerals of a retired Bishop of my Diocese and of some priests who have passed from this world.  I thought of their lifeless hands in the coffin that had accomplished a mission and how those hands had administered the sacraments and blessings in life but would no longer do so in this world.  I thought of the tender moment when I laid my hand on the cold lifeless hand that a few years earlier was laid on me in the Sacrament of Confirmation.  As I ponder this, I recognize that while there is a sense of sadness, there is also the fact that these people touched my life in ways that continue on.  They fulfilled their mission that God gave them in life by bringing Christ to me and countless others.  The effects of their lived mission will spread on through time in this world and into the next.  It makes me wonder if those who had known Jesus in His earthly life were not only saddened but also somewhat glad and joyful that He had touched them in this life in many ways. What He had done in life did not die with His earthly body but laid the foundation for the future of countless people.
Week 29: The readings for this week incorporated more aspects of Jesus’ torture, but I mentally did not. Last week I focused on the abuse, but this week I unconsciously separated the death and dying from the victimization. I needed this I think because it added dignity to death and brought peace. I think Jesus, Mary, and John were able to let go of the abuse and see the transition of death. In Christ’s case, the peace of death is particularly beautiful since he died for my redemption. And as the blood of redemption and the water of baptism flow from his side I am awed that by dying he triumphed over death.
Week 29, and I feel lost. Not lost to the Lord, but in the sense that I have to wonder why I continue to worry so. If my faith were strong, worry would be a thing of the past. Yet here I am, and here it is. The ‘end’ of this retreat is but a few weeks away for me, and I am only beginning. In 1983 I started using a little book titled “My Daily Bread” by Anthony Paone, SJ. You read one short chapter each day. That book leaves me feeling as I do now. I have been through the book many times since then, and each time, as I approach the end, I know I must begin again. I have so far to go on my faith journey. I am not sure what I will do when I reach the last week of this retreat, but I know that I must do it again some time. Reflecting on Christ’s death, as we do this week, leaves me all the more confounded with myself. I know what He has done for me. How can doubt and fear remain? But they do. I pray this week, as always, for an increased faith and for diminished doubt and fear.
The contemplation is certainly deepening my awareness of  God's presence in my daily activities!  I was dozing in my favourite lounge chair after a hard day's night and a favourite piece of music St. Matthew's Passion by Bach lifted me into the background and foreground of the passion of Christ. I  felt a distinct  gift of peace in the knowledge that the good lord has given us a powerful means through music to reach him in prayer. PRAISE GOD !!!!

In week 29 I ponder the meaning of Christ's crucifixion and realize that I cannot grasp the depth of His love for me and the Father's love for me. All I can do is sit in awe and gratitude and try to soak in this love.  His love is greater than my sinfulness.  The wounds I have inflicted on my own soul through my sin, the wounds inflicted on my soul through the sins and thoughtlessness of others - these are all healed.  He bore these on the Cross!  It's too much for me to comprehend!

I printed out the text of the Stations of the Cross (29) and took them to church on Good Friday afternoon.  The phrase "This is for me" resounded throughout my prayer. This retreat  led me to realize all this happened to a friend rather than to a distant historical figure.  I was left with an immense feeling of gratitude.  As we enter this Easter season, I hope my awareness of this friendship continues to grow.

Week 30

greetings to you all. its a lovely spring morning here with the sun rising over the ocean in the distance. i hadnt identified my sadness with the retreat during the last two weeks till i read about the low grade discouragement of studying the crucifixion stories . during this week some joy has begun to return. my own favourite image is of mary in the garden and the voice which says her name . and her quiet response of Rabboni. so i have walked through this week with the familiar and beloved companion Again. After all the years of separation before i got clean and sober in 1987 - it has been a desolate place to experience living without Him beside me.
so i have been able to stop and listen this week for the voice which says Nell. and to stop and respond. Heart delighted as always.
i have also looked in the garden of my life this week to see which stones have been rolled from which tombs. and also to locate a tomb at the very centre of it - in which the most beloved of my life has been crucified and entombed.
and there seems to me to be a young woman rising . a sparkling unwounded woman. a girl. i know that life has tortured and killed parts of me and they have lain dead a goodly while. with stones blocking the caves. for years now - life has been restoring and this week was delightful. the stones which i cannot move are being rolled away. and my step is lighter and a smile on occasion surprises me.
my love to you all.
-- Nell from Tweed, Week 30

In some ways it has been "easier" for me to stay in Holy Week and witness suffering and death than to move unto to Easter Joy. In the past year, both my parent's passed away and I am still struggling with the grief, even to the point of worrying that I may not know the correct way to grieve so that I may move on. I was thinking about death and resurrection and grief and joy, when the thought came to me that I cannot possibly know how to grieve. Grief is not something that I can control. I need to trust in God and let him guide me from my grief to His joy. I need to pray and trust.
I don't need to understand. I can't understand God's ways anymore than I can understand a crow cawing, but He will send me what I need. I believe.

Easter is more difficult than lent. Lent has all its pious practices: its fasting and almsgiving and prayer. It is a time of intense activity, when we feel like we are contributing something to our salvation and the salvation of others. Then comes Easter and all of that ends. What are we to DO now? Are we not “an Easter people”, living always in the light of the resurrection? How are we to live our lives now? Some reverent people I know cling to their fasts and alms and prayers all the year, as if we were not “an Easter people” but “a Lenten people”. Your retreat speaks often of joy—the joy of the apostles and of Mary, who now know their Savior is risen from the dead. But I cannot just DO joy. Joy is always a surprise that comes unbidden. Pursued, it flees. In all of this, Easter speaks more to us of surrender to God’s will even than the Cross does. Even if we follow Christ willingly to the Cross, we cannot will ourselves to rise from death. Only perfect surrender can make us one with Life Undying.

For me, the sweet surprise of John’s gospel is that Mary Magdalene saw the risen Christ and “she thought he was the gardener.” Why did she think so? Isn’t it almost comical? It is one of those tiny details that makes John’s gospel so believable. It speaks not of joy, but of the confusion of grief. But it also instructs. It is no mistake, I think, that she thought he was the gardener. He IS the gardener, tending a new Eden before her eyes, the Eden of an eternal springtime, of abundant, miraculous life. After all of his parables of mustard seeds and sowing and vineyards, Christ speaks her name, “Mary!” and she grows: “Rabboni!” she replies.

Risen Christ, teach me, make me grow. Help me surrender to your will.

Tom, Pennsylvania - Week 30

I did start the week restlessly. On Sunday morning I went to mass myself. It was a beautiful day but I was sorry that my boys who have now grown up but were home for Easter and my wife found reasons not to go. I met one of my clients with his family. Frankly, I was a little resentful.

But during the week, I reflected on Jesus meeting his mother again. I pictured Mary talking to me and telling me about the encounter and what it meant for her. In fact, how it now put all things she had encountered in her life and particularly the pain of the Cross in a new perspective. Then taking my restlessness to her (which I compounded at work concerned about how I was going to get everything done that I think needs to get done), I hear her talk about perfection. God does not promise perfection rather God promises love and because of that transformation. I know my restlessness is still part of my pattern of sin … I want it all … more … even the perfect family … rather than what God wants from me out of His love. The fact of the resurrection does not obliterate Jesus’ wounds … and therefore the wounds we carry or have not closed.

