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Images that represent sin of the world: What first came to mind was the image of a prayer card of St. Vincent Ferrer where he was standing amidst judgment day (He is even called “The Angel of Judgment Day.”). It represented such darkness, gloom, desolation and destruction. Those representations, in my mind, are images of sin, the deepest rejection of Love, rejection of God.
In our current times you see on television riots, violent protests, growing murder and crime rates throughout our country, abortion, disregard for our police departments and the rule of law, crisis at our southern border, extremists here in the United States and across the globe, insurgence, our politics going to extremes in either direction (with no compromise in the middle), and, of course, the COVID-19 pandemic; these are the result of sin, the fruits of sin. Rejection of God. (Makes me think of what Satan supposedly said: “I will not serve!” Pride.) And when you see these events unfolding, if you are sensitive enough or just take a moment to reflect upon, you can feel the sin, the darkness, the evil. You shudder for a moment, and shake it off and go about your routine life, to “sweep it all under the rug.”
The image of Jesus on the Cross, liberating us from sin and death’s threat of victory over us: A very wounded, bloody, suffering Jesus on the Cross. All those wounds, shedding of blood, pain and agony represent our sins, individual and as humanity’s sins. What an enormous undertaking He did for us! He took away our just punishment by accepting His death on the Cross and gave us a second chance, in a way. He conquered that dreadful, final judgment against us. He gave us another chance to love God and have another “shot at” eternal life. But yet, sin still abounds. It’s like, well if Jesus died for the forgiveness of our sins, why is there still sin and evil in the world? I read a book written for kids, and the author described Satan as a big, horrible, destructive dragon taking as many souls as it could, and when Jesus died for the forgiveness of our sins, it was like a sword cut off the dragon’s tail and destroyed that dragon, but the dragon’s tail, even though cut off, still thrashed about, taking still more souls, even though the dragon was dead. I like that analogy.
God is so merciful to us. No matter how many times we sin, or how bad that sin is, we can repent, and He will forgive us time and time again, that is the Mercy of God. I know someone who doesn’t go to Confession and doesn’t even believe in this wonderful Sacrament. This person thinks she doesn’t sin, and if she never leaves home, how can she sin (OK, but what about the times you do leave home, I screamed in my head). I feel disappointed and sad knowing she feels that way, especially when trying to explain that nobody escapes sin, and all the different degrees of sin, venial and mortal. I pray for her every day. I feel such sadness for people who are baptized and confirmed Catholics who no longer practice their faith. I feel their separation from God. I pray for them also. The Mercy of God will take care of these people, not me, and you kind of have to let it go and not press the issue with them, and let the Love and Mercy of God take care of it. I know, personally, when I need to go to Confession because I do feel a certain separation from God, from venial to mortal and everything else in between. I am given the grace to recognize that separation and run to the Sacrament of Confession, and when I leave the confessional, I actually do feel lighter and that burden of sin is lifted. The Sacrament of Confession has great value for me.
Sin puts us in darkness, yet our Lord’s crucifixion and death kept that darkness from growing and overshadowing our world, and His resurrection is the Light that broke through the darkness and bides us all to go follow Him. What astounding mercy He gave us!
Balance and Harmony:
“…make ourselves indifferent to all creation…” At first glance, this sounds so harsh. Did St. Ignatius mean to give up what prevents us from getting closer to God? Think of that for a moment. Does that mean if someone believes differently than you do (in practicing faith), or is of a different faith, do you stop being friends with that individual? It depends, I guess. If that individual seems to influence you more on the sinful side, then yeah, run away. That was my first thought. Do I want health more than sickness…or anything at all in and of itself…uh…the health and sickness part…you betcha! But I am also thinking you can have all the good things of life, but it is what you do with them that matters, that they are not used for selfish means but part of them used for the good of others. (Part of them because in this day and age, you do need some of it just for basic needs.). Maybe detachment means no matter what life hands you, stay faithful to God. I get hung up on these type of concepts.
When getting introspective and looking at myself to find my “unfreedoms,” I hit a brick wall. Why? Well, I guess that has to do with the fear of recognizing what prevents me from getting close to God and letting go of what does exactly that. My pride? My stubbornness? My words? My impatience? My being judgmental? My gossiping? My habits? Smoking? Alcohol? My arrogance? My fear of venturing outside of my little world? How do I let go of any of those to get closer to God? Would just being aware of them be a start? Do I tell God that I surrender those inclinations to Him? That’s a big YES! I can give those unfreedoms to Him and change will happen, but not overnight, I suppose. It’s like how conversion is not a one shot deal. Conversion is a life-long process, and every day you are graced with getting up in the morning is another day of conversion and attempting to draw closer to God by your thoughts, actions, words, prayers for others, small acts of charity, etc.
People who inspire me: Of course, at the top of that list would be the Blessed Mother and St. Joseph, individually, and as a married couple. They both had the freedom to say yes to God’s plan, no matter what the difficulties of that yes would be. They were not wealthy, or of high stature but were very humble and in the true service to God. Despite their poverty and hardships, they never forgot God and they relied and trusted God more than they trusted themselves. Something I would like to cultivate in my life and pray others can too.
How about St. Francis of Assisi and Dorothy Day? Both lived carefree lives at first. They both had the freedom of conversion and completely turning their lives around for God and found that to be of service of others, they were serving God, and were truly free. They were free to be open to God. (“My ways are not your ways.”)
Then, there was this sister from the Little Sisters of the Poor who spoke after Mass one day at my parish a few years ago. She was asking for donations for her community to serve the elderly in our area. She said straight out that she was freer than most of us. She said that as one of the Little Sisters of the Poor that she was free from wealth, free from employment, free from stress of married life, free from our ordinary secular life. I remember feeling a little surprised at that and somewhat envious.
Then there is my boss. She is an extremely busy attorney. She is very devout and goes to Mass most days of the week. Despite her busy work schedule, she finds time to cook for her elderly neighbors and bring them to their medical appointments. She has the freedom to serve God by helping others.
These people, past and present, I believe had/have the quality and ability to stop and listen to God’s inspiration to change their lives, to heed His calling despite what others might think, or the difficulties in heeding that call. They had/have the ability to “step away from life” and do the good. Is that “stepping away from life” detachment? I think so.
I want that. Is fear in trusting God the reason I don’t have that? Yes. I sometimes think to myself “Look what happened to most of the saints when they gave their lives to God and trusted Him. Look at how their lives ended! Ouch!” Well, didn’t they serve God by serving others? Even if it meant a horrible death. But not all saints’ lives ended horribly either. What am I getting at? I pray to trust God. I sometimes say “God I trust in You. It’s me I don’t trust!” I will give my fears and “unfreedoms” to God, and He will help me work on them. That I am sure of. Even if it takes the rest of my life.
Week 24: One of my older brothers died very recently after several years of ill health. He was a kind and intelligent man, but he was led astray by his intellect. He used to say that faith wasn't a gift he was given. Although raised as a Catholic, he pursued God in many false faiths and ultimately, I he fell for the modern con that says science cannot explain God and faith therefore they don't exist or at least they don't exist in the way traditional religions have taught.
In contrast, I am a devout Catholic and when my brother died, I prayed, and asked others to pray, that his soul would go to heaven despite his lack of faith. However, I felt in my heart that there was a large element of ugly pride in my prayers. I am guilty of being proud of my faith and I know that this is not what Christ demands of me. After all, the Sadducees and Pharisees were so proud of their faith they lost sight of the real purpose; love, kindness, charity for all others.
Fortunately, I was given these revelations during week 24 of the retreat. (1) I have been given the gift of a religious education and even more gifts by being directed to further study and understanding of Christ. Consequently, I will be held to a very high standard in return for these gifts! Among other things, I am expected to learn and truly practice the humility to appreciate the second point. (2) My brother was led astray and so are many, many other souls. God will have mercy on those that wish it and thus who am I to be anything but absolutely humble and show unconditional love to people who have been led astray. Their sin is no greater an aberration to God than my pride!
Week 3 – Perspective – A Picture of Harmony
My mind is still boggled by contemplating all that. Makes my brain hurt, but I think over time I will understand at least a little bit more.
Perspective: to see the whole view of ourselves in creation. Well, what was brought to mind was many, many years ago when I was a child, my parents took my family to the beach. I remember the sun beating down on me and feeling its warmth, standing in the breaking of the waves, and just watching the waves break on the sand. I felt one with ocean, sun, sand….God’s creation. I felt one with creation. I never had an experience like that again. But, I AM part of creation!
To think of purpose and what things are for…well, just look at Sister Earth and the resources we gather from her, whether it is wood from trees, heating and fuel from gas beneath Sister Earth’s surface, food from the land and water, and even medicines from plants, microbes and other of Sister Earth’s riches. Yet, I also think how we take all of that for granted, and even pollute Sister Earth, and rob her of all her riches and abuse what she has to offer without somehow thinking of how to pay her back. I am wondering if trying to be more ecologic in living is not a way to praise, revere and serving God…thankfully, we do recycle here and that it just the tip of the iceberg in living in an ecologic way, I think, as well as cleaning up the pollution….hey, that island of plastic rubbish in the ocean is disgusting, how to do we get rid of it. Kind of late for banning plastic bags and straws, don’t you think!?
