Sharing the Retreat
Week 5


Week 5

Week 5

Images that represent sin of the world:  What first came to mind was the image of a prayer card of St. Vincent Ferrer where he was standing amidst judgment day (He is even called “The Angel of Judgment Day.”).  It represented such darkness, gloom, desolation and destruction.  Those representations, in my mind, are images of sin, the deepest rejection of Love, rejection of God. 

In our current times you see on television riots, violent protests, growing murder and crime rates throughout our country, abortion, disregard for our police departments and the rule of law, crisis at our southern border, extremists here in the United States and across the globe, insurgence, our politics going to extremes in either direction (with no compromise in the middle), and, of course, the COVID-19 pandemic; these are the result of sin, the fruits of sin.  Rejection of God.  (Makes me think of what Satan supposedly said:  “I will not serve!”  Pride.)  And when you see these events unfolding, if you are sensitive enough or just take a moment to reflect upon, you can feel the sin, the darkness, the evil.  You shudder for a moment, and shake it off and go about your routine life, to “sweep it all under the rug.”

The image of Jesus on the Cross, liberating us from sin and death’s threat of victory over us:  A very wounded, bloody, suffering Jesus on the Cross.  All those wounds, shedding of blood, pain and agony represent our sins, individual and as humanity’s sins.  What an enormous undertaking He did for us!  He took away our just punishment by accepting His death on the Cross and gave us a second chance, in a way.  He conquered that dreadful, final judgment against us.  He gave us another chance to love God and have another “shot at” eternal life.  But yet, sin still abounds.  It’s like, well if Jesus died for the forgiveness of our sins, why is there still sin and evil in the world?  I read a book written for kids, and the author described Satan as a big, horrible, destructive dragon taking as many souls as it could, and when Jesus died for the forgiveness of our sins, it was like a sword cut off the dragon’s tail and destroyed that dragon, but the dragon’s tail, even though cut off, still thrashed about, taking still more souls, even though the dragon was dead.  I like that analogy. 

God is so merciful to us.  No matter how many times we sin, or how bad that sin is, we can repent, and He will forgive us time and time again, that is the Mercy of God.  I know someone who doesn’t go to Confession and doesn’t even believe in this wonderful Sacrament.  This person thinks she doesn’t sin, and if she never leaves home, how can she sin (OK, but what about the times you do leave home, I screamed in my head).  I feel disappointed and sad knowing she feels that way, especially when trying to explain that nobody escapes sin, and all the different degrees of sin, venial and mortal.  I pray for her every day.  I feel such sadness for people who are baptized and confirmed Catholics who no longer practice their faith.  I feel their separation from God.  I pray for them also.  The Mercy of God will take care of these people, not me, and you kind of have to let it go and not press the issue with them, and let the Love and Mercy of God take care of it.  I know, personally, when I need to go to Confession because I do feel a certain separation from God, from venial to mortal and everything else in between.  I am given the grace to recognize that separation and run to the Sacrament of Confession, and when I leave the confessional, I actually do feel lighter and that burden of sin is lifted.  The Sacrament of Confession has great value for me. 

Sin puts us in darkness, yet our Lord’s crucifixion and death kept that darkness from growing and overshadowing our world, and His resurrection is the Light that broke through the darkness and bides us all to go follow Him.  What astounding mercy He gave us!

I have "completed" week 5.  The Practical Help section advises me to see and feel the outrage of the evil that seems to reign in our world and pray to be moved by the profound depth of God's love and mercy.  Going through each day this week I would check off in my mind the many evils that have been done throughout history until now and those now being done, and could see how they seriously disrupted God's plan.  Yet, I do not "feel the outrage" very much and I surely am not "deeply moved" by the depth of God's love and mercy.  I intellectually partially understood it, but it hasn't entered deeply in my heart.  Yet, I see that I have been pointed to this direction, to something beyond me that I want to pray to "achieve", and I have some confidence that when God wants this for me He will give it to me.  That thought is comforting.

I pray for all of us on this retreat, that God deepens in us what He has already begun.

Weeks 5/6 Despite my sinfulness, acknowledged and forgiven through god’s mercy, looking at the retreat so far, we do not make it alone. We stay with the daily readings and the gospel message and if we try to keep the commandments,  the Holy Spirit the comforter comes and sustains us in the Truth.  
Weeks 5/6

Moving on from week 4 last week drew a blank. True chaos caused by our dear son’s alcoholism was acute, lasting the whole week until today.

 Addressing now week 5 is amazing. I awoke, singing in my head ‘fight the good fight’ adapted from scripture. The words of the hymn brought both comfort and consolation. At the eucharist, during the week, i felt the embrace of our loving god. But that led to acknowledging my lifetimes sinfulness in all its detail down the years. Is this the cause of all our suffering today? Am i so wicked that i am led to destroy myself and give up the practice of my chosen religion to which I converted as a girl?

My son was raped by a monk at a catholic prep school and feels he was abandoned by me. Not so, the school informed me they could help with his diagnosed dyslexia.

My son’s anger upset me and he too.

In attempting to self detox he became very ill and made a decision to go to rehab. He goes on Tuesday in trepidation of course, but we are at Peace, the Peace of Christ which surpasses all understanding.

So forgiveness of self attains and the Lord  alone, not me, will be the judge of those perpetrators of evil within the church, not me.

Thanks for reading.

Week 5:

There is something about this retreat that keeps me engaged in it. I believe it is the feeling of companionship on this journey. I read and reread the lessons throughout the week, but if you asked me what they were about I would say, “sin” or “mercy” or “forgiveness” or “acceptance” -- standard stuff.
I believe what strikes me most about the retreat other than, it is totally well prepared and planned out is the amount of love and time it took to put it together. A lifetime of caring, praying, and self-sacrifice has gone into this retreat. When you throw in the intense amount of sharing, the mere participation in this retreat is an entrance into a love-fest (dating myself here). I pray everyone devoting time to this retreat knows not only the love of God but also his will for you because walking together with God’s Spirit is the best journey ever.

Week Five: Am moved to reflect on sin brought about by human weakness and frailties that expands to widespread social problems  such as wars, terrorism, drugs, corruption, disregard for human rights. What is shown in the photo resonates well with the conditions in the southern part of my country. And weakness and frailties are very much apparent in Philippine society right now. While some quarters are now jubilant about the "end" of work in the south, I am still wary if it will really end considering the depth of pain and wounds inflicted to the victims and affected including terrorists and criminals. And, seeing Jesus on the cross convinces me the reason why he died for our sins. I pray that those in pain and inflicting pain will come to be one in the cross of Jesus so that conflict, divisions, and differences will be eliminated from this planet Earth. Am I too hopeful? I guess this is what "unfreedoms" from the 4th week is all about. Freely I dispose myself to the love of Jesus. Lord, help me be an instrument of your love whatever and however you want to use me. Jesus please help me overcome my fears and hesitations. Amen!

Week five has been a struggle.  The paradox of sin and grace was different to grasp and fleeting attempts to think of historical atrocities made little impact.

Then this morning when I sat down in front of the window to meditate my eyes were drawn to the particularly beautiful sky.  Overcast, it was the softest baby powder blue, as if painted on with infinite care.  I was thinking how much awe and love for God it inspired in me and then in the back of my head I mused how hard it was going to be for me to look at sin again today.  Then it came to me that this same sky was there in Auschwitz, in Hiroshima, in Nanjing.  In Las Vegas.   How today it watches over Syria, Myanmar, North Korea.  I wondered if the victims would see it and find comfort.  And how the evil doers must have their eyes firmly downcast because there is no way one could see this sky and not be moved by God's presence.   I thought about how, just like this sky of His, God casts His gentle gaze over the suffering and His sorrow on the unrepentance of the perpetrators.

 I think this week is finally beginning to make sense. 

Week 5 was not what I was expecting it to be and I was not looking forward to beginning the week as I had in the past. Was afraid I would get stuck in the sorrow of remembering the horrors humanity can do. But I, with this week more than before, remind myself to stay on task. I know it can be easy to loose focus but when following the guidelines laid out for how to begin and end the day it helps a lot. I am feeling more than anything the grace of God's immense love for us, just as we are not as He would like us to be. That is salvation, that is unconditional love.

Hi, I know I’m doing this online retreat off schedule, as I decided to start in January rather than September.  But, it was recommended that we share for this week (Week 5), and so I thought I’d share a (probably not so original) thought.

This week reminded me of the phrase in Matthew (Mt 5:45) that reads, “…he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust” in that whatever our circumstances, we need to acknowledge that there is sin around us while still seeking out Jesus.

That was my initial thought.  But when I initially looked up this verse to submit my thought, I realized that I was taking that phrase somewhat out of context.  The thought starts in Mt 43 and goes all the way to Mt 48.  No need to retype here, but it is all about the need to love one’s enemies (a concept I’m still struggling with).  Specifically, “but I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.” (Mt 44-45)  In that context, it’s really about loving everyone, because the Lord seeks to draw everyone to Himself.

Thanks - Week 5

I am supposed to be on week 6 but I feel I didn't meditate enough for week 5. So I keep back tracking and not sure this is how  to do this. But there are photos of Bosnia. And I keep thinking of the greater sin of abortion. All of these babies that have never and a chance to live. I feel this is the greatest sin we are dealing with in the present time. I feel strongly about this because I had my sixth baby in 1973 when abortion was legalized. And at that time I knew someone who's parents took her to get an abortion. And she was in the same trimester as I was  and I was feeling life in my womb while another person was going through this procedure. We need to remember and pray for this atrocity to be stopped and pray for these  poor women who feel compelled to do this for whatever reason they feel they cannot go through this pregnancy.  Maybe we need to dwell on this sin that is world wide. - Week 5

I tried to do this once before and got discouraged.  I often spent two weeks on one and got discouraged.   Also, when I shared a reflection it never seemed to show up.   But I'm trying again.   This time I'm powering through.   I can always do it slowly again some time.

So I just finished Week 5.   I also read Richard Rohr's reflections most days.   This week they were so perfectly synchronized with Week 5 that I knew I was seeing a God-incidence.   All I can be is grateful.

As a beloved Deacon says, "God is good, all the time." - Week 5

Week 5
I have found this week hard.  Sin and its effects are so real these days.  Australia is falling away from Christian values and now we are encouraged, if not compelled to accept the voices of those determined to get rid of Christian values.  I am over whelmed by the devastation of war and Godless values in our world (and within my own family). I am aware of my own need to change, make time for prayer and get my life on God's track.  I pray for the grace to be who God wants me to be, and am hanging onto God's mercy for me and all of us.








This pic taken by my son in Haiti after the hurricane is my pic for week 5. Jesus stands in granite in the process of redeeming us firm in his commitment to us, while the world around us, a world he so graciously gave us, is ravished by our callousness, greed, and selfishness. Hope this helps you as it did me. RN

In the evening of life, you will be judged on Love alone. St John of the Cross

I am particularly struggling with the concepts of week 5.   Here are some of my obstructions to taking this week fully onboard:
1) My older brother was a US Marine in Vietnam and I myself have traveled the world and lived in several foreign countries.  I have spent time in Bosnia-Herzegovina, West Africa, Russia, South East Asia, UK and the Middle East.  I know that our Christian ideas of fairness are not core teachings of some cultures.  I have witnessed the unjust nature of radical Islam.  I have seen the ruin which communism brings to people and their sprit.  I have experienced the selfishness and corruption of tribalism.  Most of all, I am sickened by humanism which seems to be fostered by socialism in Europe.   In other words, there are evil people in this world and these people will destroy the good if given the chance.  Surely God has not only charged us with being good, has he not also charged the strong with protecting what is good?   War is a horrible thing but is it better to be a pacifist and let evil destroy good?   I am not sure it is so simple as saying the US should not have been involved in Guatemala or Vietnam.  Communism and its anti-religious directives are soul destroying and evil.   Would it be right for the US to have let this evil take over country after country while we did nothing?   The Bosnian war was a war of Muslims against Christians with both groups committing atrocities.   However, would it have been right to let Islam take over Christianity without any defense?    