So I wander with the disciples around that Garden of Resurrection still confused by what it all means but hopeful too … because Jesus is present. I thought about what the disciples are really doing after Jesus’ death. I always imagined them in a kind of limbo state … confused. Maybe they were but more likely they are also thinking about getting on with life … “OK this venture is over … seemed a good idea at the time … great ideals … great goals …. Destroyed by powerful forces … we’ll never overcome them”. Jesus’ presence is a direct challenge … it’s not over … the powers of darkness have not overcome … and the challenge is clear … “get back out there and keep the work of transforming love going”.

I pray that we may all find our way of doing that.

As I read the teachings for this week, I see many lessons to be learned. The photo of the person entering the empty tomb, the place where Jesus' body was, is now empty. I thought of how many miracles we often miss because we fail to enter into the tomb of emptiness in our lives, we are afraid of entering into the place God has prepared for us.

Then, there was Mary Magdalene, one of the first to see our resurrected Savior because her faith would not allow her to believe that the tomb could hold him captive. How many times we fail to receive the promises of God because we allow circumstances to overwhelm us with doubt and unbelief.

Peter, the rock, the one chosen to succeed Jesus, did not have the courage to enter the tomb first. We don't know exactly why he stopped at the entrance of the tomb, maybe he was afraid of what he would find. Could it be that we sometimes give up just before we about to receive a miracle because we fear God's goodness. The beloved disciple persevered and was the first to see and touch a miracle - the very clothes that had bound the body of Jesus. This is proof of what happens when we are not afraid to enter into His presence.

I offer my special prayers for all of us during this Advent, now only a few days from the celebration of the birth of Jesus, and pray that we will allow nothing to bar the peace and joy of this wonderful season from us.

The thirtieth week made me contemplate the joy of Jesus' resurrection. I have suffered from financial problem caused by my brother-in-law 's bankruptcy. I made a big mistake by letting my brother- in-law use my name and my husband's name in his deal with bank without my permission. As a result, I got to be charge of a part of his debt. I couldn't understand what he had done.

As Mary was looking for Jesus outside the empty tomb, I prayed to escape from my suffering and frustration and was looking for where Jesus was. At first if Jesus is with me, I doubted how the things happened to me . Because I didn't have any matter with my brother-in-law's failure.

One day while I was contemplating in my church, Jesus on the Cross made me accept my hard situation. I realized that Jesus-innocent and good- was accused and punished and killed. At that time I experienced the joy of Jesus being with me. Jesus ia not in the tomb. He was resurrected from His death.

This is week 30, which I have been on for a few weeks.  Jesus is Risen!!! How wonderful, that Jesus not only lived, died ,but also experienced what we will go through when we are resurrected and brought into eternal life with Him.  He is always before us, and leading us, giving us the sense of joy and security that we will be united to Him forever.

I imagined the scene of Jesus appearing first to His mother,  how much sense that He would appear to her first.  The scene was too intimate, to even be portrayed in scripture.

I imagined Mary in a room,  keeping busy, she was doing some kind of sewing or other kind of handwork in a room that was lit only by candlelight. Her back was turned away from the door, when suddenly she felt His presence and turned to see Him.  Jesus and Mary embraced with such joy and tenderness, a scene too emotional to find words to describe. Mary, His mother would have been the first , she of all,  would understand that He would be with us forever.

Even after that moment , Mary then went and ministered to the apostles in her loving way.

The indescribable joy of seeing someone who you think is dead, come back. What joy.  I have to remember that He is alive !  He is present to me , here and now, and for all eternity.  He will never abandon me, not even in the darkest of days. He is life. While I am waiting for the day when I return "home"  I have to try to keep that joy, that promise alive in my heart.  That where He is I will be. Jesus sent Mary Magdalene, he sent the apostles, and He is sending me to reach out and spread the news, and live a life of love.

The basis of our faith is the believe in His life, death , and resurrection. Eternal life and redemption are his promise to us. The challenge is to keep that in mind, to feel His presence in all things, and to remain faithful even when life, and our weakness make it difficult.  He will be with us always.

To experience joy in the midst of trials is what will be a lifelong journey, but a journey with Him all the way.

The Thirtieth Week of the Retreat had so many powerful and touching pieces.  I will briefly comment on three such pieces.  In "Getting Started this Week," the phrase "I will not give my peace away" awakened in me a deeper realization that what happens in the outside world I do not always have the power to change but the way that I handle it inside myself I do have control over.  I can refuse to let tense and frustrating situations and people take away the peace that I can claim within.  How powerful to realize and attempt to implement. 
Another phrase that has meant a lot to me over the years is contained in the words of Jesus found in Matthew 28:20 which was in the one of the Readings for this week.  "I will be with you always even until the end of the world."  This has been among my favorite Biblical passages for years.  How reassuring, comforting, and strengthening it is to know that no matter what Jesus is here with us always even until the end of time.
In this week of so many powerful passages, the Exultet was also included in the Prayers for this week.  At the Easter Vigil when I let myself enter into the words of this prayer that are so beautifully sung, tears can enter my eyes.  To just ponder the powerful message that is proclaimed in such a  beautiful poetic yet profound proclamation.  Even reading it is powerful as I contemplate what it expresses.

This week when I thought of the resurrection, my mind kept turning to the peace it brings to my life to know that Christ did not leave.  That he is not gone and will never be gone. My prayer did not seem to get beyond that thought. Lord, thank you for revealing the mystery of your unfolding presence in our history and in our lives. Week 30
For  week 30 my Rosary had six mysteries: The appearance to His Mother, His appearance to Mary and the women, His leaving only wrappings for Peter and John, the Road to Emmaus, His appearance in the Upper Room, and His showing His wounds to Thomas. I wondered why He appeared to the women first. I don’t know the answer to that question, but I believe it has to do with the natural tendencies of men and women. That is, the women had been with Him even as He carried His cross. They had wept bitterly and openly as they watched Him suffer and die. The men (except for young John, of course) had run. They ran out of fear not only of punishment for being ‘with’ Him, but also for fear of their own ‘lowly’ position in the hierarchy of Judaism. Who would believe a fisherman before a priest or a scribe? Men put so much emphasis on ‘who they are’ as opposed to what they do. Women, it seems to me, focus more on the ‘what’ than on the ‘who.’ Furthermore, the men didn’t believe when the women told them what they had seen. Like most men, they needed positive ‘proof’ before they would believe.
This week, for instance, there are two concepts that I have focused on. These are not necessarily new but in seems that I am seeing them in a new light. The first point is the extent to which Jesus went to his death willingly.  We say in our prayers "a death that He willingly accepted."  But His participation is much greater than "nonresistance."  His Apostles told Him not to go to Jerusalem, because death awaited Him there.  He told them that this was His Mission.  The one that He was given by His Father.  He told Peter to "Get back Satan...etc..."

The other point that I am contemplating is that my mission is to "Walk with Jesus."  His mission should be my mission.  This knowledge may be the answer to my prayer to know my "calling."

But how do I make Jesus' mission, my mission.  St. Francis may have shown me the way.  When St. Francis took the young Friar with him on his day of preaching the Gospel.  At the end of the day, the young friar complained that he had been prepared to preach but they had spoken to no one.  St. Francis'' way of preaching was to speak only when necessary.  I need to live the "Good News" that my sins may be forgiven.

From these points I expect to learn to be a better follower of Jesus.  I must forget about myself.  If I try to save my life, I will destroy it.  But if I give it up; I will save it.  In other words, if I follow my natural tendencies and am obsessive about maintaining my existence on this earth, I will surely not earn the "resurrection" that we have been promised.

