Sharing the Retreat
Week 8


Week 8

Week 8:  God’s Love for Us – Forgiving Mercy

All I can think of are perhaps two things.  God’s love for us and forging mercy is like when we are upset and angry or hurt and have a good deep cry.  When our tears are finished, we feel a sense of relief as those negative feelings are released; crying was catharsis.  I don’t know about anyone else, but when I leave the Confessional, most times, I feel a sense of catharsis, being relieved (forgiven) and the sense of the burden of sin being lifted (mercy).  And I don’t think it is only God who rejoices when I return to Him and strive to live a better Catholic life…I am sure so do the angels and saints rejoice at our return.  I pray to have that sense of catharsis remain with me as I go about my daily life.  It is so easy to feel all the graces and blessings as we do this retreat, but it is even easier to forget about it or push it aside as we go on day to day.  I fail a lot, have many shortcomings, my humanness can sometimes overpower my spiritual-ness.  With God’s grace, I can go to Confession….God, help me to remain in Your catharsis. 

I found Week 8 a bit disconcerting in that up until the last day it was more an "intellectual exercise" with no real feelings.  But, I sort of realize that these times are likely preparing me for a deeper experience.  On my "last day of the week" I really did feel somewhat Jesus' embrace, the gently strength of his arms, and his love.  I am slowly realizing that God leads me step by step, and this gives me hope.

I pray for each of you making this retreat and ask you to pray for me.

Week 8: I am guilty of committing a serious reoccurring sin.  It is a long standing temptation that I have not been able to overcome (though I have not given up) and I feel it is THE primary impediment which prevents me from climbing higher on the mountain.   
I am a devout Catholic and I have been blessed with strong faith but also a strong sense of guilt.  Whether it is guilt or a huge sense of responsibility, these have been driving forces in my life and frankly one of the primary factors to a very successful earthly career.  
As you might imagine, these negative feelings are exhausting and I would love to shed them in exchange for a greater sense of God's love for me but it is hard to let go.  Week 8 speaks directly to this impediment, please pray that I may learn to feel God's overwhelming love to squash my constant sense of guilt and to control my temptations.

I’m in week 8 and this is harder for me that acknowledging and going over my sins over and over and over again.  It’s easy to think of those.   I think it’s because for so long when I thought of God I thought of my dad.  I loved him but he was strict, critical, and unwilling or unable to be demonstrative in loving me. There was a lot of anger and few compliments.   Having people tell me he loved me but just couldn’t show it  didn’t fix that.  It’s taken me into my adulthood (I’m 61 now) to realize Father God is nothing like my earthly father.  He’s happy with me just as I am, which is a good thing, since He made me. Learning to realize how much he REALLY loves me is a continuing journey…old tapes are hard to erase.  But as I read others’ sharing I realize this is a journey for all of us.  I’m not alone in this.  God bless you all.

I said in my sharing of week 8 that I await the lord's loving embrace. I am coming to terms with this. The Suscipe - 'give me only your grace and my love of you for that is sufficient for me' applies. '

How can I repay the gracious love the Lord has for me'? - well it is clear - I must pray earnestly that I put all my trust in him, our Lord, to guide us on our way. Thus, we diminish our will, our way, so that he may transform our selfish selves in order to reflect his immense love, manifest in his warm embrace,combined with his healing grace.

 Thanks be to our God, creator of heaven and earth. Thy will be done. Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who transgress against us.

Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from every evil, past, present and to come. Grant us your peace dearest Lord in our time and mercifully hear us when we call upon you. Amen

I look at week 8. I awoke early, a miserable sinner, praying the Our Father and the Anima Christi and asking Our Lady to untie the knots. Get up, do my jobs, sit down and rest. Difficulty to do my daily readings, turn to Creighton retreat. Recalling that I haven't moved to week 8, read my sharing reflection for week 7, and turn to the picture posted of the mother, embracing her child, my son, now sought by our loving shepherd, lost and found, deep in his recovery in the rehab and facing his future with new found confidence.

My offering of the confiteor, my cries to the Lord, confessing my weaknesses, my wrongs, my hurts, especially my decisions although as I recall, made in good faith to trust the recommended Benedictine school's education to help his learning. Such an intelligent child, outstanding vocabulary at the age of three. God alone my Jesus, I weep for all my wrong doings over the past 80 odd years in all its forms.

Now I turn to week 8. All about our most merciful Father in heaven whose forgiveness is extended in his loving embrace. I will await to absorb this embrace with a hopeful heart, set aside my self absorption and ask the Lord once again and always to help me to put all my hope and trust in his most loving and sacred heart.

Thank you, all of you for reading. God bless

Week 8:

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 8
“The quality of Mercy is not strained, it droppeth as the gentle rains from Heaven “.
I learned this in my studies at high school in my English class learning Shakespeare. It has always remained with me .. the only thing I remembered, and now I understand why.
Thank you my Lord for welcoming me into your arms.
Thank you for your prayers, I continue to pray for you.
Jane NZ

Week 8
During the last week, I really wept for my sins. In so doing I found that this act was almost synonymous with experiencing God's mercy - so much love burst through that I was unable to fully focus on everything I had done wrong (even though I do have some awareness of the scope and depth of the patterns of my sins)! This week I have realized that the way in which I encounter God is predominantly tactile - it feels like being hugged tightly by a loved one. I was very moved by the image of the repentant son reciting his apology being met by his father, who has spotted him from a long way off and run as fast as he could towards his child, his arms open. I feel like my experience and understanding of God as a loving parent is becoming more secure - I can almost relax in the presence of God's love now.

A difficult week. The centre of trouble. Confessing anger and difficulty in forgiveness of wrong accusation, am advised to draw a line, forgive others and at the same time, accept my justifiable anger!

Listening to reflections on line on absorbing God's Mercy and feeling His love, I am reflecting that Jesus, despite His suffering and being beaten, by His Stripes we are healed.

So how is it that we must believe it, when another says it is that because we too are loving, we are doing God's work! I must take this on board and in my resistance to accept this wholeheartedly, feel it is also a sign that, through the Mercy of God, not only am I a sinner loved by Him, but also, thro' his Grace in this way, He, through  me, is able to shine for others!

A big journey in this week. The mountain was hard to climb and I stumbled and fell many times on the way. A bit to go to teach the peaks!!! - Week 8

Honestly I do not find it easy to imagine God jumping for joy at my life. For sure I have felt the embrace of Divine love and protection often when I come thru the shadows, leaning on the Good Shepherd who rescuers me. Yet I chide myself for  not being energetic enough to do more good for others. I burn out quickly. Yet I reread the text about God rejoicing greatly in the one sinner who repents, the stray lamb that is found and the one leper who returns to give thanks. Then I take time to remind myself that I am the one sinner, lamb, leper in real life-my life. May my hope be placed in the One who said,Come unto Me...all who are burdened...I will give you rest. - Week 8

As I do this retreat I realized that Jesus has forgiven me as a sinner and will help me live a life with him. - Week 8

From my youth I have been fearful and self protective. Whatever the cause, through these past weeks I've come to recognize patterns that have developed out of that fear. I remembered seeing a list of the Seven Deadly Sins and was surprised to be drawn to examine the sin of pride with its subcategories of irreverence (use of piety for personal advantage), presumption (dependence on self & neglect of means of grace), distrust (cowardice & surrender to gloom), impenitence (refusal to accept God's mercy), and vanity (use of false humility to engender praise). Quite a list, but with the loving help of God and a spiritual director I am learning to more deeply experience Jesus' love for me and how impossible life would be without His presence in my heart. My sin is not my problem. Jesus has taken care of that. I do have a problem though accepting the total freedom of being forgiven. I believe. Lord help my unbelief. - Week 8

There is a song I was reminded of this week based on the passage from Hosea 14. It’s called "Comfort Ye My People” by a group called Lamb. you can listen to it on you tube. I share it in case others might find comfort in music like I do. Just having this song running through my head all week helped me think about God’s mercy. I think God’s kindness and mercy is why I love him so much! I didn’t receive much mercy as a child and every time I read how Jesus forgave or healed or did not condemn it causes me to weep. I was particularly struck by the words from “For the Journey, God came to save us not to solve us.” What comfort that is! -Week 8

Lord Jesus, I have felt your forgiveness as a surge of newness entered my life this week. Your love alone produced the accomplishments and the opportunities. Help me to be a good steward. Help me to use all your gifts wisely. Amen. -Week 8

Lord, I bring to you in thanks the images that I return to in the parable of the prodigal son.