2)  I have for many years wrestled with the thought – hate the sin, love the sinner and I can now accept this idea and hopefully practice it.   I believe the ideas of this week are similar but much more difficult to practice.  To think about sin honestly but not be negative about it?   This is much harder.   It is said that God reveals himself to little children – his teachings are simple for the innocent but they confound the wicked.   Is it my wickedness that makes this weeks concept so hard to practice?   

3) I am certainly one of those who has secretly hoped that my guilt would bring God’s pity.  The idea that this belief is selfish and misguided is not new to me.   I am encouraged to see this thought brought into the light this week.  I know I will benefit from it and I appreciate the work that has been done to help me with this. -Week 5

Each of my weeks in this retreat have been at least a week but usually longer. I found the retreat and started it early and I find the exercises I begin weekly continue throughout the retreat, at least they have so far: the retreat is becoming my life, a story of me and the world around me and how God is in both.I write this in my week 5. It began with Paris. The shootings, bombings, the needless loss of life that I think of immediately upon hearing or reading the name of that beautiful city. I didn't have to imagine the horror sin brings us all as it is on my television, my newspapers, on the lips of all. Evil and what to do about it. Yet hasn't this been the case from the beginning of civilization? Haven't we history from which to learn? Don't we always repeat the same reactions? Don't we always ignore what God teaches? Don't we react exactly the way Jesus didn't? We seem to react without thought go to the words of Jesus, His life, the way of Jesus. We react with hatred, anger, from a place of evil: revenge. I am sad. Then I hear the words of a letter to the killers from a victim's husband on his own behalf and that of their infant son. He forgives. He will not hate. He writes of a God who weeps, of a son who will grow in freedom and love. Through his words, I see Jesus on the cross so clearly, yes! Even in this dark hour, I needn't imagine Jesus on the cross. He shows himself to all who hear the words of this letter, who see the bounty of flowers at the memorials, who hear the piano player in the streets and in those who ignore curfews to gather in love, remembrance and peace. If we would all just breathe, feel our pain, ask for God's help and be still. Listen. React in ways different from all past cultures, civilizations, from the way we always react, not out of anger but out of love. Agape. That love with which Jesus died for us, forgave the thief, forgave his murderers, forgives us. Lord, teach me to love as you love, to forgive as you forgive. Might we be transformed through your death to react as you'd react so good may come of this rather than more evil. Do with me what you will. Thanksgivings for this retreat. Peace upon us all. -Week 5

Where are you going with this, this Creighton retreat, Lord? evil in the world, evil within. look at it. really look. in the context of Jesus nailing it all ... all of it... to the cross. but a sense of a thin, hazy pattern emerges... connecting them all, my sins, the world's, the cross. the one righteous act of one man changing it all, connecting all the dots. on the cross. and it isn't guilt I feel, not this tiime. it is comfort, comfort in the pattern that encompasses it all, and anchors the disorder within and without on Calvary. giving the assurances, the hope of redemption despite our sins, and because now that we see, we are missioned to try in our own inadequacy to live in a way that diminishes the evil, however minutely, by the undeserved grace of ... one righteous act, of our Lord. -Week 5

Today I understand that the disorder of sin is rooted in the thought that we do not need God. That somehow we are independent of Him. We have the right to choose, but when we don't choose His way, it is much harder. He shows His mercy when we choose other than Him. When we follow our whims, fancies, wants, desires, that we know are not His way. He understands our weakness, our need for closeness that sends us looking for love in all the wrong places, that makes us feel that we are always in competition with others and that we always have to be seen as better or the best. He understands the deepness of those wounds that are at the root of those sins. -Week 5

Previous weeks have focused on God’s presence in my life, and the goodness of creation. I had not looked ahead to see what week 5 would cover and so was surprised by the topic of sin. I am no stranger to sin. Thank God for the Sacrament of Penance. If I truly believe that I am forgiven then I should not see misfortune today as retribution for sins past. It has not been difficult to contemplate this week on the horror of what some human beings can do to other human beings. Modern media brings it to our immediate attention. We can bury our heads in the sand. Or we can face it and try to do something to alleviate suffering.

When someone else’s sin hurts me, as it has done this past month, I have tried to forgive, to understand. I had willingly put myself at risk by trying to help this person, by taking her in through a church sponsored charity, and she robbed me of money and of irreplaceable personal possessions of sentimental value. But I am stuck in a moral dilemma because the law allows me to prosecute—to seek justice. If I succeed in this legal matter the person who hurt me will suffer, and her baby girl will suffer as a result. Jesus suffered for all our sins, I know; the ones I committed yesterday, today and tomorrow. I don’t want to cause suffering. On the other hand I don’t want her to continue to think she can get away with her deceitful, sinful behavior.Not long ago I witnessed the suffering of my dear uncle, childless himself, when he was abused and robbed by the granddaughter of his long-time companion. He loved the girl as his own and wanted to help her. But she robbed him of everything he owned and bankrupted him. I accompanied him through the proceedings and took him in. She was desperate, poor, and without an income of her own; she continued to hound him until I found a place for him to live out his remaining days. When he died, I tried to reach her with the news. I fought for the insurance so I could pay his funeral costs, but I took it from her. She never asked where he was buried. Sins, small and large, cause suffering. I am looking forward to redemption, surely we will spend a few upcoming weeks on that! -Week 5

As I continue in this fifth week I realize how "little" my own world is and how I have allowed myself to not see the entire picture. This morning I pray that my eyes will become more and more open to the needs of those around me. -Linda -Week 5

Week 5
    It is not easy to look at sin. It makes me nauseated when I read about someone being beheaded because they are Christian. I spent many years avoiding the news ( when my children were growing up). It was very depressing. I felt I could do nothing about the world events and I felt it detracted from my caring for the children.
   Now I am "peeping out" again to face the magnitude of evil. It is shocking that so little is said about some atrocities!  The more sin I see, the greater becomes the mercy of Jesus.
   Jesus, help me to put you in the center of the frame so that the sins of the world that form the frame highlight your mercy and bring my attention to your great gift of forgiveness. 

I am in Week 5.  Thank God for His willingness to forgive.

Am just starting week 5. Am so very grateful I found this retreat and don't remember how it happened. When I started
with the photo album of my life that first week there were so many tears. And now, at week 5, the love and gratitude for
Him who allowed me to be born is overwhelming. On friday there was an old show of Fr. Groeschel R.I.P. on EWTN which
he happened to say look at the painting of The Crucifixion by Matthias Grunewald and see the suffering of Christ. And you
now say look at the cross and see how Jesus embraced evil. I truly never saw sin in this way before. I have received many
graces in these weeks and thank God for His tender Mercy and thank you for making this available.

I am at the end of week five.

The Ebola virus now has been the main story all week. It seems to be spreading. This morning the media reported a cruise ship now with possibly a thousand plus passengers is suspect because an employee on the cruise ship had been in contact with the Ebola patient who died in a Dallas hospital. This all makes me think of how sin hurts one person and then affects so many others. However, this week I have witnessed the amazing transformation of people when a little child, my 3 year old grandson, is in their midst. We visited a person in the memory unit of a rest home. As my grandson held my hand and walked with me down the halls (in his Bat Man costume) residents all over looked up and smiled. He brought so much joy to so many people that I marveled at the effect. I thought, “that is what Jesus does”!.
God is so great!
Week 5: The 2 weeks somehow merged together for me. I continued focus on the Cross because I had found fruit in focusing my contemplation there in week 4. I happened to be reading 2 books that also shaped my background -- one a documentary account of the U.S. Ambassador to Germany during the emergence of Hitler in power (Erik Larson: In the Garden of Beasts) and the other a novel which traces the development of 2 talented musical brothers born of mixed race in the 40's with a parallel discourse on events and realities of race relations in the US over the last century (Richard Powers: The Time of Our Singing). I reflect on the premise that the core sin is our ungratefulness for God's great gifts. I bring the cross back to these and I see in the scene on Calvary and there I do see the seeds of ungratefulness. I see misuse of power, betrayal and indifference. I see how easy it is for us (me!) to be taken along in the crowd. How good that can feel ... In the moment. But then I contrast that with the real love that is there on the Cross. That becomes very powerful for me at one Mass. Our homilist that evening hd posed the question of whether we really could feel in a sensory, physical way the love of God and in turn whether we carried that back from the Eucharist. I brought back to the Eucharist the Cross and the context of all these situations-- historical or present. With myself present or not ... And that doesn't matter ... I'm there somewhere in that crowd either indifferent as I do something else or as the eager onlooker. But that physical love is also there. That is what captures me .I keep that reflection in week 6. The cross standing amid my many sins. Yes I have a hard time naming them as sins. I also want to say "imperfections". What I also find shocking is that I start rather smugly thinking that I've improved over the years. But as I go through section by section of my life I find the same sins appearing in different guises. That is where the real shame is. The shame also is in trying to cover them up by hiding them from my public face until it becomes all too obvious. The same dynamics are at work in Calvary. I want to hide from that too. But I also feel powerful force of love.This is all brought together for me in a powerful way reflecting on the late Father Kavanaugh's essay on the real sins exposed on the Cross. I see that I tend to both positions. Many times I work despite God's presence and with a deep conviction that I can do it on my own. I love self improvement tools of all kinds. I do see that these can be gifts of God and indeed as I've integrated some of them into my life they can become quite powerful gifts for others. But they can lead me to self-deception. But the greater sin (and insight also into my last 2 weeks) is not appreciating God's total love for others. I envelope this reverence for the Cross into my own self absorption. This is about a God who is truly in love with the world He created and wishes to be involved at the heart of it which can also be very ugly and painful. I sit back and reflect on that love and also feel the shame of my self absorption. I give thanks for this gift. I need God's grace to renew myself and fulfill His call.

Week 5: In “For the Journey”, Fr. Gillick says the worst sins are those we hold onto ourselves, refusing to recognize, hidden & festering at our core, not allowing Jesus to take them to the center of His cross.  So yes, the nagging, debilitating shame & focus on my unforgiven sin is exactly the opposite of what needs to be.  Fr. Gillick gives the example of a canvas in a frame. For most of us & most assuredly me in this situation, MY sins fill up the canvas, hoping the mercy of God can surround so large a field. I've just had it wrong all these years-- the reality is that the unending love & mercy of God fill the canvas to overflowing. That's where the emphasis should be, not me, never me, everything I am & have are gifts from God... I'm beginning to get it.

Week 5:
I am closing in on the end of the third week.  Although I can feel the graces coming to me, and I have an increasing awareness of God in all I see around me, I am such an impatient person that I want to be "lifted" out of myself into some sort of free floating self that is aware of God around and in me at all times.  I am too distracted by the negative thoughts about myself and the life I have led and the temptations that sometimes plague me.  I pray for the grace to be more understanding of myself, my weaknesses, and the forgiveness that God offers me.

Week 5:
I am just approaching the end of week 5.  Oddly I find it easier to contemplate my own sins than the large-scale events.  After a lifetime of political activism I have in recent years found it all just too depressing to look at, and have figuratively (and sometimes literally) averted my eyes from the worst incidents: the futility of day-to-day politics, the failure of ordinary people to see that the leaders they put so much trust in are borderline criminals, the corporate and individual greed.  I did have one moment of grace -- actually, it was something of a jolt.  I was not intentionally meditating on the Passion.  I was sitting on my morning commuter train and trying to pray, as I have done for the past year or so, as that is one of the few times when I am free to think my own thoughts.  I suddenly felt an awareness of how overwhelming it would have been for Jesus *as a human being* at the moment when he became fully cognisant of what his Father had in mind for him.  I had a sense of His feeling *crushed* by it all, and that realisation in turn to me felt like something piercing my heart.  I think it was a legitimate grace from God to have that moment of awareness.  The feeling passed -- it only lasted a few moments -- but whilst it lasted it quite literally took my breath away.