I am in week 30 and have just reviewed some other thoughts being shared by others on the retreat. I have always felt restrained when expressing my feelings to others so I have not participated in this part of the retreat before. However as it says throughout "Some one else may benefit from what you have to say." Week 29 to 30 was such an enormous transition for me . I have been through this retreat before but must have missed this. Going from death to life. How much more could we ask for. In the section of "IN THESE WORDS..." seeing Jesus alive I could almost feel the embrace and the giddyness of seeing someone that you thought was gone forever but is back. How often have we felt that in real life with people we actually meet - Gone but the they come back into our lives. The same with Christ, how many times have we 'lost' Him (or ran away from him) only to embrace Him fully when He is back. To wipe away the tears of gladness and just enjoy the moment of reconciliation with a lost friend. It doesn't get much better than this. Thank you Creighton for this wonderful retreat and these fabulous feelings.

Week 31

I found it relatively easy this week to be discouraged. I did do the exercise bringing Jesus’ blessing, breaking and offering bread at many points of frustration. There were quite a few since I had a series of difficult meetings … organizational politics were rife … and I got to play my part too … which I don’t necessarily feel proud about. Overall though on a spiritual level I felt discouraged.

Then I reflected more on the disciples on their way to Emmaus. They are getting back to life … to what must be done … to make a living. Jesus who had seemed so relevant is no longer a reality. Except that they meet a stranger and without even realizing it what they felt when they were with Jesus comes back again. They see His life in its larger context. Then in the breaking of the bread He is really present … just as He becomes present to the other disciples … confused by the messages of resurrection. Resurrection is a physical act. If we are resurrected it is not just some ghostly figment of our imagination or some special movement of our souls. Rather, with Jesus present we really have changed … just as the disciples on their way back to Emmaus have changed and they didn’t realize it until they met “the stranger”. And Jesus resurrected, is the Jesus who still has wounds. Resurrection obliterates the Cross but not the wounds

So I ask Jesus to continue to forgive me when I’m rushing back to Emmaus … self absorbed … ignoring others around me who are as much the presence of Jesus and to whom I can be present in different ways … and to return with Jesus to that state I feel called to in his Eucharistic prayer.

I want to encourage everyone who is struggling in exercises TO CONTINUE with them! You will be awarded with numerous gifts and light if you will reach to the end! God bless you all and thanks to st.Ignatio Loyola for helping me through this journey!
ivana, 31 week

Starting (second time) week 31.  I was so diligent through most of the retreat, then my children came home from college for the summer.  Before I knew it, almost two months had gone by before I found myself "needing" to get back to the retreat.  I read the sharing from those of you just starting, and I remember my own intense enthusiasm almost a year ago when I was starting.  My sharing now is to let you know that while I slipped from the retreat for a while, I have a sense that God is incredibly patient with me (with us), and is now gently reminding me to finish what we started together.  I am anxious now to continue, and want to let you know that when you come this far, you truly are a changed person.  I have been more patient with my family and others, I know what my personal challenges are, and what weaknesses I am prone to, and how now to respond to those times of weakness. I have a deeper sense of God's presense with me ( when I take time to reflect). This retreat has opened me to these teachings.  And, if you find yourself slipping a bit, don't worry about it -- God will bring you back through when you are ready --- you won't forget the lessons and messages you have learned along the way!  God bless you all --- I feel a bond with each of you making this retreat, and remember you all in my prayers.
Week 31:  I found myself tonight at my computer, and I was going over the readings from the road to Emmaus, when Jesus walked along two of his disciples who were so discouraged , brokenhearted and bewildered at what had happened in Jerusalem. They had such hopes that Jesus would return, they did not recognize him as he walked along. Jesus talked and told them about things, about how the Messiah had to suffer before he was given his glory. He walked and talked with them.

They reached their destination and asked Jesus to stay with them as it was getting night.  After sitting down, Jesus took, blessed, broke, and gave bread to them.  It was in the breaking of the bread that they knew who he was.

They then returned back to Jerusalem to find the eleven apostles,where they learned that Jesus was alive and had appeared to Peter. Then the disciples from Emmaus told what had happened on the road and how they knew it was the Lord when he broke the bread.

I thought about how I am sometimes like the disciples on the road who " had different hopes".  Jesus companioned them on the road , he gently talked and walked with them even though they did not recognize him, he fed them .Companion literally means "with bread". He gave them the greatest hope in the midst of their deepest fears and hopelessness. He overcame death, he overcame evil, and he joyfully wants them and me to know that all will be well. I am deeply comforted to know that  Jesus finds us where we are in our brokenness. He comes disguised as a dear friend, our kids, and annoying neighbor. In each one of them, He is there only sometimes harder to see. Sometimes when I get absorbed in problems , discouragement , or worries, that I forget to see that He is with us. He is  there and comes to us to heal, love, and to bring us to eternal love and life. There are times in my life when I have had "different hopes" and things did not turn out the way I had hoped, but  Jesus was there with me on the road.  He was companioning me and I did not see it .

Jesus is in me and in others , we are His hands and feet.  He is present to us, and He is present through us when we reach out to our brothers and sisters. The ultimate gift , in the breaking of the bread is so awesome, it is hard to comprehend, but the gift is there at every Eucharist, and at every moment.

When I get overwhelmed with problems and challenges it is then that I must remember that He is with me, always, Jesus will not abandon me or you. Jesus is with us and alive. Praying for all on this retreat, please pray for me too.

There were a few instances during this Thirty-first Week of the Retreat where I was getting self absorbed and the exercise of imagining Jesus taking, blessing, and breaking bread and then giving it to me really did add a sense that the Lord was present and I was doing what He called me to do.  It brought Jesus more actively into the picture which in turn made me realize in those moments that I did not need to be in the center of the picture nor did I need to be picture perfect.  This enabled me to go about my activity with a renewed sense of meaning and took my focus off of myself and put it on others and on the call of Jesus.
Not to downplay the sanctity of the Eucharist, but I do not have access to daily mass. I do read the scriptures everyday. Everyday, I look for the presence of the Lord in my reading of the Word. For me the “breaking of bread” on the road to Emmaus does draw out the heart Catholicism, but in reading the story on the road to Emmaus I find myself returning again and again to the talk on the road itself when  “Jesus then explained everything written about himself in the Scriptures beginning with the Law of Moses and the Books of the Prophets.” I keep wondering how they did not see him when he revealed himself in the Word. I thank God that the Word has so much more power in my life because I have so much more access to it than to the Eucharist.

But without regard to this side issue, this week focused me on the great gift I have in the repeated revelation of the risen Lord in my life. This is God’s greatest gift to me, for without it, I would have given up on life long, long ago. Because I am a sinner, I cannot say that I always live for Christ, but I can say that I would not live but for Christ. I stumble through this haphazard adventure like a sinner and a fool on the road to Emmaus and then it happens: he is revealed and I become part of the greater purpose. Interestingly, he was most clearly present to me during Sunday mass. Week 31

As I enter week 31, I find myself in a position of wanting to believe yet being fearful. Things are hard at work right now. People are leaving, the work load is down, and finances are tight. I am worried. I know the Lord has a plan for me, but I want to SEE it! Help me Lord, to see you in everyone I meet this week. If I am able to do so, I know that I will be following Your plan, whatever it is. I need You!

As a mother of 6 young people who have been disenchanted with the Catholic church and no longer attend on a regular basis I found great consolation in this week's Emmaus reflections. The realisation that Jesus walks so closely and so patiently with the "disillusioned"disciples who have turned their backs on the "community" in Jesusalem makes me realise that Jesus is and always has been accompanying my children in their "walking away" and will one day let them recognise him in a way only each one of them will understand and like our Emmaus brothers they will turn in their tracks with their hearts on fire and want to return to the Christian community to find the Risen Lord. It also gives me a greater thankfulness to Jesus that he has already got me "hooked"! Thank you for such a wonderful retreat. 

