Sharing the Retreat
Week 2

Week 2

Week 2:  "I am who I am”. I am grateful for the way my life story connects me to God's presence and love in my life.  With all my struggles and all my victories. To my past, presence and future, with infinite possibilities.  Realizing that praying God’s will be in all my decisions and actions.  Learning to listen and ask.  But most of, with holy indifference, “I am” not afraid. Justa

Week 2 – part 1
As I worked on the questions for week 2, I found myself remembering more and more sanpshots – some I named before; many others I had not. There were periods in my life that I resisted remembering – I didn’t want a picture of them beause they were a reminder of difficult times. I’m sure God was there, but could not see the divine in the midst of my mess. Allowing those memories to be named as an insight or a crossroad was time-consuming, but ultimately cleansing. There is more work to be done.

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.

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…

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.

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.

Week 2

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.

Growth indeed from this day forward embracing John 14:15-17. ‘If you love me.............

Answering questions for week 2, referring to week 1’s sharing of the lonely child sobbing in her bed, the lasting memory recalls the coming to her in her desolation,  the loving embrace of her Comforter. The same here and now who has been there always, down the years, sometimes sadly unacknowledged, but brought to mind in making this retreat. Eureka! Isn’t the Lord so good and gracious in his wondrous works to perform!

Week 2

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.

Week 2:

By God's grace I am who I am for myself today. --Richard

Week 2:

Week 2 has ended and a week which was filled with Gods love, presence and Grace. I was attending another retreat but the tenure of each day totally fitting the subject of this retreat, and I felt God holding me in His love each and every day.
Gods blessings on everyone who is taking part in this retreat Jane NZ

Week 2: As I read the shares and answered the questions in week 2, I realize I am not unique. What happened to me in my early life is not so different from others, but still damaging to the being God brought into this world.  I am tired tonight so am not going to share a lot, but I do want to say I am grateful.  Everything in my life feels so overwhelming and hard to carry but through the last two weeks I now believe that God will carry it for me to lighten my load so I can be the woman he meant me to be. My first step is letting Him lift this heavy weight.  Not  sure what this weight is but do know it is strangling me.  Thank you for being there for me to share.

In my second week, I have found a real rich relationship with God.  I just cannot wait to see my dreams to come true.  I love the questions and the signs from God.

Week 2

I am a prayer guide for the Exercises. And these past two weeks I have found myself in such desolation. I had my adult daughter here at Christmas and for whatever reason she was unrelenting in her unkindness towards me. I began to doubt (not a sign from God!!) my ability to guide anyone in the retreat, wondered whether I was supposed to even be doing any of this. The susipe seemed to mock me and I began to go inward and pity my situation. My son died unexpectedly a year 1/2 ago, my husband of almost 50 years has developed two kinds of cancer and with my daughter's unkindnesses, I felt overwhelmed and unworthy. BUT! The lessons of Ignatius are very clear about what to do and what not to do in desolation and I took those lessons to my heart ~ I have made no major decisions, have prayed more, have rebuked the enemy of my serenity, have brought back to mind the comforts I've experienced during times of consolation and have reminded myself over and over of God's enduring love for me. While there is desolation, the Exercises have taught me how to sit with the pain and the discomfort and the emptiness, have taught me how to recognize this for what it is, and not to allow it to run roughshod over my heart. I know God is with me, loves me, and that I love Him, and the rest will play itself out. I have asked for the grace of consolation, knowing it is nothing I can create for myself out of sheer determination or the like, and have prayed that whatever it is I am to be learning from this experience at this time be revealed in a way I can absorb. So while the Exercises do not guarantee a trouble free, or desolation free life, they do teach us how to manage when things are difficult, how to recognize what is happening and give us the grace to somehow find an acceptance within oneself that this is all part of the process of being human ... and at the same time, allows me to remain in love with our Lord. That is the gift of the Holy Spirit, through the generosity of Ignatius, that was given anew to me this Christmas. 

WEEK 2.  Slow but guided well.  Finished Week 2, here I found that God really gifted me with the talents to be able to understand many difficulties during my growing years. That, those difficulties are part of what I have become, being real, unmasked to be working harder to draw closer to God and his Son, Jesus.  That these sufferings are part of my self-sacrifices.  From one of the Readings, (BEGINNINGS), it is a reality check for me--I was able to release every painful thought of the past. A complete Review each day with the Daily Examen helps me to see myself, free from pains and sorrow.  Lastly, I learned to forgive those individuals who hurt me in the past, which I understand that they are also human.  That, I let my heart out open to others, particularly to my loved ones.  O, Yes, I ordered the book: Retreat in the Real World, just waiting to come in. I am really excited to go forth reading it and be able to finish more weeks of the Retreat. Manny, San Diego

I am a doctor practicing in India. This is the second time I am doing the retreat . Last time I hurried through the retreat – Curiosity speeded me up . I am going slow now. Nearing the end of second week, as I go through many incents which upset me a lot when it happened and the memories of which tormented me everafter, I now can see God’s presence there and truly thank Him. Even unpleasant happenings today have lost their sting and I can feel God’s presence and thank Him while its happening. Praying for every one doing the retreat now and also seeking  prayers.

Annamma - Week 2

As I ponder what the Lord has revealed over the first two weeks of the online retreat, I am astounded at what I have learned so far.  I have been in a counseling ministry for 6 years now and feel like I have always given my all.  Week Two has so clearly shown me that I really can’t minister to others if I just reveal my very best side and hide any flaws that appear incriminating to me.  The truth is that my clients aren’t perfect and probably are uncomfortable with anyone that attempts a flawless existence.

I grew up in a very regimented religion and was discouraged from thinking on my own.  I was rewarded greatly for following rules.    I believe that this plays a big role in why I have always wanted to operate from a position of strength.  Strength is ok; I need to remember that it is only by God’s strength that I can go forward with His desire for the ministry He has placed me in.  I’m really thankful to find this online personal spiritual retreat. 

One of the retreat’s quotes that impacted me greatly was that:
We experience infinite love within our finite experiences. 

DU (KS) - Week 2

This morning I was gifted with a memory that proves God's loving fidelity to me. I was about 8-9 years old and traveling home with my parents from a family trip to visit relatives down state from us. It was a 5 hour trip. It was before all the vehicle safety laws because I was sitting in the back seat of the car on a small suitcase. My father was driving. I was right behind him. It was a hot day and we didn't have air conditioning and I was hot. I was also feeling really sad because I had gotten my hair cut and thought it looked awful and that there was nothing I could do to but wait for it to grow back. I had laid my head back on the seat while we were stopped at a toll booth. My dad caught my eyes in the rear view mirror and told me that I was so beautiful. My family life got a little chaotic not long after that trip and I had forgotten that moment with my dad. Today God reminded me. God is bringing healing to our family in many ways. Today, not only do I adore my daddy but how much more this memory means to me knowing that my Father God was behind the comment, telling me His thoughts towards me. All the struggles I went through as a child and young adult fade in the Light of the knowing that God was with me, at every moment, preparing me for such a time as this. My confidence in the gift of faith God has given me is growing at a tremendous pace right now. God is drawing me ever close to His heart. I don't understand it all right now but I must say that I know God is preparing me for something that will bring many people to Himself and very much glory to His Name. Amen. Please pray for me. - Week 2

In week 2 the question of crossroads in my life made me realize that God's unseen hand had been at work in my life many times and He had steered me away from making some very serious mistakes. I am truly grateful for that. - Week 2

It’s early in the morning of Thursday in week two, and yesterday, while driving to work, the focus of my week 2 became clear to me. I returned in week 1 to a fact of my life that’s never been far from my mind, that I was blessed beyond all telling by receiving the gift of my particular parents. With rare exception, they embodied the very love of God for my sibs and me. (I’m the oldest of four.) I have neuroses like the rest of us, but I have a confidence and risk tolerance that can only be traced to feeling so completely safe, and watched over, and cherished when I was small. I will be giving thanks for that gift all my life!

Now my parents are aging fast, and I know I won’t have them for long. They’re physically very healthy, but their minds are failing, my 92 year old mom first, with my 91 year old dad, as we joke together, “on the same train, just one car back.” It’s affecting my mom’s health now, and she’s getting very skinny and hallucinating sometimes and generally feeling disoriented. I’m filled with grief and gratitude at the same time, and I’m called to rest in that as part of my prayer this week.

In the same moment that I realized my parents were emerging as a focus of my week, I was also drawn to the contrast with my own parenting. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve been a very loving parent, much like my own parents, but like my dad, there were moments when my temper flared, and I hurt my children with my words, undermining their power and sense of self, and I’m heartbroken about those occasions and want so much for the Lord to heal my children’s hearts from those experiences. I believe God forgives me, but I feel unable to forgive myself, so that’s the other place I’m drawn to pray. (Some months ago, in an overwhelmingly difficult period, I received the assurance that, like the loaves and the fishes, “I will make your not enough, enough.” I must trust that in this, as well.)

Thank you for this retreat and for the many gifts of the Creighton Ministries community!

Marc - Week 2

I am so grateful for this retreat.  I reflect back at my life and see God’s hand in everything.  Through good times and bad, I have been molded into the person I am today.  An imperfect, searching soul.  I will spend my entire life searching.  The Bible is my entrance into the world of God.  And I love every minute of it.  I shared my childhood with my dear sister, (and later a brother) and through it all we had each other.  My parents loved us even though they did not love each other.  And I had the most awesome grandparents who constantly lead me to the Lord.  Those are my most precious memories.  Seeing the total faith of my grandparents who were very simple people.  I thank God for all of these gifts.  And I can’t wait to see what lies ahead.

- Week 2

It is the start of week 2.  I reflected on my whole life, 61+ years, which was not perfect growing up.  And the things I really noticed where the moments of love, where I can really see and hear God's presence in my life. In a sense, I am more connected to God through these moments than the difficult ones.  The sense of God as nurturance is pervasive for me.   It is why I believe in God. - Week 2

It's becoming hard for me to move on from an insight that I had re: a crossroads 10 years ago to the date. That day changed my life completely. I prayed before some serious spine surgery by the chief of Neurosurgery ay my University hospital. I "let go, let God" that day. He operated on the wrong side injuring my nerves further. I went from partially disabled to progressive and total disability. I legs are almost completely paralyzed. Being an orthopaedic surgeon myself doesn't help. 
Today I realized that I hated God for that and have ignored Him ever since, calling it: agnosticism. I started praying again at Thanksgiving. During this retreat I uncovered this event with all the emotions attached. For ten years I have forgiven the surgeon, putting it behind me - till now. I feel like I have to hate God for not answering that prayer. Why put myself in His hands if the result was not changed one iota? RN
OmIf you don't firmly program your children's minds with truth, someone else will do so with half-truth, untruth, and unimportant truth. ~ Anonymous - Week 2

Week 2: The two graces that deeply touched my heart this week, were expressed in one of my favorite hymns and I am sharing this with you. This stanza was taken from the hymn "Beneath the Cross of Jesus":

"Upon that cross of Jesus mind eyes at times can see
The very dying form of One Who suffered there for me;
And from my stricken heart with tears two wonders I confess;
The wonders of redeeming love and my own unworthiness."