I feel in someways that I should persist with the Week 5 agenda except I am afraid that to linger too long on any one weekly theme may lead me to abandon the entire retreat.  I do not have the best track record with completing long term projects: I often, in the desire to do something "better" (or worse still, "perfectly"!) end up not doing it at all.  So after a profoundly flawed, yet also profoundly meaningful Week 5, I will move on.

Many thanks to all the people at Creighton Online Ministries for providing this resource.  K. in Birmingham, United Kingdom.

Week 5:
This week has been a sharp contrast to the previous weeks of this retreat and I was dreading this a lot.  However, the image of the picture with the crucifixion as the center focus rather than my sins and the guilt I feel over them was such a mind shift for me.  What a relief it is to realize that it is not all about me, but instead is about the love and forgiveness that God has for us. 

At the end of the week, I went home for my mother's 81st birthday where my 3 daughters joined us for a celebration.  On the 2nd night, my younger two daughters got into a really ugly argument which was very upsetting to me, but really brought home the sadness that our rejection of God's love must create.

Thanx again for providing us with this great opportunity to participate in this online retreat and Thanx to all who enrich this experience through their sharing.


I have started week 5, though it looks like the most difficult week because of living in denial of sin and the disharmony brought by sin. I thank God for the many graces he has given me for the four weeks. One of the grace enjoyed is the sacrament of penance I had for a long time wished this sacrament was burnished all together, I now look forward to it.

This is the third time I have begun a study / exploration / retreat using the Spiritual Exercises...previously I have failed in the second week.  This "5th week" seemed destined to overwhelm me as I come out of retirement to take another clergy appointment.  Today I have to say I have or God has prevailed.  Praise God.

The challenge has been, to identify "evil vs sin" since I am a liberal Methodist and "sin" is not in my spell check.  To see God's grace in the Cross of Christ was easy but this time to see the cross as antithesis for evil has been a the barrier.  I have tried to see "sin" in the photo of a bombed community, and I have searched other images of war and refugee camps, etc seeking that which represents "evil / sin" for me. 

My husband and I served two years in Haiti prior to the earthquake which we shared with our Haitian community and two deaths of two colleagues.  That was catastrophic and chaotic but I could not see evil or sin in the event, only brokenness and pain.  I could not make the connection with Christ on a Cross OR the empty tomb. The Good Shepherd holding us and our wounded community was the prevailing image.

Last night I attended and participated with a Fair Trade Presentation and faced the statistics I have lived with for 4 years.  The scandalous numbers of women and children in the world suffering opression, slavery, trafficing, and unbelievable injustice leaped off the page into my Creighton Online Retreat thought. The hundreds of Haitian farmers, live stock owners, vendors and day laborers with annual incomes of less than $2000.00 a year flashed through my mind.  "Evil / Sin" were sudden images of oppressed and abused humanity that I have touched and lived with for years.  

Along with this slide show of evil in my mind were images of Christ on the Cross: Romaro, Ghandi, Mandela, Bico, MLK, and Mother Theresa as God's grace and mercy..incarnate.  

I believe I have successfully internalized the evil enemy (oppression & injustice) and God's Grace (those who serve regardless the faith for love alone.)

When Monday comes, I think I will be ready for week 6.

Week 5: 3 years ago our country experienced one of the most devastating floods that ever hit us.  Cities were inundated,  lives and properties were lost,  business closed.  Just every terrible thing you could think of,  happened.  Finger pointing ensued but  nobody got punished for what happened.  Every terrible thing that happened just became a number in the statistics.  How many died?  How much was lost in terms of business opportunites?  How many houses were damaged?  bla-bla-bla  Who>  what,  where and how were the questions left unanswered.
People began to ask: :"Why did god permit this to happen?"
3 yrs later we don't have the answers yet.  Staring us at the face then and now are corruption in government construction practices/policies,  illegal logging,  business licenses given away for a song,  etc.  Where lies accountability?
Is it any wonder that God permits all these things to happen?  We have been neglectful of our duties as stewards of his creation and we expect God to get us out of the mess we've brought ourselves in.
We are answerable to Him and Him alone.  Although we know that He is there waiting for us,  let us not tarry so long.

Week 5: Tragedy struck again!  We have not learned a lesson from the previous calamities that have visited our country.That picture of a war torn Bosnia is a duplicate of a typhoon ravaged place in my country.
let's not ask where God is in all of these evil things.    We should ask ourselves where we were/are in all of these.  We cannot keep blaming God.  Does he blame us?.  Instead,  he extends his loving mercy to us sinners.  And yet we sin and sin again.  We cut those trees with impunity as if there's no tomorrow.  We level mountains in the guise of urbanization and thus leaving nothing to contain all the waters falling from heaven.  We are killing ourselves slowly but surely.  
God,  help us to see your mercy amidst all the things that the devil is hurling at us.  In the light of our absence,  let us feel your presence.  That way,  we will stay focus in You and You alone.  

Week 5: When father and son are estranged, that's a tragedy beyond measure.  You hear people making stories about the son abandoning an old man.  What they don't really know is the father abandoning the son long,  long before he became old.  That's the backdrop of the sins staring at me in the face.  But as in a picture on a frame,  the frame is the estrangement,  the abandonment,  the sin.  And the picture is our God,  extending His hand to us and telling us that in His time,  through His grace,  everything will be ok.
Thank you,  Lord.  I want to trust you like Mary did when the angel Gabriel announced that she will bear a son,  Jesus.    I want to trust you like Manoah did when the angel told him that his barren wife will give birth to a son,  Samson.

Lord, increase my faith.  

Week 5:
This morning I felt so overwhelmed with current events: the recent death of my mother, the failing health of my wife, a decision regarding the sickness of a beloved pet, the house needing a number of repairs, the work involved with settling my mom's complex estate -etc.
    Then through the Lord's Word and the thoughts of others from the Creighton' online ministries, I saw an opportunity to experience the Love of God and my soul filled with joy and hope.  Reflecting on this week's retreat I see ravages of sin and evil can lead to despair but it is our trust in the Lord's infinite mercy that leads us out of darkness into the light of his love.

Week 5:
Greetings: A great week: It helped me see how fearful I am of sin, especially fear of losing control to it and my doing something very wrong as a result: I was able to experience relief by coming to sit under the Cross-experiencing Christ’s love and forgiveness of even my worst sins of pornography-(my feeling that I couldn't be forgiven these sins)- my fear of being abandoned by God-and struck down by God. I really benefited by seeing how I was in the center of the picture and Jesus was out there- centering on Jesus-letting Him be God and not me helped me relax and see that I can’t solve my sin problem-but let Him who can –and He will. Al

Week 5: I think I should say that my journey of conversion included a very deep and long reflection on sin of all kinds. I am talking a course of years, not weeks. It started before the serious idea of becoming Catholic even entered my mind. During that time, and still today, I had great respect for the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh. Using his style of meditation, I looked deeply at my own pain, and saw how not only was I causing myself pain because of my actions, I was causing many other people pain, and my actions, in concert with those of others were even influencing the community, families, and other people's decisions. And people were making decisions that were harming themselves and others. I looked deeply at the roots of these actions, how they worked in the world, in community, in family, in history, and in myself. One other teaching of Thich Nhat Hanh is to embrace your spiritual roots. He advises Christians to seek to heal thier relationship with Christianity, and Jews with Judaism, and so on. So I began to look at Christianity again. I began to see that values were not relative, nor were they arbitrary. I began to see the commandments as something more than social controls to make sheep out of weak minded people. I began to believe that God gave us these laws to protect of from the wages of sin, which are death, but also from the suffering inherent in those actions for us and all the world. This literally was something I meditated on for months at a time. So this is not new territory at all for me.
In the past week, certain things came to my attention. The death of Qaddaffi. The role of community for good or for evil in fostering or protecting families and individuals from sin. Abortion, abuse, and neglect. Sin against the first commandment, including satanism, idolotry, and the occult. Violence and cruetly committed in the name of hate and retribution...some examples that came to my attention were sins against members of my own family. Malicious acts done for the sake of hate, like those done to Qaddaffi, and others I recollected were the hardest ones for me to deal with emotionally. Even though Qaddaffi was a monster, it hurt me to know of anyone being tortured and killed in an unjust manner. One thing I felt very strongly this week was compassion for sinners. Having worked in the prison system, and having a lot of experience with sin myself, I know how sin occurs, and I know that only rarely is it a result of pure malice. The roots of sin are deep, dense, and tangled, but if you follow them, you will find that pain and suffering, weakness, and temptation, and plain ignorance of the love of God lie at the bottom.
I encountered again the idea of everyone having a "God shaped hole." During that time in the past when I was examining sin, but had not yet found the truth in Christ, I felt that hole acutely. During that time I fell into the deepest depression of my life. Through out my life I have tried filling that hole in all the ways most people do...satisfying physical desires, satisfying desires for recognition or esteem. I think we all have the tendency to do that to an extent, but for some of us it can lead to addiction, or destruction. Even now, I find I have to constantly reorient myself to God, and not turn to other things to fullfil me. It is a lifetime habit, that may never be completely broken for me. Knowing this about myself, and knowing that God loves even me, made it possible for me to see other sinners, even many that have committed terrible atrocities, as beloved to God. It doesn't take away the feelings these acts evoke in me, but I think it gives me a sense of compassion, that if they only turned to God they could be forgiven. But usually when people are in such dark places that they will commit horrible atrocities, they can't see God.I feel the enemy’s greatest victory has been convincing people that he and evil and sin do not exist in the world, or there are not diabolical influences at work in the world. In my life and through my work I have had the opportunity to spend time with people who have committed acts of true evil, and those experiences have convinced me on a deep level that mankind is basically good, but we have a tendency toward sin, and through weakness in our own flesh (including the mind) and through temptation of the enemy, we bring that tendency into fruition in sin and evil acts. I cannot conceive that there is no diabolical temptation or influence at work in the greatest evils of history…like genocides, wars, and mass murders.
But there is another kind of sin that is even more insidious. It has been said that the greatest sin is pride, and I believe that is true, and today pride reveals itself in even more devious disguises than ever. In order to understand pride, we have to look first at God, his nature and his love.
When God created everything, he saw “it was good.” God loves his creation in a way that is almost incomprehensible; however, it is clearly demonstrated in his loving acts of becoming one of us, suffering our rejection, and a painful death, for the salvation of even the worst sinners, and he asks nothing in return but that we allow and accept his love, and return it. That is where our sin truly begins.
In order to love God, we must follow his commands, and we must accept the concrete expressions of his love through the sacraments, especially the Eucharist and Reconciliation. Serious sin separates us from God, and closes us to the possibility of communion with him in the Eucharist. And although God is infinitely loving and merciful, those who believe that these acts of love are optional, or who believe receiving communion in a state of mortal sin is no big deal are putting themselves above God by presumption of his forgiveness. That is the essence of pride…assuming that we can judge God, that we can save ourselves, that we are on our own here. Like the man who spent two hours yelling at us at Planned Parenthood, many presume there is no God, or we are the ones who decide about life and death and everything else in the world.
Another facet of pride is protection of the ego. We often distance ourselves from God because it isn’t cool to follow God. I could give many examples, but I don’t need to. Another disguise of pride, is shame. If I hate myself, how does God feel about that?
God loves each one of us infinitely, so to hate anyone, including oneself is tantamount to telling God he is wrong. His creation is NOT good, or not good enough. Imagine a parent who works very hard to create a beautiful gift for their child, who then responds to the gift with disdain. Call to mind how painful it is to be hated or rejected, and multiply that by the millions, and you may have a vague idea of how this feels to God.
During a retreat Saturday, Fr. D said something to the effect that finding God in all things could be dangerous, and it could even risk ones faith. I think he was saying that if we look for God in Evils of the world, from something like Genocide to natural disasters, it might cause us some trauma. I can see how that might happen--I remember when I was suffering in my marriage and divorce, I was very angry at God. My understanding was poor. If I knew then what I know now, it probably would have been just as painful, but I think I would not have lost faith AS I DID, at that time. So I have something to add: We must not only see God in all things, but we must see Him as He really is. He is in an much pain as we are when a loved one is murdered or lost through a natural disaster, and He shares our grief, and feels it intensely because of his unbounded love for us, and because HE WAS ONE OF US. He is there in the pain, to be our comfort, and He is there for the ones we have lost. When people ask why God allows evil, the answer is free will. Without free will we are not created in the image of our God. With our limited minds we may not always see God as He Is--his love, his compassion, his tenderness. But if we do see it, that is all we need

As I begin week 5,I felt a profound relief to read of a recognition of what our society has lost”-a sense of sin”.I have felt like a loner when I was not interested in the things of today’s culture that are embraced and celebrated by  friends and family-and made to feel judgmental when I spoke up about my concern for the sin in our world,the evil.I have felt a sense of sin in my world for a long time and it has made me extremely depressed.To now try and focus on the positive ,forgiving grace of God is itself a profound grace.Grace enough.Now to capture that feeling of joy that comes with God’s forgiveness,that is the challenge for me this week.