It’s like being stretched and stretched, and not knowing if you will break or not. It just feels better to go back to the way you were. I’m in week 31 on the road to Emmaus. Jesus comes after me and I must respond, but I feel like I’m being torn apart.

Week 32

It seemed easier to understand Jesus' feelings during his passion and death. I needed only to magnify enormously the pain, the abandonment, the fear and the tremendous effort to trust the Father. It was enormous but I could understand it. I prayed to understand Jesus' feelings having been risen up by the Father. I went on blankly for more than a week but then understood as Jesus' said "why ask me? You know what it is like. Through my death and resurrection and thru your baptism you are in the last days - you are living the life with me. The intimacy you feel with your sisters and brothers who are my sisters and brothers in baptism is the intimacy and peace of the risen life. When you gather around my table and recognize me in the breaking of the bread you are in the fellowship of the risen banquet with the angels, Saints, saints and those around the world who recognize me in the breaking of the bread and offer me and themselves to the Father thru ther power of the Spirit."
I recall someone saying that ther last page of the book of life is already written. It says, Jesus risen from the dead, followed by the list of all humanity risen from the dead.
Thanks to Jesus for his great sacrifice that even today gives us life.
Thanks for this retreat as well.

I should be finished by now, but I have allowed my self to be distracted some weeks by things I thought were more important.

It would be very easy to finish this retreat and return to a less spiritual life than before I began for there are so many useless distractions, but what a waste that would be! Although I soon will have completed this retreat, I must continue the journey, for I know that God is calling each of us to a higher spiritual place to Him in Jesus. Whatever I have learned on this journey and the future I must pass it on to those I encounter along the way. With the grace of God, I will continue fishing on the right side of the boat.

during the 32th week, the article "bring some of the fish you just caught." was so impressive for me. while I have been continuing the retreat, I contemplated what some of the fish I just caught was.
I came to be more aware of myself as a sinner. and I experienced Jesus' love for me is timeless regardless of being myself. Although I was a poor sinner, Jesus has not only been with me but waited me with His great love.
In a last evening mass, Jesus invited me to make a confession, like he was telling " follow me."
with the help of confession, I will have a coming Easter day more excitedly.
I experienced again and againt that Jesus' nourishing presence is most effective when I accepted his invitation.

I focused on the scenes on the shore:

So we decided to go back to Galilee. Yes it’s certainly not as glamorous as Jerusalem but its home and familiar. There were 7 of us and Peter decided to go fishing. We’d been sitting on the shore becoming accustomed again to the setting. We were talking … even a little joking … just like the old days. Returning to the “old days” seemed not a bad idea after everything that had happened. But really how could we? Had we not been present when Jesus healed … when Jesus called people who you would never have thought would have been candidates for transformation … but they became transformed. And he had called us. How could we return to the “old days”? But going fishing seemed like a good idea.

We fished all night. Fish sometimes are not cooperative. We had almost decided it must be down to a “low pressure area” or one of the many excuses we fishermen find for not being productive when we caught a glimpse, through the breaking dawn, of a figure on the shore. He asked how it had been going and when we told him he suggested we cast to the other side. What had he seen there? Sometimes you get so focused on where you think the fish are that you forget the obvious … try something different. We had been casting where we thought there would be fish … repeatedly. Sometimes it takes someone who can see the big picture.

The nets filled up. John recognized it was the Lord and Peter when he heard that jumped in the water and half pulled the boat, half skipped ahead of us. We took some of our catch and the Lord carefully prepared the fish and cooked them on the fire. He broke bread with us and we had absolutely no doubt who he was.

Later he took Peter aside as sometimes he had in the past. Peter looked embarrassed but the Lord had clearly forgiven him … we all recognized Peter as our leader but we also recognized like the Lord his impetuousness. Jesus’ clear invitation “Follow Me” … said in clear but also whispered tones remained in us. Later John would talk to us about this as the voice of the shepherd whose voice the sheep recognize and we certainly did then and still do today.

So like Peter I am not sure where my response to follow the Lord will take me. I will not forget that lesson on the boat to remember to cast out where I am today. I will continue to ask the Lord to challenge my assumptions about the best places to cast and let me see his bigger picture. I will also not forget the lesson that I need to be prepared to feed all of God’s flock and certainly if I cannot feed them all myself not to deny one part of the flock because that is the more comfortable thing to do. I pray to continue to respond to the Lord’s call to follow him, “Lord I am here with you ….”

As an avid fisherman I definitely understand the feeling when you’ve fished all night and caught nothing! What struck me particularly is that in my response to the call I still have no definitive path. I think
when I started the retreat I believed by the end I would have a definitive path. Jesus, though, did not give Peter the definitive path … only the warning that he would not go through life for ever with his energy and impetuousness. Goal oriented people like me have a hard time accepting that the destination is different than what we set out for. But now I feel more accepting that the call is not clear. I am open to the call and some of the excuses for not listening that I had before … particularly money and status … I am willing to give up if that is what the Lord wants.

Thank you again for this retreat.

Week 32: The reading about Peter and his conversation with Jesus is a very powerful scene. Jesus knew exactly what Peter needed to allow himself to be healed of his denial ,and to move forward in his mission.  Peter didn't know what to do, except go back to something that was very familiar and comfortable for him.

Jesus gave Peter  encouragement and challenge at the same time. He allowed Peter to see that if He listened ,answers would come : yet he challenged him to action as well ; "Feed my lambs".

I am feeling that way too, I know that life will never be the same after experiencing this retreat. I also know that it is not the end, it is the beginning. I want to share and nourish others, the way I have been nourished. But how and where?

It would be easy to just go back to my life, and the ways that I participate in church, yet I feel that there is something more that I need to do to  follow Jesus. My weaknesses and old patterns though touched by grace are still an undercurrent , to I pray to keep my eyes on Him.  To focus on Jesus and the great love that is present at all times in my life. It was the Holy Spirit that led me to this retreat, and to all things that have brought peace in my life.

I am asking God for the grace to remain open to taking a risk, not being afraid to follow Him. The  question of where, how , and who will be answered . I will follow Jesus, I will follow His lead , but can only do so with God's grace.

Praying for all who are making this retreat, as well as the on-line retreat staff. God bless you.

I was planning to stay with weeks 30-32 of the Retreat until I could feel the joy of the risen Christ more consistently. I have seen that my self-centeredness and focus on my fears and problems has kept me from living in the presence of Christ risen each day. But, then I thought about those first Apostles who knew Christ risen, who were renewed by the Holy Spirit and who moved out into the world with the Gospel. They struggled, they had problems and conflicts and ordinary lives.Still, they kept their focus on Christ and did the work he called them to do--they moved ahead and so will I. Each time that I feel fear or react with anxiety to life, it will become the time to recall the joy of Christ present-the Retreat has taught me to live with a beginning awareness of those "decision points" where I can choose to focus on my self or on God. Week 33 here I come.
The renewal of our call from the Lord in the Thirty-second Week of the Retreat was very uplifting.  While I had said 'yes' to the call of the Lord as part of the Eleventh Week of this Retreat, it was with some fear in completely saying 'yes' and with the accompanying prayer that the Lord would grant me the strength, faith, and courage to follow through with that 'yes'.  While I know that I too have returned to my 'old ways' since my 'yes' all those weeks ago, it was easier to respond 'yes' this week.  While I can not explain exactly why, I know that it must be the work of the Lord in my life helping me to live out my 'yes'.
I always like to think of the risen Jesus on the shore with grilled fish, just before dawn, waiting for me. Week 32
The broken record is back again. It seems impossible that I am already starting week 32. I wish I didn’t feel so confused. On one hand, I know I have come a long way. On the other, I don’t feel ‘ready’ to end this and return to life as it was. I don’t WANT to return to life as it was, but I know myself and fear that that is just what I’ll do. Lord, help me move on, as Peter did. I hear Your call, and I want with all my heart to follow, yet my fears persist. Help me. Fellow retreatants, pray for me, as I will be praying for you.
It's week 32 - so much has deepened in my relationship with the Lord. I thankyou because my son is so much better! I placed his care to you and you are healing him. Thanks and praise be to God!