Now, I was just thinking that I don’t know what my purpose in life is. But I think I was taking the word “purpose” in a different way, like what impact will I have on the world, what kind of mark will I leave when I pass on. But this week, and just now actually, my purpose is to praise, revere and serve the Lord…by living out my Catholic (Secular Franciscan) life! My trying to practice what my faith preaches! And I can do that in simple ways. I live in a big city, so if I come across a street person who asks me for money, I can hand that person a buck or two….that person needs it right then and there (and whatever that person does with it is between that person and God). I can smile at someone as I pass by on the street. I can say please and thank you. I can stop grumbling at my job and be thankful for being able to work, and actually having a job, and do my tasks quietly and efficiently as I can. Just some ways to live in praising, revering and serving God.
I have no idea what my talents are and how to use them for the good of others. I pray that God shows me what they are. I also have come to realize that my faith is not about me….it’s about the other (and THE Other).
Weeks 1 & 2: I am a 62 year old single woman (by choice). Last week started my 34 week Ignatian online retreat.
The first week consisted of looking back on your life. The first two days were focused on memories from earliest childhood and adolescent years. The next two were teenage and young adulthood followed by the next two days adulthood until present. Sundays are not retreat days.
My earliest childhood revealed possible abuse from a relative. Then, how much life changed as I knew it after my mom passed away when I was eight years old. How much more things became really hard….and more abuse that really did happen.
Sure, there were fleeting memories of happy times with my parents and siblings. Fleeting. My focus got stuck on those abusive experiences.
I was going to Sunday Mass and on holidays with an uncle who raised me and my brother. I loved Mass. I also remember going to a parochial school and on rainy or really cold or snowy days, I and another girl would go to Mass before school started. I went because I wanted to, the other girl went to keep out of the elements! I liked “Church stuff.”
My early adulthood brought memories of after the death of a person who was my boyfriend for a period of time (which I took very, very badly). How life at home was not conducive to the healing of my emotions and feelings from those I needed the support from the most. So, I went out a lot. And wound up in a lot of sexual one night stands because I hurt so, so much and those brief interludes made me forget my hurt, but brought on much, much more pain because of the emptiness that those times lead to. Looking back, it was a sad, sad separation from God. Truly looking for love in all the wrong places.
Then after many wrong relationships, I met someone who I was involved with for about 17 years and felt I was in love with. At first, I did not know he had a “main” girlfriend, and others on the side besides me. I was definitely not practicing my faith during these years. I cried to God a lot, while curled up on my bed on my birthday or holiday, because this man was nowhere to be found. I would go to Confession on occasion and remember confessing the same thing over and over and over again. I kept getting the same priest. I mentioned that I kept getting him in the Confessional and mentioned he must be tired of hearing this from me all the time as I was tired of confessing it all the time. I just could not break away from this man. I really loved that man, but was deeply hurt and too afraid and weak to end the relationship because of his non-commitment to me and all the other women he had.
I remember telling God I would let the relationship die off on its own and when it’s done, I would come back to Church. I didn’t want to be a hypocrite and also felt ashamed and embarrassed going to Confession over the same thing before I went to Mass. It took about 17 years for that relationship to end. I also promised, to myself, that it would be the last romantic relationship I would have. At work, once, I found at the copy machine a printout of scripture saying, essentially, why seek the love of man when God’s love is so much greater; like an affirmation from God about my promise to myself about no more romantic relationships. To this day, I cannot find that actual scripture passage in the Bible. I did not come back to the Church for maybe a few years or so afterwards. The uncle that raised me became old and frail and no longer able to take care of his home and barely himself. I gave up my apartment and most of what I had and me, two cats, and belongings moved back home to this uncle to take care of him the best I could. I went to Church sporadically. My world ended when he passed away. He was rough on me and my brother in our younger years, but we loved him dearly. He was the father figure we never really had. Five years or so after my mother passed away, my father met someone and within a month they married civilly. She turned out to be a raging, mean alcoholic. I lived with them for five weeks, my brother was old enough to decide he wanted to stay on with our uncle. Five weeks later, I moved back “home.” I felt all the pain and grief, and hurt from my childhood after my mother passed away was just continuing and every new thing was more pain. Anyway, when I moved back home, I did not want to even talk to my father. My stepmother, if I called them, would get on the phone and monopolize the entire conversation to the point where she just blabbed on and on, mostly badmouthing everyone in the family, and by the time my father got on the phone I was shot. He didn’t say much and didn’t stick up for any of us either. I gradually cut off communicating with them because of her, she was mean, foul mouthed and my father didn’t say a word. I didn’t feel love for him then, which I think he sensed because he always would ask me to say I love him which I couldn’t do. I hung up on him a lot. My father passed away at the age of 94, after burying two wives, and had a girlfriend at the time when he died. The night before he passed away, I made my peace with him. We were on the telephone, as he was across the other side of the country. I decided I was going to find and love the father I knew from childhood from when my mother was alive. I was able to tell my father before he passed away that I DID love him.
During that 17 year relationship, I also had a friend who I enjoyed being with very much. He was very funny, and Jewish, although not practicing his faith. He lived with his father after he had two brain aneurysms and his mother’s passing. I would every now and then go to a Passionist retreat in Jamaica, Queens, which he would deride me for to no end. My faith wanted to break through and regain me, but there were many obstacles, other people, relationships (that were wrong ones) and mostly…me. In the middle of all this I got pregnant by this person (even though I was dating two other people at the time) and was sure this person was the father. He absolutely refused to get married and wanted me to get an abortion. I was more than hysterically crying. I could not go home to my uncle because I was still afraid of him (he was very strict in raising me and my brother), and my brother just got divorced and moved back home and home was all in turmoil, and now to go home with this news would add more turmoil at home. So I agreed with the abortion. I was numb, not thinking, and absolutely not in my right mind. I remember the week after the abortion I wandered into a Church in the City (it was St. Patrick’s, I found out many years later…I was in such a fog that I didn’t even know what Church I found myself in) and I made my Confession. It was of the utmost importance that I get my absolution, which I did. I am still eternally grateful to God for that.
So, now after this uncle passed away, and I was in deep grief, I found myself frequenting places he enjoyed going to…Churches in the City and restaurants. It was St. Francis of Assisi that he liked a lot and he took me and my brother and a cousin of ours there a few times when we were young. I would visit there every now and then. I would go online and check out their website and bulletin. I came across information about their Secular Franciscan fraternities, a Church up the block (St. John’s) had meetings concerning the now Blessed Solanus Casey (Capuchin), and I read a book on his biography and was very attracted to this blessed person, who then was a Venerable. I went to a Friends of Solanus Casey Guild meeting and met a person, Ray, who also was the Formation Director for the Fraternity of St. Benedict the Moore at St. Francis of Assisi Church down the block. It was maybe a year and a half or so before I contacted Ray and said I was interested in that. You go to their fraternity meetings at least three times, which are held once a month. Then you go through a period of formation lasting, I think 2 years or so, before you profess into the Secular Order of St. Francis, which I went through and professed about three years ago. If it were not for me going to my uncle’s favorites, I would never have wandered into this and become a Secular Franciscan. I kept my promise to God, and a little more.
I also eventually became an Extraordinary Ministry of Holy Communion at my parish and had just started training to distribute Holy Communion at the local nursing home pre-Covid. Following in my uncle’s footsteps, yet again.
Now during this whole of last week, you are supposed to contemplate where God was present during all of this. While I was focused on the bad stuff in my life, I said to God “How could You possibly be there during any of that, whether it was during abuse that happened to me as a youngster or all of those bad relationships I found myself in? How could You even possibly look at me during any of that?”
Now it is Week 2 of this retreat. You are supposed to go back a little deeper into what was reflected upon the week before, with some questions to reflect on. A grace I received was this second week doing a re-review of my life…with what I said to God at end of Week one: “How could You possibly be there during any of that, whether it was during abuse that happened to me as a youngster or all of those bad relationships I found myself in? How could You even possibly look at me during any of that?”
I had an image come to my mind of Christ wearing his red robe, wearing the crown of thorns, standing in the praetorium, full-length image, looking directly at me. It was an unsettling image to come to mind. And it slowly dawned on me: The Suffering Christ was standing there looking at me during my sufferings of childhood….He understood the suffering I was going through. The Suffering Christ was standing there looking at me during my sinful, fallen away young adulthood, watching everything I did or about to do, and those fallen away, sinful times added to His suffering. That part I felt so ashamed and more than embarrassed.
There happens to be a painter, Carl Bloch, who painted a wonderful depiction of Christ called “The Mocking of Christ.” It is not a full length image, from what I can find on the Internet, but there He is in His red robe, wearing the crown of thorns, holding a reed and His gaze is focused on the viewer of the painting, with a Roman Soldier over his shoulder sneering and mocking Him….That is the closet that can get to what my image of the Suffering Christ was. I also happened to find a reprint on sale on the Internet, which I ordered, and which I want to put in my bedroom. A reminder the Suffering Christ is with me during ALL times.
I really can’t answer the other questions posed for Week 2, maybe the crossroads in my life is you would think is the abortion. But it is not. The crossroad, I feel, is when I professed into the Secular Franciscans. Now with Covid going on, there is not a lot I can be doing as a Secular Franciscan, the meetings are via Zoom, but I am traveling back home from office work in the City. By the time I get home, feed the cat, hookup to Zoom, the meeting is just about wrapping up. I don’t go to St. Francis of Assisi’s food pantry to volunteer, because I am in a high risk for Covid, and want to limit my outside contacts to avoid exposure to the virus. I am not actively participating in my ministry of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion for the same reason, whether it is serving at Mass or visiting the local nursing home to distribute Communion.