Frankly, I find that reviewing my sins at the end of the day (Week 5) to be counter-productive.  I am self-critical by nature, and reflecting on my sins pushes me away from, not towards, God.  Am I the only one?  Should I give up doing the online retreat?

Week 5 Whenever we see or hear about injustice in the world about us, we should be driven to retaliate. Indeed as Christians are we not commanded to retaliate as Jesus did? We must retaliate with Love. Otherwise, it may simply mean that I do not care enough.

 In my own life, not caring has proven to be even a greater sin than hate itself just as I have often thought that Peter's act of Denial was a far greater sin than Judas' act of Betrayal. "I don't know the man. I've never seen him before. I don't know who you're talking about. I don't care what happens to him. What does any of this have to do with me? Don't bother me and don't disurb my little world."

 Time for me to take the blinders off and pray for more love and caring in this world of our's. And time for me to pray that in some small way that I may be an instrument of His Love.

 My physical and spiritual vision is not always the best. When I first glanced at the picture of the little Bosnian village, I entirely missed what must have been the shear horror of that event. At first, all I saw was a beautiful idyllic scene of a few houses craddled safely in the mountains. So, what's the problem? Then I looked closer and deeper into the picture and saw the stark destruction and depravity. It was kind of like looking at a beautiful golden crucifix and being blinded by the brilliant glow of the metal. Almost pleasant to behold until I look deeper and realize that it represents another human being just like ourselves hanging there broken and bleeding secured to the wood with nails that had been hammered into His hands and feet.That Cross is no longer a display of jewels and precious metal but rather flesh roughly matted to the splintered beams of the Tree. I pray that as He was nailed to that Cross that He fastened all my uncaring with Him as He continues to retaliate with Love.

Week 5 Sharing
Dear Lord,
Praise, love and thanksgiving for the grace to continue on this retreat.  I feel your grace constantly abiding.  As I heal physically, I heal spiritually and emotionally.  Thy will be done.
I have experienced sin in the pride, arrogance and need for power and control of two men creating organizational division, slander, pain and hurt feelings in Couples for Christ, an institution created for your glory in the service  of the poor.    And how you bring grace to those who remain rooted in You.
I have seen in my monitoring visits to the countryside how poverty diminish hope and self-esteem and how unjust situations caused by greed create despair and violence.  Mercy and love continue to be your response among the faithful.
I thank you Lord for this moment of reflection in becoming aware of social sins and how your loving mercy draws us back to eternal life and transformation.
I praise and thank you Lord for your drawing power to help me achieve Your purpose in my life.

Week 5 is very emotional to see all that we do to ourselves and our neighbors; but knowing that Jesus inspires others to give up their life just as he did, does bring comfort and hope in the future.  My cousin, who does not know I am doing this retreat, sent me an email today about how the Holocaust is being debated about in other countries.  60 years after the end of the WWII and countries are claiming it never happened and wanting to remove it from their history.  I look at the pictures and wonder how we could do this to each other, then I look at the picture of the Bosnia bombed out village, or just turn on the news and it all lays out before us.  Our world leaders, from the very top to the local officials chose to do these things in the name of progress or economics.  Right here where I live, we have homeless people living in the woods and our city officials refuse to allow shelters to be built claiming there is no need.  People go hungry from farmers or business owners deciding not to pay the people working for them. I know of an business owner that brought 30 people here to work, worked them 2 months and then said sorry we are closing the factory you must leave the housing units by tommorrow.   Now here they were in another country, no money, no place to stay and no way to get back home.  Did it happen a long time ago? No it was just two years ago.  Our church brought these men and women to live with us, we gave them a place to stay, food to eat, and helped them find work so they could earn the money to get back home.  They did not want handouts they came to work.  We worked with them.  This is how I can look at the pictures of this bombed out village or the pictures from the Holocaust and know that God is there.  His children will step up and reflect the gift of love that he first offered us.

- Debbie

Week Five: As I read and reflected on the material this week I was made very aware of my part in the sinfulness of the world. I help to fuel the greed of global corporations by being a voracious consumer. It is true that I don’t feed on market advertising as most but none-the-less I contribute.

I spent the last few weeks looking at the love God holds for humanity. I’ve read the Old Testament and seen how God has refrained from annihilating what He has created out of pure love. This week I am asked to look at the abomination humanity has once again become before God. I am part of this abomination by following in the world’s ways.

The lust for power that is mentioned in the ‘Getting started ‘article I recognize in my own life. It is a control issue for me. It is as if nothing will happen if I don’t have or take control of the issues that affect me.

The evil this world is experiencing today I see as a deception into believing that Satan is in control but as told in and throughout scripture, countless times; Jesus’ death and resurrection have won “the “victory over evil in the world. It is time for me to wake up to that fact and begin to act as a proponent in the spread of this good news.

In one of my prayer experiences a few years ago I was very much beating myself up, over my sinful state, when that still small voice within said ‘if you weren’t a sinner you would have no need for me.’
I take that as God telling me that my need for relationship with my creator is immense and my daily visits are not optional but necessary.

This retreat experience is bringing back many memories of past prayer experiences. Until now these have been good reminders of the goodness of God in my daily living.

Week 5: and in thinking about sin it's more than just the disobeying of a law.  That would be acceptable only if we shared a Master/slave relationship with God. But He calls us to be His children and so it becomes not so much about the fear of the former but the love of the latter. In the former we would have been required to atone for our own sins, as impossible as that is.  But in His great love for His children He atones for our rupturing of the love relationship of family.  He comes to us rather than waiting for us to go to Him.  He knows our imperfections. It is through those imperfections that He calls us to strive for holiness.  It is in the striving that we exhibit our appreciation for all He's done for us.  And yet can it ever be as much as He deserves? How can all our thanks ever repay His willingly taking on our punishment? And yet He accepts our willingness to strive and is always there to help us along the way.  He never gives up on us and it would be ingratitude on our part to give up on ourselves or others.
Week 5: This is a difficult week to observe sin around us and feel our own part. I am saddened by the raging violence in the Holy Land and feel such sympathy for those suffering and wanting nothing but peace, particularly the children. I keep thinking of the Divine Mercy chaplet, “For the sake of his sorrowful passion, have mercy on us, and on the whole world.” I am inspired to recite this prayer with others on EWTN radio. --Julie
Week 5: This week has been sort of difficult having many activities surrounding my time. It's been family time but I realize that everything does tend to pile up and I am feeling stressed because I feel behind in everything. Regardless of feeling disorganized I have made time to pray and dedicate special time to Our Lord and his Mother. Even prior to this week I have been for some time aware of the evils in the world so during this week I have tried to become even more conscious of the perils in our lives. Every time I drive by our local abortion center I feel this urge to just stop the car and stand in front of the place with rosary in hand while
I pray for all those women that are suckered into doing something that they will regret and will live with them forever. I know this is one of the things I need to do but every time I drive by I'm either with the two year old grandchild, or with my elderly mom, or in the process of rushing to do grocery shopping because I need to prepare lunch. However, I do feel comforted that every now and then I see two or three older men that stand in front of the place, with homemade posters and are praying the rosary. I guess there is a time and place for everything.

I have become very much aware of the lack of communication within families. I have seen children against one or both of their parents. I have seen parents that don't want anything to do with their children. I know of parents that were too busy running after their own needs and have given their children to in-laws to rear. I have seen siblings that say they hate each other and refuse to take the first step to make amends. This leads me to believe that if we can't live lovingly with each other in our own families, then how can we expect for different faiths, nationalities, ethnic groups, and so forth to get along? I have insisted for the longest
time that the breakdown of the family is the root of many evils. We have become a people that do not want commitment. We just want to be free to do as we please when and where we want to. I feel we must become committed to our God and by doing so I feel I don't have to despair. There are times when I just feel afraid of so many injustices in the world. There are so many children that are suffering, so many parents seeing their children being killed, so many nations that are torn because of separation of family due to ruthless governments, politicians; so many kidnappings, so much greed, there is so much fear... Oh my God, please have mercy on all of us, on this world which you have given us to live in. I beg of you to have mercy on me, a sinner, and on all of us as we lack obedience to your Will. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for my life, just as it is, for all the pain and tribulations I have been through. Thank you for all my family and may I always keep you at the center of my life and not stray from You.

Week 5: In the background of all my reflections this week ( week 5 of the Retreat) a sense of being guided by you, Holy spirit; not to react and talk as so many others are doing at this time in the Church of England, as the same old issues threaten to split and to disturb and to waste so much precious time – (so easy to express an opinion and fuel debate with no positive action). I sense that I must resist being drawn in. I think of all these leaders ( mainly men) and I despair at the sin that so easily pervades everything – even and especially the institution that is the church. Yet it is not a despair that leaves me alone and isolated. Beneath it is the quiet assurance of your presence. I think of my life – my petty grumblings. I think of my life and through them and this reflection I thank you God that your gracious presence is a reminder of all that I have because of you. It is an opportunity to give thanks. The picture in my imagination – Jesus in agony, bearing such pain so that we may go free that I may go free. For what? So that we may have the choice to get tangled up in sin, to give in to the other stuff that clings to us? No. To break free and release each moment of each day to a greater thing. To reach out and engage in the struggle and in so doing say yes to the other life on offer. Who am I to know that it will make a difference if I choose the narrow way. I am loved by you, saved by you, graced by your presence ... and that is enough. Like clay in the hands of the potter I am ready to be changed ... to gaze on the wounds ... to enter more into the bad stuff within me as well as without so that I can know the difference between death and eternal life – and in knowing choose life.Today all that matters is the petty round, the common task – and the opportunity to choose your way in each moment.
I am in week 5 of the retreat ....AsI reflected on the evils of mankind and the mercy of our Lord I wrote this poem I would like to share:

Upon the cross You hung,
The weight of sin to bear.
For all the pain you suffered,
Mamkind didn't seem to care.
The priceless gift you gave him,
Lay unopened on the ground.
Yet though Your heart was broken,
You uttered not a sound.
Man continued in his sinning,
Indifference the clock he wore.
Not thinking of Your mercy,
And pain for his sin you bore.
When will his eyes be open,
As he gazes on the cross?
And realize the price You payed,
So he would not be lost.