I try to feel your warm embrace but I also come back to a realization that has been growing over the last few weeks that I am sometimes more like the older brother. Not that I am resentful of your love. But I am guilty of not seeing that your love extends deeply throughout the world. You are not my private God but a God who wants to deeply embrace the world. At the heart of my sin is failing to realize this.

I also think of the times I have just not been there for your embrace; when it was easier just to shrug off failings and cover them over; to just pretend everything was ok. But somehow, often through people you have encouraged to be present in my life, you prompt me back.

Then there are other times when I hide from your embrace. These are the times I see myself as some kind of star player in some great game of life. You are the coach I need to please and when I do not perform at my best I just want to hide. But it is my performance spiritual and secular which is uppermost in my mind; yes many times performing to please you but nevertheless performing for my pleasure and my gain. Worst, I do not see that you are not there on the sidelines shouting directions. No you want to be with me, even in my failings. You want to prompt me towards your work and in your loving embrace I know that what You value is deeply inside me and what I can contribute from there and not my performance.

So I do come to rest with you. To feel your embrace. I am coming to terms with the depth of this love. Thank you, Lord.-Week 8

I find this week reinforcing a sudden personal revelation I had a few months ago. I am very faithful in judging. That is not a good thing. I am always deciding how other people could live better (but not at least letting them know). It can be exhausting. I am even better at feeling my own shortcomings make me unworthy of God.
A few months ago, a day I had skipped prayer, the Voice clearly told me "You are not the judge of the world. I am." That was such a relief to me, because it meant I didn't even have to keep judging myself. I can do the best I can and see what God does with that. Odds are, s/he is honoring my efforts.

Week 8 is a good time to reinforce this insight, and to be grateful that even in evasive and dry times, the Spirit can break through and astound me. I haven't stopped judging, but I do have that reminder to fall back on. God is always more merciful than me.

Lord, I bring to you in thanks the images that I return to in the parable of the prodigal son. I try to feel your warm embrace but I also come back to a realization that has been growing over the last few weeks that I am sometimes more like the older brother. Not that I am resentful of your love.  But I am guilty of not seeing that your love extends deeply throughout the world.  You are not my private God but a God who wants to deeply embrace the world.  At the heart of my sin is failing to realize this.I also think of the times I have just not been there for your embrace; when it was easier just to shrug off failings and cover them over; to just pretend everything was ok.  But somehow, often through people you have encouraged to be present in my life, you prompt me back.Then there are other times when I hide from your embrace.  These are the times I see myself as some kind of star player in some great game of life.  You are the coach I need to please and when I do not perform at my best I just want to hide.  But it is my performance spiritual and secular which is uppermost in my mind; yes many times performing to please you but nevertheless performing for my pleasure and my gain.    Worst, I do not see that you are not there on the sidelines shouting directions.  No you want to be with me, even in my failings.  You want to prompt me towards your work and in your loving embrace I know that what You value is deeply inside me and what I can contribute from there and not my performance. 

So I do come to rest with you.  To feel your embrace. I am coming to terms with the depth of this love.  Thank you, Lord.

I fell into this retreat while using the Online Ministries during lent this year, I’m about to start my 9th week and I’m in the autumn of my years, retired but not what you would call busy. Maybe this retreat is not for me but here I am anyway.  What has brought me to this moment was a desire to have a generous heart, I have been blessed by God’s generous gifts to me and I have a deep sense that I have been less than generous in using those same gifts to help others. To share. I suspect this is the challenge for all of us, to let go, to be selfless. As I reflect on the changes that doing this retreat has brought about in me, I see a calmer self, a more helpful partner in the home, doing jobs without being asked, even in very small things, the need to do them well. This is very different from the person I was two months ago. My short fuse has got considerable longer and to my surprise I find myself aware that I am allowing frustration and at times anger to wash over me. I pray that God will continue to unpack the person that I am to expose the person He made me to be.

Week 8:  It's been a peaceful week as I sought to 'continually' feel embraced in the unending love & mercy of God. As suggested I did try to do/find something to makes this week special. So several days I prayed in church where I could see the feet of the crucified Christ. It made me always want to sit in that spot during mass. To be so aware of my individual sins & patterns of sin, yet warmed, comforted, held, & yes forgiven in the strong arms of Christ. and then today, on a regular Friday afternoon, in the quiet of our church, kneeling at the foot of the cross, I was finishing my prayers.. praying for the nurses/doctors/caregivers at the hospital, for their strength, skills, intelligence, caring, attentiveness. & then prayed for forgiveness for them knowing that they would sometimes fail.. & it hit me that I failed sometimes too & that same unconditional forgiveness was mine.. tears of relief/joy/peace/love/gratitude flowed down my face. The debt owed can only be reflected in the Gifts of the Spirit.

I'm beginning Week 8 but I keep bumping into the realization that when I began to focus on how I was interacting with others, friends or strangers,has made such a difference in how I feel that God is somehow pleased with me because when I am exposed to the opportunity to share the failings of others with friends I can hear His voice saying "This is a test" and I swallow my words  and feel so much better forit.  Or when I normally would get upset with other drivers who were not quick enough when trying to reenter traffic and I can hear a vioce saying relax.. This one effort that is the way I'm dealing with others is a lesson for me as to how God has been so patient with me,and I feel that  at least in that I am making progress.

I'm retired and have been for several years. I lost my wife of 60 years recently to Alzheimers and found my self lady who works at our foodpantry had been a volunteer who would take my wife to lunch or for a ride.  Today I was going by the food pantry and found myself turning back and going in to volunteer working there a few days a week.  When she saw me she gave me a big smile and a big hug and was so pleased that I offered to help. I was reminded of a prayer that I make often.."God help me to see you in others and help others to see you in me."  The retreat is helping me meet that challange. 

Week 8- This week began on the 3rd day of a Rachel's Vineyard retreat I am making for healing from abortion. On this retreat I have experienced exactly what week 8 is about - the incredible love and mercy of our God. God you are so good to us if we will just open our eyes to see your blessings. I felt that loving forgiving embrace this week-end.

Today I begin Week 8 of the retreat and do so with more trepidation than any other week.  I am old, it is Spring 2012 and I begin a part time pastoral appointment after nearly 7 years of missionary work in Haiti.  The weeks of "re-visiting" the nature of evil, in the world and in myself, although painful have been cathartic.  I'm mainline protestant but "in another life" I'm sure I was Catholic.  I have never felt forgiven without some penance and have been nurtured in spiritual devotions and contemplative prayer. I returned to daily "Talk-walks" and God has guided and revealed the serious glitches in my character but offered the grace of ways for reconciliation and insight to why there is continued "call" when others are "rocking on the porch."  I am more anxious about again leading a congregation than the risks and perils of living in a foreign land with rats and malaria.  I am aware that often "proof" of being "called by God" is uncertain until well into the "answering process".  I am uncertain why there is discomfort facing week 8 and God's "Grace Alone". I anticipate, by Friday/Saturday I will be enlightened.

Week 8 -  The story of the prodigal son is always a reminder for me that God in his loving mercy is always waiting for us.  We do not go to Him for forgiveness,  He rushes to us,  with welcoming and outstretched arms,   to forgive us!
How many of us parents do that to our children  when they fail us?  Don't we give them the cold treatment until they realize that they have done us wrong?  Cold war sets in our house and God knows when the warmth of a relationships turned sour will come back again.  We are a proud lot.  That's is so shameful!  Is that what we are teaching our children?
But God,  in his infinite mercy,  rushes to us when He sees us with contrite hearts.  HE does not wait sitting pretty in His throne.  HE is miles ahead of us to welcome us back in his arms. There to protect us,  to keep us free from harm's way.   Awesome!
Thank you,  Lord!  For your mercy,  for your presence,  for your love.