I do accept who I am today, and think I have for a long time, but never really wanted to express it because it was painful to do so and felt the past is better in the past and why bring it up if I can’t change it. Now, after this reflection, I accept my past and can talk about it if it came up (with a wince here and there).
The reluctance to talk about my past stems from when mother passed away and I was treated differently, as when my mother passed and the other school girls could not relate to not having a mother, so they didn’t play with me. Another girl who was very intelligent but odd in an eccentric sort of way, had a similar experience because of her oddness, they didn’t play with her either. I sought her out as a school friend. Funny how she has popped up throughout my life when things got troublesome. But all I wanted was to be accepted and treated like everyone else. God has accepted and pursued me, then and now, gently leading me to a more faithful life, even with the struggles that entails.
Sharing for week 7. In trying to find my pattern of sins, I discover that a lot of the sins I committed started from my being impatient. I react badly when I perceive someone is slow. My insecurity also played many parts in my actions that only benefited me and not others. I am too wrapped up in my negative feelings and perceptions to make a decision that should have benefited everyone. Lastly, lust also had a stranglehold on me for many years. These three are the patterns that I was able with the help of God's grace to recognize as my patterns of sin. I thank God for His healing love and mercy for me. God's merciful love has helped me heal from many of these "illnesses" aka sins.
I am in WEEK 2. Last week I remained very angry because as I saw it, my life was perfect, then my dad died when I was six years old in a tragic lightning strike while farming. I was really mad at God for taking my dad so early and at my dad for being so dumb. After my father’s death, it seemed to me that my life was nothing but feeling worthless and making poor choices even though I have had many successes as well. But none of that mattered to me with all the guilt and shame. Well……today while journaling, I envisaged my father before the accident. He actually felt so much remorse for going to the field before the electrical storm, wondering why he had to get that last load of manure there. Plus, he dragged the hired man along who saw the lightning strike and then tried to resuscitate my dad! My father then spoke to ME and apologized and told me, among other things, that he and God have been with me ever since, even if I didn’t feel it. He also told me that we will have a wonderful reunion and all will become clear. I never would have the depth of understanding my True Self if I hadn’t had this grueling life. More to ponder…..Thank you.
Two days ago I started with the Online-Retreat. It works very well and I feel already much closer to God now.
As I’m finishing week 7, I realize the immense grace I have received. I can summarize it in three words: “Closeness to God”. He has opened my eyes to his infinite love and I have realized that even though I am a sinner, He loves me no matter all my weaknesses and my faults.
Week 4: Reading Luke 18:9-14, sometimes I am like the Pharisee. I think I’m a better person than many people I know because I’m religious, pious and I follow the commandments. But if I look carefully in the history of my life and in my soul, I realize I can be a hypocrite; I judge others when I don’t want to see my own sin.
Lord, allow me to not look at other faults, but my own. It would be the only way I can grow in faith.
Week 11, The Power of Joy Exceeds that of Guilt: Since the time I can first remember, I have clung to guilt from sin as a motivation to avoid committing more sin. Even after receiving the sacrament of reconciliation, I have been reluctant to forget my guilt for fear it would weaken my resolve. Lately, however, I have been graced with a thought which is a stronger motivation than guilt - the joy of God's grace! When temptation to deviate from God's will comes to me, I have recently begun arming myself by recalling the feelings of joy and confidence from those moments when I have felt closest to God (for me, frequently during blessed adoration) and recalling the feelings from those periods in my life when I have been successfully pursuing God's will through obedience to Him. If I patiently allow myself some time to recall these feelings of love, confidence, freedom and joy, temptation is abated, and I am blessed with feelings of joy, kindness, and peace.
I found Week 8 a bit disconcerting in that up until the last day it was more an "intellectual exercise" with no real feelings. But, I sort of realize that these times are likely preparing me for a deeper experience. On my "last day of the week" I really did feel somewhat Jesus' embrace, the gently strength of his arms, and his love. I am slowly realizing that God leads me step by step, and this gives me hope.
I pray for each of you making this retreat and ask you to pray for me.
Week 8: I am guilty of committing a serious reoccurring sin. It is a long standing temptation that I have not been able to overcome (though I have not given up) and I feel it is THE primary impediment which prevents me from climbing higher on the mountain.
I have just started this 34 week online retreat. Learned about it from an individual weekend retreat I took two weeks ago - feel like I have really missed out! It is never too late though, to learn about how much God loves me.
Reflecting on this first week, I am reminded and assured that God has been with me in every step of my life. Not a tear has been shed, or laughter filled with joy that He has not been there right by my side.
Where I struggle is feeling responsible for others in my life (ex husband, children, family). How responsible am I for them, especially if bad things happen to them because of their own decisions?
I know I simply need to be faithful, as an example and in speaking the truth, but it is very difficult to reconcile my inadequacies with that too.
I will keep praying and moving forward!
I’m in week 8 and this is harder for me that acknowledging and going over my sins over and over and over again. It’s easy to think of those. I think it’s because for so long when I thought of God I thought of my dad. I loved him but he was strict, critical, and unwilling or unable to be demonstrative in loving me. There was a lot of anger and few compliments. Having people tell me he loved me but just couldn’t show it didn’t fix that. It’s taken me into my adulthood (I’m 61 now) to realize Father God is nothing like my earthly father. He’s happy with me just as I am, which is a good thing, since He made me. Learning to realize how much he REALLY loves me is a continuing journey…old tapes are hard to erase. But as I read others’ sharing I realize this is a journey for all of us. I’m not alone in this. God bless you all.
I’ve just finished Week 7 on the pattern of my sins. There were no moments of great insights. But, I was able to see some patterns and at a few times during the week, to recognize these patterns at work in me. That was good. I noticed that it is at times I am most vulnerable that I tend to react badly. I noticed how wrongly I react when my plans for the next period of time are interrupted by other requests for my time. I think I can look to Jesus whose immediate plans were often interrupted by someone in need. Later in the week, I recalled Psalm 139: “Probe me, God, know my heart … see if there is a wicked path in me; lead me along an ancient path” and to pray that God would help me see my faults and sins, and to ask: when I am in trouble, to whom do I turn: my fear or God?
In Week 6, one important thing happened There had been two times that I went away from God and could not to this point in the Exercises see how I would or could have done things rightly. The grace I received this week was to see how I could have approached these two times - which came down to "Lord, I trust in you and your love. Let me do the right thing, and you will make it turn out right" in the first event, and "Lord, let me not be afraid. You will be with me whatever happens." in the second event.
Another grace I received was seeing Jesus on the cross and saying: "How much you love me, to die so horribly for me." I know there is more, but it is a start in knowing God's love for me.
I pray for all of you sharing here and please pray for me.
Week 7: The “preparing for this week” suggestion that I call on my beloved dead shattered my resistance to looking at my sinfulness. Last week, my exploration of my sinfulness was mainly “ho hum”. What captured me this week was thinking that the people in my life who had died could see my sinfulness. I was appalled!! Most of my sin is living with an eye to how others will regard me, i.e. doing the right thing for the wrong reason, like the Pharisees. A stunning revelation, a gift, and an opportunity to finally “feel” my sinfulness while experiencing the ongoing love of God and my beloved dead.
Week 2 - There are a lot of painful memories from my childhood I cannot shake. Father, I didn’t realize you were with me but you stayed with me all the time, hugging me and comforting me. When I grew up and became a woman, I kept ignoring you and lived a sinful life. But you were there with me. Many events shook my life, perhaps the most painful was my mother’s death. That’s when I felt closer to you but my life still hadn’t changed enough; you were an entity living far from me. I needed you but you were not part of me.
I always thought that the happiest day of my life was the day I received the lord on my first communion. It was the day I felt more pure, innocent and deserving of your love. That day, I had this desire of receiving you in my heart and now I have the same feelings. I want you to be with me every day, every second of my life. As I am finishing week 2, I realized how much I have changed, how much you are part of me, how much I long to be part of you…
Week 25 has been on my mind and I hope I can make my feelings felt here in a way that makes sense. The story of the woman at the well, John 4: 1-42 caused me to have some new insights to this story. I am a devout Catholic who follows the Church’s teachings and love the Catholic Church. I have members of my family, friends, neighbors who have left the Church because they had a divorce. There is such a hole in their lives as I have listened to their stories. So the woman at the well asks Jesus to give her the living water.Jesus tells her whoever drinks the water He gives will never thirst.He tells her the water I give will become like a spring within welling up to eternal life. Jesus offers this living water to her knowing she has had 5 husbands. The woman leaves Jesus overjoyed. I want to share this joy with whomever comes into my life when they feel less of a person because they have divorced. Jesus includes everyone.
I thank God I am able to participate in this online retreat.
I have "completed" week 5. The Practical Help section advises me to see and feel the outrage of the evil that seems to reign in our world and pray to be moved by the profound depth of God's love and mercy. Going through each day this week I would check off in my mind the many evils that have been done throughout history until now and those now being done, and could see how they seriously disrupted God's plan. Yet, I do not "feel the outrage" very much and I surely am not "deeply moved" by the depth of God's love and mercy. I intellectually partially understood it, but it hasn't entered deeply in my heart. Yet, I see that I have been pointed to this direction, to something beyond me that I want to pray to "achieve", and I have some confidence that when God wants this for me He will give it to me. That thought is comforting.