I am in week thirty-two.  This whole retreat has blessed me in a way that will, hopefully,  allow me to bless others!
The Jesuits teach a magnificent spirituality where we become part of scripture as a living character witnessing the events...this has affected me profoundly.  I am grateful for this new way of worshiping my Lord and look forward to each new day of participating in the online retreat.

Those of you who are just beginning this retreat- know that you will be profoundly blessed by the handiwork of some great Jesuits who will bring Christ to you!   May you grow in your likeness of Christ and experience hope, joy, peace and God's love!  I never want this retreat to end.  Diane 

Week 33

I completed the Online Retreat in August 2004 but I was drawn back to week 33 today 2 years later and I want to share my experience. I am overwhelmed by my experience of God's love. I consider the gifts God has given to me: life, self (with so many talents and abilities), all of creation, so many people dear to me--and I am filled with gratitude. I more freely than ever before, offer it all back to God to use. I realize that am incomplete, unless and until I make this offer, to give all back for God to use. I feel God's love more deeply every year and I want to share love and grace with others more each year. I am grateful.
“Take, receive.”

This imperative, in which I offer myself to Christ, is, marvelously, an echo of the imperative with which he offers himself to me: “Take, eat.”

Communion has always before now seemed a one-way interaction: Christ offers himself and I receive. But now, I see it is more like a kiss, a mutual self-giving. When the priest says “The Body of Christ” and I say “Amen,” I am also, in a way, saying, “take, receive.”

While it is beyond understanding—but not beyond faith—that Christ should come to me in the Eucharist, it seems to me even more astonishing that he should accept to take and receive me. Christ, the infinite, eternal one, took on flesh in his conception and birth and enters into the flesh of all us in his Eucharistic form. We have almost come to expect these incarnations. But for me to be accepted by Christ—why is that so much greater a leap of faith? I don’t know the answer, but it is encouraging to know that when I receive Communion, I now have in my heart the words to offer him something in return. That hope of reciprocity enriches the relationship.
Tom, Pennsylvania

I felt especially graced this week. It was fortuitous that the week started with a 40 hour Adoration in our parish. I used some of my time to reflect on all I had to be thankful for and what I had come to understand about the Lord in this retreat. I felt a deep appreciation in a special way for Jesus’ love for us.

I ended the week with a retreat organized in my parish. Two reflections were especially useful in the context of this overall retreat. We meditated at the start on a prayer attributed to Archbishop Romero. One verse stood out for me personally:

“We cannot do everything and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. That enables us to do something, and to do it very well. It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest”.

We finished with reflecting on some propositions by Father Van Breemen OSJ on the differences between “Fruitfulness and achievement”. I had a brief resistance to this. My propensity to see the opposite side and challenge started to rise up. But this was more about my pattern of resistance. I wanted to say that achievement can be good sometimes. Think of the inventiveness and creativity that comes when people feel driven and motivated to improve or excel? Think of how much good can come from this? Think of how many social problems we could solve if we really harnessed this? And, of course, this is all true and the achievement motivation is one of God’s great gifts to us. But that is the point … it is not our accomplishments … this is God’s. As Archbishop Romero’s prayer, quoted above, ends: “We are the workers, not master builders, ministers, not messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own”.

So I look forward to planting and watering seeds wherever God may desire with trust that may one day they will grow.

Thank you again for proving this retreat. Week 33

I just thought it would be good to share on behalf of our small group who have been doing the retreat now for seven years. It has taken us 7 years to get to week 33. We have managed to meet more often in the last few months and hope to finish within the next two weeks. After that we are planning to do it again but in a much more concentrated and focused way over the course of 6 weeks or so. It is so difficult to find the time when we all have such varied and complicated lives. In the course of these years, we have all experienced life changing events and having the retreat going on in the background has helped us to cope and to see God in our everyday lives, sometimes in very unexpected places. The Retreat has emphasised for me that God meets us wherever we are in life, with no conditions attached, and that is a message I can't hear often enough. These exercises are just so powerful and certainly in my own case have helped me to deepen my relationship with God. During this time I have been through a painful divorce and family break-up and almost lost sight of God altogether. I have struggled so much with my current position in the church and feel like an alien. Through these pages, I have experienced a very loving and compassionate Jesus who wants the best for each one of us and never gives up on us. I want to thank everyone who has been involved in this retreat, from those who have provided it on the web, to those who have put all the materials together and to all those people who are taking part in it, whatever stage they are at. We keep you all in our prayers.


Today I feel the need more than ever to share, yet it is so hard because I am so full. I have felt the presence of Jesus as never before; I cannot express all that I feel now, only that I am so pleased that I have continued. This seems like almost the end, yet I know it is the beginning of a deeper journey and I so look forward to it.

This week brought all the previous weeks together, a reminder to see God in everything and everything in God.

It is hard to believe that I am so near the end of this retreat. I was overcome with happiness and gratitude as I read this week's materials, thinking about, and feeling, the connection I have felt with God through this retreat. It is such a subtle thing, a small change really, in the way I think each day, a habit I've formed of turning to God in the quiet moments of my day, those times when my thoughts used to turn to worry or anger. Not always, I'm still not perfect, which I now understand God does not expect or want from me. But so much more than before, praying and feeling an intimate and real connection with God is a routine part of my day. Thank you to those who created this retreat, what a service God made of your gifts! And thanks to God for my life and my gifts and the freedom the turn them back to God and God's work
my retreat is almost over. i have come so far, and have so far left to go. but i am changed, and for the better. it is not miraculous, sweeping, revelational change, but slow, incremental shaping and molding, like the work of the stonecutter who knows the church steeple he is fashioning will not be completed in his lifetime.

i have accomplished something i never thought i could...i have now prayed, every day, for 33 weeks. with grace i will continue tomorrow, and every day after that, one day at a time.

i have been able to face my own sins, hate them, and accept forgiveness. i have stopped making deals with God to change if this or that will go better. i have begun to fill in the empty spaces with Christ and acccept my weaknesses when i fall. and i have learned to hurt when i separate myself from God's grace through the failure of sin. i never want there to be a time when i cannot stand in His presence and say "You mean more to me than anything that can keep me from You". i have begun to allow God to heal the relationships in my family, including the ones damaged my me through my arrogance, anger, lust, and despair.

i see teachings all around me in everday life and challenges to my notions of how it ought to be and how i am doing. one recently came from my 12 year old son, who plays baseball and dreams of the big leagues like so many boys before him.

pitching a good game, his team rose and fell on typical little league errors. but he persevered, and in the last inning, he was ahead by one run with two outs, when a pop fly came to him. he settled under it, perfectly corraled it in his glove...and dropped it, flushing the lead. he pitched out of the inning, but they never got the runs back and lost the game. in its aftermath, my son, the team captain, had to lift up his teammates while bearing his own pain and disappoitment. he at first blamed himself, but quickly accepted that he was responsible only for his own part and neither he nor any one player could win or lose on his own. he lost no confidence, accepting the fact that errors occur, and that tomorrow is a new day and a new game and another chance to do it right.

in comforting and supporting my son, i grew so proud that in a 12 year old's way, he had learned so many lifes lessons on the field, and that i had become willing to learn from his example the way i hoped he had learned from mine.

my errors are sins...i am responsible for my part....but i cannot do it alone. to win, i must be part of a team, a community of faith, and accept the direction of a loving and merciful Savior, who has always been there to remind me that yesterday is over, and today is a new game, and another chance for greatness. all i need do is follow Him where he leads, because He believes i can do it. and because He does, i do to.

so i go to bed tonight, so grateful for the opportunity Jesus has given me, anxious to get in the game of a good and decent life in God....and win.