By Elizabeth C. Elephant, 1868

Just finishing week 2
How marvellous it is that an Aussie like me can share a retreat and Gods love with you in America and other places at the same time.Week 1 was very distressing . So many blessings and so many stuff ups.Left me feeling empty,having achieved nothing that really matters in my life.
Week 2 led me to the place where the past does not matter. I might be restricted by the past but God is not. The formation and emergence continues. God can produce a new creation even at the age of seventy seven a new me can emerge which is not based on the past.I have much difficulty in seeing my value and significance in Gods life and plan.
I am ready for anything ,not knowing where the Retreat will take me. -Week 2

As a recovering alcoholic who has, by the grace of God, been dry for 35 years, I happily discovered in the early days of my recovery that although I thought I was alone and unique in my life struggles, that was not true. My fellow alcoholics stories were just “versions” of my own. I am trying to learn the same lesson with regard to the spiritual “drunkenness” in which I have spent so much of my life. I am NOT different. I deal with “versions” of the same temptations, frustrations, and feelings that everyone else does. We are truly a “Band of Brothers” in God’s army.

One of the most terrifying situations a soldier can find himself in on the battlefield is that of being separated from his platoon, his company, unable to see that there is a foxhole hiding a fellow soldier only a few yards away. That is where I am in my spiritual war. I know I have a “Commanding Officer” somewhere, but it’s hard to lean on him when I can’t see or hear him. What I need is assurance that I have, close by me, a brother who wears the same uniform, has the same mission, and is feeling his own version of what I am feeling.

I hope to find, through other’s sharing, some of that assurance. I’m only in the second week of this retreat. I need help and support to continue this battle. Don C. -Week 2

I completed week 1 and now Thurs of week 2 just starting it. I found it very difficult to begin it. Want I really want is to share this retreat with people in person. I am struggling with an unhappy marriage due to alcohol .I’m trying very hard to deal with my husbands addiction .I’m trying to find ways to grow spiritual and therefore be able to cope with my problems. I really enjoyed the first week as I knew that God has been with me on the many challenges I have met. The present one is my biggest and I have been able to cope until the last 6mos. I know God is there because I wouldn’t have been able to come this far. Ps.23 spoke to me today so hopefully it will start me on the right path. Please pray for me as I will you as we make this journey together GOD BLESS .I am so pleased I found this retreat on line Thank you for opening it up to all of us. -Week 2

This week I feel God in the overflowing love and the fear I had for life as a younger person.
There is so much love and gratitude particularly to our family members that we cannot express and this week I felt God’s presence between the spaces and the everydayness of life where you can’t always remember to be thankful. I can draw from this well as it is always there.
Thank you. -Week 2

At the end of this week, I realize that God has always been in my life on good days and bad. I realize most gratefully that He has known me fully and completely when others have not. I realize that He was with me on the absolute worst day, standing as a strong contrast and a beacon to turn around and find my way back home. -Week 2

I am coming to the end of my second week and have dealt with the most painful times in my life. I have with the Grace of God, to have at last, been able to place them where they the past and move forwards. I have realized that I am a " loved sinner" and have accepted myself the way God has accepted me, in all my weaknesses and brokenness. God has forgiven me and given back my dignity and I have been able to forgive the people who have hurt me greatly and move on. -Week 2


This is my second week into the Iggy journey. I have yet to share with others in my church but hope that once I get the hang of it I can share it with my catechists, 5th graders and 7th graders.I have learned so much from these exercises that I get to a point where I want to teach it, but once I begin it doesn’t come out the way it should and then I know that I have more searching to do.As a teacher I want to give that grace of Awe when I receive the Eucharist. The Awe just gets deeper as I grow older and sometimes sounds a little complicated to others around me. I am confident that the Holy Spirit will help me teach bits of it as my journey progresses. I just have to remember not to get in His way when presenting His gifts.Jesus has shown me so much of his graces already and at time He even shows me the catch 22’s in my life and in the world today. I find myself just smiling at some of the question I once asked as a child and hearing them come out of the mouths of my students. The gift for me are the A-Ha moments, but find it difficult to share or teach them.Thank you so much for creating these exercise offering them free on-line to people like me who need them every day. -Week 2

Not very familiar with this computer sharing. Wonderful that Aussies and Americans and all over can share the presence of a saving God at the same time yet so far apart.
Just finished second week. First week became very depressing. At seventy seven much of the memories were about being given so many blessings and stuffing them up.
The second week however led me into forgetting the past. The God of love is continually forming us and a new creation can emerge even at seventy seven.The past is a barrier to me but not to God. I don’t know what will eventuate but it is kind of exciting to not know, yet be confident that God gives goodness , holiness and life no matter what age.
Looking forward to the rest of the Retreat. -Denis -Week 2

I completed week 1 and now Thurs of week 2 just starting it. I found it very difficult to begin it. Want I really want is to share this retreat with people in person. I am struggling with an unhappy marriage due to alcohol .I’m trying very hard to deal with my husbands addiction .I’m trying to find ways to grow spiritual and therefore be able to cope with my problems. I really enjoyed the first week as I knew that God has been with me on the many challenges I have met. The present one is my biggest and I have been able to cope until the last 6mos. I know God is there because I wouldn’t have been able to come this far. Ps.23 spoke to me today so hopefully it will start me on the right path. Please pray for me as I will you as we make this journey together GOD BLESS .I am so pleased I found this retreat on line Thank you for opening it up to all of us. -Week 2

This week I feel God in the overflowing love and the fear I had for life as a younger person.
There is so much love and gratitude particularly to our family members that we cannot express and this week I felt God’s presence between the spaces and the everydayness of life where you can’t always remember to be thankful. I can draw from this well as it is always there.
Thank you. -Week 2

At the end of this week, I realize that God has always been in my life on good days and bad. I realize most gratefully that He has known me fully and completely when others have not. I realize that He was with me on the absolute worst day, standing as a strong contrast and a beacon to turn around and find my way back home. -Week 2

I am coming to the end of my second week and have dealt with the most painful times in my life. I have with the Grace of God, to have at last, been able to place them where they the past and move forwards. I have realized that I am a " loved sinner" and have accepted myself the way God has accepted me, in all my weaknesses and brokenness. God has forgiven me and given back my dignity and I have been able to forgive the people who have hurt me greatly and move on. -Week 2


This is my second week into the Iggy journey. I have yet to share with others in my church but hope that once I get the hang of it I can share it with my catechists, 5th graders and 7th graders.I have learned so much from these exercises that I get to a point where I want to teach it, but once I begin it doesn’t come out the way it should and then I know that I have more searching to do.As a teacher I want to give that grace of Awe when I receive the Eucharist. The Awe just gets deeper as I grow older and sometimes sounds a little complicated to others around me. I am confident that the Holy Spirit will help me teach bits of it as my journey progresses. I just have to remember not to get in His way when presenting His gifts.Jesus has shown me so much of his graces already and at time He even shows me the catch 22’s in my life and in the world today. I find myself just smiling at some of the question I once asked as a child and hearing them come out of the mouths of my students. The gift for me are the A-Ha moments, but find it difficult to share or teach them.Thank you so much for creating these exercise offering them free on-line to people like me who need them every day. -Week 2

Just finishing week 2
How marvellous it is that an Aussie like me can share a retreat and Gods love with you in America and other places at the same time.
Week 1 was very distressing . So many blessings and so many stuff ups.Left me feeling empty,having achieved nothing that really matters in my life.
Week 2 led me to the place where the past does not matter. I might be restricted by the past but God is not. The formation and emergence continues. God can produce a new creation even at the age of seventy seven a new me can emerge which is not based on the past.I have much difficulty in seeing my value and significance in Gods life and plan.
I am ready for anything ,not knowing where the Retreat will take me. -Week 2

Not very familiar with this computer sharing. Wonderful that Aussies and Americans and all over can share the presence of a saving God at the same time yet so far apart.
Just finished second week. First week became very depressing. At seventy seven much of the memories were about being given so many blessings and stuffing them up .
The second week however led me into forgetting the past. The God of love is continually forming us and a new creation can emerge even at seventy seven.The past is a barrier to me but not to God. I don’t know what will eventuate but it is kind of exciting to not know, yet be confident that God gives goodness , holiness and life no matter what age.
Looking forward to the rest of the Retreat. -Denis -Week 2

I am grateful, Lord, for my career path. I embarked it with anxiety and uncertainty. However you provided my family with abundant grace and financial security. For this I will be eternally grateful. Week 2

We are told to look back on our past life to retrieve the memories of our childhood.  I have trouble retrieving those memories. I can't even retrieve the memories of our lost daughter as well as some of the memories of our other three children.  I pray those memories will come back happy ones as well as the sad ones at once and I pray to God I could keep moving forward with this retreat. Amen

Week 2: Your Love For Me
I want to thank you Lord for your abiding love. There were many times in my life when I thought you did not exist. There were times when I thought if you did exist, that you did not care. But now I know. The fact that you are here loving me now is proof, to me, that you have always been there loving me. You were there when my soul was being lacerated by the actions of others. You were there when I had lacerated my own soul to the point that I didn't recognize myself any more. You loved me in my sin.
You saw me coming from a long way off and ran to me. You embraced me when I still smelled from the stench of my sin. You said, "Let us rejoice! For this son of Mine who was lost is found!"
You saw me in the very private and very public humiliation of my sin and said to me:
"Where are thine accusers? Has no one condemned you?"
I answered, " No one Lord."
You said, "Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more." By the help of your love and grace, I mean not to Lord Jesus. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

I am nearly through the second week, and find myself overwhelmed with deep sadness. I see patterns in my life where I have worked so hard to overcome the effects of of childhood trauma, the fear, the sense of worthlessness, the shadow of despair... and now I'm seeing that the efforts I've made, the very hard work to "break the cycle" and nurture lives of joy and peace for my children, those efforts have been worse than naught...those efforts have in many ways, set up those I love for trauma and tragedy of their own. What brings me to profound grief is seeing those patterns, replicated in my children, harming my grandchildren. Where is our hope?
I KNOW our only hope is in Christ....but what am I doing wrong?  What am I leaving out? This "knowing" feels like another of the things I've tried so hard to do right, and ultimately failed at.
Lord save me, and them, please.