I pray for all of us on this retreat, that God deepens in us what He has already begun.
I am a senior and it has not been my experience so far of a God who "centers affectionate attention upon us." I notice in several of the readings and writings of this retreat as I do in many books, prayers, the bible, essays and talks of "God's love" - his "infinite merciful love." It hasn't happened for me so far - at least not the way it is being described in the Spiritual Exercises of this retreat. In my life I have experienced disappointment, failure, darkness, aridity, unanswered prayer, and plain unhappiness at times. These experiences don't seem like "a revelation of love" which "presents the beloved with the opportunity to receive affection", or as outlined in "For the Journey" in Week 2 "God wants only that we experience infinite love being revealed within our finite experiences and our reception of that love in our lives." Tell me please how this "love" would be received by someone - a child especially - who has been abused, abandoned, bullied or betrayed. I have never ever been even close to the feeling "I am flooded with a sense of the love and care you had for me even before I was born." It's not as if I'm new in my spiritual search either. However, I'm thinking all these disappointments and failures must be a way of God getting my attention, of bringing me to a deeper awareness and a more enlightened state of consciousness. But I wouldn't call it "affectionate" attention. It seems quite harsh actually. If I'm correct in this reasoning, perhaps we need a new definition or understanding of the word "love". I'm confused. However I just haven't experienced God's love in the traditional sense of peace, joy, serenity, consolations and the way it is being described in affectionate terms in this retreat. Does anyone else feel left out, abandoned or that they must be doing something wrong.
I am in the first week of the retreat and I am already caught in its depths. What a place to start, going back to my beginnings, a place of existence that I so often have overlooked or have cast aside. Yet, even now, I can sense God's presence and actions in my early stages of life. Each day, I look forward to being in the "present moment" of this retreat and letting the Holy Spirit be my advocate and guide.
Week 4: As I pray this Sunday night and listening to "The Summons" while following the Week 4 guide, I am left with the thought of "It's OK to not have all the answers," I need to let the Holy Spirit guide my decision-making this week. This is particularly important for me this week as we make more decisions relating to your school reopening next month. I appreciate the challenge of looking to others this week, who are those who show us the WAY to getting it right ourselves-I need this.,,
Journeying through Week 4 I have reflected on Jesus, Mother Teresa, St. Ignatius, Abraham Lincoln, my mother, two of my sisters died and one of my living sisters. And, looking at balance in my life. One day I had a brief glimpse of ordering my life through the Principal and Foundation. This morning I looked through my To Do list and asked if what I proposed to do today really did "praise, reverence and serve God" and if so, how did it. It really was a good way to reflect and hopefully these thoughts will permeate my day. We shall see.
Thank you all for sharing. It inspires me.
Week 4: This is my fourth year of at home retreats. The first year was with "The Ignatian Adventure" by Kevin O'Brien, SJ, the second with Creighton, the third year with Kevin O'Brien again, and this fourth year, back to Creighton. I'm now just starting Week 4. Each year has been a new adventure. I have always journaled. I started making silent retreats at our local Jesuit retreat house in 1981 and each year I would write on the biggest problems I was facing at the time. This year I re-read these journals, as well as some from before, and was amazed where I "was" in all these past years of my life. The very good news is that God has always been there, guiding me and loving me. There have been no U turns in my life, such as Paul or Ignatius, but slowly I see God's love for me and my need for greater trust. In Week 3, last week, I was able more to appreciate "my purpose" a bit more, the many helps I have received and the need to orientate my life in that direction. It surely is a very slow process. I am now starting Week 4.
I will pray for all of you making this on-line retreat, and please pray for me.
Week 1: I have done this retreat before several times as a way of centering me to keep God always close and I aways have difficulty with week 2 Week 1 is difficult going through the photo album. In all the places of my life good and bad I never doubted God was with me guiding me loving me showing me the way. I once watched a video I think it was called The Mission where one of the characters was carrying a huge sack filled with the sins of his life and eventually he realised the love God had for him and let the sack fall from his shoulders into the bottom of the sea it changed his life. I always think of this when I think of my sins. It doesn’t stop me from being ashamed but I know through it all I am loved. I keep singing The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases His mercy never comes to an end it is new every morning new every morning great is his faithfulness.
This first week as I look back especially in my younger years in high school and college I realize how selfish and self-centered I was during those times. I have a hard time recollecting much that I did for others at that time. I am overwhelmed and in awe that I did not deserve God to continue to pour into me and give me all that I needed so that later I would become closer to him.For the first time I realized in the parable of the 99 sheep and the one lost one sheep. I was that lost sheep.
Week 1: I stumbled upon this retreat last night and am excited for this opportunity to reflect and grow in my relationship with God. For the past several days I kept hitting a bookmark that eventually led me here but I ignored opening it, ignored the pull I felt that it was an intentional message. I have a tendency toward wanting to do things obsessively and with perfect correctness even though I know that isn’t possible. I am struck with the irony that if I had listened the first time I would be starting this retreat just as it was beginning for this current year. As it is, I am on day one in the middle of the first week, already trying to figure out how and when I will catch up so that my timing is correct liturgically.
Week 1: God never ceases to amaze me! On Sunday, Sept. 13th, I stayed up late, frantically reading the topic for the 1st week, almost forgetting that I had committed myself to this 34 week retreat months ago. Next morning I woke up late. Missed Morning Prayer and Mass (completely forgot to set both of my alarms and...I was leading prayer! Eeks!). But my late start gave me an opportunity to sit with one of my elder Sisters, later that morning. By this time the thought of making the retreat had "retreated" far from my mind. Yet during the course of our conversation, we shared family memories from our childhood! And Like a flash, I remembered what I read the night before. Somewhere in the intro to this retreat a comment was made that God gives us so much in return for a little time or little change we make in our life to become more aware, more mindful of God's presence in our lives. It is so true! God will never be outdone in generosity. Today, I had a better grasp of making the topic for this week as the "background music" in my mind. God again helped me, gave me an opportunity, time for further reflection on my life's journey. God was with me in childhood, helping make to me who I am today. Yes, some of the memories are painful, yet the memories that came easily to mind helped me to see that I was never alone. I am grateful to God, yes indeed, for being with me every moment of my life.
Week 1: I just started going back through the exercises this week. I'm finding that this 2nd time around I'm going a little deeper. This 1st week is very difficult as painful memories come up that I really don't want to deal with. I'm finding myself feeling anger at my parents for things done during my childhood and it's very uncomfortable. However, I think this time, going deeper, will provide many more and deeper spiritual experiences.
Week 1: "I Know You are With me Lord," my week one saying every morning as I turn on my Keurig for that first cup of the day. I'm very visual so I will write it on a Post It as a reminder every day.
Week 1: I ponder not only on the image of my life as an infant for I feel infancy for all my life, but on the beauty of intimacy God shares with me in a single moment, and in and through this moment I become grateful for His intimate love for me. I am grateful He allows me to be this way with him. Also, I may note, through espousal love I recall this tender moment of intimacy that not only renders me cooperation with God, but a purely, divine, spiritual ecstasy that keeps me to the Way of His path. John
Week 6. At he end of week 6, I have recounted my history of sin with delicate attention to how my sinful acts can cause pain beyond the moment of the act. I have gratefully accepted the weight that burden can feel and turn that over to God and his mercy. Only then can I see atonement as a way forward. The image of the cross, the weight of the sin of the world, such love...amen.
Week 6: I am so glad to have found this online retreat in daily life.
Week 1: Nearing the conclusion of week 1, I know God is with me today and has always been with me. Notably, I found God present in my life suring times I had previously felt alone with myself. I look back now and see that I sought God always as a child and adolescent. As a young adult, I turned to science, logic, ego and achievement. I succeeded in all and felt farther from knowing, meaning, gratitude and peace. I had to lose everything that mattered in my adult life and know despair before I turned to God and asked for help. Today, I am grateful.
Week 1: Midweek into the week one exercise, I have assembled, sorted, followed and come upon my memories and stories from infancy through adolescence. In addition to my daily readings and prayers, I read our readings here and say each morning, “Lord, I know you are with me today.” I understand today is always. More often than not I am reviewing my life and saying, “I know you were with me.” Blessed by his mercy, I am grateful today.
Semana 21: Estuve absorbida por el trabajo y la dispersión,
Week 1: As I begin this journey, I feel profoundly grateful for the life I have been blessed with. The Week 1 image, of mother and child, really made me feel emotional. There aren't too many pictures of me when I was a young infant because I only weighed just under 2 lbs at birth and spent months in the NICU. In 1978, the fact that I survived, is truly a miracle. However, I can't help but wonder if I have put that "miracle" to good use? I don't do anything extraordinary. I'm a wife, a mother, a daughter, a granddaughter, a sister, a friend, a corporate worker, but I am not changing the world or making a huge difference. I strive to live for the greater glory of God, but feel more often than not that I fail and lose sight of what is truly important. I don't want to waste the miracle of my life, so I pray that God will help me to better recognize my gifts and help me to use them for His will.
Week 14: Zacharia is told by the angel Gabriel that his dream of having a son will come true and yet he does not have the humility or trust in God to accept the message. He reacts with disbelief and skepticism. As a result, he is struck mute! I think about the 9 months of his wife's pregnancy and how he was unable to communicate his joy to his friends. He could not talk about his son's future or discuss preparations with his beloved wife. He could not tell others of his excitement and anticipation of the birth of his son! Only when his son was born and he could see God's miracle could he say, "his name is John."