During the 33th week retreat I experienced more deeply that God's sustaining love and care for me flows much like the warmth of the sun. that made me so happy. It was so touching for me to reflect that everything I have is a gift by God. I 'd like to keep it in mind and respond God's love. It also was a great grace to aware that my flaws and shortcomings I so often look at was a God's gift and invitation.
Now I can't but express the overflowing gratitude in my heart.
"Lord, In all, Let me love and serve you. Amen."

Week 33: Thank you my Jesus,thank you my savior and love . I am unable to say what I feel, but I know that You are my love for all time.  I thank God for giving me life and sharing His gifts with me.

During this week, I have reflected on God's love and gifts to me and to those that I love.  How unbelievable that so much has been given by this ever loving present God.  He is the present of my life. I have been like the ungrateful child on Christmas wondering if there is more, but through this retreat I am beginning to realize that the "GIFT" of being His child is enough.

I am incapable of saying enough thank yous, so I really need to put my love into action by living a more authentic life of love. God has graced me with so many people, talents, and life, how can I truly make a return. Sometimes I think what I have to return is not enough, but then I remind myself that all good is from God, so how can that not be enough?

Before I started this retreat, I can remember driving in my car one day, feeling very sorry for myself, thinking what do I have to offer? what are my gifts? I was that child who did not realize that the gifts were enough. The evil one had me actually scoff at my gifts.  I remember thinking, not bright enough , not talented enough, not this not that.  I actually pinpointed a gift that I could name, and I scoffed at it. I remember thinking, I do have the gift of compassion, and at that time I actually thought,  this gift is not something that the world thinks is so great. When I remembered that this week , I feel sorry for not being grateful to God for that gift and the countless other gifts He has given me.  Now I say , thank you Lord, whatever you give me is enough. It is for you and your greater glory if I use it.

Another gift, remembered this week. Before starting this retreat, I noticed on the back of our misselette in church the prayer of St. Ignatius, Take Lord Receive, it was an abbreviated version ; I remember thinking I can't say those words. I did not want to give back those gifts of life, and memory, etc.  Now when I read that prayer it touches me in a new way, a way that will continue to grow as I grow in love with Jesus. How could I not want to give back all that He has given to me.

Throughout this retreat, I have fallen in love with Jesus, by knowing him more intimately, and letting myself be open to His love that was and is always there.  If I love Him, I have to be with Him in all that I do, this is a challenge because of my weakness, but His love is stronger than mine,and He will never let me out of His loving embrace.

Yes, one day all will be returned, and I want to make my life , my love poem to God.

God bless all who are making the retreat, and to all who have made this retreat possible.

The Lord has given me so many gifts.  Truly everything I am and have is from God.  While sometimes this realization is in the forefront of my mind how wonderful I realized it would be if it were always in the forefront.  It was nice to look over the reflections that I have shared throughout this Retreat as one of the ways to assist my reflections for Week Thirty-three.  I saw the many ways that the Lord gifted me over the course of the thirty-five weeks (counting the two weeks of review) that I have been taking part in this Retreat.  There were so many insights and gifts from the Lord who has truly blessed me.
Saint Ignatius’s “Take Lord and Receive” prayer is so perfect.  It is a prayer I believe and love, but in my imperfections I do not often give you Lord what you deserve. Since I seem incapable of giving, I do ask that you take of me whatever serves you. If you want it, I know I can do without it. Week 33
As I near the end of week 33 and of the retreat, I find myself wondering what comes next. Will I return to my old ways, or will I be the new creation the Lord wants me to be? My Rosary this week again had six decades that I refer to as the Mysteries of Gratitude: 1) the Mystery of the Gift of Life; 2) the Mystery of the Gift of my Parents; 3) the Mystery of the Gift of my Wife and Children; 4) the Mystery of the Gift of my Job; 5) the Mystery of the Gift of His Beautiful Creation; and 6) the Mystery of the Gift of Jesus on the Cross and in the Eucharist. The first time I prayed those mysteries, my eyes misted as I thought of my parents and their love for me, a love I have not deserved; I laughed as I thought of my family and some humorous happenings in our travels.  When I think of all the gifts the Lord has given me, I am overwhelmed. I want to repay Him, and know that it is not possible. All I can do is live the life He has given me. If I live it in love, I know I am secure. I pray for the grace to live as He wants me to do. Pray for me, you who read this, and know that I will be praying for you.
I am in week 33 of this wonderful retreat.  As I reflect on this week's offerings, I am so very much aware of God's goodness to me and my heart overflows with gratitude for my life as it is.  As I reflect on God's goodness to me, I can see more clearly how he has been beside me all along the journey and I can rest in confidence that He will be with me always.  I can now see Him as my beloved friend, not a stern, judging God.  He longs to be with me, an idea that is mind boggling to me - to know that He sees the real me and that I am precious to Him.  I can only thank Him with inadequate words but be secure knowing that He sees in my heart.

May God bless each of us as we continue our journey in this retreat and in our walk with Him.

Week 34

Thank you for this retreat! I very much hope that I will maintain some of the practices that I have received such as naming my desires in the morning, foci for background during my day and simple thanks in the evening.

I found Father Gillick’s reflection useful this week. If I reflect on whether and how I have changed, I am mindful that there are many weeds that still surround my life. But I give thanks for what I have learned and what I try to integrate into everyday life. I am not sure I have found yet the place where God is calling me. But I do know that this need not be a position or place … more situations where I can return God’s love for us. And this is what I give most thanks for in the Retreat … a deepened sense of God’s loving embrace. Thank you to all this online community for sharing your faith over this period.

I am at week 34 of this retreat,,oh what joy, it has made a remarkable change in my prayer life. There is no question in my mind as to what next, my deep desire is to continue what I have started, to continue to show gratitude for all the graces that I have received. I started this retreat in September 2005 and I have been faithful to this retreat every week without fail.My desire is to continue this way with my prayer life. I am a member of an Ignatian spirituality group here in my island home Barbados I have introduced my friends in the group to this site .it was so useful to me in my weekend retreat which I attend every year.It seem that I was walking the Emmaus road with Jesus and through this retreat I have become closer to Jesus, in that walk I am taking time to be alone with God.reading scripture more,enjoying and getting more out of the mass, focussing on prayer and praying with scripture more, and sharing with others. When I started this retreat I was seeking spiritual renewal I have achieved my goal. My desire is just to continue what I have started, I feel blessed. Thank you all at Creighton, thanks to the Jesuits, may God to continue to bless you , I will continue to use your reflections daily.
-- Joyce, Barbados

What is the most surprising to me about the last 36 weeks is how quick and regular it was. The retreat went so naturally--it flowed from day to day from start to finish. I am here at the last day, Saturday morning, and I don't feel that the retreat is really ending. What does that mean? I am thankful for the quiet and calm influence that the retreat had on my life. Am I a different person now? I think that is probably true, though I can't say exactly how it is. It has been reassuring to see the other posts from time to time. I am glad that this retreat has touched other people's lives. Thank you Lord. Thanks to all of you.
It's the last day of week 34, .. an ending and a beginning, .. my prayer for all is that we "keep on keeping on", to "Know Him, Love HIm, Serve HIm" .