The retreat has been areal blessing for me and I thank you for it.

Week five was a week of personal growth. It was hard to look at my sins. Yet what helped was to see how much Jesus loves me. I felt washed in His mercy and His love. It is a grace that I am blessed to have this week and whish to continue with for always.

I have just finished week 5. It brought both great joy and great sorrow. I thought alot about sin and that is why it brought great sorrow. Yet what brought me great joy was placing myself and those around me in the merciful heart of Jesus.

I started week 5 a couple days ago.Up until now I have been unable to share what has been happening.For the past week I have seen the Lord 3 times and turned him away twice.Once he came to shovel my walk and i told him to come back later.I thought he had left but apparently did not.The 2 of us went Xmas shopping together and since then he has had total control over everything I have done or said.I have had no control of anything I have done or said or heard or seen.My questioning God has done nothing more than him showing a greater Love for me and determination for trust..thanks

As I work my way through Week 5 I am struck by the fact that in my 12 Step meetings this week we have also been focusing on Step 6 and 7- the Steps about our character defects or sins so to speak and humbly asking God to remove them. So there appears to be an overall plan. Also on Sunday I attended a Workshop titled "Crafted by God" which emphasized God's love for me and the carefulness with which God gifts me with joys and sorrows in order to shape me into the person I am created to be. And it is my job to be aware and to be grateful for his gifts. Whenever I have focused on sin particularly my sins before, I have been tempted to wallow in the idea of my "badness", rather than the forgiving love of Jesus. This new concept creates a whole different perspective for me and helps me to be more willing to be honest and up front and to want to deal with whatever separates me from him. Thank you for this gift.

Week 5: Up to this point I have not shared here as I work my way through the Exercises. Each week has presented me with many new perspectives for thought and prayer. However as I sit here on Cape Cod listening to the horrors of the fires in Southern California, and the possibility that some of them were set by human beings, the reality of human sin becomes all too real. For me it is more real than the picture at the beginning of this week, because I know the area about which the newspersons are speaking and have a brother and friends living there. The personal knowledge makes it more real. And at the same time the frame of horror is filled with stories of people coming out to help their neighbor, known or unknown in love. So you know that the presence of God is being felt in the midst of the pain and suffering, just as it was in the time of Christ. Thank you for the opportunity to spend this structured time in prayer with so many others and to have these resources available. This is the Body of Christ and the Communion of Saints at work.
-- Cathy

Week 5: It was not difficult to contemplate a disordered world this week: caregivers who neglected their patients in extraordinary ways, killings in Pakistan, continued war in Iraq. I realise an interesting contradiction in these scenes and in the picture on the retreat site. At the root of this disorder is often a positive motivation. For example, we love our children and so we yearn for their security and we will do everything to protect them. Yes willingly I will allow armies to protect them ... maybe even be proactive and eliminate those who might harm them. Soon we have moved further into a setting where I allow others to be killed for my security. Similarly, at the hospital where the caregivers neglected their patients the management probably did not enter one morning and propose that was what must happen. They probably felt they were doing the right things ... cutting back on supervision ... equipment .. clinical care ... maybe even with the motivation to serve more people. But somehow it was mistinerpreted and it cycled from care for others to care-less for others.

I find special grace seeing that in the midst of that disorder God wants to be present. As St Paul tells us, "God wiped out the charges that were against us for disobeying the Law.
He took them away and nailed them to the cross. There Christ defeated all powers and forces."

Then I hear an interesting interview on the radio which made all this concrete. It is with a father in Jerusalem whose 14 year old daughter had been killed several years ago in a bombing. He is Jewish. He encounters an Arab man whom he has a fleeting memory that he was one of the people who came by for the 7 day mourning. He's initially angry but the man tells him that he himself lost his son and has set up a group dedicated to peace and reconciliation. So out of curiosity he goes and it changes his life. People whom he once thought of as his enemies embrace him. So I look at myself and my own life and ask for God to eliminate the selfish desires which block him out in the first place so that even in the midst of disorder I can discern and transmit his love.

Week 5: There is nowhere to hide from suffering, And if I feel powerless to “undo” much suffering, I can hold it in my heart, even as it breaks this heart. Suffering identifies the “fault-line” in human nature, the breaking of the one into the many. In Christ we become one (body) again.
-- Anita

Week 5. When I read the intro, I knew this week was going to be difficult, and so it has been. Without both the guides for this week and the sharings I have read, I surely would have gotten both stuck and frustrated, right before I walked away from these exercises. In the previous weeks, I liked having the specific guidance of what the background was supposed to be, what we might pray about and think about when we woke up, and before we went to sleep. This week, I seem to be overwhelmed by both the assignment and the topic. I have to look at sin in the world, remember the meaning of the sacrifice of Jesus was a response to that sin, to be moved by both, yet not let it affect my mood or my work. Hmm. To feel the outrage of injustice, but not to act out? To accept being given to God ( a project in itself, albeit a happy one usually), and to respond as one " fully grown"? I spent most of the week denying or shoving away the notion that this is being asked of me, and the rest of the week trying to figure out how to "do" it. And then tonight, I got a big major grace: I'm not supposed to have the complete outline of an action plan, or even to make sure that I understand this painting and its frame thoroughly. God isn't asking me to write a spiritual term paper, or to sob great tears of enlightenment. He's just waiting for me to say, "Okay. I'll try." This must seem so elementary, so obvious, but for me, its a breakthrough. Much thanks to the people at Creighton, to my fellow participants, and to St. Ignatius for making this experience possible.
-- Kathy

It’s the beginning of week 5; last week was very scattered and I’m not sure I got much of the intended ‘Grace’ of it. It was a hectic week and I didn’t really follow the retreat very effectively. I did make contact and that contact did help; the week that started out not so good ended up fair and led to a ‘nice weekend.’ I struggled to see people in my life today that I truly look up to—yet, they are there. And as the week shifted to the next phase, there were dreams of old friends with whom I have lost contact (several of those lately). I am currently living apart from my wife—we’re in the process of moving and I have come ahead to Colorado where I’m working and she is still in Kansas, where she has a shop to close down/move/whatever... This is a good time for me to be engaged in the retreat, but it seems difficult to keep up; and I wonder if it’s some internal resistance or just struggling with the demands of a new job, too little time and the ongoing ‘business’ of life. I haven’t really made close connections with people in my new life and so it is easy to become a bit isolated. I think that’s why I’m writing this now; just to try and make connection, even though I really don’t know anyone who might read it or whether it would even be read...somehow that doesn’t seem to matter. This week’s focus on ‘sin’ will be interesting; it seems that the past three weeks have this notion of ‘my sin’ and ‘our sin’ has been growing in my own thinking. Perhaps that’s just part of the plan; however, I like the call to focus on sin, but not to do so with such negative ‘wallowing’—that sense that focusing too much on my sin becomes almost egotistical. It reminds me of the introduction from an old Patti Smith song—off the ‘Horses’ album. It was a line, “Jesus died for somebody’s sin—but not mine.” That sense of how often I want to hold on to my sin and its awfulness—it’s like showing off—look at me and how bad I am. It’s just ego and pride. Now, to embrace that reality of sin and to truly see it in the light and Grace of Christ’s love and forgiveness...
I was amazed when I read Psalm 73 (week 5), to see how well it applied and its relevance to today's world. The psalmist is asking the same questions that I have asked and struggled with for most of my adult life. Just why does it seem that the wicked and sinful have it all? I do "lose my balance and my feet all but slip. I am envious, for they suffer no pain and they are free of the burdens of life. Is it in vain that I keep my heart clean?"

Can this possibly be "The Disorder of Sin"? My envy of the unrighteous man will be my downfall, unless I lift my eyes to the Cross. Just like the poor and faithful man of Psalm 73, if I humble myself, resist the temptation to separate myself from God, then I too can be filled with joy and indescribable riches.

Week 5 As I approached the sixth week of this retreat I was really wondering what would come to light. My life has been very stable with no major catastrophes, no major rebellions so what would God show me? This week God has begun to melt my heart, made me aware of where I have fallen short of his ways, in the way I have kept him at arms distance, and have wanted to control how he works in my life. This has resulted in me not living life to the full, being fearful and not displaying the love that he has shown me. I continue to ask him to show me where I have sinned as I really want to experience his love in a new way. I am not finding it easy to find time to look over the day, or to be aware of God throughout the day in the background. But I have a desire for this and I am beginning to make regular time to meet with God and he is meeting with me. I have a belief that he will continue to meet me and lead me on. Thank you for making this retreat available to me and to others throughout this world.
My thought when I began this retreat was that my haphazard lifestyle would surely hinder any progress, but I have found that is definitely not the case. I am in week 5, & have greatly benefited. The way it's presented is surely blessed by God, & I am so grateful & determined not to give up.
Week 5 is indeed challenging! The evil in our world is almost overpowering, & at times seems to be the only thing we see & hear about. It can be a deterrent to focusing on the goodness & greatness of our loving & caring God. There are times when I am overwhelmed with my own faults, failings & sins, & feel it is useless to try & serve God. But I can offer him my desire to serve him, which is indeed all I have to offer. All the evil around us is so sad - it compels us to go to the foot of the cross. This week is something we all need, & I am so thankful for this online retreat. May God bless all who are struggling through this week.
WK5 I am a bit lost this week. Yes sin and not in touch with Jesus. I got angry again and busy with work. got to try agin and have the hear to Jesus
I found Father Gillick's reflection, "For the Journey" very useful for week five. Often when contemplating the "canvass of sin" I am a very good art critic. I can easily objectify what is happening ... often over intellectualizing and getting caught up in interesting questions of why something is happening. I think about my initial reaction to the current was in Iraq. I enjoyed getting caught up in the "real politik". What I find easy to do is avoid thinking about my own responsibility or involvement in the process. Contrast this with the method of St Francis where our contemplation of violence and peace starts with what is inside each of us. This places us in the canvass without doubt.

So the other piece I found useful this week was the contemplation in the prayer, "In these or similar words": how would I feel if a gift I gave one my children were just tossed away in my face? I started to think as I listened to the news on the radio what gifts of God were being tossed away. I felt very sad. The image is of Jesus on the Cross renewing or bring these gifts back to life is both powerful and I started to feel for myself very necessary.
I begin week 5 today and glad to gain the knowledge of not to feel depressed because I sin again and rely on love of God to start again. How many times I failed? Each sin I am sorry for and there is the love of Jesus from the Cross.
Week 5 I’m passing this Retreat in Poland. The evil of this world is seen by me everywhere. I saw how much I want to escape from these plases. Last day of this week trying to read the week paper TYGODNIK POWSZECHNY (Number 42) I found the text, which is essential for me. Below I rewrite it in my poor English:
"The last voice belongs to victims. In the book “Night” Wiesel memorises as SS-mans hangered two prisoners and small boy whose face like sad angel.All concentration camp have to see this execution. Suddenly from back lines one can hear the question: Where is God? Where is He?Both adults , no doubt, were dead. From their tongues hung swollen. But third rope was moving continiously: the child was too light and was still alived...Over through half an hour he floundered between life and death, dying in long torture, and we looked at him. We had to look in his face straight.He lived yet when I was passing him. He had red tongue, his eyes didn’t be glassy.
Behind me I heard the same man asking:
- Where is now God?
And I heard also inner voice, who answered:
- Where? Thee is here...hangs on this gallows."
Jezus Christ must be adorated in that places of my escaping ,exactly: not in places but in the suffering human. It is the aim of my life, the aim of which I am afraid.
-- A.K., Poland
Week 5...the difficult one. To see my role in sin and suffering is very painful. But it is clear, as I follow the directions in the retreat to look at personal sin and to "allow God to be God".
I am now in week 5 of the Online Retreat - the one that focuses on the sin against God and destruction of the world. It is quite easy to find images to reflect upon as this is 2 weeks into the War between Israel and Hezbollah, where figures greater than 600 deaths, 600,000 refugees are being quoted on the news. Where I am finding difficulty is understanding how those people in power - the decision makers have lost their way so much that they wish this to continue until some political end has been met. I am trying to understand the seeds of the evil. What changes in a person's life to make them so cold as to decide this should continue - more lives lost. I also feel powerless, I wish to be proactive - but amidst my own "busy" life am left wondering what can I do - except pray. Maybe I shouldn't minimise prayer so much - maybe if I felt prayer was more valuable, I wouldn't feel powerless.