How often am I unable to experience God's miracles in my own life because of my lack of humility and trust in his goodness. Do we deny ourselves participation in God's plans for us because we are skeptical and unbelieving?
I am thankful for this week's focus on humility and trust in God. How will I see His hand in my life today?
Week 34 ... it is hard to let go, to transition into an “ordinary “ time. What a lovely, exquisite time this has been. So much has changed since week 1. Our world has been ravaged by COVID. I have been a caregiver for the past eight years for my mother. Mom died four weeks ago and we cannot have a funeral gathering because of the virus. But, Jesus is with our world and with us. So many consolations to recount! Thank you Lord Jesus that I have been with the Exercises at this time.
Week 30: After all my present sharing yesterday, being 'bowled over' by an encounter concerning some untruths of the way I handled a situation in the past, concerning a dear one, resulted in a strong emotional reaction.
As I ran from the situation in desperation. I was arrested as I ran, literally stopped 'in my tracks' as it were. The risen Lord became present to me. I returned, was calm, faced the accusations and later apologies were made and reconciliation, coupled with sound discussion ensued.
This was positive intervention by Him, affirming my trust in the Lord who is present in all things. Reminder too 'leave everything to Me'.
Running away was a denial, a sort of unbelief, until, like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, they recognised Him in the breaking of bread. Our Eucharist is not always physical, it remains with us as a spiritual unseen encounter with the Risen Lord. Noli me tangere, I have not yet ascended to my Father in heaven.
Week 30: Havng been through Lent, the Passion and Holy Week, the joy of the Resurrection Is fulfilling all the past weeks' reflections on our retreat. The culmination of all our trials, borne by the love we have for Christ, not truly realised, bear the rich fruits of the NOW.
Realisation, the joy Our Lady, the theotikos, the God bearer, must have felt at her risen son, fulfilled all she had accepted and pondered in her heart in her unquestionable 'yes'to the Will of God. Bearng all her trials for the love of Him, reminds me of how it has been with my own son, as he recovers from long term addiction, due I say to answered prayer, but he says is also scientific, due finally, to the right treatment, providing the necessary medicine!
Be that as it may, further, long ago when suffering from my mother's curse upon me, my spiritual director, friend and counsellor, gave me Romans 8 as a guide - nothing, not one, can ever separate us from the love of God!
The joy of the Risen Lord is complete and His appearances are a reminder that the Lord is ever with us, delivering us from every evil, past, present and to come! Give us Peace in our time dear Lord and mercifully hear us when we call upon Thee.
We are showered with roses!
I just started week 2 today. Last week I recalled so many memories and I am so grateful to God for his goodness. There is a small group of memories that I glossed over because I am ashamed to hold them up to God. Funny how I feel that I’m am not worthy to expect his love in those times of my life. I’m guessing these areas of my life are the best place to start week 2. I am afraid to delve into these memories more closely, thinking that I have managed just fine by ignoring them. But I also recognize that they made me feel less than I am and ashamed.
My mother is in the hospital and no one can be with her because of the Coronavirus. I am overwhelmed with decisions. Palliative care or more surgery? Last week’s prayer was so hard ... Jesus dying ... my mother dying and her aloneness. In all the exhaustion and tears, Jesus comes to us and comforts us. Today I begin Week 30, the Resurrection. I didn’t know how this week would fit, but how could it not? I am especially moved by the Creighton helps and the words to “let this (sadness) be fully bathed in the light of Jesus’ Resurrection.”
This is my first week sharing, but felt compelled to today. Some of what follows is a long list but I will share it as I felt it, and as I experienced it as a bystander in all the scenes of the Passion.
Calvary is an example and a reminder of how God sent this love, in our own relatable form, a human, so that we could both individually and collectively understand that all his life, suffering and glory are for us to be free from the torture of pain, humiliation, assault, mockery, exhaustion, tiredness, humbling ourselves to receive help, falling and having our falls witnessed, rising again with help, our doubt, our pain, our loved ones watching this pain and unable to assist, tormenting, false accusations, being misunderstood, having our words and goals twisted, being envied, people feeling threatened by us, some showing us compassion along the way, sinners (grievous sinners like Barabbas) being chosen before us, the trail, recognition of our uniqueness but an inability to act for us, gloating when things turn against us, our thirst, our pain, the steadfastness of those who love us, the care they provide our abused body, unpredictable love as a result of our words and actions, the cleansing/washing by his friends, the vultures trying to pick over the remains of our things things (be it physical or emotional), the shared grief with family and friends that lets us know we are not alone and we are loved, the retreat into our tomb so that God can heal our body/soul and make us rise from the dead, unbound as Jesus foretells with his friend and loved one Lazarus, the ones that remain to remind us that suffering brings us to resurrection and the most beautiful versions of ourselves, and is an example to all those who did not believe, and reassurance to all those who did. Calvary walks us through all of our life‘s relationships, even the sadness of a parent when they have to let an adult child go through their own painful circumstance to be free and free others.
The online gift of Holy Mass at this time of the world wide virus, is truly a gift from God, a reminder of the Trinity in sending us Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Today's readings stood out as I listened. All down the years the bitterness of judgement of others is my sin and torment, colouring my perspective of the life the Lord has given to me, making it grey in colour. His Light dim, instead of shining bright, as the light burning in the candles on the altar, reminding me of the Sacrifice made for us all by the body of Christ.
This immense Grace turns everything upside down in the realisation of the Word, made flesh, the holy messenger from God, in his great love to us all, granting us his mercy, not constant reminders of judgemental thoughts in our minds our hearts and our souls.
We do but put on ourselves the burden of our sins. The good Lord not only takes upon himself our burdens, but carries them for us. May we turn now with all our hearts and souls our bodies, minds and hearts carry his cross in true repentance for the sins of our lives. Amen Patricia
Reading again the gospel on the feast of st Joseph, my gratitude abounds for all his intercedence for us over the years. My husband's father was killed in world war 2 so he acted as foster father. Now after 60 years of marriage, awareness of the blessings received through his intercedence, is about me. Still the prick of conscience.
Now, I write, what is revealed to me by Grace, most generously given, despite my most shocking judgemental Pride.
I write in gratitude for this understanding, most especially as I am such a sinner myself, deeply forgiven for multitudinous sins over my long years, yet so loved by the Lord, enabling me and giving me the freedom to readily take up all my crosses and follow Him where so ever he Wills.
Deo Gratias for this very especial retreat keeping us safely on the road!
Week 22 - All that has shared before resonates! in journeying hand in hand with Jesus across the world now, in reflection, we are besieged by our world wide virus, broadening the perspective! Indeed it does!
Lying in bed with a sore throat and cough after a sweaty night gives food for thought. Self isolating a nuisance, yes, but a joy! Why! In the peace and quiet and safety of our home, we find through u tube a daily on line Mass!
It is watched and listened to. Still,in the presence of the Lord, invited to spiritual communion, together with all those on line watching gives us Peace! Bless you all and keep you safe.
My husband and me are struggling with our son's addiction. however through great effort, which is exhausting, we are having psychiatric help for him. Instead of being grateful the reaction is lack of sleep, anxiety and stress.
Overtired I wonder what I wrote in the last sharing and see week 22 refers to my encounter with the Lord last week, as he took up the scroll in the synagogue. Surprise surprise.
Because I am weak and sure thing a sinner loved by God I am tempted not to go to mass, irritated in measure by a member of our tiny congregation, three or four or five or six in toto. He shouts out loud at every mass the responses, his wife rings with great vigour the bell at the consecration making me jump!
Now I am laughing just like last week's sharing when the Lord is laughing at me, beneath him, as he reads, sitting with my head bowed in quiet desperation. I recall he takes me by the hand and flies with me over all the world showing me every ones needs.
Better get on with it and enjoin with his mission. So happy to be so close to the JRS. My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my saviour for the almighty has done great things for me and holy is his name, especially when I share with Him my miserable little ungrateful self!
Good for Him to laugh at me enabling me to laugh at my self particularly in self absorption.
God bless and thanks for the retreat as it jolts me and raises me up to normality!
I have just completed the first week of this retreat.
Typically, I struggle with any long sustaining prayer, but these exercises have structure and freedom.
The authors give you practical examples that are encouraging and inviting.
There is even an audio option--I find that helps me focus and it reduces distractions.
Live the process !
Hello, I am on Week 24. I think I am like many others praying this Week. Where will I get the courage and skills to be courageous like Jesus? I am doing my best to be a person of peace in a violent world. I can only ask Jesus for the grace to be who he has called me to be each day and in every encounter. One day at a time.
15,15a and 16 - I awake and am back in that stable/cave with Mary her new-born child, Joseph and all the animals. What a mess. Who am I? The cattle are lowing, Mary needs to be washed, dressed in a clean robe and fed. The baby awakes, he does not cry. He is at his mother's breast taking in her warm milk. All around us glows a light shining in the dark, the glory of the Lord is upon us. The shepherds come. Their fears subside as they melt into the scene. They are helping me to clean the stable, laughing and joking as they clean up the mess and put down new straw and bring hay to feed the animals.
They go to the inn and fetch the inn keepers wife who attends to Mary and the child. He is a lovely child and we all adore him. Joseph is so proud to be there. He is so strong and helps with the heavy work, shifting all the old bedding and taking it away to the midden outside.