My ongoing Thanks to you all!

Week 34. Again, "Thank you" for providing this Retreat. Words cannot describe how much I appreciate it. I plead with others who have started the Retreat to please continue.

At the beginning of the prayers today, I prayed that no tears would flow from me except from the presence and touch of Jesus; at the end of the prayers I could hardly stop weeping. I feel as though I am moving away from good neighbors and family, and it is so hard to say good-bye, yet I know it is not good-bye because I will come back to visit some times and to pray that you too will continue the journey. So this is not good-bye, as Jesus would say - shalom.

Today, I feel so much stronger spiritually, like I can face any challenge because I know Jesus is at my side.

It’s taken me about a year to go through the 34 weeks—sometimes lingering on a week for a little longer, sometimes getting distracted and falling away for a week or so, then getting back into the retreat. In all, it’s been a good experience, and I hope and pray that I can continue to live it out in the coming days, weeks and months, focusing not on what I don’t have, but on what I have through the grace of the Lord, and finding ways to use what I am fortunate to have to love and praise and serve Him.
I am finished with this retreat and I am a better person for it. I am so grateful to have had this experience. I urge everyone to finish it, at your own pace if you must. It is a doorway for God to enter your life. Week 34
This has been good for me.

This is not the end of this retreat. It will begin again, whether next week or next fall, I don't know. My guess is that it may be too much a part of my day now to leave behind. It's helped me to stay on track, partly because it is so easy to reach to while I sit endlessly at a computer anyhow. Perhaps it is the steady guide it gives my days that I like the best. I can't seem to jumpstart a day into prayer while I am stumbling around in the early morning, so being able to tap into this retreat at work is my later jumpstart.

I have remembered so often the guide at the beginning of all the guides--remembering that God will not be outdone in generosity. I love to roll that around my heart, trying to feel its meaning. While there are many other things that happened during the retreat, that is the one I most hang with for this round.

I also remember how much you caught me on week 20: Freedom is all about confronting the temptation to use one's power to feed oneself. I have somewhat necessarily caught up in trying to heal my last experience of catholic community. When I started the retreat, I was still thick in the web of lies and gossip of other community members. As I end this retreat, I am coming back out of the experience...admittedly a little worse for the wear, but willing to try trusting again, try hoping that all experiences are not so painful, try believing that some of them may even be healing and joyful. And less concerned about my own healing as it now is happening, and more concerned that I learn again to care more for others.

Thank you for setting this retreat in front of me. Week 34

I have completed week 34, but will be living in week 32-34 for the forseeable future. I wanted to share two images that are my summary not just of weeks 32-34 but of the whole Online Retreat.
                                    The glass
                                is not half-empty,
                                     The glass
                                is not half-full.
                                      The glass
                                is always and only
                                filled to the brim,
                                and overflowing
                                with God's abundance.
Because of God's grace, when I look into the shadows, I can see the light, and seeing the light, I also see that there is no darkness. As we read in John 1: 5 "The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it."

I have just finished Week Thirty-four of the Retreat.  It is hard to believe that thirty-six weeks have gone by since I began this Retreat.  I have enjoyed the journey.  As with anything that I experience, this Retreat will forever change who I am even if it is just in some small way.  For it is impossible to have not grown in the midst of these reflections.
I am completing the 34th week but I may stay with the 33rd and 34th weeks for a little while.  I take comfort in the prayers and suggestions for growing closer to Jesus and I don't feel strong enough to let go yet.  This retreat has been a grace filled time for me and I am learning to  rest in Jesus love and not to feel I am responsible for others.  Sometimes  I have felt dejected because I could not touch my daughter's heart with Jesus love but I am coming to realize that Jesus was shunned Himself, so why should I be different?  It is freeing to know that I don't have to be responsible.  I am  learning to let go and rest in Jesus love but I am not there yet.  My hope and prayer is that I will become more contempativie that I will recognize Jesus as my constant companion as I journey through my day.  I am improving but have a long way to go.  I love the term 'background times' .Thank you to all who have contributed to this exceptional spiritual retreat.
Week 34+ … It has been several weeks since I have looked at the Online Retreat page, though I continue to read the Daily Reflections. I came to work today feeling discouraged; discouraged by my own weakness and failings and by the direction I see so many people taking these days. It seems that in this age of ‘tolerance’ everything is tolerable as long as you believe that EVERYTHING is tolerable. If, like me, you accept the teachings of Holy Mother Church, however, THAT is NOT tolerable. Then the Spirit moved me to open the Retreat page again, and again I found comfort there. Thank you to all of you who contribute to the Sharing page, as that was the primary source of my comfort today. I continue to hope and to pray for the grace of courage and perseverance. I will pray for all of you, and ask you to keep me in your prayers also.
Week 34 (continuing). It seems so long ago that I first ‘ended’ week 34 and decided to keep it going. In many ways, my prayers have been answered. My job is going well in that we are getting more business than we can handle (a good thing) and our staff is again growing. At the same time, my weakness(es) continue to haunt me. I feel a special need for prayers today, and ask those on this retreat to include me in their prayers, as I pray for them.
Week 34 and counting (and counting, and counting,…). It is hard to believe I reached the ‘end’ of this retreat some time ago. I continue to use the “Daily Reflections” and occasionally the retreat material. Today I reviewed the Sharing section, and was so thrilled to read new sharings that sound so familiar: people calling on God in prayer, confessing their weakness, opening their hearts, eyes, and ears to all God has given and continues to give. What a blessing this site is. I have mentioned it to friends before, and feel called again to invite them to give it a look. As for me, the journey and its struggles continue, and I continue my amazement at His goodness. Increase my faith.
Thank you God for this retreat, for all those that are a part of it and protect and guide all those who journey through this way. As I end this retreat, I take with me a renewed sense of faith in God.

Faith - a gift of awareness of God's love and trust in Him to provide me in all my needs in physical as well as spiritual life. for God is always there and when I seek Him and wait and hope and then.. to respond to His way  - joy emerges. Joy in Him, love through Him, love and caring of Him in every person that touches my life every day of my life. How do I respond to God? the same way I am responding to everyone throughout the day. Forgive me dear Lord, for mistreating you and bless me Lord for becoming aware of you today. Thank you for the gift of Faith and Love for you! amen   Week 34

Week 34, continued. Things have not gotten any easier since my first “week 34,” but my decision to stay with the week has helped. I continue to pray the Rosary daily and to read the Daily Reflections on the CU web site. Today I re-read what I wrote in that first “week 34” and am a little embarrassed to say that even my own words helped today. Life goes on, and I know the Lord is with me. I just wish He’d tell me how all this is going to work out. My struggles still get in the way, I still seem to forget that He will take care of me, and even as I mess up each day, I still want to do His will. I need help. I need prayer. I need faith. Increase my faith, O Risen One!
Already at Week 34, and not feeling ready yet. It was again “In these or similar words” that touched me. My eyes misted as I read the opening paragraph about walking down the road with Jesus. I felt the same way I did at the end of my Christians Encounter Christ weekend years ago: “It is so wonderful here! I don’t want to go back to the ‘world’!” Then, I read on. When I reached the final paragraph (which includes the words “accept these tears”), I wondered “How did you know?” The answer did not come immediately, but gradually I realized that it is natural to mourn endings, to forget that they are really beginnings. As I wondered what I would do next, I made a decision. Many of my co-retreatants have written of weeks they repeated many times. I will repeat week 34 as long as I find it helpful, then move on to another support (which includes the possibility of starting at week 1 again).