At the end of week 2 I have to admit that I am having trouble keeping the retreat reflections as a background to life. It is easy to give in to the urge to try and analyse and repair rather than witness and accept that there is only one just judge and it is not me.

My first "wake up call" came early this week. As I read Father Gillick's reflection I thought to myself, "I remember this ... Yes the Valentine message". I have a few thoughts about how I need to keep sending messages  ... maybe postcards to God.  But then in praying about this I completely turned around my thinking.  While my first thought was that this was about me being in frequent contact with God, I suddenly realised that this was more about God wanting to be in frequent contact with me, wanting to communicate and desiring to share His love.

This formed the basis of my reflection for the rest of the week. I feel the dark noise behind photos are when I centre just on myself (and that unfortunately is a frequent noise). But as I look deeper into the photo album of my life I feel more than blessed. I see the events and people in the context that God is using them to communicate His love. I find this almost overwhelming.

So I am thankful that God placed people in my life at critical junctures. I am thankful that he has energised me in situations of learning, creating and leading. I see also that the focus on my pictures sharpen when I allow God to be the at the centre.  Why I do not let this happen more frequently is something I really need to consider in prayer.

Week 2: Like "Bruce", I also have difficulty with the idea that God created all this wonderfulness "for me".    Surely, if I died today, the beauty of this place where I am privileged to live, the beauty would still exist for other eyes and hearts. How can this be for me, as me?  Is there not a risk of "Jesus and me" spiritual narcissism?
But maybe it's more about His bringing me here, to this place, healing me enough to be able to see and savor it.  I'm confused.....  also, maybe part of my difficulty is resistance to being gifted by such love and presence.  True, I'm always afraid that the price I'll ultimately have to pay for any gift, will be too much.  Can it be that this life really IS a gift to be enjoyed and loved?  "without money, without price?" Hmmm

It is a funny wonder to me that what I need to hear, God always tells me in Sunday mass (or daily mass).  Last week I heard in my deep thoughts and heart (which is God's), that Heaven is much more than our restricted imaginings tell us it is.  The last laborer is paid the same as the first laborers.  In my heart I heard, do not judge for myself.  God has a whole lot more to show and give.  It made me reconsider my plans, and you know what?  A peace came over me.  And I wanted that more than anything. 

The image of panning for gold especially struck me this week. I found myself sifting through my life events, trying not to miss or skip over any of them. – to look more deeply at each one – especially the more painful ones - trying to recognize how God was present in each experience.  Knowing that God is always with me helped me to see more readily the “nuggets” of gold that are slowly becoming part of my consciousness: – the more I recognize God as Creator the more I recognize myself as creature, the more I experience the unconditional love of God for me, the more I am able to let go of the controls and trust God to take the lead, and the easier it becomes to surrender myself to his good will for me.  Like “The Hound of Heaven,” God tries every which way to finally take me in His arms and hold me with His unbounded love - and I finally become a believer.  I can only thank God for this grace.  Thank you, God for being so patient with me and for not giving up on me.  Help me to keep these “gold nuggets” forever in my consciousness.    

Well – so on to week three. I found weeks one and two enormously enlightening and the question of acceptance was not one I had considered – in depth - before but was very relevant - being wanted by God from conception – which was not true of my conception in human terms. Also God’s acceptance and love me through some deeply sinful episodes in my past. I guess the tension between those two things will continue to present a struggle in both my spiritual and earthly relationships. Week three is presenting a different tension but probably not unrelated. I worry about the concept of creation being there for me and to support my living out of the Gospel. Presently that all feels a tad narcissistic! I relate better to St Paul’s concept – all creation struggling for liberation.


Retreat Week 2:  "Her heart was a secret garden & the walls were very high."  But I KNOW that God is & has been in the garden with me & will help me to take down the walls. The hardest brick to remove is the first one.

Week 2 resonates with week 1 in discovery of the why and reason for hurts recalling these from life's journey so far.

Week 1 seemed to recall all the lovely things and then this week I remembered all the hurts and harms - the abused and the abuser and the suffering caused and causing. 

In confession it seemed to make me understand that in the fragility and the weaknesses of the human condition, when shared with Our Blessed Lord, it makes for forgiveness of our sins and restores us and we are redeemed.  The feelings of being unloved are wiped away as He comes to us in the Eucharist demonstrating how we are loved and like the disciples on the road to Emmaus our hearts burn within us in the breaking of bread when we recognise Him as the Risen Christ - for the Christian, Christ is always the Risen Christ. Even as a shivering babe warmed by the breath of the beasts of the field his arms are held out and he enfolds us.

I am reading from the life of St Therese of Liseux as I am supposed to be in formation as a Secular Carmelite - somehow in this second week I am drawn by her message - I had never realised that unless we recognise our weakness and acknowledge it then we are in a right mind to receive God's mercy like she says 'How happy I am to see that I am imperfect and that I am in need of God's mercy.
That is like in accepting suffering - caused by own's sinfulness too - our sorrows are  turned to joy!!'

Pat S

I had to dig deep to remember.  I found myself spending an inordinate amount of time on a memory just trying to dig up the details. But over the week as I moved on to later life, I found myself going back again and again as older memories started popping up and drawing me back in.

I have just started the second week and I am finding this online retreat very useful. I have never done anything like this before. The resources are great. I am grateful for this online resource and am learning to be more grateful and especially to learn that God loves me the way I am. It was particularly challenging to give thanks for all the painful memories from my life but I am beginning to see that God was there and had a purpose for allowing all those things to happen to me. May God bless you all who are on this journey and guide you, and thank you to all the people who publish and run this website.

Week 2:
These first two weeks have not been as easy for me as I expected! I see beautiful pictures in my album of me with my loving parents and these bring back many happy memories. I know what a gift it is to be blessed in this way and I am so grateful.  I know that I was fully accepted for who I am by my parents and grandparents, and I think I've understood from an early age about God's unconditional love.  What I can't figure out is, why was this acceptance not enough?  Why has the acceptance of others been so important to me?  Why have I so often chosen to do what is wrong in order to please others?  For now I will have to hold it up to the Lord and ask for forgiveness and healing and see what insights I receive in the weeks to come.

Week two:
This week was helpful in letting me see the grace of revisiting my past. Last week when I was in the process of the "revisiting" I was not impressed with the memories that surfaces.
Recalling the bullying and strict up-bringing left me with again the sadness of feeling unloved.
As week two unfolded, God was able to move me out of the darkness of those experiences and show me the times I was loved and cared for by parents, grand parents, aunts and uncles and teachers that in one way or another all helped form me into the person I am today.
Today I can say confidently that I have been the recipient of much love during my entire life.
I am so grateful to God for being invited to revisit my graced history.
-- Francois

Week 2: This week has shown me that God really does work in mysterious ways.  I have been so disappointed in my progress this week.  I didn't feel as connected to the readings as I did last week and even when I tried to force my self to concentrate on this weeks material, I have been so easily distracted by work or family or falling leaves, or a squirrel on my deck, a shiny penny-you get the picture???  I decided to continue on to week 3 and just trust in the process ("jump and I will catch you") and as I was making this decision and reflecting on the progress of this past week, I realized that I have restarted my daily Pilates routine and listened to the first third of Eckhart Tolle's book "The Power of Now.". Both of these things shine a spotlight on how to quiet the noise in your brain and focus on the now.  I have to say this was not a conscious decision on my part and I have this vision of God sending these things to me like special care packages recognizing that clearly I am going to need some special tools to work my way through these exercises.  I can't wait to see what week 3 holds.  Love and prayers to all those making this journey with me and for those who have provided the map of the way. 

Week 2: I am blown away by the little gifts that God is giving me as I look back at memories.  A difficult time of life was also when I felt most known by God, because during that time I had to have an outlet, so I began writing.  Getting thoughts and emotions out on paper during that time was a gift from God.  Putting things on paper and getting them out of my head, I believe, also made me feel known by God.  Going back and seeing that inspiration to begin writing is also a gift!  Life is hard sometimes, but God is good!

I am starting the 2nd week and am not sure I am really worthy of continuing. I don’t seem to recognize the graces God has bestowed on me.  I sit, read, ponder, ask, wait… read the requisite literature and still, I hear nothing.  It’s not that I can’t see the beauty of life all around. I appreciate the dark thunderous clouds; the beauty of a hawk in flight; the smile of someone passing by. But…shouldn’t there be more…shouldn’t I feel God’s presence everywhere I go?

Week 2
Have you ever wonder why we only go to God when we are down and out?  When we are out of work and bills are piling up one after the other?  When our children suddenly turned their back on us?
What about the time when we got a promotion?  When our business were booming?  When our children got all the honors the school could confer on them?  Did we ever stop and visit him in the Blessed Sacrament to thank HIM?  From whom all things come? 
He asked his disciples to watch over him while he prayed in Gethsemane.  But human as they were,  they fell asleep.  Human as we are,  we also fall asleep when it's prayer time. When it's time to spend time with HIM,  we fall asleep. But did we ever think that if HE falls asleep on us, what would have happened to all of creation? 
Probably because we are focused on  earth-shaking events like a family tragedy to remind us  of HIM. I am out of control!   It's crunch time! Help! I'm drowning! 
We forget to see HIM on the   mundane tasks and events of daily living.  I am in control!     
Lord,  help me to see You not only in the frown of grumpy people around me but also in the smile of my kids.  Help me to see You not only in the typhoon tragedy but also in the student volunteers who helped the flood victims.  Help me to see You not only in the sick officemate of ours but also in the rest of the my officemates who opened their hearts to help one of us in need.  

Further Notes on Retreat 2nd Week
In the night was woken with idea of Brahms ‘In summer fields’ which my Mother used to sing – I lie amongst the tall and wavy grass ….etc. reminding me of the time as a little child when I wandered away thro’ a cornfield – high above my head were the stalks and I was missing for a whole day! Aged about two to three. I will look up the words of this song – it is good that I remember my Mother singing it and it helps to heal all the hurts and the harms of an unwanted child. She was very frustrated as an artist and resented bitterly the ties of domesticity although she was very good at it!! She resented my daughter’s success as an actor/writer saying it should have been herself!! Oh dear! I feel that singing in my head in the night of this song was sent to me by God himself.  I need to know the words of it as somewhere it speaks of ‘arms enfolding’ and I was praying for the Grace for the Holy Spirit to enfold me. Also it came in to my head when I was awakened the Ave Maria – Schubert – as it was the Feast of the Annunciation yesterday.  I visited my dying friend Anna and we were speaking of all these things such as being enfolded by the Holy Spirit.  Further it was rather hurtful that her friends and family are today having a party to which I am not invited but which Anna said I was to go.  I got out of the situation by telling the instigator of the party that Anna wanted me there by saying I had to stay home – true – to await a courier taking away a defected purchase – also my boys later rang to say they were coming today to gather the wood from the wood to make logs! I feel that the singing of these songs in my head was a consolation in the night.  I recalled the simple carol of away in a manger – be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask Thee to stay, Close by me for ever, and love me I pray. Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care (those dying and starving in E. Africa esp.) and Fit us for heaven to live with Thee there!!