The inn keeper arrives, he is so ashamed he had turned the little family away. He brings food, fresh bread to satisfy our hunger and our desire to be fed. Wine too to revive our drooping spirits after our work is done. We are all filled with joy, accepting, without understanding, the miraculous gift of the child, born to us this day.
The dawn breaks and outside three weary travellers appear dressed in finery. They too are welcomed in. They share our bread and wine. They bring expensive gifts in homage to the baby born to us.
The scene is set. We are not alone, our fears subside, never shall we journey without the comforting help we feel, no matter what prevails. We are at rest and little me included, for I am but a child too with much to learn by being present!
I am reading the Readings for this 22nd Retreat week. At first read, I feel a frontal challenge. I know I need to go back and read again, but the first feelings are of some comfort. The rest are disturbing feelings are about the challenge to follow him and do what he says. It feels directed to me. Jesus asks why I listen to him and don’t do what he says. I cuts straight to my heart. I am surprised at my response and it hurts, painful. This morning’s (6th Sunday Ordinary time, Matthew 5: “let your ‘Yes mean 'Yes;, and ‘No’ mean “No”. Jesus’ words are clear, straight, and uncompromising. - follow me - do what I say - I’ve had conflicting feeling lately and they are intensifying. Social and secular acceptance vs more moral and traditional mores. I am not doing well trying to keep these “liberal” and “conservative” views at bay. Doing the right thing should not be fuzzy. I am needing to follow Jesus and to rely upon him. I need the Lord to help me. And He will.
Week 16 - I can't contemplate Jesus' growing up without thinking of my own childhood. Reading others' reflections as an aid didn't trigger any imaginations either! Am I narcissistic! Wrapped up in selfish self?
Addressing this I am reminded of the intimations of a good friend, monk and sharer of his own contemplative life. He told me he thought Jesus was missing from home because he was with Joseph of Aramathea journeying across those ancient trade routes, across the Mediterranean to Cornwall in search of tin. We are told by some that Joseph was a blacksmith not a carpenter, so metal working was part of his trade. Jesus would have been familiar with this work as he watched Joseph work as a child.The need for metal would have been apparent.
Mary and Joseph would have encouraged the idea of Jesus to go with Joseph of Aramathea in order to broaden his outlook. Mary knew there was something of a mystery about Jesus from the time of his conception at the annunciation and presentation of him at the temple to Simeon with all that was said and with Anna present. Joseph complied with this mystery.
These two people, as we are told by holy scripture, were totally compliant with the Will of God. Like st Ignatius' 'take Lord and receive, all my Liberty, all my memory, my understanding and my entire will, all that I have you have given to me I now return to you, only give me your grace and my love of you for that is sufficient for me' applies.
This is not ignorance, far from it; it is the humility of these God given people created to show us the way. In doing so, we may in total imagination see our blessed child Jesus travelling afar.
What did he see? Well, not least, the wonders of his father's created world, not just as described in the Hebrew psalms, with which by this time he would have been familiar, but in total reality as the creation was revealed as he journeyed. Wonder, wonder of the Angels all about him! The seas, the mountains, the valleys, the rivers, displayed in the glorious light of the world about him.
Only later would the memories of his journeying be shown in taking up the scroll and reading his mission in the synagogue on his return.
Thanks be to God.
Before starting week 16 and after sharing weeks 15 and 15a, the revelation of real failure is upon me in that I am critical of others.
Summing this up, whilst reading today's Sunday readings, I know that this nudging of the Holy Spirit during the week was right. Luis Rodriguez is so good to remind us that in all our failings, the source is from the heart.
So I must make, not only amends, but consciously do something to correct the critical stance I take in regard to my behaviours towards others which come from the heart lest all my devotions and pride in 'being good' lose their purpose and transparency.
I have made the first steps towards correcting my behaviour towards others and feel confident to look at week 16!!
Thanks for the Graces received to write and I enjoin with all who read in love. Patricia
Week 15 - O Absolem my son. David's cry at hearing of his son's death, still loving him and wishing he could have died for him and in all that with no reproach for his past behaviours. Moving on ...........
My Mary suffers the pangs of birth in a stable, filled with cattle, sheep and their excrement. Joseph is with her, by her side, just like fathers are now in our world. He comforts her and the breath of the beasts of the field keeps her warm. She is grateful for the shelter from the storm, the storms of weather, yes, but also from the hostile world of outside ' no room at the inn'.
Our God of the Our Father sustains her. One last push and her baby comes with lungs filled with cries at being born, our saviour who is Christ the Lord! She bends down and buries his wet body in her arms, despite her blood, still covering over his little body. She wraps him in cloths and looks up at Joseph, grateful for his love and care but most of all for his acceptance of the mystery surrounding the child's conception.
This little holy family are forerunners of living the will of God for them, not their will. Unquestionably, they journey, leading the way for us to follow whatever befalls, so that because of them, we are enabled to hand over our lives, in trust to the Lord our God who loves us, is born to us, forgives us and will die for us so that we may live with him for ever.
Week 14 - Nothing to say as in handing over to the Lord, I am sustained and freed from anxieties. The mystery of faith is an unexplainable mystery, it grows within, nourished by the Spirit the Lord has left us when he returns to the Father, our Father, who is in Heaven.
What can I say? Gratitude, thanks for the love, mercy and forgiveness lavished upon my being, my body, my soul for being so precious in the eyes of the Lord, whose gaze upon us, is our sustenance! giving us Hope that all things will be made new in Him who loves us all so much.
Thanks to all for the privilege of making this retreat and with all those too, with whom I share.
I may have it wrong, but in following the readings today, in conjunction with my on line retreat with Creighton, and recalling too, our Jewish ancestry, I am reminded of these in the account of david overcoming the giant of the philistines.
Goliath was massive and well armed and laughed at the young shepherd david, staff in hand, daring to confront his magnificence. But the Lord was with david and only He, strengthening Davids arm, sling in hand, enabling the stone he threw to overcome and kill the giant, thus, by taking goliaths sword from its sheath, david beheaded the tyrant.
What is this to me? A reminder I am not in control, yes, a sinner loved by the Lord, to whom I am praying every day to enable me to put all my trust in him and to pray that his will not mine be done. Leave it all to him he says. Just as david did and in all the supposed impossibility of overcoming Goliath, it was made possible. So must I proceed.
Thank you Lord for the grace of your Word to remove my darkness and shed your light on all that would overcome me in regard to coping with our sons addiction.
Thanks to all as always
Week 12 All that I shared in week 11 is now a week ago but the intention to answer the call to care for our son remains, despite the dark days of the past week. Our son relapsed and was taken to detox where he took an overdose and ended up in hospital.
He survived and is detoxed and we have him home. He is hoping to go to a Christian rehab after we go through the admissibility procedures.
The call remains to care. My prayers were made in the night and fortify our lives. Creighton's reflections today about the tempter's darkness is a reminder of discernment. Not going through the rules as intellectually incapable, but listening as best I can and following the lead of the gospel and deus ego amo te is all that I seem capable of!
Hope is best and total reliance and trust in the Lord who, if left to him says 'leave it all to me' in answer to my feeble approaches to him who loves us so much, dies that we might live to see him more clearly, love him more dearly and follow him more nearly day by day.
I wonder who writes this for me? It must be the Holy Spirit of the trinity who conferred and sent us the holy name of salvific Jesus Christ our Lord and our God. Thanks be to him who lives and reigns with us as King for ever and ever.
Week 17 THIS is the first time I share some thoughts. I am going to be 70 years old and desire to write some reflections on my faith journey.
THAT I may be open
I will hold Jesus hand and walk in the direction that he guided me and not worry about what people say. I would like to continue to hear his voice and have courage to try something different. Please pray for me.
Week 15a. It has been a difficult retreat for me. My own resistance has been showing, I pray, but not as I think I should. Now, looking at the Holy Family seeking shelter and not finding any, I find myself as one who “refused” Jesus. I find myself as not letting Jesus “inside.” Jesus has been asking me to let Him enter. I’ve said “no." I feel so unworthy. Tears form as I write this.
Week 11 - Ups and downs, sustained by the love and forgiveness of the merciful Lord our God - answering his call is made clear through this love, much greater than me. When I would be tempted into confusion as to how to proceed in caring for our son's affliction, I am enabled to get out of the way.
The Lord isn't just for selfish, self absorbed me, he is for others too and it is they who lead the way, the road ahead, how to proceed, in order for my ' yes 'to be positive.
Ducking the issues is not now for me. Facing, caring providing stability for others is the answer. I now know full well not to abandon my son in his need to be understood and loved in his copng with his affliction. His attendance at mass is his comfort as he takes his spiritual food from the open hands of his healing lord's divine mercy.
God bless us one and all in this world wide community, especially today, the holy name of Jesus, recalling our Jesuit friends who are our companions on our journey, especially at all our cross roads, turning our footsteps in the right direction to the way ahead.
My name throughout this journey in the eleventh week of the Exercises of St Ignatius is Patricia! No longer anonymous in my nothingness!
Week 15a - These “Christmas days” are beautiful but anxious for me. My children and grandchildren are visiting. I struggle to make each moment memorable for them. Accidents happen and peace is disturbed! Let me sit back and remember what is important - it is You Dear Lord - You in the peace of the stable surrounded by the gentle cow, donkey and sheep. Shhhh! Just kneel before Him and watch and listen to the Baby sleeping.