Week 8  This is a much easier week for me.  I was my father's caregiver for 21/2 years until he passed away.  I was very close to Dad because he depended on me for everything.  When he died the grief overwhelmed me.  At times it was so encompassing I felt as if I could not breathe.  In a moment of grace this week, I knew the love for my Dad when the pain and grief came back quite suddenly and briefly, and I knew instinctively that God's love for me is stronger by far than my love for my Dad. I also knew that the pain I suffered at the lose of my Dad was bad but nothing compared to how much God feels when I sin.   It is the only way I can comprehend such a divine love.  I began reading some of the sharing, and one in particular hit me between the eyes.  Someone talked about finding a sin they had never considered a sin, superiority.  Well, that is my pattern and approach to sin. I had my answers for Week 7.   It opened up many doors for me.  So much in one little word.  Thank all of you for your sharing.  They have helped me immensely.  I will keep you in my prayers.  Please pray for me as I continue my retreat journey.
- Marie

Week 8. I was lying in my bed the final day of the week. Ironically, the song "Gabriel's Oboe" from the movie The Mission came on iPod. It immediately reminded me of the scene where Robert De Niro serves his penance and is forgiven and embraced by the Jesuit priest played by Jeremy Irons. I was brought to tears hearing the song in that moment. Forgiveness is such a beautiful thing. It truly is.  Ironically, the next song on my iPod was a theme from Good Will Hunting. As I heard the song, I couldn't help but think of the hug between Matt Damon and Robin Williams. It reminded me of the picture of the hug. This week has been a breakthrough. It took me two weeks to get through week 7. I found it hard to forgive myself for my past transgressions. I really like the idea of adding music to the retreat similar to the Kairos retreats I went on in high school. I'm trying to make a playlist for each week around the theme. As I head into week 9, I have already added "Healing Hands" by Elton John to my mix. Anyway, I hope that others are getting as much out of this experience. We're all in this together. My thoughts and support are with you all on this spiritual journey.
Week 8 - this is my first sharing.  Not being a person who has been consistent in sticking with things, I am surprising myself that I have actually made it through week 8.  I have been mediating on the readings, the prayers, the pictures.  I am moved at times with certain images and with the scripture readings.  I find myself praying for faith because I want to believe this.  I want to believe that a life devoted to and in unity with Jesus through the Holy Spirit will give me a connection with a loving presence that sustains me.  Not sure right now.  I'm just not sure.

Week 8:

Love's mandala surrounds,
                  a labyrinth within, without.
                                           Encouraging me.

 Focussed on love, joy
                   new life awaits me...others.
                                           Mercy surrounds me.

-Ellen H.

Week 8: The Holy Spirit "turned the tables" on my thinking this week. He allowed me to expeience Jesus Himself as the Prodigal Son. Our Prodigal, the Father's Prodigal Who stands in our place representing all of us. He is you and me as we are welcomed home into the loving arms of Our Father. We are embraced and surrounded by God's limitless Mercy and Love not only in the next life but right here in our Now. I pray that I may continue to grow in my understanding of others and not give in to harshly judging those with whom I disagree when I am feeling self-rigtheous or condescending or pietistic or fearful or "better than." It's such an easy trap for me to fall into and so soon foget just how many times that I have sinned against God and you, my brothers and sisters. What great joy Abba must feel when He welcomes Jesus home and it is in and through and with Christ that Our Awesome God never stops embracing each of us. Not for one tiny instant does He ever stop being Our Father. May I never forget my sinful past. It leads me home to the very Heart of God's Love. No matter what I have done or failed to do. No matter where I have been or where I may be. He awaits my safe return and even stays awake all night with His lantern in hand to light my way. Thank You, Abba. Thank You, Jesus. And may that Light of the Holy Spirit coninue to impassion and set all our hearts afire with His Love. Amen and Amen. Alleluia.

Week 8
This week I realise despite my sinfullness God loves me.
He surrounds me, with air, with loving friends who unceasely reminds me, and everything else. I do not deserve any love and yet He still loves me. I was so stupid to think my little things that I did makes God owes me. I won't pray as if He owes me anymore. He hugs me abundantly, more than anything.  

Week 8 – It has been a struggle - the last two weeks especially.  I have felt the pressure of sin in my life (past & present) and have had a really tough time dealing with it. It would take me a while to realize that I have actually asked for this revelation and that I URGENTLY need to get to the foot of the Cross and hold on. I am so very glad to see this week come.  Seeing that picture of the woman hugging the other person makes me actually feel the loving arms of my Lord around me.  It feels so wonderful to lay my head down at night and know that I am forgiven and loved beyond my wildest expectations.  The mercy He has shown me is not at all deserved and drives me to my knees in thanksgiving for it. As I write this I even feel tears starting to form and know that I feel the comfort of being forgiven. God bless all that are taking part in this retreat and the only advice I can offer is to stick with it because even though it gets rough for a bit it is worth it in the end.

I started Week 8 late last week, so I decided to stay on Week 8 through the end of this week. Over the holidays I had lost track of the retreat. Now in picking it up again, I have the challenge of being completely distracted during prayer. When that happens, I try to remember to ask God to help me focus. Then I have a list of things I do in order. I printed up several of the prayers and say them all. I especially love the prayers, "Soul of Christ Sanctify Me", and "Unlock the Door of my Heart."
I desperately need those prayers. I pray for my heart to open. Because of some medication I am on that causes a dulling effect (I'm going to ask if it can be changed) and also for other reasons, my heart feels blocked. If those reading this are moved to pray for me, please do. 
Thank you.
After praying the prayers, I have some minutes of silence, and then I read the readings, asking the Holy Spirit to reveal what if anything He wants to give me.
I sometimes receive a gift when I'm reading these scriptures. When I began a four year Bible study for lay Catholics in Denver, the teacher told a story on opening day. She said that one night, she had been reading the Genesis story about Jacob wrestling with the angel. She went to bed, but felt she hadn't given the passage enough time, because she hadn't yet gotten "the gift". She got up and studied some more until she did get the gift. At the time I wasn't sure what she meant, but she said to us, "don't stop until you get the gift that God wants to give you."
With the scriptures this week, the Holy Spirit is giving me gifts each day. I especially received a precious one with reading in John 4 about the woman at the well.
It's so easy to read the readings we've heard for years at Mass on a surface level; our knowledge about who Jesus is renewed. A sermon focused on the reading can bring it even closer to our lives as we may realize how it applies to us.
But with this retreat and the opportunity for prayer and careful reading, sometimes the passage can be a door for the Sprit to speak to me about something deeper. I saw the woman at the well not only as a sinner who was amazed at Jesus' insights, and therefore converted, but a woman whose life was restored. Like me, she can't have been a young woman, and like me, had experienced many failures. What did she have, what had she done, or how had her relationships gone, to feel her life was of value? Her thoughts may have often been filled with grief over lost years and empty dreams....but then Jesus gave her something to do for Him and for His people. His loving eyes spoke of the utmost value of her life to Him. She was restored. That emptiness was filled up with His light. It was nothing like she had expected might give her comfort or relief, if she had had any expectations or hopes left.
I pray for God to open my heart and surprise me with His gifts. I need God to move down from my head and my mind to my heart. I know God can restore my life too.
Week 8: How God must rejoice in my coming to know how much I am loved and forgiven.  I think I have been in this place for 10 years. In 1971, I was 13 and in my Grade 8 religion class , my teacher, who was a Sister was teaching about the 10 Commandments.  When she got to the end, she said that GOD HATED ANYONE WHO BROKE HIS COMMANDMENTS. I was an immature 13 year old. Up until then I was in love with my friend Jesus. He was the person I visited everyday after school. I went to morning Mass daily with the Presentation Sisters. When that poor misguided Sister said that God hated anyone who broke his commandments, she didn't know my life of abuse. I broke the 6th commandment with my father, and I was horrified to think, that my best friend hated me. I later tried to get a clearer understanding of what she said but then she wanted to know why and I backed off.  That day after school I visited the church as usual but as I knelt in front of the tabernacle I cried and told Jesus if he hated me then I wouldn't bother him again.  That year I mentally stopped going to Mass and when I got my first full time job and moved to my own apartment , I physically stopped going to Mass. It took 25 years , but in 1995 I made a Cursillo and found out Jesus didn't hate me and if I hadn't been married , I could have joined the Convent like I always wanted to. That weekend Jesus showed me just how much he Loved me and had forgiven me. These last weeks have still been hard. I had to face myself in a way I never did before. I almost quit this retreat but prayer really helps and so does the friendship of Jesus. I wish I had to have a Spiritual Director but in my town it is not possible and I don't drive. I know How much Jesus loves me and has forgiven me. He should have let me die in my sins because when I grew up things went from bad to worse. That Cursillo weekend brought me back to Jesus and the Sacraments. It changed my life. I now pray and go to Mass. I now do not fear Jesus. I love him and maybe someday I will get back that strong friendship I had then.
Week 8: This is the first time that I share.  I thank God that I have reached this far.  I am one of those who hardly goes through things for a long time.  I give up easily and at one time I had thought of dropping this retreat.  Yes, it has been a challenge in may ways.  One incident that I want to share is: This week as I was reflecting on healing mercy of God I had a lot pain in my heart.  It felt as if I had multiple fractures in the hear but as I continued to pray I got up one day and felt a lot of peace and I could also forgive those who had caused me pain.  Thank you for starting this ministry. -- Mary
Week 8 almost defeated me because I couldn't change my patterns and what was the point of continuing in that case. I am at times overwhelmed with confusion and unsure what I see, what I have asked for, what I have received. I feel so blind and discouraged. I battled with myself about starting week 9, thinking that I might as well step down here and "go home". But despite those turmoiled emotions, I opened week 9 a day later than usual and reading the pages slowly, I suddenly feel encouraged to go on - I don't feel alone anymore. I lack the strength to believe that I am not alone, that I am loved and cared for. I have difficulty to believe, to trust - but at times, I do catch rays of warmth and love - and think that God must be having a tough time getting through to me. --Hazel in Germany
Week 8: It really wasn't an easy week. The photo brought painful memories about how it hurt that I could never embrace my baby son like that. It was only after he died that I could take him in my arms. He spent every day of his short life in a hospital bed, and it was terrible to see him suffer without me being able to help, or comfort him or letting him know how much I love him. And then I thought how I must be letting God down when I'm resisting his love and when I'm pulling away from his embrace. I think that just as I felt for my baby, God also wants to be with me when I suffer, He also wants to help me when I struggle, He also wants me to know how much he loves me, and would also want to embrace me already in my life lots of tears, but also a comforting sense of being loved beyond belief, thank you for it.