Great second week. Learning that I am loved no matter what I have done in the past. I know that I have already been forgiven by God and that I really need to believe that. If I don’t then how can I forgive myself.  Funny how it is the little things in our past that we question ourselves worthy of Gods love. But I now believe that God has been there all the time and has for some reason , not yet be revealed, allowed me to go through the good as well as the bad. Well looking forward to the this week.
-Rick W.

Week 2: This website is such a gift from God, to be able to be at the office and able to do this…thank you...
Every time I attempt this retreat I become so angry at God for allowing children to be abused…that I NEVER finish it…
I and my siblings were abused in every way possible; for me, my earliest memory is as a toddler…although much less abused that children today…it’s left us permanently scared, as it will today’s children, and no matter what anyone says – the anger stays.
As a result of our childhood, my sister has a violent personality disorder, my oldest brother died of alcoholism - his youngest daughter having accused him of sexual abuse; he had also been arrested at a young age for voyeurism, my next brother committed suicide in 1994, he is the brother who sexually abused me…
And me, the youngest, married a closet gay who at one time threw me down a flight of stairs and strangled me to unconsciousness.  I divorced him, had my marriage annulled and managed to have 3 wonderful sons who make wonderful husbands, but none will have children because, they have told me, they are afraid they would be like their father…
When my former husband came “out” and his behavior toward our children and me became violent, I stopped believing in God completely and left the Church.
In all of this, in 1987, going to Fr. Peter M's healing Mass on a fluke (hmmm) I went thru a powerful conversion, and although it’s a very long story the bottom line is God has been soooo good to me and blesses me continually through prayer and His presence and mostly thru the gift of sanity J….but I STILL cannot get passed the anger. 
I’ve spoken to priests, done therapy and all this has made me so stable and peaceful but the anger, when I recall these memories, is very deep……I have heard from the best, Fr. Andrew A., my spiritual director for 7 years,  Fr. Benedict..and many, many other holy people, including the Holy Trinity!!!  I’m still angry, and although I know deep in my heart, the Holy Spirit is in this, I only feel freer to be REALLY angry!! I know you’re smiling too...

Week 2: is gently in process for me. I feel truly blessed to be going through these exercises both online, and with a spiritual director as my guide. I am a widower, so the painful struggle of my wife’s battle with cancer are part of my life, my context, and my faith journey.  Rather than focusing on the struggles, I have found comfort in the special love which we shared during the 22 months of her battle, where not a single day was taken for granted.  God works in mysterious ways, and those ways are sacred. Contemplating the crucifix has been a tremendous help to me this week; I've often spoken of this as a "Cross of Love", but did not view my own journey and personal crosses as such. I believe that one gift that Jesus has offered to me is the realization that my life, and the little crosses that I may have borne, have been joined to Him in a journey of love, even when I stumble and fall, when I need others to help carry my cross, when I greet others who are feeling pain. In my life, I have been the Pharisee, I have been Peter and run away, I have been Simon and wanted not to help, I have been the women lamenting Christ's journey without seeing their own, I have laid my loved ones in the tomb. This week, I have felt the chance to be a participant in Jesus' journey toward the Cross of Love, not just as an observer.

JB wrote with concerns from Week 1 that he doesn’t really have those photographic recollections of his early life.  I’m currently in the second week, but had a similar experience during Week 1 where my earliest clear recollections were at about age 7 or so.  I decided that this is “OK”. I have had interesting conversations with my brother about this, who has many memories of his youth. I do recall a happy childhood and loving parents who are still with me even in their later years of life. My understanding of this retreat process is that it is more important to spend time reflecting on our life and faith journey than any one, specific recollection.  God will provide the points of context and recollection that we need to move forward, and to be moving closer to Him.

I am mid week in week 2 of the retreat. I ran across this accidentally - or maybe not- and began because I am lonely.  I initially tried to fill that hole by getting more involved at church, but there doesn't seem to be a place for me there. I don't fit the profile for any if the organizations there and they haven't needed volunteers in any area I felt qualified for ... Maybe I haven't tried hard enough, but I feel constantly discouraged there. I am 33 and a single mother. My husband of ten years has cancer and died two years ago when my child was one year old. I'm too young for widow groups, too old for youth groups, too single for young adult groups, too much a mother for single groups... Yet I feel this constant loneliness and need to connect with someone or some community. People say God can fill that void, but I haven't felt that grace yet.  I haven't felt much grace or insight yet in this retreat. Although I am really searching for that; I struggle to balance my job and my child's needs. The end result is usually a day packed with action - not reflection. I haven't managed to put these ideas into the "background" of my daily life yet. I feel like my foreground is so full that I can't even see the background. Just taking the time to write this has made me late to pick up my child. I'm not sure what to do except persevere and pray for guidance?

I am on week two of the retreat. As I looked back at last week's assignment, I knew that I was carrying a huge and heavy cross. The cross I was carrying all the burdens and regrets I felt from my past. Through this retreat thus far, I realize that I don't need to carry that "weight" around. Those feelings I thought were regrets actually turned out to be blessings. I wouldn't be who I am if I didn't go through those tough times. I don't why I thought they were regrets back then.
For example, I was blaming myself for the break-up between my ex-boyfriend and me. He was a good person; we just didn't have the same values on the important things like if we had kids how would we raise them spiritually. While part of the break-up was my fault, I was taking the whole blame and blaming myself. I realize that I don't need to do that. Having a deep and intimate relationship with God is far more important. God will present me with someone special; if not in this life the next. I am content knowing God loves me for who I am, what I do, and what I believe.
I feel free and at peace for the first time in over a year. Some of the wiIf I feel this way now, I can't wait to see how I feel at the end of the retreat! Thank you!
Amy G.

Moving through the week is difficult in recalling what I am about in making this retreat in the second week.  However the Graces become apparent as I quieten down and become more reflective.  Today I am praying with Pray as you Go and Sacred Space and reading the Gospel and daily readings via Living Space’s interpretation – I say interpretation as it is not exegesis.  It is the feast of St Clare and I am reminded to be generous like yesterday’s first reading.  I went to Mass in the evening and it was pouring with heavy rain but it was lovely to sit in the chapel before the Blessed Sacrament in the quiet of the day out of the rain and the wind which was enlivening anyway.  I asked to read and met up with the others afterwards.  I am enjoying this morning very much.  I particularly like looking at pictures of the Jesuits in Colombia on the Pray as you Go website.  A lovely picture of a Jesuit with the little children around him; he showing them something on the table – they are quite small but are all interested in what he is doing – they are relaxed and happy and the picture portrays for me the lessons to be learned of the joy of priesthood and the exercise of their vocation in this way.  I am reminded of the Anglican evensong – Endue your Ministers with righteousness and make your chosen people joyful.  It fills my heart with great contentment and peace to witness this scene on my computer.  It fills me with hope.

Interesting and remarkable process. I've done guided and silent retreats in the past--weekend retreats. This is more of an honor system and the questions require some sou-searching. I'm not projecting what could happen, yet to this point in week 2, what has happened has been and is, spiritually rewarding and refreshing, occaissionally sad, sometimes pleasant, not unlike a rooler-coaster ride--I approach with apprehension, am glad when its over, and sometimes can't wait to do it again.  Peace.

Week 2 I happended to see anorther A./A.'er sharing. While I have l5 yrs. "clean and sober" by Grace of The Master and my wife's 30 years of prayers, I am far from well. In some ways, it seems much worse. Been thru' terrible down cycle; completed first
week in middle of September. More Manic than Depressive, it seems. Without this experience, don't know if I could bear to keep on living. Something keeps drawing me to join my beloved brothers who killed themselves. They had a life similar to my
own. So many pray for me; can't let either them or Jesus down. Prayers, etc., this week fill me with hope. He saves me one day at a time each day. Can't say I'll never do it, but each day He tells me NOT TODAY. " When all else failed, His Love lifted me....." in the words of an old Hillbilly Spiratual from my childhood.

In First Week I was so deeply depressed. Brutal--sadistic--sexual molestations in my 9 to 11 year boyhood by a parish priest I thought would act as my daddy, then the horrors of 'Nam where many friends were killed  my share; sickening napalm attacks
with little children on fire running, screaming---couldn't put out the burning--- and all the rest in that dirty asian war. Then police biz in and around mean streets of the worst of L.A.; powerless to help ANYBODY, all we could do to survive ourselves. Ask myself: how did I get into such horror---all my "well meaning," seemingly worth-less life? Paid-For City, County, State of CA, US VA, etc. counselors, Shrinks, etc. don't help much. But I'd forgot about a friend that Jesus knows: a little Benedictine Nun, late 20's "psycho-babbler" who knows more than all the others put together.
She guided me to you, among other spiratual healing. Don't really know what I did wrong, but feel GUILTY of something. I do believe, tho' the old saw, " The streets of Hell are paved weith good intentetions." Please pray for me that I can fi nd my way through this jungle of confusuion to a pure faith and love that Jesus offers. Thank You and Bless You For listening to my "sniveling." HATE TO CRY, but I'm crying now in relief, release, remorse of some kind. Too complicated to analyze.Again, Thank You and God Bless You for the good you do!

Week 2 Haiku
                        What be I?
                  In the midst of my fears Lord,
                        you have been with me.

I am just finishing week 2 and am so awed by this trip down memory lane and seeing all the graces there.  Many memories I hadn't thought of in a long time, some brought tears and many brought laughter and they all brought grace to me, so much more than I could have anticipated.

One of the questions this week asked when  I felt most totally known by God.  I think it was more a matter of me knowing God more fully than I ever had.  Thirty-six years ago my husband and I made our first Marriage Encounter weekend.  Up until then my image of God was as the "grand overseer and judge", involved in the big important things in the world, certainly not personally involved with me

On that weekend I discovered a God who had a plan for me!  Was personally involved with me and even better, involved in our marriage.  He wanted for us what we wanted for us!  He had a plan for us as a couple and was calling us to a broader vision of marriage than we'd ever had before.  Many, many times it has seemed that that weekend was the crossroads for me and the real beginning of our life together.  That was 36 years ago and I/we are still being graced from that experience.  It has led us to a fuller, richer life than we ever dreamed was possible.  That grace has led us to such growth, knowing that God loved us and valued us and called us to share that.  There is not a day that goes by that that grace isn't there.