My life, a stable,
Week 10 - Have been absent for a week or two? The hurly burly of christmas preparation and coping with a move of property, in order to make a new home, from one unsatisfactory home to another. A thought? Maybe that is why I give generously to the JRS?
However, I don't know where I am going nor who is going with me. I am confused. Out of control - that sounds really good and a step in the right direction! Above all, I feel I am in the right place, writing this.
I have had what I think is a deep prayer life, but what I think is a deep prayer life is not honest. I see, as I stand before my bed, the cracks in the wall. The little girl is me. Frightened, afraid, unable to cope, especially with the mis en scene, christmas celebrations, all awry, all that preparation, all those gifts to the needy organisations, so much self and wilfulness in it all. The masks are torn away from the face and into the stark reality of the nothingness of me.
All that love and forgiveness has not been handed out to me for nothing. It shows on the one hand the love and the grace of a loving Lord. All these things in my terror I pray for, over and over. They are not real prayers from me but I know they are heard which is why I write. The message I hear, over and over in answer to my troubled mind, in dealing with the illness of addiction in my son, is 'Leave it ALL to me'. A friend explains, the ALL is my attitude and wrongful action.
Now I am stripped down to nothing. What a grace that is. In my nothingness and not being able to see the road ahead or how to tread it, maybe all that arrogant self can let in the Light, shining in the darkness of self, full of pride in its self possession. Please God.
Circumstances are changed dramatically. My son is coming to life, not through me but through others. I must, therefore, take a back seat, be with my husband as we approach sixty years of marriage and give thanks and gratitude to those who pray for me from their high places which are filled up with their humility to bear my troubled mind.
How can I repay the Lord for all his goodness to me? I will take the cup of salvaging love he extends to that frightened little girl in the picture, displayed as an aid for week 10, that is me at 83! Thank you Lord for your humour displayed in that bit of my imagination which reveals your Truth in all that we experience!
Thanks for allowing me to share, being on my own making the retreat.
Week 9: Over and over the message is clear 'leave it to me'! By handing over my life, my will, my understanding, my freedom, my memory, especially for my sins!- all that I have and call my own, even my children, especially the one who through sexual abuse, sought relief from the pain of it in alcohol.
I earnestly beg my creator to take all these things into your goodness and your mercy in order for me to do your will, leaving me only to give you my love and receive your grace, especially when I waiver in putting all my trust and my hope in leaving all to you, my loving and true, most holy saviour, our Lord Jesus Christ who lives in union with the triune God in heaven.
I said in my sharing of week 8 that I await the lord's loving embrace. I am coming to terms with this. The Suscipe - 'give me only your grace and my love of you for that is sufficient for me' applies. '
How can I repay the gracious love the Lord has for me'? - well it is clear - I must pray earnestly that I put all my trust in him, our Lord, to guide us on our way. Thus, we diminish our will, our way, so that he may transform our selfish selves in order to reflect his immense love, manifest in his warm embrace,combined with his healing grace.
Thanks be to our God, creator of heaven and earth. Thy will be done. Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who transgress against us.
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from every evil, past, present and to come. Grant us your peace dearest Lord in our time and mercifully hear us when we call upon you. Amen
Week 7; As I am going thru week 7 of this retreat I am having a hard time seeng what my sin is specifically. When I was young I could say I lied, I committed fornacation or even adultery. I was angry with my children and even cruel to my family. But now at almost 70 years old I have removed the elephant in the room. This retreat is helping me see the patterns of sin in my life. The need to be accepted and loved. And last week the Lord Jesus showed me the prodigal son, I was the prodigal but now I have become the older brother, I am harsh and judgemental in my mind. I have been reflecting on what would happen if the prodigal meet the older brother and not the father. As the older brother would I embarrass him with love or condemn him?
I look at week 8. I awoke early, a miserable sinner, praying the Our Father and the Anima Christi and asking Our Lady to untie the knots. Get up, do my jobs, sit down and rest. Difficulty to do my daily readings, turn to Creighton retreat. Recalling that I haven't moved to week 8, read my sharing reflection for week 7, and turn to the picture posted of the mother, embracing her child, my son, now sought by our loving shepherd, lost and found, deep in his recovery in the rehab and facing his future with new found confidence.
My offering of the confiteor, my cries to the Lord, confessing my weaknesses, my wrongs, my hurts, especially my decisions although as I recall, made in good faith to trust the recommended Benedictine school's education to help his learning. Such an intelligent child, outstanding vocabulary at the age of three. God alone my Jesus, I weep for all my wrong doings over the past 80 odd years in all its forms.
Now I turn to week 8. All about our most merciful Father in heaven whose forgiveness is extended in his loving embrace. I will await to absorb this embrace with a hopeful heart, set aside my self absorption and ask the Lord once again and always to help me to put all my hope and trust in his most loving and sacred heart.
Thank you, all of you for reading. God bless
Week 7: I haven’t had access to wi fi for a week. Just the daily missal following the weeks readings and mass where available. The attendant care for our son, now in a clinic some way away. The temptation to be overly concerned for his addiction led to me to pray the Lord - help me to put all my trust in you.What transpired was having done all i could possibly do in every area of my daily doings I received a firm command ‘leave it to me’.
Week 6 A Spiritual Director has been critical to my evolution of understanding the retreat and making it impactful upon me personally. This week has been hard but also freeing. Reflecting on John has been very Eye opening to understand that church is not a gathering place of spiritually health people, the church is where the sick gather to be healed from the disease of sin. “In the creedal affirmation of the holy catholic church, the communion of saints stands besides the forgiveness of sins. That conjunction is not accidental. The measure of sainthood is not human sinlessness but divine vocation. The community set apart in Christ lives continually by the gospel of God’s forgiveness, precisely because we are sick and need a physician.”
Weeks 5/6 Despite my sinfulness, acknowledged and forgiven through god’s mercy, looking at the retreat so far, we do not make it alone. We stay with the daily readings and the gospel message and if we try to keep the commandments, the Holy Spirit the comforter comes and sustains us in the Truth.
Moving on from week 4 last week drew a blank. True chaos caused by our dear son’s alcoholism was acute, lasting the whole week until today.
Addressing now week 5 is amazing. I awoke, singing in my head ‘fight the good fight’ adapted from scripture. The words of the hymn brought both comfort and consolation. At the eucharist, during the week, i felt the embrace of our loving god. But that led to acknowledging my lifetimes sinfulness in all its detail down the years. Is this the cause of all our suffering today? Am i so wicked that i am led to destroy myself and give up the practice of my chosen religion to which I converted as a girl?
My son was raped by a monk at a catholic prep school and feels he was abandoned by me. Not so, the school informed me they could help with his diagnosed dyslexia.
My son’s anger upset me and he too.
In attempting to self detox he became very ill and made a decision to go to rehab. He goes on Tuesday in trepidation of course, but we are at Peace, the Peace of Christ which surpasses all understanding.
So forgiveness of self attains and the Lord alone, not me, will be the judge of those perpetrators of evil within the church, not me.
Thanks for reading.
I found that reflecting on my childhood was kind of difficult for me. I felt really emotional, and both the good and bad memories made me cry lol. I think a lot of it is because my dad passed away suddenly 2 years ago and he was a part of many of those memories. My parents didn't have a great relationship, but they were both wonderful, devoted parents to me, their only child, so when I listened to the audio guide and they said, "Where were you Lord in the midst of all the arguing and shouting?" it struck a chord with me. It helped to think of Jesus being there with me through it all and thanking God that I was raised knowing Him, so that I never really felt alone during those times. It brought me to tears that God kept me in His care and kept me in a relationship with Him from an early age the present, though it was not always a close relationship, it was never severed. As I cried in the car on the way to work Monday thinking about these things, I also felt peace and a strong sense of the Holy Spirit there with me.
The article "The Courage to Accept Acceptance" is really relevant for my family living with 2 children with a rare medical condition called glycogen storage disease (GSD). It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that God is rejecting us when GSD hurts our kids in various ways, but we have to have the courage and faith to not buy into that lie and know that God is the only one who 100% accepts us for who we are. GSD isn't our punishment; it's part of living in a fallen world.
Words multiply! Does wisdom?
Week 4 I am too hasty. Awaking and always praying I feel the Holy Spirit is praying and prompting me. There is a desire to look at my life and see the mistakes and choices made down the years, all wrapped up in the desire to live my life in accord with the Will of the Lord.
From this horror of seeing the reality of my life, this false way reviewed, now speaks with Grace, when I read the readings offered for week 4. These strongly aid the way forward by not living in the past, despite the sinfulness encountered, and going over the wrong choices made along the way.
I am 83 and it seems to have taken a long time to become real. This retreat is revealing how to move forward when I address all the aids given for the week so that my desires for ‘i know not what’ (says william barry sj) are given as graces, inspired by the Holy Spirit to lead me to the Trinity who desired to save us by sending the Son of the Father to save us from our very selves -Thomas Tallis’ motet - puts this as (forgive this misquote of scripture from memory) ‘The Father says if you love me and obey my commandments I will send you my Spirit to comfort you. The spirit of Truth’.
Truly if I count my friends who have influenced me and whose example has been given to me, certainly it has been so since my conversion to catholicism at the age of 19, a precious gift to guide me on my way. That gift, of course, is from many members various, living and dead, of the Society of Jesus whom I have known and am knowing.
I am most grateful for the retreat. Thank you.