Week 8: I know this week was supposed to be joyful, but looking at the picture of the mother and daughter was difficult for me because I don't have that joyful, loving relationship with my mom, I would love too, and I am working on it so I put myself in my grandson's embrace, and people who do love me and I was finally able to feel God holding me and forgiviing me. I was reflecting on my experience with breast cancer and remembering that he was with me throughout and I can finally say I'm starting to feel peaceful, I may have to extend this week another week. This retreat is helping me to become me.
-- Patti
Week 8: I am finishing the eighth week of retreat. The picture of this week moves me powerfully. Each time I turn on my computer (a few times daily) I am peaceful in God's loving embrace. I want so to remain there, Lord. I need you to change my heart. My heart is full of selfishness and self centeredness. The resulting sins have separated me time and again, year after year, from your abiding love. Lord, I need a new heart to love you each day in prayer and to meet you again and again in other people.

In week 8 as I thought of Jesus love for me I felt his loving words of fear not to the disciples take on a new meaning for me. Every moment took on a new meaning with his love.

Week 8: I felt I had a roller-coaster week I find reflecting on "God's loving embrace" deeply moving and empowering. I sit back in confidence and trust in God's love. But ironically, at the other end I felt tired and dispirited. Part of this was the effect of jet-lag ... having just returned from an international trip. Part was also being fully involved in a project at work. I started getting upset at smallish obstacles (and there were many!). Then I started thinking ... do I really need this job? Do I really want to live here? Would anyone notice if I wasn't here ... would I care? But then I realise that this is "selfish" talk ... I came here to this place discerning God's call ... changing some things in my life (including moving) to respond to his love ... this doesn't mean that everything has to be perfect and go my way. Rather it should be going God's way. I really need to rest in that loving embrace. That's the way I will learn His direction.

I've just completed week 8 and read several of the shared thoughts. The desire to share comes from the Holy Spirit. I believe that sharing the blessings of this retreat as many have done, brings out many similar thoughts. I've reflected on much rebellious sinfulness. Now, to reflect on God's loving forgivness; His embrace reminds me of my value within His creation and encourages me to participate fully in His kingdom, not to be held back by past failures but to go forward to serve as one who has something of value to share. I sure appreciate the prayers of my fellow retreatants and I will be praying with all of you as we journey on.

Week 8 has been very moving for me. I was mugged at the start of week 7. I am recovering well physically, but the emotional recovery is taking longer. I have been craving the consolation of human touch and wishing my mother (who lives abroad) were here to hug me. So the image of God embracing us like a mother has been very powerful for me, and very

Week 8: In a way, parts of the feelings I have experienced on this journey so far have similarities to what I have experienced in grief. Being overwhelmed, feeling hopelessly lost, over stimulated, and struggling with the fear these feelings cause in the beginning. Truthfully it has been a bit of a rollercoaster but this week has been a blessing. Gradually coming into the warmth of Gods enlightenment, being grateful for what He has blessed me with. Being able to shed some of the overwhelming negative feelings, by dieing to ones old self, allows me to see that in spite of everything God truly loves me and wants me to be open to that fact. When struggling with the accidental death of one of my sons, the death of my husband who was terminally ill, and the death of my father all in 2004, there was a nun who described to me the path grief can take in ones life. She described it as a spiral (like an upside down Christmas tree). As one travels up the spiral at certain points we struggle thru to what we believe is some resolution on an issue and come out the other side to move up some more only to discover as we loop around again we haven't fully addressed whatever that issue was but since we have already done some of the work before, this time it isn't as bad and we come to a deeper understanding and out the other side again to keep traveling up. This is all in the context of our being open to recognizing what God is revealing to us, so as we travel up we are able to recognize more of what has been revealed. So I'm feeling as if I've come out the other side of dieing to my sin ("recognizing that my deepest sin was that I failed to turn to God in my need; I didn't rely on or even listen to what grace might have been offered me there") after week 7. When I connected the dots the pattern always returned to this being what lead to my void which I tried to fill any number or ways. I suspicion that the grief I've experienced over the past few weeks and the joy I'm experiencing now are on that wonderful spiral of life. My prayer is that I keep dieing to self and opening to experience God's graces ever more fully. I feel so profoundly blessed to be able to experience God thru the guidance of this retreat, the insight I've gained so far has been priceless. I realize that as in Frosts poem I have "miles to go before I sleep" but I'm so savoring being cradled in His loving embrace no matter what...
--S usie
Week 8: I am on week eight my two friends have stopped doing the retreat at week two. You are now my cummunity. Some patterns have presented themselves(7). I can believe they have presented themselves this week because God's timing is perfect. I'm understanding it's HIS retreat not mine and it's HIS grace that has brought me to this 8th week
Week 8: As I begin this 8th week I am pleased with the focus. The last couple of weeks have been fruitful yet difficult with the focus on sin. I say fruitful because I know why I had to focus on my sin and patterns of sin but it was not pleasant. I will enjoy this week focusing on God's love and mercy because I have a son who I love so dearly and unconditionally who is lost. He has left his faith and it saddens me. I have always gotten strength from my faith. He gets very upset when the subject comes up so I thred lightly. This week thinking of how much God loves me and my son will be a comfort
Week 8: Usually, I read the week ahead on Sunday. But this evening for some reason, I decided to do it then. And I found out it was Forgiving Mercy. I looked at the photograph and read a bit. But first I made it in a printer-friendly version and arranged it my way. And I went back to it, wondering about Forgiving Mercy.