One of the things that grace led us to and enables us to do is being involved in the RCIA in our parish.  The program this year is one we hadn't used before.  We began the sessions just about the same time as this retreat.  It is amazing how much they both mirror each other!  Memories and grace have also been part of these early sessions of RCIA and the retreat and the prayers and readings have reinforced and strengthened each other!  The graces have just been overwhelming. I don't know that we ever would have been able to see, much less accept the love and grace being given to us were it not for that first Marriage Encounter weekend.

Week 2:
1.  What graces, insights, special or painful memories were given to me last week?
The overall effect of day 1 is the confirmation of the love of God permeating in my beingness  present in the events, in every moment and stages of my life.  There is joy and gladness, thanksgiving and praise for God’s gift of love, generosity and renewal.
2.  Did I like doing these exercises last week, and did they nurture some new desires in me? The exercises led me to find God’s loving presence in my life and brought resurgence of high spirit and joy to serve and love the Lord according to His direction.
 3.  After last week’s review of my photo album, I’m attracted to . . . be playful, go back to the days of being alive, exuberant and childlike to be free and liberated from fear, fear of rejection, fear of being alone and the desire to please others. I am more convicted, confident just to be aligned with God’s purpose.
4.  Where, in my life story, did I feel most totally known by God?  In the Benedictine chapel, in St. Scholastica’s high school retreat the Lord called me.  I responded with love and surrenderThe words ringing in my ears,”what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world yet suffer the  lost of his own soul.”
 5.  Is there a part of me, my story, I have a hard time imagining God knowing? Because I have a hard time imagining God accepting me there?  I have a deep relationship with Jesus Christ as a friend and lover.  I am fearful communicating and accepting the person of God as the Father because of my perspective of an authoritarian, judgmental and punishing God.  I have overcome this now and sees the totality of God’s three persons as one.  
6.  Where in my story were there crossroads? It could have gone this way or that: how was God present in the way my story continued from there?  When I completed my post graduate in St. Francis Xavier, Coady International Institute, God led me to a new relationship with  a classmate  in  Social Development school.  This allowed me to continue on with my career in community development  in partnership with my husband.  I had a previous relationship with a Filipino boyfriend which ended as a result of my schooling in Canada.
7.  Am I accepting of who I am today? If not, can I hold those areas up to God? If yes, can I hold my whole self up to God, in gratitude?   I am holding up to God my lack of resolve and self-confidence, my insecurity and self doubt. I AM GRATEFUL TO God for seeing THESE WEAKNESSES resolving to transform.
8. Are there areas I feel God is wanting to love in me? change in me? make use of for others? I need to overcome my feelings of insecurity and self-doubt, my lack of resolve and focus. I feel God’s presence and love connecting with me to overcome these weaknesses. He is forming me and I am grateful.

Week 2: I am really struck by the thoughts this week.  For almost 2 years I am taking a slow difficult road to overcoming panic disorder with agoraphobia.  This retreat comes at a good time while I undergo counseling/therapy in order to address underlying patterns of thinking that allows panic disorder to thrive.
The therapy guides me to surface various issues and events in the past that have contributed to my way of thinking.  The insights in the retreat allow me to see how God works even in this difficult time to mold me into someone kinder, gentler and more loving... even as I struggle I feel His hand guiding me and I feel less alone and so very thankful.
For the last decade, I have also struggled with my relationship with God.  I am in a relationship which is far from ideal and although I continued to go to mass, I felt constantly wracked with guilt and fear.  I could not take communion and struggled to confess feeling I was a hypocrite.  Having panic disorder left me no choice to "cling to the Lord" and in so doing I found renewal in my relationship with Him.  That's why these lines from the readings so meaningful.

"to hold our whole life up to God... especially the parts which might seem unacceptable.  It's all about gratitude.  I don't have to be together to be grateful."  
"When everything is going well, I have this vision in my head that I have to be perfect for you Lord... and I am not perfect.  So I wait to really turn to you, thinking I will somehow correct all my flaws, by myself, before I come before you to speak....
Suddenly I am aware, dear Lord, that now, in all of the things that are wrong in my life, in all of the things that I want to make better, now is when I need to turn to you.  Please hold my hand and go with me to places inside me where I am afraid.  Be with me as I look at myself with all my flaws.  Stay with me when I am afraid of my anger, my sadness, and my grieving for the pain in my life... Thank you... I am always grateful for your love and care."
The realization and acceptance that God truly loves us.  That all these years I have been passing judgement on myself and second guessing God.  I have been humbled with the knowledge that I could not hope to achieve anything or be at peace without Jesus at the very center.  That He understands our struggles with our humanity but that life is a journey.  That as long as I hold unto His hand firmly, even with the detours along the way, He will weave something beautiful out of my many scars and tears.

Thank you for having such a wonderful opportunity you share to us all to know Him more.  God bless.

Advent week 2: "I am here with you in the stillness."  So says the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and me.  This time of waiting is full of mystery and suspense.  What will God bring into my life next?  What changes await us?  I know S/He will be there through the peaceful and the tumultuous times as S/He has been throughout each phase of my life.  The veil between us is thin and shimmery; sometimes I can almost glimpse Her.  At other times the veil is thick, dark and impenetrable.  It has been like that at this time of year for me ever since my husband died December 16th.  And yet, now, after 9 years, this season is becoming less of a dark burden.  The veil is becoming gossamer-like once again, allowing me to catch glimpses of Her, abiding there supporting me in the stillness. I believe She has been there all along.
Week 2: Thanks be to God , I am finally free. I just finished week 2 and found that God loves me more than I love myself. He is awesome and all the instruments and angels he sends are trustworthy and true. Praise God.
Week 2: I am in Week 2, and I want to thank all those involved in this marvelous online retreat. 
  Thank God for the Internet, too.

Today is October 1st, the feast day of St. Therese of Lisieux, "The Little Flower". Her short life was a story of doing small, seemingly insignificant things for others --of enduring physical sufferings as a way of appreciating how much Jesus suffered for us.To be joyful and pleasant despite constant physical pain is indeed a real virtue.To be humble but yet speak boldly when necessary is to be one of God's Heroes. 

"God's Heroes" reminds me of when I attended elementary school many years ago.One of the nuns who taught us used to read us a story each day from a book called "God's Heroes", a collection of short stories about the lives of the saints.  The story about St. Therese really made an impression on me.  Maybe it was because, above all, she knew her own limitations. She knew she would never be able to do great things, so she accepted her role as a "doer of small things".  How practical.  How down-to-earth.  How admirable and imitatable!

 I remember some of the other saints' stories, too, especially Isaac Jogues, a Jesuit missionary who worked among the early American Indians 400 years ago.  All of    us students were amazed at how much these missionaries suffered at the hands of the Indians -- horrible torture, treated like slaves, despised and humiliated by their captors.
    It surprised us that Isaac, who escaped captivity and returned to France, yearned to return to missionary work among the American Indians.  We couldn't understand why someone who was lucky enough to escape would be so foolish as to want to return and face almost certain   death.  When the nun reached this part of the story, it was like a Greek tragedy -- we knew what was going to happen.  And, sure enough, it happened!  When Isaac returned to America, he was again captured by hostile Indians, and suffered a martyr's death. We all said "I told you so!",  but deep down inside, we knew this is what Jesus did for us and we admired the self-sacrificing Love that motivated people like Isaac Jogues.
I think that events like this helped shape my later life.  It isn't just "take the easy path",  it's "do the Right Thing", that's really important. 

-- Joe

Week 2: I've almost completed my second week of the retreat.  Reflecting back on God's care for me, I've realized how often God has saved me both from physical death (twice) and spiritual death so many times. 
I once got up to read as a lector on Pentecost .  As I read the intro to the story of the Spirit coming on the apostles, I suddenly felt the same happen to me.  I have no idea how long I stood at the pulpit, but a doctor started forward from the back of the church thinking that I was having a seizure. 
I was aware of God in a way beyond description.  I was being called from a serious sin in which I was involved at the time that was killing me spiritually.  I began that day to pull back from the sin, but it has taken much pain and grief and several years.  Nevertheless, I am convinced that God exists and is involved in my life.  Only a few persons know of this experience as I never told the Church what had actually happened.  God saved me.  Praise be to God the Father, to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.