Alan Murray, Ireland.
Hello My Friends,
These mornings at prayer I've been asking for grace to see the malice of sin as it is. Well you get what you ask for . I've been terrified at the tragedy sin causes in our lives, thru history. But as I battled with what this meant to me, I also felt the assurance that there is nothing that can escape the loving and providential eye and hand of God, Three in One. With Jesus nothing is impossible. It's taken me over a year to get to this point. The Lord is working slowly with me and many times I've felt what's the use of not being able to finish my own agenda. Well Jesus has a different agenda for me: PATIENCE. And that is the way he handles our deepest poverty to want to love and be loved by Him, by God.words cannot fathom what sin does, only in a mind as vast and comprehensive is their a solution and that solution we have : Jesus Christ the Lord.Peace.
greetings to all of you. my son and his little family moved to the mountains to be near their father today and i thought i would be overwhelmed as i thought i would be overwhelmed by the practice of staring the evil in the face. but it seems to not be happening to me. i could feel the sense of sin and disorder that we were asked to feel for and this move( in a family which for years was torn apart by alcoholism and addiction) is an orderly move and one made with love and from a happiness between us all. so i have realised that pain need not be ugly and disordered but simply right emotions . i can see the Companion with the Lamp in the middle of the picture of my life and its gradually driving the darkness further and further out. i was always afraid to look at the truly terrible evils and sins for a myriad of reasons. now i find if i stand as i learned to in earlier weeks and am able to look at the darknesses within my self and my own life then as long as i have the Light there with me then i have become more and more able to look at bigger disorders and evils which have always terrified me.i can face the thought of the savagery and wickedness out there. even thiugh i tremble and do not think i could facce it. i think too that god has equipped me for the life he has given me and whatever it may be i will be ok, and i suspect he knows i am a no hero and has asked me only to fcec the evil which i am capable of facing. it is as if a candle were lit in the very middle of the picture and one step at a time the glow lights more things and warms more of my own personal picture.

i was thinking too of adam and eve and that the original sin wasnt violence or thumping one another . it was the disobedience. when the guides spoke of getting a sense of evil - i realised that evil can come disguised in good deeds and goodness can sometimes look pretty crummy . also that obedience to god can ask me to not do as the world thinks i ought. im muddled this week and know you will forgive me because i love my little family and am upset to see them off. i just know its not time for me to join them and that god has some plan for me and them and obedience is the best choice. love to you all.
-- Nell from the Tweed Week 5
  I was doing my reflection fairly systematically this week. On previous weeks I would turn off the car radio on way to work and use some of that time as a moment of reflection. This week the news in the background provided plenty of backdrops for facing up to the reality of sin in our world. I am also conscious of how I have neat frames that limit the reality of evil from impinging too much of my consciousness. One is quite simple … put a thick frame of denial around the reality. The other is more subtle … come up with all sorts of rational explanations that take me out of the picture. The latter mode is quite easy because I realized that good and evil very often co-exist and use the same substance … probably no sin in drinking alcohol … conviviality building bonds … but for many the same substance becomes addiction … and I recalled the people who I have personally encountered who have been hurt even close to destroyed by the same substance. Because of this the place of the Cross becomes even more important … promise of healing … God’s presence in middle of evil. But two events stopped me over intellectualizing this and feeling personally what is really in the frame. First, I had a horrible fight with my boss on Friday. The substance is not really material from a spiritual sense but I tasted again how we can be hurt and how I can build up amazing defenses that would satisfy my outrage but probably just escalate the situation. Some of our worst sins either as persons or nations emanate from our feelings of anxiety and hurt. So I’ve resolved to put this conflict in God’s hands. Maybe it will lead to a new direction for me or simple grace but with God’s help I will not let it fester.

Second, we had a missionary from Haiti speak at Mass this morning. He was a tremendously dynamic preacher and I wish I could have recorded his homily … it was almost as if he had been sitting with me on retreat this week and gently pulled on every nuance of my meditation on evil. I was moved to tears. His descriptions of life and suffering in his community were quite shocking. To be honest I’m not sure where this will take me but I am committed to work with God’s graces and find ways to resist in my own life subtle and not so subtle over consumption, waste of resources and the more insidious personal tactics that can become strands in their own way on the canvas of evil
While contemplating this week “the disorder of sin”, I came across an article that described how millions of children die of malaria in so-called “third world” countries, while here in the “first world” the disease is of no concern to us because it has effectively been eradicated. A few dedicated and capable individuals are currently devoting their energies to bringing this problem to our attention, but I was struck by how extensive the suffering is and how little we have done to stop it. For me, this was a perfect image of the disorder of sin. Placing the Crucified Christ at the center of evil and suffering—his merciful and tender love, THERE!—helps conquer terrors’ hold.Tom, Pennsylvania
Week 5: As I began reading through the suggestions for this week, I felt that I would be overwhelmed by the sense of evil that fills the world. Then as I read the "For the Journey" section, with the idea that the central picture is the love of Jesus for us and our world, a different picture came to mind. Several years ago I read the book "Return of the Prodigal Son" by Henri Nouwen. It focuses on the painting of the same name by Rembrandt. I looked at the cover picture again, and realized that the forgiving, merciful Father is the focal point of the painting. This has become the picture I've returned to each day this week. In the 2 sons I can see most - maybe all - of the seven deadly sins. And of course, these are the sins that encourage us to cooperate with the evil that exists today. My prayer is for courage to resist the evils of pride, greed, gluttony, envy that tempt us to think only of ourselves and ignore the damage to our fellow human beings and to the world we have been entrusted to care for. Thank you for this retreat.
- Ann
I am on week 5 of the retreat and am quite surprised. This week is been a big eyeopener. When I thought of poverty and issues on human rights I always thought of third world. I guess the news is that this is happening under my very nose in this wonderful country of Canada.I never gave much thought to the thousands of lives killed through abortion. The hunger and homelessness prevalent in my own country. The issues of ending lives because someone has decided the quality of life is not there any more.I remember about 60 years ago or so I man name Hitler was condemned for doing just these things. How far we have come to do all of this in the name of democracy. In any case I guess the message is that this country of mine needs as lot of prayer and divine intervention. I hope its not to late.
God Bless
This week has been difficult for me, as I am one of those sensitive people who find it very upsetting to watch or read or hear about the suffering in the world, especially when caused by our own sinfulness. The ‘canvas’ and the ‘frame’ were backwards for me…the canvas being the sins of the world and the frame being the mercy of God. Now focusing on our dear, suffering Jesus on the cross, carrying the weight of all our sins, has made me more and more and more grateful, but, also, reminds me of my part in His sufferings. Yesterday’s Mass was dedicated to Mary, Mother of Sorrows. As I prayed the Sorrowful mysteries of the rosary, I thought of how our sins made her suffer, too, just like all of our sinfulness has the ripple effect everyone. Mary was best portrayed in “The Passion of Christ”, showing us how perfectly she embraced her Son’s cross as we, also, must do. His mercy is our salvation.
I thank God for giving me this opportunity to take part in this retreat. The previous weeks have been comforting especially when I could sit with the Lord and look back on my life over a glass of wine.Week 5 has been particularly challenging. It is not hard to see the disorder of sin everywhere. Recently there have been many painful commemorations of humanity's atrocities, the massacre of innocent people in Hiroshima,Bosnia and Rwanda. Currently, the senseless war in Iraq, terrorist attacks in London and Egypt,the displacement of millions in Darfur and the starving in Niger. What is hard to see and bear is that my sins are also part of this disorder.I thank God for the gift of healing mercy and forgiveness, for me and my brothers and sisters of the world.
I started off the week with the expectation that I probably would not be able to find any fresh inspiration in this topic for week 5. I thought, yes, I know the disorder of sin is everywhere. And yes, I am aware that it is appalling rebellion. Wars, murder, injustice -- they are always there, always will be. But when will my arrogance end -- when will I stop underestimating God and overestimating myself? Because when I worked on opening myself to hearing God's voice, I was faced with new realities of evil that I hadn't been paying attention to. I read the 5/11/2005 edition of National Catholic Reporter and learned about horrible atrocities committed against rural Ugandans (for ex, women found mutilated in fields with limbs, breasts, lips cut off) perpetrated by marauders going about forcing children to join their forces. I read about Nery Rodenas, executive director of the Human Rights Office in Guatemala, who denounced the army's role in human rights violations, and who reported that he and his family have received death threats because of his work.Then today, May 14, 2005, I came across a blurb in the New York Times reporting that 3 of 4 white men convicted of beating a mentally disabled black man and abandoning him on a fire ant mound were all given short jail terms ranging between only 30 and 60 days in jail.This week I have learned that I must stay aware of the evil manifested in the world. I must take the weight of it into prayer -- I feel that if I do not do this, then I will have neglected a possibility to lessen the effects of evil. Are we not taught that there is power in prayer?I have been wondering what may be pleasing to God in addition to prayer, about how else I should respond to evil in the world. I do not know, but I found comfort in the writings of St. Teresa of Avila. In the last chapter of her work Interior Castles, she encourages Christians to focus on prayer, and especially on helping our companions, those in our circles, with love. She seems to suggest that if we take care of our usual obligations with love, then God will make us able to do more each day -- and who knows where that could eventually lead?
Week 5 I am doing this retreat by myself (except of couse for all the other people doing exactly the same thing at the same time as me). But have no one to talk to about it, so I have kind of made a promise to myself to share here each week my thoughts etc.
This week has been hard, but the picture I see is Jesus in the center of all the sin of the world taking it upon himself. I have never seen this before, so strange, that I have never considered or understood that before.
The words I hear are "Jesus, Lamb Of God, You Take Away The sins Of The World" I really hear them now. Thank you God for this blessing.
How do we understand the terrible sin and destruction of innocent people's lives that is going on in Iraq today? This is perpetuated by a government who smugly believes God is on their side. What god is this?I see Christ weeping wherever greed, arrogance and inhumanity take precedence over love. charity and true dialog. I am hoping that this week will help me understand this and all sin in the world but it is very painful. It is so much easier when we only reflect on our own relationship with God but He calls us to care for the world and work for peace and justice for all. Week 5
I live in Africa. It was not hard for images of the effects of sin to come to my mind at the beginning of the week. I asked God to show me one picture to sum up the sin; I saw the scourged back of Christ, opened up by the lead tipped whip. He was bound, unable to move,
completely at the mercy of his tormentors. I was surprised. I had expected something else. Then I realised this picture showed the abuse of power, a merciless hunger for revenge, the dehumanising force of sin, its destructive power over victim and family, its supreme arrogance.

The next day I started to hear about the Asian tsunami. So far around 70,000 dead. I am thinking about this in light of this week's retreat. Sin has brought disharmony to creation, and we are subject to it. So much pain. Unbearable. But what of institutional sin? Our policies maintain poverty. We put in bondage countries that are unable to repay their debt; we add interest to it. We sell arms to them, lending them money to do so. Madness.