What will I be forgiven, I wondered. And suddenly I realized what it would be. What it was. Something I had never been able to forgive myself, something I have carried within my heart for so long. I understood then that I was indeed forgiven. It felt incredible. I feel so grateful. It is truly like a miracle.

Not long ago I meditated on the crippled woman. I wondered what it was that kept me bent. I did not know. It could have been quite a few things really. I realized then that Christ likes everyone to be able to stand up.

I do think the world is going to look differently now. First I feel so grateful. Then I wonder what else will come along. What new developments will take place. But first I will take this coming week, as it is recommended, to enjoy what has happened and to taste it. Maybe I will try to write a psalm of praise and of thanks...

Anyway, just to share with you that something indeed quite extraordinary has happened to me this evening.
Thank you, Blessings,

Week 8: The two scripture passages: the Samaritan woman, and the woman taken in adultery, spoke deeply to me in a new way this time. This time I was aware for the first time that in both of these passages, Jesus was “doing no-thing” (i.e. in one he is resting, and in the other he is doodling). Also, in both cases the “miracle” happens when he is alone with each woman, with no crowd around. Entering my 60th year, I am alone, one in being – no-doing – with Christ.
Week 8 Wow it is so cool how each week builds on the last week. Every time that I am able to spend quality time working on this study it shows in the way I feel connected with the Father through the Son. It reminds me of when Jesus would go off an pray all alone with His Father. Those times of prayer must have meant so much to Him. I am sure he was not worried about saying the right things or if He was praying long enough or even if he told God His long laundry list of things as we do. It has helped very much this week to know that God's mercy for me is never ending. I still do not fully understand it but with His help I am able to get a glimpse. I am learning that all the experiences I go through all fit perfectly together to mold and make into His image. Even all of the horrific things in my past, when at the time I felt as if I was all alone on this planet, He was right next to me. Making sure that I would not endure any more than my spirit could handle. He will always be my Father who takes care of me. I pray that I might hold up my end by staying and being fully committed to Him.
--Mikey C
Week 8: Just like several others have mentioned, I had some trouble with this week.
But I had some help as well. I have been trying to keep in mind the reading from week 6 that urges us not to reject the arms of the Cross. That helps me get to a place where I can accept that God forgives me. And when I read the sharings and people mention that they are praying for each of us making this retreat, that helps too. One person wrote that she thought she could hear us listening to her. That was a moment of grace for me, and it moved me quite a bit. Though we may be doing these exercises in different places and even in different years, somehow we are listening to each other. That's evidence of God's love and His presence in our daily lives, yes? I have peace about this week, and even some quiet happiness. But I'm not really at the point of delight or celebration yet Still, something is changing in me. This morning I was reading a commentary about the miracle of Jesus healing a blind man. The commentary involved the allegorical view of this story, how Jesus changes our vision too. At the end, the author asked, "Can we see the world the way God does?" My usuall response would be about how sad God must be when He sees all the violence occuring in our world right now, from Sri Lanka to the Middle East and Africa. (Not an optimist by nature, I admit it.) But this morning my answer to that question was so different that I was taken aback. The first and only word that came to me was love. God sees the world through eyes of love. Amazing.
Week 8: This was a difficult week for me because although the picture and theme of the reflection on being forgiven was strong at the back of my mind was a disappointment I faced with my work life. Finally I wrote this reflection: Dear Lord What's harder for me … giving up fascination with my pattern of sin or really seeing you as forgiving me? Both are hard. I met you in the Sacrament of Reconciliation this week because I needed to convince myself of your forgiving presence. This is a hard step. I am much better at setting self-improvement goals … to promise you that I will give up the patterns of my sin … I know that this is in fact really more than a goal setting exercise. In itself this requires your grace. But what I find most difficult is seeing you as pleased at my attempts at "holiness" … attempts I often see as feeble. This is a side of You, Lord, which I do not keep pictured in my head. It is not that my picture is of a judging or judgmental God. No my picture is more of a disappointed God who requires over and over again to forgive. But you look into me more deeply. I come to see that feeling your love for me is not self-absorption. Feeling your love for me I receive as a new grace. Thank you, Lord.
Hi friends in the LORD out there.

It hasn't been easy for me during this week. The difficulity of most of it came from imagining Jesus embracing me as a sinner. It is so difficult and takes time for me to forgive some1, il rather revenge than forgive thats why it wasn't easy.

As i looked closely at the picture of the mother embracing her daughter, i came to my senses. I started to imagine myslf having done something to some1 else and him forgiving me, the relieve that i will feel and the happiness that bottles inside of me. The other thing that kept me going was the imagination of a small baby seeking ecouragement from her parent, maybe when he is learning how to walk. If the mother loves her child so much so as to give her that smile of encouragemet, how can it not be possible with GOD, who loves us more than even a mother.

I started to surrender myself to Jesus, resting in his arms and i felt so happy being there as i am, as a loved sinner. Week 8
Week 8 - What does it feel like to be in God’s embrace? A sense of peace and joy. I have not been this light-hearted for a while. Even at work. Little joys are creeping into my life in my interactions with my colleagues. I am actually having fun, even within the stresses of a 10 hour work day. This is because I have learned to trust God’s embrace over these past few weeks. I am trying to bring a conscious sense of trust into my marriage, too. My marriage has been the place where I have sinned and hurt the most, but it is also the place where I am finding God’s presence and mystery. I feel that trust is the ground from which faith and love spring. I read Jesus words about the Father in Matthew 6: 24-34 and learned to relax more and not to worry so much. Not even about myself and spiritual growth. It will come. I want to be a lily in the field. For everything there is a season, and now this week, we are into a season of joy and peace. Yet, I found it difficult to leave this week until I was certain I could really taste His forgiveness. I lingered. The retreat for me is not anymore about “weeks” but about discovering the season of my heart that lies within each step on the 34 step journey. I feel as tiny as a small speck of sand on the beach. God, my Father (and my Mother), is my morning sun, knowing me, my heart, and my sinful patterns. And yet she washes over me -over all of us - as the ocean washes over the sand. He has restored me and filled the void in my fragile, cracked self. By letting go, I am finding the peace and joy that have been locked inside me for so long. I am beginning to shine like a tiny star in the midnight sky.
I’ve tried to envision being embraced by God, but the image just isn’t working for me. I can’t picture God making a big fuss over me. I admit that I have my moments of sinfulness like everybody else, but I’ve never felt that I was away from God. I know that He is my father and that He loves me for who He made me to be, faults and all. Am I alone in feeling this way? I see myself in the story of the Prodigal Son as a younger sibling, a toddler holding daddy’s hand. I join him in being sad when my brother leaves and my other brother refuses to come in to the celebration. I am happy with him when my brother returns. I let go of his hand some times, but he is always there offering it back. I don’t get a big embrace or a fatted calf killed in my honor, but I’m content holding daddy’s hand. But that’s the problem, you see. I’m standing right here in His presence, but I let doubts creep in. Maybe I sound arrogant. Maybe I’m not digging deep enough to root out hidden faults. Maybe I’m just fooling myself. Help me Lord, in my unbelief and don’t let go of my hand. I don’t want to dwell on me and my sinfulness. I want to focus on you, to dwell with you in praise, reverence and service. (Week 8)
This is the 8th week, and my first sharing. The retreat is a blessing and an answer to prayer. I had prayed for an extention of lent, because I felt sorry to have gone through so much just to have it stop. On Holy Saturday, I found this retreat 'accidentally'. Much of the retreat is passive. I am not delving into areas, but I still find conversation with God in the background. (That is a wonderful concept - the background.) This week I am to feel the embrace of God. It is not happenning - at least not like in the picture. I had no problem with allowing sins to surface, even though that is also uncomfortable, but to allow another to embrace me - I don't know how to do that. I can not remember ever being embraced as a child. Later on, embraces were things normal people do. So God has to really talk to me here if he wants me to understand. What am I hearing?
1. 'Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us'. Can that also mean that we will know his embrace as we embrace others?
2. Beautiful birds, and the trees. Can His creation be His embrace? Why else would He have gone to so much trouble?
I would really like it if someone would touch my heart - move me to tears. The only person I would really trust that to is God.