Week 2: Well, here it is, Week 2 of the retreat, and here they come: here come the questions. What do I think of this? How do I feel about that? Last week was so nice because I just had to remember and reflect: images from my life, pictures, sounds, stories, adventures, sorrows, new beginnings, just life. Scenes from a life. It was truly a gift from God. This week reminds me of how a scientist approaches a flower: there's so much beauty there, what does it all mean, I got to find out. Pick it apart, scoop out the yellow, pick apart the white, analyze, study it, examine it, draw conclusions- and yet when all is done, all one is left with is a dead flower, and the point is completely missed.I feel like I spent too much time analyzing my life instead of just letting God show me what He wants to show me. I wish to hear him through the din. On the other hand, maybe I'm afraid of the answers the questions will bring me. After all, the questions are not that ominous.Perhaps I'll just let the images from last week just settle in, and keeping in mind what this week is about, I'll just let the Lord guide me as He so often has. Just let the river run its course and let the current guide me instead of being so sure of where I ought to be going.Sounds like a good idea. Just relax in the inner tube and let it flow!
Week 2: As I near the end of the second week my response will be different from what I had expected. When I started this week my reaction to the question of my own acceptance of who I am today would have been a resounding NO!  I see all the filth of my sins even while acknowledging that Jesus loves me right where I am.  Now I realize I can be of so much more service to Him, which is
something I ask for every day, or at least intend to, the more accepting I am of my own flaws.  Not to say I can get smug about it, a kind of little boy blue mentality - what a good boy (or girl in my case) I am.  But knowing that Jesus accepts me, warts and all, is such a comfort! And who am I to have higher standards! As if I know better. OUCH!  How controlling that sounds, because it is.  And I definitely DO NOT want to be in charge. Too much work and I only mess things up when I try it. It also occurred to me that allowing me my free will is one of God's most wonderful gifts to me!  By it He allows me to have something to give back to
Him and in allowing me to fall He shows me His great love for me, His mercy and forgiveness.  If I'd never fallen I never would have known them, or even had a reason to acknowledge them and be thankful. That almost seems to answer the last list of questions.  God wants to love the me I am at every moment, with all the warts. He wants to change my attitude about myself so it more closely conforms to His opinion of me - God doesn't make junk.  And by freeing me to see that I can be of more service to those sisters and brothers He puts in my path.  To be allowed a part in His plan is awesome!  What trust He puts in His children. I for one DO  NOT
Week 2: By focusing on where I believe God has and has not been most present in my life, I have discovered more about myself once again.  Concentrating on seeing God in my life has made be realize that I have in the past valued parts of my life that didn't lead me closer to God at all.  I tried to spend the week concentrating on where I believe God has been present.  He has been most present during my deepest times of need and also during my greatest leaps of spiritual growing.  This focusing has caused me to reevaluate how I saw my past.  I don't esteem certain periods of my life as I once did for the mere fact that I drew away from God rather toward him.  I can't help but be constantly reminded of fear.  There is a fear in realizing that my greatest comforts of life have been God-given.  There is fear that I am realizing that I still have not completely turned my back on all sin in my life.  Thinking about my past makes me run to God more, but also with that fear that doesn't leave because it is the unknown.  I only have the warm comfort of past feelings of Grace from God to hold me to God's path.  There is fear in letting sin go.  Ironic, isn't it?-- SN
Week 2: Thank you so much for the blessing of CLC on-line !! I thought week 1 and 2 were so easy as I have done so much work on healing the inner child. But the miracle of walking with the Lord and doing these exercises is new insight all the time. It is so strange to me that I see God was real to me at school, far far from me, or rather I was far from his comforting presence during a marriage to a solid, good man, a true believer in God, and real to me again as never before after my husbands death. Doesn't make much sense. Why was I in such a bad place being married? I just don't get it!! My soul felt so dead in that marriage. Even the children say " mom you are so different after dad died." Yes it is true, now I am happy and free in my spirit. I have found myself again. And in finding me I found God again. Or rather he is alive, real and comforting to me now.
Week 2: By the Grace of Christ, I am who I am. Now I know true Humility.
Week 2- I just had the most amazing revelation about my “secret”. I have been mining my past, my mind, my soul to find my One secret that is the key to unlocking the next door I need to enter. I have been reliving and reviewing all the dark spots in my past, but none of them are secret. I have faced them all. And then it hit me- my secret is that I am happy. My mom died almost 8 years ago, I was only 24. From that day I have felt that it would somehow be a betrayal or that I “shouldn’t” be happy because how could I be now that she is gone? But now I am a mother and being sad all the time is exhausting. But then I realized, the “should” doesn’t matter. God loves me. My mom loves me. They want me to be happy. And I am! I have just never allowed myself to feel it because it wasn’t “okay”. I am flooded with emotions and I feel like I could fly. This is such a gift and a blessing not just to me, but to my whole family. Thank you God. Thank you.
I'm almost at the end of Week 2. I thought like everyone else, why do I have to go over again the painful things in my life -- mostly where I was so far from God with my sinfulness. But there is an urge now to look deeply in several areas of myself... mostly why am I so afraid of being alone... the fear of loneliness - which shadowed my entire life, I believe. It caused me to be desperate to find someone to love me... and many times those relationships were very toxic and unhealthy... just so I wouldn't be alone. I keep remembering the happy times of my childhood before my father left when I was 10 because my mother was divorcing him, mostly because of his alcoholism. She married my father's best friend and although he was a good man, I felt abandoned and lonely after that. My only brother left to go live with my father, so that added even more to my loneliness. I'm so grateful to find this online retreat. Bless all of you on this special journey. I so enjoy reading the sharing.... helps bring up a lot of stuffed feelings and memories. -- Rena
This is my week 2 , I have found through the reflection and examining my life what is truly worth while, God has opened my eyes through his grace. I know now that we should always treat the people we love, like strangers and give them the same consideration we would a stranger. Treat them with respect,consideration. Never take anything for granted, treat your loved ones like the last time you see them may be the last time you see them. Always respect them enough to say thank you and please, and most of all when you leave their company always say "I Love you" !!!! We think they know it, but it is always nice to tell them.

Week 2: My challenge this week is the realization of my fear of rejection.
This fear is an obstacle to my receiving love from others. At the same time, my reflection reveals
God never rejects me. God accepts me and embraces me and loves me.
There is no rejection associated with God. I plan to pray with this all day today.
Week 2: Week 1 of the retreat was difficult for me. I found it challenging to clear my mind of the daily “noise” to allow for reflection. I just couldn’t retrieve scenes and memories from my past that had much meaning. This week I have found that the discipline and structure of the retreat is enabling me to slow down and create time for quiet reflection. This week, during those quiet times, memories are floating to the surface and I am able to spend time with them, to ponder, and to connect the scenes with the feelings and the outcomes. I am better able to recognize (or remember) God’s hand in guiding my path. I am continually reminded that nothing, no matter how seemingly small or insignificant, is random in God’s plan for me. I am not, nor have I ever been, alone

Week 2: Glory be to God in the Highest!! I am an alcoholic.I am just starting wk. 2.Having worked the 12 steps going back over my life this time was completely different than when I worked my 4th step.I have a sponsor but I am not using him as my director for this retreat.I have asked a friend who is on the RCIA core team with me who went to a Jesuit University to walk with me through this retreat.At the age of 15 i made a pact with the devil and preceded to live my life accordingly.I have been sober now By the Grace of God for 3 1/2 yrs.I am 52 yrs. old.In that time I have been blessed with many spiritual experiences .One being that I was Baptized ,Confirmed and received first Eucharist at Easter Vigil 2007.I am so looking to see how God reveals his light in the many shadows of my life.My favorite scripture is Phil 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strenghtens me. It takes away all my excuses when i say i can't.
I am in week two of the retreat. During week one I read "The Courage to Accept Acceptance". What a powerful piece! In a few days it has done more for me than years of psychotherapy. To outsiders, my childhood seemed idyllic. But there was something very important missing. Love from my parents came with a price. I was expected to behave in a certain way to maintain that love. There was not "total acceptance" as God's love is. The idea of "total acceptance" by God affected me in two very healing ways. First, I realized that my parents did the best they could. I can't expect them to be as perfect as God. Second, in my relationship with my teenage daughter I recognized that I should try to be God-like and strive to totally accept her with no expectations. Very quickly, my daughter and I have grown closer, and she seems so much more at ease with the world.What an amazing beginning! I plan to continue through all 34 weeks. Thank you for putting this on the web.
Week 2:As I start the second week, I realize that at every crossroad in my life, God has always been extremely patient with me. He respects my freedom and allows me to make my own decisions. It is precisely this freedom that allows the possibility of love. This realization empowers me to fully give God my love and freedom. He Who has loved me and given me freedom, deserves all my love and the fruits produced by my freedom. Thus, I can wholeheartedly tell the Lord, "Take, Lord, receive all my liberty, my memory, understanding, my entire will... You have given it all to me, now I return it."
Week 2: During this second week of my retreat I've had to think a lot about moments in my life when I have not felt very good about myself. These moments have been very dark and sad, some of which I've had to accept even though I have not really understood at the time the consequences I would experience in my spiritual life. In one of these moments I was in complete darkness and experienced such fear I felt totally unloved by God. It took a special priest to talk to me without judging me and who finally made me realize that God was loving me even more at that time than ever before. Years passed and one day out of the blue I experienced God's love for me in a very tender and enlightened moment. I feel God has a sense of humor because that very special moment was felt as I was walking through a parking lot on my way to do grocery shopping. At that very moment I experienced God's
tremendous love and mercy for me. I am very grateful because I know that His love is so vast He allows us to make decisions, some easier than others, and His unconditional love is forever present in my life. I am still trying to cope with another decision I made several years ago that haunts me even though I know it was right but still the guilt is there and I ask God to heal me from the pain I've felt and continue to feel for such a long time. I feel I need another moment of total immersion in God's love in order for me to let go of these negative and dark feelings in my heart.
I hope that as I continue in this retreat I will be able to find the answer that I need. God bless all of you and if anyone can offer some insight I will gladly read it and think about it. My experience has been that God always sends me an "angel" in times of need. I do trust in Jesus and lift myself up to Him.
Week Two: In my personal journey I am so focused on Christ in my "now," I have not wanted to focus on my past. It is as if the past or the future are an illusion that takes me from the present. For me, today, It is in the present that I can serve and love. And be loved. Not that I have actually forgotten my past or stopped thinking about the future, but I feel like I should avoid focusing on them. Instead I have been more concerned with hearing the voice of the shepherd who knows his sheep.

I have finished the second week. The hardest day so far was when I was asked to meditate on parts of my sotry I have a hard time imagining God knowing and accepting me. I wrote in my journal: It’s hardest to envision God with me when I sinned – particularly when I knew I was going to sin, thought about it, felt it was wrong, and did it anyway. It’s hard just to think about those times. It’s hard to feel God’s love and acceptance there. My experience of this part of the retreat wasn’t that “good” because of those thoughts. I realize if my relationship with God were based on my performance I could have no relationship. I woke up the next day to a song, “Only the blood of Jesus, covers all our sin.” That helped. I'm seeing that if in the darkest places I can know God’s nearness, love, and covering, then I can know Him today.
Week 2: I have spent weeks trying to do week two. My perfectionist nature would not allowed me to get past this week. I kept digging for gold instead of letting God work in me. It's that human tendency to believe that we can do it alone, that we know better, that it is impossible that the only thing God wants is an opening, however small. One memory kept coming: me as a young child eating alone at school . For a whole year, after I transfered schools, I didn't have a friend. No one would sit with me during lunch time. It made me sad to remember that loneliness. But as the week progressed the image started to change. Yes, I was still sitting there but I was not alone anymore. Sitting next to me, was God, and it dawned on me that I have never been alone in my life, and I will never be. That doesn't mean that at times I will not feel lonely or abandoned -even Jesus felt that way at the end- but it is just an illusion. He who created me, who shaped me and gave me life, is like the song say "with me beyond my understanding".

Week 2: God is always with me I must acknowledge Him and His presence with me. No more disguises or masks God let me be who You made me to be all the time. Sad or happy even upset at times and joy full most of all. Let You in me shine brighter than the sun. Allow me to deal with my evil and harsh past and shed the baggage that I have been holding onto. Keep
making me into your perfect image and self. Continue to help me seek you I mean really be looking for You in Your word and in situations and especially in people. Make me aware of Your Spirits presence and also of the Accuser's presence so I can begin to pray for your protection. You are everywhere and in everything Your fingerprint is all over. Thanks for putting images of yourself all over the world.

Week 2 caused me to go deeper into my life. It was not an easy task and I found that there were many places of dificulty and sorrow. Yet also there was much for me to be greatful for. I felt the grace for this week was to hold up to the Lord all my life in gratitude. Though this was dificult I did feel his forgiving love. I thank you for this week and for the fact that we had to go deeper because I might never have had this grace were it not for going deeper into my life.