Where is God in all this? Christ stands weeping next to me. The only way I can face the endless pain around me is to know this compassion reaching out. My parent-God suffers as any parent does when they see their child suffer the consequences of their wrong choices. The parent suffers when she see us spoil the gift of freedom and abuse it. My parent-God suffers the anguish of his choice to respect our choices. He waits for us to call, however faintly. Week 5
im stumbling through the retreat but ive made it to week five.  i am acutely aware of the rebellion of sin..i am paying the price for having dishonored my marriage by seeking the comfort of others and leaving my home.  i could certainly offer many explanations...but the truth is what i did was wrong. i hurt everyone around me, and now that hurt is returning to me many times over.  i am trying to make things up to my wife, but i may have made a mistake i cant fix..i am feeling the anger and hurt and resentment she feels and i am feeling humbled and scared and alone knowing i have no one to blame but myself.  i am hanging in there...and i am trying to return to the path that god set for me before i decided to do it MY way. but feeling the pain of separation from god as manifested in the separation form my family is disturbing.  i am struggling to pray and to see the good things in my life and understand and accept my place in god's plan.  the retreat has been a great help in keeping me focused and giving me hope.
Week 5: Visited a family today who are, I would say, living below the average income level.  Two of this woman's daughters, who are in their early and mid-teens, were mothering their children, the younger child being only 7 weeks old.  I can sense from that visit that the mother was the one holding everyone in the household together.  The daughters have their parts in running the household but the mother was the one who reminded them what to do.  A typical family in many ways, but unusual in the sense that they carry more than the usual burden of a "typical" family.

When I was in their home today to meet the family, I can hear their normal ways of dealing with one another.  Although most people would call this family broken, I saw some sort of wholeness in them, certainly not in a conventional way.  In a very weird sense, I felt God's presence in that house despite the presence of chaos and disorder.  God was present most especially in the mother's love for her family.  I can sense God in their kitchen, in the ordinariness of their lives, in the smell of their home cooked meal, in the steam of their boiling water... God is present in the midst although veiled at times.
I had to remind them of this presence.  The mother asked me if I could bless the house.  I told her that blessing the house does not mean that God was not present here before, but rather, we are dedicating this home now to God, for God to use whatever you have for God's glory.  And as I blessed the house, it was like the veil was lifted and God's face was revealed in the ordinariness of this home, a home that most people would only describe as chaotic.  May the Spirit continue to unfold the presence of God in their midst.
In week 5, the reading "How God Dealt with our Sin" just blew me away. After reading the first few lines, I wondered, "Who in the world is this talking about?"   "You are fully grown... Christ has taken away your selfish desires", it said.   Again the thought came, "Who is this talking about?"   It went a step further: "And when you were baptized it was the same as being buried with Christ".   Then I realized: "This is talking about me.  I have been baptized."  It went on to describe things almost too beautiful for words.  I concluded that this must be the way God "sees" us now even though I have a hard time seeing myself as "fully grown", without "selfish desires" and so on. Could it really be possible that God sees me this way?  Forgiven,  raised to life?
It kind of went smoothly the first four weeks. I did write down some thoughts and ideas but never felt compelled to share like today. The theme for the fifth week is disturbing. I have come to know, experience the sins of the world. I come from a country destroyed by internal war and division, lust for power, corruption and international injustice. I have seen and felt deeply the sins of the world since I have worked closely to those who are responsible for leading us. But I am sorry; I can’t see the mercy of God in all. I can see the mercy of God in my personal life, I can testify. I have been force out of work since March, being victimized by a new government in power, but I feel the presence of God in my personal life, guiding me to other territories and I accept this new challenge as it helps me grow closer to God. I am dealing with my own uncertainties, not being able to go back to my own country, not knowing what country I will be living in, if I’ll have to leave my daughter behind, but I know deep down that whatever road is being laid before me will be good in the end. But where is the mercy of God when millions of my own are stripped of their dreams to have a better life? Where is the mercy of God when poverty and violence strike stronger day after day? Where is it when one group of people can decide what goes in your own backyard, and damn, aren’t they successful at it? I guess that I am too caught up in my own hurting that I can’t see it. But I will pray for God to show me His mercy revealed in a nation as a whole. I won’t move up to the sixth week until it grabs me and transforms me. As I write this, I am crying of rage and sadness.
Week 5 reflection.  I was eagerly anticipating going into this week. My attitude was  positive and I was anxious to open the "package" for the week by looking over and printing the week's material.  What a disappointment - the subject is sin!  The assignment:  "grow in what our culture seems to have lost - a sense of sin".  I understand that.  "This week should not discourage . . . (but) give us hope".  That helps.

To read the guide every day this week has helped me progress.  It's hard stuff, and I need to concentrate and stop to reflect and absorb.

What I started out to share is that, for some reason, I had a light bulb experience:  the cruicifixion is redemption for today's evil!   Why hasn't this sunk in previously?  I'm astounded at the "revelations" I receive in participating in this retreat. God bless all of you on this journey.
The grace for Week Five came early in the week.  As I was reading over all of the material for the week and looking at the picture it hit me more than ever that ALL people are God's creation and loved by God.  I thought about how God might feel when God sees one that he created and loves hurting, killing, and plotting against another whom God likewise created and equally loves.  This caused me to ponder the question  - Who is one person or group of people to say that another person or group of people is deserving of deplorable treatment when all are created and loved by God?   Realizing that the one who is drastically different from me whom I may oppose is also a child of God who is loved by God is cause to step back and think about the way that this 'other' is treated.  This was followed later in the week by the grace to use the picture and frame imagery that was presented this week.  I imagined a dynamic (interactive) picture with Christ at the center drawing all of the evil and sin in the framing periphery to himself without diminishing his own brilliance.
Each week I have posted the beautiful  pictures on my screen. For the fifth week I have the destructive picture of Bosnia devastated by war. That is a powerful graphic of disordered nature. It makes me want to cry and I have shed tears thinking about such destruction. Then, I reflected on the evil of sin, my own personal sinfulness, and am looking for an appropriate picture of the destruction I have personally carried out. There are no words to express my own sinfulness and so I place myself in the trusting forgiveness of Jesus Christ. I thank Him for the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
This is Week 5 for our parish.  I am watching the film "Dead Man Walking" as a painful perspective of sin, set within the framework of prayer and compassion.  Although I have seen it before, looking from the viewpoint of sin in the world, it is very compelling.  It is a small illustration of what Jesus overcame for us.
As I continue through week 5, I feel a very tragic disorder of sin which I had for a long time was not liking myself. It almost got suicidal at times. What greater disorder than to turn ones back on God's creation, and say that I am not worthy of His love. God is pure love, and resides within each of us. To think at one time I was so negative...its not a good feeling. I have come a long way since that point, I am very involved with a Prayer Group and well as being a Hospice volunteer. Praise the Lord for His love is everlasting.
A powerful message which offers an opportunity to reflect on God's love as I reflect upon the cruel shortcomings of humanity.  For me personally, it was an opportunity to let go of personal failings, realizing as I clung to them, I placed myself in the center of what is important, instead of placing God there. Thank you also for the story of Bishop Gerardi.  His powerful message lives on with this continued sharing of his story. Week 5
I haven't felt the need to share up to this point in the retreat, but, at the beginning of Week 5, I'm embarking on a whole new level of the journey closer to God.  The first 4 weeks of the retreat almost felt like a "review."  For over a year before beginning this retreat, I had been working with a wonderful spiritual director on the very topics presented in the first 4 weeks: especially the true realization that God knows me, loves me and reaches out for me before I even know to reach for him.  Now, with this week, it's a whole new experience.  The image in the photo is jarring, and the task at hand is difficult.  I think of the verse from Joshua: "Don't be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."
Sin is a tough one for me. I am an optimist. I think of sin as an "unfinishness". I believe God doesn't make junk... that everything IS for a purpose according to God's plan. I don't believe we can "hurt" or "disappoint" God. As we see the consequences of our actions, it causes us to reflect and adjust. I believe we all strive for goodness, but our understanding of goodness in each situation we encounter is incomplete. The lack that exists is "sin" to me. Jesus came to show us in human terms how to love selflessly even to death. there's the hard give and give and give and give...without "expecting" to receive in return...BUT wait with God it's different. We can give and give and give and give and KNOW that he is eternally giving. He needs no return. THE MODEL...The all perfect.
My prayer is "Help me to give love to those I meet daily without expecting earthly love in return, but know in my heart that my God loves me always!"

To look at the big picture of sin in the world as well as personal sin is a very challenging thing to do.  I am near the end of week five.  This week I received aids through conversations that people brought up in was interesting because twice this week it happened.  One person not knowing anything about what my task was for the retreat ,said to me you realize all the evil we have been witness to in our life time and then proceeded on  a litany of  events from WWII onward.  She brought to mind so many images.

I am horrified at the sinfulness that the world has experience globally and in my own personal life, and  it brings me to tears when I think that Jesus had to withstand so much suffering for me and the world.  I am grateful to God, yet I need to look on the image of Jesus on the cross more often to really understand how great  His love for us.

The cycle of hatred ,prejudice, greed, lust, and violence need to replaced with the understanding that God loves us , even if our own brothers and sisters act in ways that would make us think otherwise.  I pray for all who are unloved , abused, neglected, lonely, and those who are arrogant , bitter and hateful that the Spirit of love enter into their lives to create or recreate us in the image of Him.

How right it is to reflect on the sin of the people of the world.  I especially find myself lifting prayers to God for the helpless old and the unborn. (Week 5) 

This week found me concentrating on major evil events in history, events readily horrifying and easily identified: the holocaust, WW II, Vietnam. Then there is the murder and mayhem that go on in individual killings. Of course, WTC bombings, the Pentagon, McVeigh, the list goes on and on.  How about a system of slavery that lasted 300 years and still reverberates through every facet of this society. Then there is the sex-slave trade still imprisoning thousands, and the child sex industry of Thailand and other Asian nations that make our problems with sexual child abuse miniscule, though they should not be diminished in importance. And then there is that incredible image of the cross. Once in awhile, as I raise the cup of wine at the consecration, my mind’s eye sees the cross with his human form, blood dripping down the body, flesh torn, thorns piercing, and lips moving that say, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” What tremendous love that this act of self-sacrificing love overcomes all the evil described above and all not described. What other response could there be for me than to strive to imitate that? When harmed by others, even slightly, climb up on that tree and be held by its victim and say with him, “Father….”
Just finishing the fifth week, I darely can  tell you  I realized a sense of  sin that was different from  before.  Though I was so sad to hear suicide bombing in Isreal and sometimes I used to pray for innocent victoms,  that accident never made me feel  a sense of sin that I rebelled God's desire. So far most of My sin was the things  about indivisual ingratitude from God. But when I watched Bali bombings on television this week , I felt how dreadful human beings' hatred was, how far we were away from God's love. Of course I was not directly responsible for the bombing, but I thought, I am also resposible for rebellion from God's desire that we praise, reverence and serve God and use everything else in creation for that end. Finally I came to move my eyes from my sin to our sin.  I newly realized how wrong  we behaved , how magnitude God's Mercy was. Jesus on the Cross gives me a broader views on the sin and  His Mercy . 