its nell from tweed again. thankful for you all this week. i thought last week that none of the dots had connected for me and i was very distressed and lonely. but this week i was well able to come into the embrace and rest my weary head. I found myself doing things i dont normally allow myself to do. i have a very limited pension and mostly have second hand and opshop clothes but i bought some shoes and a pair of jeans new. and the voice tried to tell me i would regret it and had the wrong size and all the other torments i normally go through. but i found i could come as a beloved into the embrace and i was ok.

i seem able to quickly run through the image of being created and formed by god for god and then being given all that is in my world for me to use. and in week 8 i have been again able to come past the sorrow and the failures into some real happiness and peace.
i found a drawing of a mother seal with her baby embraced in her flippers and what i liked was the look on the babys face - which had a combination of relief and cheekiness and a sure confidence that it was back wehre it belonged and everything was ok even though it had taken off some place foolish . i knew how it felt

one good thing is that the further i go in this retreat the less i seem to have to say. thank you for the retreat and for all the sharing by the unseen fellow travellers. my daughter comes to visit me from sydney this week and im sure gods hand is at work in this one . god bless .
-- Nell from Tweed
After struggling with sin for two weeks it's a relief to look at forgiveness. I pray for guidance on how to best the make use of this little reprieve.
Even though this week is about God's mercy and forgiveness I'm still getting new glimpses of sin. I'll share on of these uncovered sins. I seem to have this attitude that if I see something I like and want I'm entitled to have it based on my want and desire alone. Forget about working for it or deserving it. This attitude has to do with material things I want. Yet when it comes to forgiveness all of a sudden I'm concerned about my worthiness. Do I have it backwards?
I think I'm a little giddy from the love of Christ I’m beginning to feel.

Pray for me I'll pray for thee.
I am on week 8, where Jesus asked his disciple to go back and cast out there nets.
I feel like the diciples, I used to be in ministry for about 25 years, my husband and I were very active in youth ministry and just about every ministry after becoming coordinator for our religious education programs. Our church was run by a religious order and about 10 years ago has been taken over by the diocese. After working for 3 years under a different order has been a struggle. From much affirmation down to being put down and not trusted to do our ministry, has left us wondering about our faith and our ministry. But after reading and relecting on this weeks reading has left me to realize that everything happens for a reason, and there are times when we have to move back to see where our Lord wants to take us on the next journey, I must pick up my nets and trust that the Lord take care of everything if only I give it to him and allow him to fill our nets with those that he want us to touch, to come back and feed his children.
I must not allow others sins and my own to keep me from doing my ministry. I pray the Lord will give us the opportunity to continue and to come back even strong for I know that when I am weak he is strong within me.
This past week has been about love. It has been great. I was able to surrender into the love. I was surprised at first how easy it was for me. And then, as the week went on, I knowingly relaxed right into it. I would remember to smile, and I would feel a lightness in my chest. And feeling gratitide has become an almost daily excersise. My life is a gift. How I live my life is a gift to God.
This week’s reflections bring to mind three friends. One was my confessor for many years. His eyes, his voice, were beautiful. When I went to him with my sins, his frequent advice was, “Don’t be so hard on yourself.” He never acted holier-than-thou, but met me where I was and gave me good advice and lifted me up. The last time I saw him, before he died, he embraced me and said, “My friend.”Another was a priest I met during a difficult time. I was in a foreign country and so was he. I was in an old cathedral at twilight, simply as a tourist, when suddenly he was singing Vespers. I wept all the while he sang and, afterwards, when I approached him to thank him, I dissolved into tears again and he took me into his arms. When I bumped into him on the street the next day, he recognized me as if I were his best friend in the whole world, opening his arms and crying out with a great smile, “My friend!”Last, and most frequently, I remembered a friend with whom many years ago I had fallen into serious sin. We had parted bitterly, even with hatred. After some time, I started to pray for this person. Then one day this friend appeared at my door and said “I’m sorry” and we embraced for a long time. What courage it must have taken to come to my door! How I cherish the memory of that embrace! I am grateful for these friends and how they showed me the face of God’s forgiving mercy.
Week 8
Tom, Pennsylvania
Focusing on the picture of the embrace and relating to this week’s theme I found immensely satisfying … comforted … touched. I like to intellectualize things. Embraced this week by God I gave up intellectual games. But at some point during the week I reread the instructions and introductory reflections in parallel with the parable of the prodigal son and I focused a lot on the image of God’s joy at our wanting to be embraced by his forgiveness. I find this image of God’s delight at finding us very strong. I think I gave up some time ago the image of the stern, disciplinary God. But since one of the patterns of the sinful side of my life is to partition God out of some areas of my life I recognize that a special grace I receive is His continual efforts to burst through these partitions. I thank God for this special grace this week. Week 8
I have a hard time getting excited about forgiveness. There's always the feeling of things not being quite right. I pray to become happy, contented. I like the idea of doing something this week to lift my spirits, to give enjoyment and peace. What I've decided to do is to "drop the rope" in a longstanding tug of war with an intransigent bully who's caused me years of anxiety and pain.This retreat is a great idea! May God bless you.
Week 8 I don't want to move on from this week. I haven't "got it" yet or as fully as I want. I feel very childish and needy. I also have a dread of what comes next. like waiting for the other shoe to drop.
It helps so much to be able to share honestly.
Many wonderful things have happen for me this week. Time spent with people I love, doing things I love to do. So many nature gifts, I still feel so unworthy. And I see my lack of graditude. How can God love this?
Thanks for letting me share. I will move on to week 9 as I am.
I am always amazed at how profound the human struggle is in experiencing the tension between God's unconditional loving embrace and humanity's overwhelming sense of sinfulness. There is no way of reconciling the two... the tension only reveals the giftedness of God's love. Again and again, I witness the refusal of individuals, including myself at the deepest level, to surrender to the love of God and to let go of our conception of how things work and how God must act. I think this is because of the great vulnerability that comes with accepting God in the fullness of God's "gifting." Often I see individuals who already have God knocking on the doors of their hearts waiting to be welcomed and these individuals know that they have the deepest longing for this God who knocks, but they are just too hurt, too scarred, too afraid to open the door and receive the gift of newness. And as I see this in the people I encounter, I see it too in my own heart especially when I sometimes feel numb to the experiences of life.
Loving God I ask you to keep me open to your freshness, the freshness of life that you offer.
Just when it was suggested that I would have trouble with the week, I relaxed. The picture of the mother hugging her daughter was deeply touching and loving. I have looked at myself and my sins and patterns of sins so much in my life that I suddenly realized that I was more than ready to move into this week. Joy. I felt joy in God's holding me.
I was caught off-guard with the suddenness of my emotions. I knew suddenly how hard it was for me sometimes to feel God holding me--a "penance" I have actually been given--because I so rarely have been able to hold and forgive. My eight babies all died before they were born, so my life is more full of the adults of this world. If they hurt someone, they tend to turn away from them in catholic community, because doing the wrong thing is against the image they want others to have...instead of turning toward them and saying they are sorry. This adult fix on image, especially in catholic community, means that the hurt person doesn't get to feel the joy of the reconciliation. It may be our deepest irony as community. I am stunned with how much I missed the chance to forgive people who want me to just move on, without me having any of the joy of the mother in this picture. All work, no joy. Not fair. But this helped me see just where my struggle has been. I wanted to feel a physical and emotional reconciliation, instead of a long, drawn-out, overworked, heady-ier and underappreciated one. Perhaps some of the people involved don't understand my need because their lives have been so much more full of the physical forgiving with their children in the intimacy of their families. I won't get the reconciliation that would feel so good to me, but perhaps now I understand what I need more of for the future, even if I don't get it. I do understand why the image was given to me as a penance, and why it is the image I need to keep handy.
I am in the middle of week 8. This has been a difficult few weeks for me; I have struggled looking especially at the patterns of my sins and trying to understand shame as opposed to guilt. This week has been a great comfort to me because I am feeling the forgiveness, acceptance, and love of Jesus through the time I spend in the retreat. I am grateful to Jesus for being with me all day whether I am conscious of His Presence or not; when I choose (or am nudged) to call Him to mind, I feel the joy of being embraced by the embodiment of Love. My prayer is to become more and more present to Jesus throughout the day without being nudged.
This eighth week has not been as easy to do as the previous weeks since it was just hard for me to "feel" the love and forgiveness of the Lord.  There is a song titled "The Silence and the Sorrow" and one part of a line in it is "how a heart could love without conditions"  Without looking at the context of this line, the line by itself took on new meaning for me in the midst of a very difficult situation.   I would like to share a story about that situation.   Recently, I found myself in a situation where I was in some hot water because of choices that I had made and the way that I had interpreted some information.  I was meeting with the person above me but below where the hot water was coming from (I will call this person John, which is not the individual's name).  I had not done anything recently to provide a good image of myself before John and in fact had done (or failed to do) some things that easily could have tarnished my image with him.  However, John rather was very kind to me and helped me, even trying to determine if there was any way that the blame could be placed with him which might get me out of the hot water.  I tied this line from the song with the actions and words of John.  While I know that he is not perfect, at that moment his kindness and concern was exactly what I needed.  It is said that we need to be Christ for one another, the hands and feet of Christ on earth, and I believe that in this situation, John was Christ for me.  In his words he showed me in this particular situation love without condition.  His response to this situation caused me to feel a sense of inner joy and awe.  I likened it to the love without condition that God must have for me.  It has been difficult for me to transfer this feeling to the love of God but I think that perhaps God allowed me to experience it in relation to another human as a gift and as a step to one day feel it in relation to God.  I believe that God was not separate from this situation but right in the midst of it so in a way it is the unconditional love of God at work in my life.
The mercy of God is like the calm sea and the wind in the palms.  It is like the morning light that highlights the mountains covered with tropical rain clouds. The mercy of God brings peace and is awesomely beautiful. It is the joy of paradise. It is a world teaming with life. It is what allows me to thrive because within God’s mercy his love is the most clear to me.