Is there a part of me, my story, I have a hard time imagining God knowing?
Because I have a hard time imagining God accepting me there? It's week 2.I frequently return to the questions. I can not imagine God not accepting me. As I review the memories and crossroads, I can't not consider how Christ's Bride, the Church, has influenced them; and not all for my seeming good: A first grade nun who was physically and psychologically abusive to six year olds; A father, raised in a Catholic orphanage, who never speaks of his own earthly father (Dad is 82, now). My Dad himself (I believe) inherited a sense of abandonment and was "forceful" in correcting his children's infractions. Unfortunately, I was never a student of psychology and never understood enough of all this to know it was affecting me. Thus, it played itself out in my life as father to my own children. I hate myself, my father , and the "Church" for that. I do not fear God's awareness of this . I feel God knows all this and condemns me not. Am I contrite for it? Absolutely. Do I discuss it with my children and wife? I tell them every time it comes up, "I was wrong." And not once, until now, have I been aware enough and courageous enough to say all this. I am grateful that I can get this out. It was masked, compartmentalized and well-hidden. Do I get warm, fuzzy, comforting feelings of God's Presence? Not from this. Not from these memories. Do I see where God was in all this? No. Do I believe I have been lead by Him to this place and time of this Retreat? Absolutely. For this, I am grateful. I pray for Grace and Peace for us all.
-- David

I began week 2 today, and I have to say that this is not easy. I asked the Holy Spirit to help me find the good in my childhood, it is so difficult. I have an overwhelming sense of weakness and insecurity since as far back as I can remember. Over and over I keep hearing the faint whisper-"I give the weak, My strength." I then took my grown self back to that little girl and told her all the things that she needed to hear back then. "You are fearfully and wonderfully made, there is nothing wrong with you, pray for God's strength and he will give it to you-love yourself, because you are God's loving creation, created by Love, to Love." I think that little girl believes me!

Week 2: I have just downloaded week 3 of the online retreat and have read some of the week 2 sharing. It seems several people, myself included, have trouble with masks. My own experience came to the fore a few days ago, when I helped with a funeral and Mass for a friend's husband. I did not know why, but I avoided going to the luncheon after the funeral. Later that evening I got a phone call from a friend who asked why I wasn't there. The next day, several more people commented on it and also that I was grouchy the last couple of days. It took a while but I finally figured out that I was very much disturbed by the fact that the funeral came on the first anniversary of my mother's death. I hadn't thought that I had been "grouchy" but instead had hidden my emotions and thoughts, my self, from myself.

I had thought that I had completed week one and week two successfully and was ready for week three, particularly since I had extended (unintentionally but certainly) for more than the week which should have been allotted to it. But, now I wonder at how much else I have hidden from myself. It is particularly comforting though, that God knows and accepts us as we are. And in this, can I ask more?
-- Quentin

Greetings from Australia. I am completing my second week. I feel a week is not long enough to take it all in. There seems to be so much for us to consider in each segment. I was deeply moved by the photographs which seemed to speak volumes to me, particularly the state of my relationship with God and others. The challenge to be prepared to take up my cross and follow Jesus means for me to die to myself, to stop being self centred, and being prepared to go out on a limb for someone else if need be. There are so many people who suffer in silence and nobody seems to notice. Everyone has a right to be acknowledged and given the time of day at the very least. How else could they be loved and cherished for who they are. I pray that I may become more aware of my indifference to wards the plight of others and the selective way in which I deal with people. It's always tempting to take the easy way out and forgetting that God has been and still is holding on to us and encouraging us to go one step further.
In looking back into my past, I am becoming more aware of certain crossroads in my life when I had to make important decisions about the directions my life should take. I could not have taken those steps unless there were others there to guide, lead and give me courage.I grew up in a family who loved me and forgave me and made allowances for my shortcomings, thus enabling to experience acceptance and self respect. There were so many others who also accepted and treated me kindly. I did nothing to earn this. It was freely given to me. I am beginning to see this as a blessing from the Lord. I believe it is up to me to give out more of what I received in my lifetimm.
In closing I would to thank all those who have shared their experiences of the retreat and their lives. I am finding their life stories very helpful.
May God bless you all.
-- Louis

Week 2: This week I felt some real tension and consolation as well. For some reason I feel real tension around some questions that I want to avoid, "Who am I presenting to other people?" "Who is it that I want other people to see?" In my review of my pictures I feel that as an underlying tension. I experience anxiety over this. Part of this is because of where I am living now and to where I recently moved. I'm reminded of the social tensions growing up.
But the consolation comes first as I read Father Gillick's reflections. I realize that while I may have resolved these identity issues as I grew up and moved around, I still play them with God. I'm trying to present myself to God as the person I think God wants me to be. Probably there is nothing wrong in this but it is preventing me from realizing that it is God who wants to reach me … know me … love me. Somehow, I was missing this. I had seen myself as the person loving God, trying to know God better, letting parts of myself reveal themselves. The anxiety I feel recedes when I sit and let God love me … here and now. This is similar to something I have discovered in my marriage. My wife can be quite realistic about who she is living with. She can see through my "presentation games" and to her it doesn't matter. It's even more with God. God knows who I am and loves me for it.
I felt reinforced in that when I reflected on crossroads I've encountered in my life. I see that at each point … even when I thought I was in control … there has been a gentle touch or even if I was ignoring God's voice … somewhere along the path thereafter there would be a gentle tapping on the elbow so that I kept somewhere along a path that God can make use of.
For these experiences I give thanks.

Week 2 completed... God was always within, and I spent 30 years looking outside of myself for his love and peace. I finally was able to connect with that little piece of Himself He put in all of us , to lead us on our journey through this earthly world, to find a home in our heavenly Father's house. I've now spent 25 years attempting to dismantle and remove my too many defense structures and masks. These masks kept me apart from God and others , while I merely survived life. Opening my heart to God has allowed me to begin living a meaningful,spiritually satisfying and peaceful journey. I seek and pray to be more an instrument of God's love and peace. I seek to more faithfully accept life on God's terms . I pray to stop seeking life's answers and ask God to take my questions from me ,so I may become more faithful.

Thursday of week two, my brother died last month. Find myself grieving more today. Crying thru Mass sometimes to the point of sobbing, no kleenex Part of the masks that we place, and the walls we put around ourselves. Grief takes work, and is so painful that we don't want to feel it, or even share it. One of the ways when we were growing up, don't show emotion, don't let others know that you are grieving.
Allowing God in to help me thru the grief, because He knows how much it hurts and we can't get thru it without Him. I miss my brother, making me laugh on the phone and the talks we have about family, who we need to pray for, but most of all the talks about our faith. Being able to be free to talk and loving each other when we disagree our safe place to share.
My sister that recently moved back home is going back to Colorado to take a temporary position. She will be gone for three months, during the holidays. It will be hard, but at the same time happy for her that she will be with her kids and grandkids, feeling that loss.
Today is just a boatload of tears, thankful for the retreat, it is also a safe place to share. Freedom is allowing the walls to come down.

On week two. Before beginning the retreat kept hearing this melody in my head didn't know where it was coming from, then listened to the songs of Ignatian Spirtuality, the melody was Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam... thank you God for this wonderful retreat. It is very helpful studying Women of the Old Testament and doing the retreat, God was with all of them the good and bad. Just like He is with us and loves us all the time. He never abandons us.

It is only week 2 but I especially liked the readings, reflections and prayers for this week. It reminds me that I am free to be me without masks, or hiding behind shallow words. That God loves me secrets and all, that I am much more open to God’s healing touch once the secrets have been exposed to the Light of day. I no longer need to live in the shadows. There is so much more Peace. Joy , Love in my heart with God by my side.

I am beginning week two, and I am feeling a little bewildered and befuddled - but I am not giving up! I thoroughly enjoyed and at the same time regretted going through the album of my life last week, and I am beginning to take the steps forward in week two in that photo album. However, every I begin to answer the questions in my mind, more pictures and memories - good AND bad - come flooding in and I need to begin all over again. So, I am hoping to just be open to where the Holy Spirit leads me in this. Thank you, all of you, for what you have written. Your words inspire me and help me to sort the millions of pictures flooding my head through this! I especially thank God for leading me on in this wonderful adventure, and place myself, my memories and my experience in His loving hands! May God Bless you!

Week 2: An amazing gift came my way as I was meditating on this week’s photograph. I realized I needed less to know God’s love of me in the womb. Rather I was the little girl (become adult) listening with the stethoscope to God’s word, often silent and hidden in each moment of the day. I love writing. I write about what I hear.

I stayed on week one for ages and ages... I was very hopeful on finding the retreat but wasn't able to move past week one... I have finally started week two but still have the feeling that I am not 'doing this properly' - a feeling that arises out of issues I am slowly working through... I feel so very angry and tired this morning... My kids get up so early and I spend so much time distracting myself from the feelings I am really feeling / trying to fill in time... But if I am honest - I am really angry and extreemly tired. Please pray for me... I do have so much to be grateful for - please God may your grace help me feel gratitude and not just resentment and anger... The retreat's concept of having the week's theme in the background is such a good thing... if I can just remember to do this, I know it can change everything about my days and brings light into the darkness of my perception... Jesus, may your light and truth infuse my thoughts today.... More of you, Lord...
--Mary, Brisbane, Australia

This is my second week I am going into right now. I am excited at my first week's experience. It is a journey I am open to traveling. I am not sure where it will take me but I trust it is taking me where I need to go right now. Everything happens in His own time, and I know that this is where I am supposed to be right now. I am 52 years old and have been considering something along these lines for quite a few years now. Finally I have gone back and found this site and I am so grateful to have found it. I look forward to the next 33 weeks.
-- Teresa

Wow! just finished reading from the sharing on week three and they left me sad. People seem so lost in the reflection of their lives that came from week 1 an 2. I hold them in prayer. In the last two weeks I have been encouraged to let the past go. God's love was/is always there, that is the wonder I am experiencing. Why don't I just let that happen more.
I find this week a relief. God's beauty is all around. It is spring and God's gifts abound. I saw the most beautiful forsythias in the world on the way to work. The brightness of their yellow did not seem real. I was surprised how many birds flew by as I drove to work...
In all this wonder where is my purpose? I will continue to ponder this, but I certainly felt small compared to all the wonder and gifts God puts in my world every day. I am blessed, yet need to express that more.