The  beginning of this day of my 5th week, I thank God for such a great day. Then the phone rings.  My brother who is dying of cancer tells me he is in pain; then my aunt calls me to let me know her daughter in law who is 47 died and left 3 children and that her oldest son who is 13 wanted to kill himself as he heard the news about his Mom dead. All kinds of sufferings until the ending of the day. While I am hearing all this I am focused on the great love that God has for us. I know God is in each situation. I will recall the grace I desire today: to enter more deeply into a sense of what sin really is.  I may say, for example, "Lord, let me see and feel the outrage of the evil that seems to reign in our world.  Lord, I so want to be moved by the profound depth of your love and mercy."   At the end of this day, I let all these images be replaced by the one image of Jesus on the Cross. Tonight I will try to focus on that image.  Try to let it become more real. I can imagine looking up into the face of Jesus, and speaking to him my gratitude. Risen Lord, thank you for the power of God's love.  All evils of our world. I remember loved ones and friends who are real victims of sin.   I have experienced the tragedy of care givers like me that who failed to love those we care for by being so impatient with them and not expressing God's love to them. We do want it to affect our hearts.  We want to take our blinders off and really see and feel the power of evil.  But, at the same time, I want to experience the power of God's response. I try not to get discouraged and pray for hope.  Is it difficult for me to look at the evil of the sin in my life and how I make others suffer?  I will ask God to help me grow in gratitude for the mercy of God in my life and the life of those I love and also on a certain person I find it hard to forgive. I am suffering because of this and I don't understand the reason for this attitude over such a simple misunderstanding. l understand I am not perfect and this is where I know God's great love.
I'm finishing up my 5th week, it's been tough.  I've noticed alot of places in my life where sin has effected me or those around me.  Sometimes I just feel powerless over my sin, even small ones, like overspending or not eating properly.  Sin has a concrete effect on me physically...I get anxious and get an upset stomach.  I have recently broken off a relationship with someone, so I'm feeling lonely.  However, I did not feel that I was really interested in anything else but being loved and held, not to say this isn't important, just that in my addictive way, I will put anything behind this need, be it physical intimacy, food, or spending.  So for now, I'm taking a break, trying to get some sanity in my life.  Already my stomach is quieting down some, which is a blessing. 

Week 5.  I have been good at indignation faced with the faillings of others.  Time to face up to my own sin and faillings.  The prospect is truly frightening.  This will go very slowly. 

Week 5,  I have been putting the photos as backdrop on my computer and I was able to notice my brand of wine two weeks ago, i. e. Concha Y Toro Merlot on the table.  Of course, that was with much enlarging and font gymnastics.  You see, I don't see as well as I used to.  So, when I looked at the photo on the first day of week 5 I saw a beautiful hillside village until I right clicked and enlarged.  Beauty became evil and unplessantness.  My first impulse is to bolt and run-to look away.  But, we are asked to look, to examine evil this week, to look at sin; not just our own but worldwide.  It certainly isn't very pretty to look inside those bombed out rooms, to see and feel the starkness, to let the coldness of it touch the back or our arms.  So much sin , so much evil.  Is this really the full extension of total selfessness-to totally Ease God Out (EGO)?  I remember driving home on a Feb. afternoon at the beginning of this decade after hearing that we were bombing Iraq and whispering to God an apology, a prayer like that we just really hadn't progressed very far.  Anyway, this Monday morning of week 5 those are my thoughts I want to share with my brothers and sisters-He gives us all so much and the tendency is to keep 'em and hoard 'em like the last little fellow in the gospel yesterday; bury the talent.  My prayer this morning is that God grace me this week by helping me get out of the endless maze of self-Amen 

I am beginning week five with feelings of extreme discomfort!  Who wants to look at the "sin" in their lives? As I look back on my youthful sins I thank God, in Jesus' Name that I have been "saved" by His love.  Yet, the journey is not over.  I ask God to reveal to me the ways that I continue to sin, and continue to hide these sins from myself.  Our society has distorted my view of sin, has made it easier for me to rationalize sin, to make it sin  a ACCEPTABLE part of life. I pray now that I will have the courage to "see" my sins as God sees them.  I feel that they are open wounds that will fester and rot unless and until I ask God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit  to heal me.  Pray for me. 

Week 5. WOW!  What a week to begin to see the magnitude of sin in the world ... the USA and Britan begin, what is now the fourth day of, bombing on the other side of the world.  What part do I play in all of it if I am a citizen of this country?  The guides ask whether I can be reflective without being negative ... at the beginning of the week I thought I could.  Then last night at a gathering I found myself saying things like, "This is it. Prepare your soul." and "Get ready to meet your Creator."  Guess that was a little negative ... but what is it to want to be in God's loving presence and not worry about all of the sin on the planet?  Gee, He does care enough to have given his magnitude of mercy by letting His Son pay for our messes. As the world situation has been developing, I find I would rather find a peaceful solution but that's not what 92% of the population wants.  Am I a fake?  Will I really be in the Kingdom when the time comes?  God has promised and He doesn't go back on His promises, does He? 

Scanning through the pages of sharing looking for a mention of Week 5, I enjoyed reading the contribution from the person who appreciates this wine. In fact I have kept that particular photo as wallpaper up to now and would similarly recoil from the horror of the destruction of the bombed village. I expect this retreat to be quite demanding as it progresses. 

I am just finishing week 5 now.  The awareness of sin is very important to me and this week has helped sensitize me to that.  I think it helps to understand the first sin was a result of disobedience to God's plan for humanity.  The result was a ripple effect of disorder throughout time. In effect, I can clearly see how my transgressions will eventually lead and contribute to others.  In other words, I may say something to one person, which may be good or bad, and that person will act upon it either in a good way (help someone for example) or in a bad way (the anger I have caused may encourage someone to manifest the anger on a third person).  In any case this is like polution in the air or water. It is all around us.  We can not avoid seeing it everywhere.  However, it is up to us to help stop the bad propagation (sin) and proclaim the good (the Word).  The propagation of the faith so to speak.  By stopping the bad propagation, I mean by us realizing a sinful thought and putting it out of our minds. Prevent it from taking root.  I do not mean to violently stop someone and thereby creating another and different sin.  We must be imitators of Christ, who bore all kinds of insults and physical abuse without retaliation.  Only Love. I give thanks to God every day and ask Him to fill our hearts with His Love. I ask that I may contribute by bearing the fruit of His Love to others.
In this, the 5th day of the fifth week, I want to thank Jesus for he have saved me and the whole humanity from sin, and we can experiment his liberating power. The honor, the power and the Glory are yours, Father, in Jesus. And I am confident and glad. 

I am starting week 5, and it is very difficult to think about sin without outrage, especially institutional sin. (goivernments that hide stuff, organizations that use misleading info to push an agenda, etc.)  One thing that does help me though, it thinking that Jesus's passion is there to give us a clean slate, and that I can use that to be a member of holiness as best I can in whatever organization or group I'm in--and if I fail, Jesus is there for me. 

[I too was] hurt by a pastor and people of the parish and am not ready to forgive completely.  It happened 4 years ago.  I too want to forgive but not completely. But in sharing this with my spiritual director I was told that St. Ignatius said that the desire to desire to change our heart is good enough for God.  We should adopt the attitude of utter helplessness before God, that we cannot overcome some failing in ourselves and let God take over. I haven't forgiven completely yet, but with God's help I will. In His time. I will pray for you.  A fellow traveler. 

It was a difficult week. (5)  Sin.  Its nature is chaos.  Nowhere to begin. Nowhere to end.  Simply nowhere, but feelings of fear, guilt, anger, impatience, denial.  Like hell, unbearable. But sometime, somewhere from the past, from behind, a distant melody can be heard.  At first, a mere attraction that remained unexplained. Falling-in-love with the melody was enough - fit to be a movie score or TV soap opera - sentimental and carnal. Then the words of the song emerged.  Borrowed, yes, from a Filipino Jesuit, Arnel Aquino, SJ, but the truth of experience was ringing universal.  Originally in Tagalog (a Filipino dialect), the message came strongly as I 'interpret' its refrain: "With you ... I am waiting for you. 
This love - the only longing in my heart - 
for your return in my bosom, is drenched with yearning. 
Be still and listen: 'Be mine again.'" Forgiveness of God became a song: "Be Mine Again."  Notwithstanding the controversies around Terrence McNally's "Corpus Christi," the play moved me to tears as it portrayed more vividly and passionately 'forgiveness' coming from the heat of one's chest [warmth of one's heart] that seeks out the other not to be left out in the cold, isolated.  Tears welled up from my eyes that I may 'see again.'  Sin and Forgiveness - grace of tears and song - gifts of listening, seeing, touching, feeling, tasting - God beckoning, "Be Mine Again."  Deo Gratias!
The impression this week as I reflected on the Photo (5) and thereafter on the world around me is that God intensely desires to show me that the treasure is lying in my soul, it's all there where God's plan is all about. 
The greatness and beauty of created things will not only help to train me properly but to let me achieve to know what God loves. My soul should be treated as a holy temple , being baptized in Christ , a new birth was given .  
Thank you my Lord for these graces and help me to lift my eyes from the ugliness of this world and to choose all what you desire from me : Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-control.  I pray that I may give up my human outlook so as to consider things in the light of Faith, and to be taught only by Christ. 
I am now in week 5 of the retreat.  I have been tempted to share earlier but this is my first time.  I have really enjoyed the retreat so far.  I really liked looking back over my life and seeing God in His creation all around me the first few weeks.  I love the themes to keep focused on for each week. Sometimes I feel as though I have not put enough time into the retreat every day but then I realize that when I am on my way someplace these things are going through my mind and have become a part of my life.  I am moved by the sharing of others on this site.  I hope to post my thoughts more as time goes on.  May this be an enriching experience for all of us. 

I was mired on Week 5 for 9 days. I was amazed, during that time, to come to the knowledge that I have long operated at arm's length from the evil and sin in the world. Yes, I observe various rituals to [I thought] prove and strengthen my faith: Sunday liturgy; the holy days [pretty much]; rosary; "At Home with the Word" reflections on the week's liturgy readings; give generously to our home parish; give to the missions; participate in "good works"; blah, blah, blah... All of that, I thought, made me a good and kind person. I honestly believed that I was doing something positive to assuage the misery all around us. What I'm coing to think, though, is that I have never really sullied my hands or done much actively to counteract the effects of hatred, violence, and the like. I am the kind of person who turns the channel when a story on the news features unpleasant subject matter: starvation, cruelty to animals, war, and the like. For me, those kinds of things did not exist if I could not see them. Knowing that, I'm left to ponder whether the Week 5 practice of ending each day thanking God for Her forgiving power and love is appropriate for me. There's so much for which I need to be forgiven, in my small world, that I wonder where I get the nerve even to ask for forgiveness.
As I started week 5 of this retreat, I almost gave it up.  The idea of dealing with the weight of sin this week defeated me.  I have been in a battle with Satan in my marriage over pornography. After a whole day of procrastinating, I went to confession this afternoon and received the unmerited grace I desperately needed. This dear priest gave me the advice I needed to turn the battle over to God the Father instead of carrying it myself.  He referred to pornography as a " gift of the devil." I will turn to the image of Jesus crucified each night to be reminded of His love and mercy and the price He paid for us to have the victory.  I thank God for this site and I thank God for the gift of the sacraments and I thank God for His servant who was sitting in the confessional today. 

I am on the 5th week of this retreat.  What a blessing to know it is here for me whenever I want.  I think finding this retreat at this time in my life is God's grace surely working in my life.  I was looking for my reunion class and found the site and there in front of me was a picture of the church I was married in on campus years ago.  The marriage did not survive and reminds me of the bombed Bosnia village in the pictures.  That is what my life felt like then.  Such sadness around a breakup like that and there seemed to be no God in my life, only pain.  It has been a series of broken relationships since then and I am just beginning to realize why.  I know God works in my life because I adopted as a single parent years ago and have a beautiful son. He brought me back to the church where I found a priest who "accepted" we marginalized divorced and single Catholics.   I now have a rewarding fulfilling job and friends and family that are support for me.  I also share the joy and sorrows of my journey with others through 12 step work.  God works in my life when I surrender to Her.  Thank you for providing help  and companions for my journey. God is giving me what I need today and for that I am grateful. I pray for all of you and I so cherish the shares.  They are important to me too. 

I realized while struggling through week 5 and 6, that my sense of being close to Jesus is a distant closeness. I can sense the Lord but not be near Him.  Then I realized that  this sense or feeling is because of me not God. I choose to hold Him off at a distance and so the next question is why?  This  site has really helped me to look at my relationship with the Lord more maturely and for this I am grateful. 

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