I secretly have prayed for joy in my life from  the Holy Spirit, and even wrote that request down a few months back before I started this request. I need to experience the all embracing love of Jesus in my life and to know that all will be well.  I  live with a very critical spouse, one who holds on to past injuries and has a proverbial mind like an elephant when it comes to remembering and pointing out my faults.  It is so needed for me to feel that I can be forgiven and loved unconditionally, because there are so many conditions that we all seem to put on each other.  I pray to experience the great embrace and complete peace of knowing that I AM LOVED.

A few images have been coming to me this week, that have touched me . The first image that I thought about when I saw the mother , embrace her daughter was that of a picture that I took  of my own father embracing my brother.  It was on my Dad's 75th birthday and it was a picture of such emotion and true love.  My Dad was not a demonstrative man , but very deep feeling, to capture that picture said more than words can say.

The second image that came to me was on the day my grandmother died, as I was at her bedside.  As she took her last gasping breath, she held her arms out as if in an embrace with someone , someone who was calling her home.  It really made me feel that it was God embracing her and welcoming her home.

The image of Jesus running to greet me after all my missteps, failings and sins, did indeed bring a powerful image. I don't often think about how happy God is to see me , I need to stay with this image of God being gleefully happy at my coming home.

How powerful!  Thank You for bringing that image to me.

A prayer
Give me a thankful heart.
Give me a forgiving spirit.
Give me an openness to Your love through Your creation.
Make me in your likeness and image and may my discomfort and dismay at
not being like you  lead me to greater closeness with you.

I am sooo grateful for my parents. They were great human models for unconditional love, Of course, they were sometimes disappointed in things we did, but they were always encouraging us to try again. I didn't feel they were keeping score of the number of times we fell short of expectations. I didn't feel they were going to mete out punishment in kind for shortcomings.

I agree again with a previous statement made during this retreat. We don't get up in the morning with intent to do evil. We try our best to meet needs as we see them with resources as we see them and hopefully learn from those around us or from consequences of our actions about better ways of acting.  Scary is that many people get their "concept" of God from their parents or authority figures that are far from Loving, Forgiving, Caring Teachers.

Thank you God for my parents. Help me to be a loving, caring, forgiving person. Let me look to Your Son and the many humans you have sent to show what that loving person looks like in real life. Keep me seeking You each day every day in the world you have given me for a purpose. Help me to see that purpose and work to fulfill it.
Miracle do happen in Faith filled lives, B.C and A.D.

I am in the midst of week 8. Thank you for this resource. "Forgive me my trespasses as I forgive those who trespass against me." I live in a block of appartments for which I very reluctantly am forced by circumstances to take the responsibility of administering. I receive nothing but backbiting and criticism for my efforts, in particular over the years from an elderly lady who is nice to my face and actively runs me down to others behind my back. I have found this very difficult to deal with, but with God's help, I remain outwardly courteous and friendly to everyone despite their lack of reciprocation. It constantly pops into my mind and is very hurful and painful. I dream of paybacks, but fortunately with God's help they remain as dreams. I have sinned extensively and constantly throughout my life at a very serious level and I am realising that despite this God loves me as I am. Others couldn't "If You O Lord laid bare my guilt, I couldn't endure it". When I reflect upon my sinfullness and compare it with the above problems I am experiencing, I am reminded of "Focussing on the speck in my brothers eye with never a thought for the plank in my own". Lord I thank You for Your forgiveness. Help me to forgive and keep me free from sin so that my I might live in praise of You.

Half way through Week 8, and ‘coincidentally’ approaching Passion Sunday. What a combination! Today’s (Friday’s) readings fit the theme of the week so well. Jeremiah calls on the Lord to rescue him from the hands of his oppressors, and the Psalmist thanks Him for protecting him from harm. Then, in the Gospel, Christ Himself escapes the wrath of his enemies. This has been a hard week for me because I struggle so to forgive myself my repeated transgressions and wonder how long the Lord can put up with me. Then I hear the daily readings, and begin to understand how longsuffering God is. Thanks be to Him for His mercy. Give me the grace of perseverance.

I am beginning the 8th week of this retreat. I took time to read the sharing of others for this week. I am experiencing so many of the same thoughts and feelings. I have many health problems that would cause concern in anyone, but I only feel peace. I know it has to be this retreat that is part of that peace. I always think that I'm not getting as much as I should, or maybe I should say not giving as much as I should to the retreat. But always when I get to the next week I see that I have experienced what was the purpose of the exercise. Thank you so much for the opportunity to experience the spiritual exercises at home. Like so many others, I too want to remember in prayer the others taking this retreat, and all of you who give so much for us. 

I feel so loved by God and others as I meditate on the picture of Mom & daughter embraced in great love. God is so loving and patient with me. I see my life with so much to forgive and find it very hard but I believe that with God's grace I will be able to forgive with all my heart just like I am forgiven by God and  others who love me and also by those that don't love me. As I start my 8th week I begin to feel this great peace. Thank you LORD for your merciful love for me and others.

Thank you God for loving me as I am, and not as I want to be.

On Sunday, the first day of  week 8 in church, Confessing to God that I have been a sinner , I was surprise to realize that I just recited a prayer like a sinner habitually not a true sinner with the remorse from my heart. In the middle of the week when I saw the tree that has few leaves because of the cold through the window,  the naked tree is thought to be much like me in front of God. Strangely Instead of being ashamed ,  that made me feel free and humble. that didn't discourage me. And I thought that when spring comes again, God will give my tree pretty leaves as He does the tree. But the leaves of my tree is likely to have shapes and colors that My God wants to give. So God, whose Mercy and Love have no condition and limit, will lead me to walk in His ways. God will rejoice at my changed mind like the mother of the picture.

Week 8 was to be a special week but I was not "together" as I would have liked to be.  I prayed but I was scattered.  It was not easy to let myself be loved - my head knew it but it was not reaching my heart.  The embrace of the mother was a great help and I tried to feel my Father/Mother embracing me and whispering that all was well.  It did not come easily but i will continue into this week.   There were times when I could feel the prayers of all of you and i in turn prayed for you.  May we all continue in peace.