 I have not come as far as the words for this week suggest. I am not so sure that my weaknesses could be cause for rejoicing even though I have had experiences in which that was clearly the case. The debt I owe seems to great, and my desire to somehow ‘repay’ gets in the way. Writing this note itself is my remedy. I realize as I type that the way to ‘repay’ is to simply do the best I can with what I have, and to get up again when I fall. Lord, I so easily forget that You are with me on the road. Help me remember, help me see You in everyone I meet, help me accept my weakness as cause for joy, for the joy Your love and mercy brings. Take and receive all of me – I offer all to You.

Thank you for the many hours of preparation for each weekly Guide.  I especially am very grateful for your Monday morning e-mail...this kept me on track...I am also very grateful for the Daily Reflections...these helped me integrate the Eucharistic celebration into every moment of my day. Since I photographed all weekly guides I will return to them again and again...I will make my annual retreat in the last part of June and I will take time to reflect on the many insights of the retreat.  I almost feel like starting all over in September...
In this last week of the 34, it is March and a war is starting.  As a recovering alcoholic, I am practicing the 3rd Step – making “a decision to turn my life and will over to the care of God”.  All these aspects of my spiritual path come together.

What will I do to keep this focus?  Lent, church, Easter will help to do that.  A regular practice of the program of Alcoholics Anonymous will help.  I will miss this daily practice and want to continue it in some way.  Perhaps the answer is to continue to do the Daily Reflections. There is more to come, perhaps a repeat of this exercise.  I am still not as close to Christ as I would want to be.  A real life retreat has been a goal for some time.

 Though Love and Service are always a part of my life, this experience has helped me to see how I might dedicate myself to these goals in other ways. In part, that means the process of coming “off the road” and dedicating myself more to family.  This five years of carrying our product to customers, and helping them to learn how to use it, has been a practice in applying Love and Service.  Now, it seems, there is another way to do that.  The choice to do my job differently has been both an opportunity to serve the greater good in a different way, and a sacrifice to me.  I love the travel and working with our customers, however the job means I am less grounded and less present to my family. 

I plan to go on retreat, become an active citizen again, study, write  and concentrate on my health and home.  As it changes, my job will undoubtedly offer new ways to serve.  This new phase of my life as a mother and grandmother is a gift of this exercise.  Thank you for making this retreat available online.

I began the retreat on a suggestion of  a Jesuit friend. I had looked at in browsing from the Online Ministries daily reflections. My thought was at my age( middle 70's it might not fit my group. But after sticking with it the whole 34 wks. I found it very inspiring for the years to come. We are told by staticians that if you have good health and live to 70 , you have pretty good chances of living another 20yrs. Prepare by investments to have enough to live on comfortably. So how about our prayer and giving back to God time. Not just monetarily, butof self to the poor. This is what all seniors can do. Volunteer work with the poor, kids tutoring, emptying closets and giving beautful clothing., visiting neighbors who aren't well or can't drive. It doesn't have to be every day , but something is better than nothing. When I started this retreat I was going to go all the way. And now that it is over(my 2nd week away) I really miss it. I hope inthe future that that something could be done monthly or even a refresher week quarterly.. Thank you all again for your wonderful inspiration& may God Bless You All!!

Beloved, I am in the next to the last day of this retreat.  And for those contempating the journey, know that it has taken me more than the thirty four weeks.  In some of the dry and hungry times I had to go over the same ground looking for guidance and consolation.  Usually I found them where I looked, like hidden, heaven-sent moisture and manna,  but not always. That is all right.  Just more and careful searching needed.  Now in the quiet of the morning of the next to last day I can look back and feel like one who has come through the desert and is facing the promised land.  Praise God, I have been allowed to make the journey and can look ahead.  Now, too, I know not to worry about the diversions, distractions and detours; the dejection, dissembling and doubt.  It is just the landscape.  I know the comforting pillar of prayer that is always there by day, and by night, fiery hope.  And, so I commend the journey with a prayer for those who make it, who want to make it, and even those who may not make it:  God's blessings and peace be upon you forever and ever.  Amen.

Week 34 and I've dragged it out for two weeks because I am a slow learner in this world. This retreat has whispered many things to me: John the Baptist's words, "I must decrease; He must increase." Less of me and more of Him. Another whisper: "Find your gifts, count them, accept them for they are yours and yours alone-but by the way you must share them in time-not that I'm an Indian Giver but the reason you received without charge is that you must give without charge." Another whisper: "Albiet, it is mysterious, but I, Yahweh, want to be praised through your life. Your reward will be that, upon your praise work, I will infuse your heart with Joy." Another whisper: "I have plenty of time. Don't hang guilt on yourself. I will give your my Holy Prodder at just the right time for you to know the exact gift I want you to share-have faith, be kind, be compassionate and please be patient for you are mine and I am yours and I love you." Tears of Joy and contentment run down my face as I realize His Wonderful Love for me in making this retreat. It ain't over til it's over. I see as through a glass darkly. Pray for me please to be attentive and act on His Plan when the time comes. Sometimes I am a little lazy and selfish.

I am on the 34th. week of the retreat.  It has been long.  I really enjoyed the daily reflections pages they gave great me insight.  This retreat has brought me closer to God in many ways and has made me seek more in the Gospel's.  I want to thank all who have made this retreat on line possible. To summarize my feeling's for this retreat Spiritual Exercise #234 has to answer my feeling I now have for God.  May God bless you all and may peace and love be in your hearts.

I just want to share a big thank-you. This is my last day of the last week of the retreat, and it took me considerably longer than 34 weeks to get through. This retreat has taken me through major life changes, disappointments and readjustments.  The greatest grace I received from the Lord through this retreat was that my focus was continually renewed - am I grateful in all things?  God is good. I trust that there will be more helps from other quarters for me now that this retreat is over. I pray that my fellow travellers on this internet journey will persevere, and allow God to cleanse and renew them.  Shalom.
It has been almost another year since I started this retreat. Though I have not returned to this page for some time, I read the Daily Reflections before I start my day at the office. Work has been especially stressful the past couple of months, and I must confess that I was feeling sorry for myself. This morning as I rode the train (the 'light rail' in Denver, Colorado), however, it was occurring to me how blessed I have been all my life. Then, as if to punctuate those thoughts, I looked out the window to the East and saw one of the most beautiful sunrises ever! Dark clouds low on the horizon were being turned bright red by the rising sun, and a sense of peace and joy filled my heart. I thank God for all His gifts to me and rejoice in this day, knowing full well my own fickleness and vulnerability to 'dark' times. The darkness will return, I know, yet I also know that if I stick with my prayer, it too will pass and one day I will know the fullness of God's love -- if only I will hang on. Lord, help me. Week 34 - and counting.
The Retreat Sharing Home Page - Online Retreat