Week 2: Dear Friends, These past days have been the most difficult for me. After reviewing the photo-gallery of my past, all of the pleasant and painful memories with my father, with my ex-girlfriends, my mother, with those with whom I fell passionately in love, I felt an overpowering sense of infallibility which arose from the sense that I am still alive. One day, out of nowhere, I decided to pick up and leave my home in Toronto and make a pilgrimage to Florida to find a gentleman who claimed to receive visions of our Blessed Virgin. I intentionally put no thought into the excursion, hoping to rely on Providence alone and see where I would go in the journey outlined by the exercises I'm taking online with the Creighton website. I travelled by the meanest, crudest way I believe one can travel in North America, by a Greyhound bus.
After 44 hours of travel, bringing a guitar, some notebooks, a laptop, and a small knapsack which I stuffed with my clothing, I finally arrived. As soon as I found a motel, I discovered HBO and reverted to a lazy, movie-filled week of limbo and have neglected the exercises outright. I discovered today that I have been expecting Providence to drop something into my lap, and have been blaming myself for being unworthy with each night's motel bill. During this week of doing nothing, my thoughts have been filled with the darkness that have surrounded all those memories I've been repressing. Certain failures in my life, certain unwise decisions made and their consequences, and the nasty sentiments issued by blame and harsh words by me and by those who were pained by those bad decisions; these created an aura of darkness that I have been courting in my sleep in an attempt to find some repose from the shame and negativity eminating from the darkness; to find a few minutes of pleasure.
Today, I have begun realizing that I have turned my gaze radically away from the light that has empowered me to undertake the exercises in the first place. The shame I feel is mine, not given to me by anyone or anything else. The guilt, that is mine, it came from nowhere but from me. Looking at the little girl before the pregnant woman has today shifted my outlook, changed my perspective. As yet, I have no words for it, but it is opening a passage admitting a lot of white light, bright but not painful to see. I feel as though my personal, painful baggage from the past is not merely a burden but fuel that is burning in my heart. And an energy is now causing my legs to and shoulders to quiver.
-- Daniel

Week 2: Here in Week 2, while reading the sharing others have submitted and sitting in the adoration chapel, the panning for gold image kept coming back to me and brought much joy. I imagine God panning through all the dirt in my life and finding the good golden things that are still part of me and worthy of love. I imagine myself panning through all the hurt and disappointment in my life, but still finding the little nuggets of joy and blessing that come along with it. I have learned to see Jesus everywhere, and make a concscious effort to thank Him for all the beauty I see and all the times He's pulled me through when I doubted myself. All in all, it's a happy ending to the reflection of my life. I pray it's the same for my fellow participants. Peace...

Week 2: It is Thursday of the second week and nothing major has happened like in the first week but I am constantly aware of how joyless the people around me live and work...never grateful perhaps I am like that as well and the more I get aware of this the more I want to say ....Thank you LORD thank you for your goodness.....
-- Elizabeth J.

Week 2 It took me 19 days to finish weeks one and two. I'd tried to recall my past many times before but this time things were different. First I was stung as all those sins of the past came flying at me - so many and for so many years; so many acts of contrition, so many confessions. I was ready to throw in the towel and forget the whole idea of this retreat.

But just like the confessions led to happy days, so my memories turned to all those blessings forgotten. My father so frequently taking hours out to be with me: to show me the sights of New York; to teach me to pitch a baseball; I'd forgotten how close he was, quiet but not aloof, disciplining but not demanding. Memories lifted me up: of my brother playing with me; my mother as always so caring; teachers, bosses, commanding officers; girlfriend and wife, daughters and granddaughters. I ride the crest of an enormous, joyous wave thanking, so inadequately, a God who has so wonderfully blessed me! Thank god! Thank God!

Week 2: I had some trouble with Week 2 and considered taking longer to work on it but have decided that I will go on today to Week 3. My first problem was that I had unknowingly done some of what we were guided to do this week during week 1. I had identified crossroads, etc. My bigger problem was with the masks. Perhaps I do not understand or perhaps I do not want to. What I do know is twofold. First, people I am close to see me as the Mom/wife who will handle things, the volunteer who gets things done, the go to person and organizer. When I drop this mask and show vulnerability, people are at best perplexed and usually unhappy. It is not that I am not that person, it is just that they look for it when I am not up to it at times. I will continue to reflect on this as I move forward. My second, deeper problem is with the purpose of our, or at least my masks. It seems for me they are often my attempts to improve myself, to make myself more what God intended but what is not coming naturally. Isn't it often a mask we wear as we practice being what we do not naturally feel? I don't want to remove those masks because they are, I pray, leading me closer to my purpose not away from it. So, I will move on to Week 3 and believe that the Holy Spirit is guiding me forward. I can always back up, if it seems to have been a wrong decision. I was amazed and moved as I read today some of the new Sharings. I wish I had someone to share and dialogue with on this, but even just reading others thoughts and writing my own sharing at the end of each week is a great help.

Week 2
In the womb:
As in the of womb with original sin; a time of growth,
under the care of God's Holy touch; loving eye.
Pressing through, as a light veil, into the first breath of spiritual life,
beyond the dreary earthly plane, into the glory we are all clothed in through Christ Jesus,
in His rhythmic breathing ; giving and receiving, His love with all those I meet.
As in the warmth; comfort of the womb,
God continues creating me-

May God bless you
Just before I write this I received an email from a childhood friend from whom I had not heard for years. Somehow it seemed to crystalize my reflections for this week. In week 1 I had given thanks for the people who influenced, shaped and graced my life. Some I regretted not having kept in contact with them and R was one of them.

It also personalized a somewhat abstract observation that I had been reflecting on: last week I was especially embarrassed at the poor choices and pursuits that I felt darkened a period of my life in my late teens and early 20's. This week I held that period up to the Lord along with other periods. I realized that some of the pictures from that time were not too bad. I'm not downplaying the restless or darkness of these days but in some pictures I preferred the person I saw there. He was more focused on helping others and certainly on social justice than in some of the pictures subsequently.

I realize that I was always striving to meet the Lord and His demands on my terms. Part of these personal terms is that I wanted to flee from where I had been brought up. There was another world I wanted to discover. Why? I'm not sure I understand. Yes at any period of darkness there were people there who helped point to the right path. The Lord used them well. There were periods of special grace that forced me to look at how I was serving the Lord more authentically. Pastors I worked with in a youth programi n my 20's. Franciscan brothers who got me involved in a day shelter for the homeless when I was in my 30's. Then in the 40's I came to the realization that I needed to worship more authentically and commit myself more deeply to the Church. Now that I am in my 50's hopefully the Lord will continue to use me and guide me. One thing I have come to learn and R's email reinforced it for me, I'm not fleeing anymore.

Hello, I am a priest and have made the exercises a number of times, but this is the first time in the "world." As I finish the second week, it has been very enlightening to slowly pause on both bad memories and too on how God's awesome love as undergirded me my entire life. You may use or publish my e/mail address if you wish. I like sharing with others.Thanks,
-- Fr. Francis

WK2 speed! speed! through the week. I read the guide three times this week and it did not stay with me. A horrible time on thursday, trying to to be a peacemake at work and I failed. I realized that I am not alone and discuss matters with friends next day and I prayed. I was much better. I remind myself that the online retreat is not a test and has no evaluations. I am sure there is the grace from god this week. I thank God and the opportunity to be in it and reading the sharings of others who is on the same pilgrimage.

As I finish the second week of the retreat I am distressed. First, the week itself was just discombobulated in general; last week was especially good—‘this too shall pass’—and it did. But that’s all part of the process and I adjusted. I teach high school in Colorado Springs, pretty close to the school where the shooting occurred this week. I find today that I am rather shaken by the whole event—in ways that I cannot explain nor quickly understand. I am sitting here, fighting back tears, because, after all, I can’t really just cry in my classroom. I know that ‘all things work together for good...’ but I just don’t understand how... and I’m ‘suppose to.’ Anyway, I pray for the continuing Grace to take the next necessary step—one foot in front of the other and to carry on with renewed seeking of God’s will in my daily life. How to be a good disciple; a good husband; and a good teacher—and to offer it all up to God for His glory and my salvation... Wow, what a week. Thank God it’s Friday for real.
I feel so fortunate to have found this retreat- I just completed a 3 year formation program to become a spiritual director- a type of mystique had developed around the Ignatian exercises for me since someone told me you really need to do them with a spiritual director. But after I completed the program I was looking for something to help me continue to deepen my relationship with God and a former classmate told me about this web site and so I have begun even though I am a bit scared of it.

I am starting week 2 and I am moved already by the abundance of grace that God has shared with me. I want to share two insights I have received.Through past retreats and exercises, I knew that the loss of my mother at the tender age of 7 days had affected my whole life. I am now 63. As I was growing up,no one ever talked about her and it wasnt until I began asking questions several years ago that I started to find out who she was as a person and the circumstances of her death. But here is the grace of this retreat: today during Mass it came to me that God wanted me to forgive her doctor and to pray for him and bless him. This came about because I worked with the image that when my mother died, her doctor cried. A very elderly aunt shared that fact with me. As I stayed with this picture, I was very moved and I have forgiven him and offered that Mass for his soul. I had never thought about him in any way prior to this except to partially hold him responsible for her death which was from a blood clot to her lung.

The other thing I wanted to share was a dream I had that amazed me- I was so touched by a couple of the readings for last week and this week- especially the one that talked about how God accepts us as we are and how "God tends to us" I dreamt that I was taking care of a young baby and twice during the dream I couldnt find the baby. (This reminded me too of an old column by Erma Bombeck who said this was one reason that old people dont have babies- they would forget where they put them!)But in my dream both times I found the baby in the chapel and being well taken care of by others in the church. I am not an expert on dreams but I think given the context of our life review the past two weeks, that baby was me and God was reassuring me that He does indeed "tend to us."

I do presently have a spiritual director and I hope she will help me with this retreat but it is also very helpful to read what other struggling souls write on this site. You have permission to use my name. God Bless you.
-- Pat
This is Week 2 for me. The question about feeling God's presence reminded me of something. I am 83 but still need to grow. Back in 1972 I received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, also referred to as Release of the Holy Spirit. I had never been certain of my identity. When I was seven my mother told me that God had given me to her to take the place of her mother who died six months before I was born. I took this literally at the time and tried very hard to do everything she said. Sometimes she would say, "You are just like my mother." At other times she would say, "You are just like your father" or "You are like your Aunt Kate." I was never sure which "mask" I was supposed to wear. This was on my mind a week after the Baptism when I suddenly saw myself through the windshield of the car I was driving.
In the picture I was grown up but my hair was cut the way it was when I was five. When the picture disappeared I suddenly felt a rush of pleasant heat go through me and for just seconds I felt God's love for me and realized I am not my grandmother or anybody else except myself. God knows me completely and can never ever misunderstand me. Ever since then when I begin to get upset about something I say to myself, "GOD KNOWS."
I very much appreciate your Retreat..It has already helped me to begin to tie up some loose strings in my relationships. It has also surprised me with a realization that some relationships that were dear to me were deeper and more beautiful than I had realized.Thank you so very, very much.
God bless you.
-- "Cub"
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