The  wonderful  picture  of  my  little  girl  asleep  on  Saturday  morning  fitted  into this  week's  thoughts  beautifully.  I  still  cannot  believe  that  God  could  love  me  enough  to  entrust  us  (my  husband  and  I)  with  caring  for  a  child!  The  picture  of  the  embrace (8)  sums  everything  up.  God  has  given  so  much  to  me  over  the  years  that  gratitude  seems  insufficient.  When  one  is  so  imperfect  it  is  impossible  to  conceive  of  loving  forgiveness  that  is so  perfect  and  makes  for  humility.  This  retreat  is  making  me  think  about  so  much   and  is  a  wonderful   way  of  incorporating  God  into  a  very  busy  life  as  a  phys ician,  wife  and above  all  a  mother.

I'm beginning week 8.     I want to experience God's merciful love.  I want to smile and live in the joy of being a forgiven sinner.  The last six weeks or so have been difficult.  I've revisited old pain at a deeper level.  It's been very painful.  I know this is where Jesus has led me because He wants to heal me.  He has also given me wonderful reassurances of His love.  But the pain is still there.  I've become aware again of how sensitive I am, how hard I work to be what I'm supposed to be, to not be what I am.  I don't like being highly sensitive with such needs to belong, to be accepted, to be reassured.  I fight these tendencies because I want to be strong, to not need reassurance.  I want to get a new job, to get away from a very critical boss, but apparently it's God's will I stay where I am because I've been passed over for several vacancies.  I trust God.  If He wants me here, it's to heal me.  I hope and pray that I can relax into His merciful love and smile with the joy of knowing I am a forgiven sinner, that He loves me and made me this way because He loves me like this.

I am beginning week 8.  The remarkable timing of this lesson this week overwhelms me.  As I sat printing out the materials with the photo of  the mother embracing her daughter, I was waiting with anticipation for my daughter to return from her weekend retreat. Waiting to embrace her and welcome her home. 
As I waited, I  read that this was a week .."to surrender to God's embrace.."  I rejoice that I am finally at a point where I can do that, something I would have never been able to even a few months ago.  This retreat has helped me with self acceptance and I have been undeservedly blessed by caring people in my spiritual life who believe in progressive healing.  They have been the arms of Jesus here on earth who embraced me and encouraged me when I felt worthless. 
Later that night I went to see the beautiful dramatic presentation by the Franciscan mystery players. In the play, when Jesus embraced the leper, I knew just how the leper felt! I am so grateful!  I have the physical muscle memory of being hugged, hands being laid on me and being embraced. I now am able to do the same for others and my heart is so full, so overflowing with love in the new ministries God has put in my path.  Praise God for his compassion and mercy! I thank God for everyone involved in this retreat, and for those who believe in the ministry of healing.

I am in the middle of week 8 of the retreat.  I am at a time in my life where it is difficult for me to truly believe that I am completely forgiven and embraced by God.  The reason for that is because I was recently hurt by a situation that involved my pastor.  I feel betrayed by the church and people that I have felt close to.  It was like a suprise punch in the stomach.  I did not leave the church as some thought that I might.  But I do feel anger and even resentment for what has happened.  Part of me wants to let go of the anger but an even greater part of me wants to hold on to that anger and nurse my feelings of hate and anger.  How can God truly forgive me when I am not really willing to turn from my sin of anger.  Even in Confession, I must intend to change my life and turn away from my sin before I can approach God to forgive me.  I do not yet feel that I want to work toward getting away from these feelings but in a sad way want to nurse them. It is only such a small part of me that is seeking to reconcile and forgive.  Yet, I suppose that it is that same small part of me that truly knows that God is embracing me in his loving arms of forgiveness.  Please pray for me.

I'm now in week 8.  Amazing, but I find this week a little harder to concentrate on than previous weeks.  Perhaps being Catholic it was easier for me to focus on my sins than simply baske in God's love.  I am trying to thank the Lord at every moment this week and make that my center.  I pray for everyone on this retreat ... that the Lord will guide us and we will be open to receiving His grace.

This is week 8 and my week to imagine myself in God's loving embrace.  It started out well, I was able to do it.  Then I got the phone call that the doctor was unable to get a heartbeat and my friend's baby was dead in the womb a few weeks before it was due to be born. In my spirit I know that God is now embracing this tiny baby. But in my flesh, my heart is breaking.  I have prayed for this baby and his mother for months now and I love them both. Please God, help this family. Please God, let me continue to trust you despite the tears I am shedding and the terrible pain.

The Online Retreat continues to bring wonderful gifts.  As I write this, it is the 3rd anniversary of the death of my father.  The last 2 weeks in the retreat (8) the story from Luke 15 of the prodigal son has been among the readings.  I love this parable because the father shows unconditional love for his son, and it always reminds me of how my own father would have reacted in that situation. I am well aware that I am fortunate to have had a father who loved deeply and was committed to his family the way my father was.  And I am more aware than ever that my Father in heaven gives an even more immense love.  I am grateful for my father, for this retreat and chance to share, and for my connection to God that is being strengthened every day.

I am in my 8th week and am basking in God's love.. I have always felt somewhat connected to God and the Church but there was this gap that I could not seem to close. I had been praying for the grace to close the gap and I was blessed in finding this wonderful retreat which is bringing me closer to Jesus and filling my life with more meaning and happiness.  It has taken me 73 years and the journey has gone in many directions but thanks to Jesus, St. Ignatius and you folks at Creighton things are definitely looking up and I will continue to pray and work to stay close to Jesus.

Week 8:

I love the story of  Zacchaeus because it gives me great hope that I will be forgiven and reach Heaven at the end of time.

I've been thinking that I need to share something. I am in my 8th week of this retreat. I don't think I have missed one night in getting on the internet and trying to find out what God is saying. I make copies of the sections recomended so that I can pick up the pages at any time during the day to feel some closeness to God.  I am still in an isolated situation with my dementia husband. I believe some of the anger I have felt for putting myself in this position has been healed, silently, but still healed.  Some of the sharing I have viewed by others seems so eloquent and I almost envy what some of the sharers are experiencing. Some of the daily Scriptures have given me insight into some of my own sinfulness, but while we have a Eucharistic Chapel at our church, I am not able to visit there.  Thank you very much for this retreat program. It came to me at a time when I know God was ready for me to have more of Him. I enjoyed the Advent Season immensly. Several times during the season, I should have written to those who furnish their meditations. The pregnancy of Mary and Elizabeth became very real to me and I could relate to my own pregnancy of Advent and the difficulties I encountered along the way. 

As I read Tom Shanahan's words (8) I thought of my own long-standing image of a punishing God. As a 45-year-old cradle Catholic, I tended to attribute my negative images of God to my 1960s Catholic upbringing and schooling. With the help of this retreat, though, I'm becoming very aware that I am responsible for my sinful patterns (like blaming others for my faults, like rationalizing my sins rather than confronting them and recognizing them as rebellious acts against a loving God), and most of all I'm becoming continually more aware of the daily presence of Jesus, a loving Lord and Friend who has not, will not abandon me.

Thank you, Lord, for speaking to me this morning.  I have just started week eight.  I paused as I read the part in "Getting Started" suggesting I sit and immerse myself in that embrace.  It wasn't easy.  A song came into my head: "Purify my heart, let it be as gold and precious silver".  Yes, I do aim for purity, for rightness before God.  My purity is white, crystal clear.  Cold, hard.  Imagining the embrace, I became aware that God wants me to be Gold, not White/clear.  Soft, warm, loving.  How can I value that embrace without feeling love in return to God, to my family? That's what God wants me to learn this week.  I've a long way to go, but with God's help...
Then, I read on...  Smile?  Done!   Recall a song? Done! Don't you love it when God's plans come together?
Blessings, Sue

I am so thankful for this retreat online.  I have always wanted to make this retreat and was only able to do it once.  I am in the 8th week today and when I saw the picture and read the "Getting Started"  I was filled with joy because at the end of last week I had an image of Jesus holding me just like in the picture.  I do feel I am on a journey and at times I feel alone, buy my faith is the one constant in my life that keeps me going.  It is good to know so many people are taking the time and doing the retreat I will ask you all to pray for me as I will pray for you.
The Retreat Sharing Home PageOnline Retreat