I finished the 3rd week today. I remembered to praise God ( at times I really didn’t want to) as much as possible even in my daily trials and personal troubles. Moments of praising God actually kept me in the present moment; helped me to somehow feel protected; reminded me that I have so much to be thankful for; I know am loved. I feel happy and secure. I am looking forward to next week!
As I am finishing week 1 and edging into week 2, I have been having reminders of feelings from my past. Like feeling photos that seem to crop up and surprise me at unexpected times. I felt shame yesterday after a conversation that pulled up memories of my childhood. I felt loss and sadness earlier this week after an event. As I recall it and see it for what and when it was, I am asking God to accept, comfort and be with me then and now. Acceptance holds a grip on me as I see it and place its role in my life. Sharing is my a step in being real with God and myself.
Week 2: This is the 5th or 6th time I have done this retreat, I keep lots of notes and expand on them each time. I wasn’t going to do it this year, but the Holy Spirit prompted me. I realized there were areas in my life that I had yet to talk about with God. So I meditated and prayed on it and He opened several areas for me, some I would prefer to forget and others that brought back long forgotten pleasant memories. I understand why He brought me to these places, we are working on them together.
This is the beginning of a new year and I hope, a new direction in my life. The last ten years have had their challenges. It contained the end of a thirty-five year marriage; the purchase of a new home, ( which has been named the Cloister) the returning to an empty house each day, the breaking of bread each day, alone. I live in a province where I have no family. We had no children.
There are many close and wonderful friends, friends that have been the warp and woof of my life, for over four decades. I have two amazing siblings who live in different provinces, but with whom I have regular contact. My life is an abundant one. Over these last ten years I have led groups, done the Camino, visited Oberammgeau, travelled extensively, hiked, read, prayed and grown. I have learned to change furnace filters, set up my sprinkler system, buy items such as hot water tanks, air conditioners, appliances and floor coverings. The kitchen and baths have been remodelled and I purchased a new vehicle in the frozen depths of an Alberta winter.
As I begin this online retreat, I look back on a life that for the most part was full, rich and filled with God’s graces. My parents were strong Christians and from a very early age, I was aware of the goodness and graciousness of God’s presence in my parents’
This is a new decade for me, a decade for last hurrahs. I am 71. I am active and healthy.
I have finished Week 9, and decided to share some of my thoughts and feelings. I think, after having experienced the Exercies in daily life many times, that I have finally come to a deep sense of my sinfulness of selfishness self centeredness and the fear and anxiety this causes. Flowing from this fear and anxiety is an absence of love in my relationships. Instead, they are selfish, controlling and protective of self and the things I consider mine: money, property, pretstige. I hope God can heal some of this at age 68, so my remaining years can be in service to God and God’s creation.
My sharing for week 25 is that I never appreciated the Scrutiny readings before. Thank you for bringing them alive. Love this lesson. I can see Jesus wanting to heal parts of me that have dried up and gently untying the bindings holding me cold and frozen. I pray again with renewed zeal on what have I given up on and doubted Jesus could transform. The last three weeks have been very powerful. One thing I heard from a podcast this week that helped with last week is that Jesus may have used very strong language with the Pharisees and Sadducees but before that he had developed a relationship with them. Jesus he had eaten with them and had conversations with them. So his rebukes came from a respect of the Pharisees and Sadducees as people worthy of engagement. I struggle with how to be authentic in love. Thinking about developing a relationship built on what I can agree with a person on first, is very helpful to me.
I need to promulgate my sharing for week 2. The golden nugget, the unwrapped gift, the joy, the revelation, the consolation and, not least, the understanding in answer to my daily prayer, the suscipe, ‘take lord and receive, all my liberty, all my memory, all my understanding, my knowledge and my entire will........’ all these gifts i acknowledge and now return them to the Lord to do with them as he wills. Begging that all i need is my love of him and his grace for that is sufficient for me.
What a week this has been, right from the start I was graced with insight to the attachment I have to my marriage, which has led to my husband and I living in different cities. My constant need to get reassurance that I am not the one who has caused this from all who I speak to... this led to me coming to realise that I am very attached to the need to be seen as a “good “ person. Still trying to make amends for my failings of my youth.
As I read “Our Sinfulness and Our Goodness,” from week 6, a few rogue (yet sacred) thoughts came to me which brought me deeper awareness and compassion for my own sinfulness and goodness, as well as a greater receiving of Christ’s Love and compassion.
The cross – the arms on the cross – one representing our deep sinfulness and the other God’s great Love – the suffering causes them to be as far apart as humanly possible – humanly. Yet – the Love of Christ compels this suffering to come to a final conclusion – death. This death allows the arms to be brought together - ending the separation. And further more it compels the arm of the sinner and the arm of the Divine Love from that cross to not only come together, but around us. Around me. The embrace of Love. Bringing together death and life – rejection and love – humanity and divinity. The final acceptance of both is within myself.
I am so grateful for this LOVE. I welcome this embrace. Thank you Jesus for your welcoming Presence.
I am meditating on Week 23, Jesus as lover and healer, and it is so cool because my Kingdom Community (who is not doing the online retreat) went down this path in our prayer hour yesterday. Jesus as lover and healer! We had a week of prayer and fasting in our churches this week and 200 people are showing up every night for prayer. Jesus is healing. Love how this intersects with where I am in the online retreat.
Have started the retreat and sent reflections for week 2.
Trying to continue, am overwhelmed. Reflect why? Husband and me coping with a recovering alcoholic. Our youngest son. Dealing with we hope, the death throes of the final stages of alcohol addiction in a middle aged man by aged parents, adds up to confusion.
So today, thinking there is something wrong, I resorted to Luis Rodriguez SJ’s on line eight day retreat, displayed on Creighton’s site. He explains how the Holy Spirit, the comforter, cares for me because day 1 of Luis’ eight day retreat, reveals my misunderstanding of week 1’s retreat.
And so, the Lord is there with me now enabling me to recognise Him being with me ‘then’ in all my doings, good and bad. Not just being with me but loving me and holding me, forgiving me and as said already, John14:15-17, ‘if you love me, keep my commandments...........’
Now I realise what depths these words mean. They are not superficial. The realisation of the life story is apparent in that whatever is or was, flawed or not, the king of love my shepherd is whose goodness faileth never. - deus ego amo te - for being my king and lord amen.
O.k. Despite the gramophone record played over and over for 83 years by putting the blame on my mother for circumstance all attaining to the unwanted child syndrome; as today's gospel says, it was the lord who knitted me together in my mother others womb. Gratitude and grateful for my being at last! It has taken a long long time for the revelation!! I need to forgive my mother too.
As I read “Our Sinfulness and Our Goodness,” from week 6, a few rogue (yet sacred) thoughts came to me which brought me deeper awareness and compassion for my own sinfulness and goodness, as well as a greater receiving of Christ’s Love and compassion.
The cross – the arms on the cross –one representing our deep sinfulness and the other God’s great Love – the suffering causes them to be as far apart as humanly possible – humanly. Yet – the Love of Christ compels this suffering to come to a final conclusion – death. This death allows the arms to be brought together - ending the separation. And further more it compels the arm of the sinner and the arm of the Divine Love from that cross to not only come together, but around us. Around me. The embrace of Love. Bringing together death and life – rejection and love – humanity and divinity. The final acceptance of both is within myself.
Week 19 - As I contemplated the story of Jesus' leaving his home in Nazareth and then entering into the sacrament of Baptism, I remembered a time when I left home to do mission work. I eagerly left my family, because home wasn't a happy place. I went to Switzerland first, a foreign country with a language I had studied in school but was only learning to speak. Being immersed in a different culture, in a position of service--I worked as a maid and kitchen assistant in a retreat center, it was like being baptized by the Holy Spirit.
I was the only Catholic and had to take a bus or boat to Mass every week. The prayers were in German, but they were still familiar. The familiar was merely expressed in a different language.
I spent the second half of that year at a Navajo mission in New Mexico. Again, I left home eagerly, heading out to serve the People in the name of Jesus.
In both of these settings, the work was hard, and Jesus bore me up.
The cultures were completely different from each other and from my own. I learned to respect people and take the time to get to know individuals.
I experienced Jesus in a new way that has never left me. I've never been the same.
I'd like to share my Week One retreat with you. So far the retreat is going well, reflecting on my earliest memories until the present time. I was easily filled with joy at those happy times and the happy times I forgot I had, a joy infused nostalgia. One thing that stood out was that God was active at my early childhood through Art and Prayer; I remembered so strongly the time that I consecrated myself in prayer to Him at around 7 or 8 even though I had no idea what it meant, and its probably the reason that I could'nt forget my relationship with God altogether even though God took a back seat during the tumultuous life of puberty and early adult years.
Recalling the sad memories wasn't hard either and the painful feelings associated with it. Family misunderstandings, bullying, temptations, illness, etc. God was faithful at those times even when I wasn't. And when I was old enough to understand, it was through the same problem God brought me back to Him and now start taking Him seriously. My relationship with God is still a work in progress and I believe will always be, but one thing's for sure, God sure is not in the backseat anymore, thanks to Our Lady.
Weeks 17 and 17a:
I am working through Week 20 and am moved to share for the first time...
Something that jumped out at me from the Temptation reading that I hadn’t thought deeply about: “…the Spirit led him into the desert.” It wasn’t an accident, but it also wasn’t as if he purposely went out to “test his strength” of resolve. He went out led and accompanied by the Holy Spirit, and after a time of fasting and prayer (during which, also, the devil tempted him, according to the text), the temptations we’re considering this week happened.