Sharing the Retreat
Week 12


Week 12

Week 12 All that I shared in week 11 is now a week ago but the intention to answer the call to care for our son remains, despite the dark days of the past week. Our son relapsed and was taken to detox where he took an overdose and ended up in hospital.

He survived and is detoxed and we have him home. He is hoping to go to a Christian rehab after we go through the admissibility procedures.

The call remains to care. My prayers were made in the night and fortify our lives. Creighton's reflections today about the tempter's darkness is a reminder of discernment. Not going through the rules as intellectually incapable, but listening as best I can and following the lead of the gospel and deus ego amo te is all that I seem capable of!

Hope is best and total reliance and trust in the Lord who, if left to him says 'leave it all to me' in answer to my feeble approaches to him who loves us so much, dies that we might live to see him more clearly, love him more dearly and follow him more nearly day by day.

I wonder who writes this for me? It must be the Holy Spirit of the trinity who conferred and sent us the holy name of salvific Jesus Christ our Lord and our God. Thanks be to him who lives and reigns with us as King for ever and ever.


Week 12:

In New Zealand this week we have been mourning the loss of 50 martyrs who were massacred while at Prayer.
50 families grieving for their loved ones.
A nation gathered together as one people, united to stand firm against the blindness of ignorance and fear. To drink together from the well of God’s love and grace, and to pray for those who died with thanksgiving, that our Heavenly Father will receive them into his arms in His Kingdom.
That these beautiful people were Muslim, makes no odds, we are all one in God’s sight, and with the light of Christ to guide us, we will clearly see our brothers and sisters and reach out in love to them all.
Praise God for the readings this week, they have been a blessing.
God bless you all
Jane NZ

Week 12 begins today.  Amazing meditations. 
First Day of the week … "Whatever is this week about?  I just don’t see where we are going.”
Seventh Day of the week … “Well!  Glorious.  Marvelous. Hallelujah!  Blessings abounding!  Thank you Trinity!

Week 12:

To my Retreat Companions,
Thank you so much, each of you, for sharing from your hearts.  I believe we gain so much in many different ways from each other!
This week I have been physically sick, but I have had the opportunity to be able to go online and read and reflect some. And God has has been swirling in my thoughts and being as He always does.  
I think the first idea that The Lord brought to me this week is stated quite obviously in the title (and writings) of this week, but God needed to do a little work in me to fully begin to comprehend with my whole spirit. “God’s Compassion Missions Jesus”.  I began to fully realize the meaning of this statement while my brother shared about a CLC morning of reflection he attended that I was unable to participate in.  He said that Fr. Kevin Schneider brought up the point that Jesus ASKED the Trinity to be with us! -To be incarnate. In my mind, I had pictured God like a general fighting a war,  commanding Jesus to be with us and He went dutifully.  But No! The Trinity  in all Their love and compassion looked on us, and Jesus ASKED to be with us, with me! With tender love, compassion, and affection He said I want to  be with you, every one of you that I have created and you, dear Kristen, I want to be with you in the joys and the sorrows of your life, with you in sickness and in health of your life, I want to be with the better part of you and the worst part of you throughout your life, and then that you will ultimately be one with me. Will you help me to complete this mission that I have been sent?  ...How can I say anything but Yes! Yes to all that companionship and love and purpose!

As today is the feast of the Immaculate Conception I would like to add this.  A few years ago I attended a funeral of a mother of my daughter’s classmate.  I did not really know her because of her sickness with cancer and subsequent death, but she has left a beautiful mark on my heart.  The priest, during her eulogy, spoke of the Virgin Mary’s Fiat and of this woman’s personal fiat.  During that mass I asked the Lord, what is my fiat?  I believe that night as tragedy struck my family to the core God began to reveal what mission he wanted me to help Him with and I answered yes.  And so it has become over time, my personal fiat to love, forgive, be merciful as only I, a broken, conflicted, human person can do,  with Jesus. I am to guide, protect, preserve and rebuild my family in hopes that one day the hardships, sorrows, and wounds will melt away like snow leaving only beautiful blooms of love on my family tree- strong and  full of faith, love and mercy for the world.

Week 12: In my 20's I had the opportunity to work at a Navajo mission in a tiny place called Thoreau, NM. The most important lesson I learned was to serve Jesus in my work there. If I try to serve people, I get burned out. I got that notion from the writings of Henri Nouwen.

Anyway, working with the very poor people in our own country and learning about their culture changed me for life, or, as the Jesuit Volunteer Corps says, I was "ruined for life."

I have also worked extensively in a public charter school in Nashville. Again, I was blessed to work with the working poor. I also approached that job as service to Jesus.

We're called to be priests, prophets, and kings, but some say shepherd in place of king. I think we're all called to serve Jesus in our interactions with each other. If I serve him, I can follow him and do his will. In this way I can answer God's invitation of love and be with him always.


Week 12:  A sense of alienation from the retreat has been growing over the past few weeks. I find the idea of concocting an intimate love relationship with Jesus very off-putting; even creepy. At best, it feels fake and forced for me to generate an image of a male Jesus to fall in love with; it seems to me this will inevitably lead to idolatry—fashioning God after my own image of what I think I want in a love interest. Inextricably entwined with this is my awareness that the catholic church—to which I have tried my very best to belong, for some 35 years— is lorded over by men, men who insist that their maleness makes them God's chosen stand-ins for Jesus Christ on earth. Stand-ins for the God they call Father. I have suffered significantly—professionally, emotionally, and spiritually—at the hands of these men and and their attitudes and actions toward me—a woman. All this whipped-up devotion to a male Jesus makes we want to scream and vomit. I’m reading The Spiritual Exercises Reclaimed: Uncovering Liberating Possibilities for Women by Katherine Dyckman, Mary Garvin, and Elizabeth Liebert as a companion in making this retreat. I am working with a therapist and a spiritual director as I once again take stock of the impact of parental neglect and decades of sexual harassment and abuse on my work and life, and try to move forward in hope and renewal. We’ll see where it leads. It is no fun. It is not “attractive” in the Ignatian sense.  I do believe that God has given me my particular experiences, perspectives and insights as gifts of power and grace for the world. I got just as wet as any man when I was baptized. It is “my duty and my salvation” to keep faith with these particular gifts. So perhaps a next step here is for me to proceed with the retreat’s invitation to imagine Jesus by imagining her as a woman—or better yet, a post-gendered person. Or perhaps—me.

I can understand the twelfth week, trying to understand the world around Jesus and his fervent religious life, but am failing the see the point of trying to focus on events we know almost nothing about save we believe they happened. I was making phenomenal progress but now feel like it's all slipping away as we diverge from what were very focused weeks. Bob -Week 12

"When you're looking for someone to help, look no further than the tips of your fingers." Fr. Tom Hanly - priest, mentor, friend.

Lord let this day give you praise! I am struggling to stay focused on You Lord. I can easily get caught up in my plans, and leave thoughts of doing your will behind. I hope not to do that. I need to remember that You are not calling me to do grand projects, but to do Your will in small ways, day by day, with the people who cross my path. Help me to be better focused on those opportunities. -Week 12

Week 12: I imagine myself being in the boat with Peter and the disciples.  We row Jesus out a little so he can have a better vantage point for him to preach.I recall how attracted I am to His message.  What is it that attracts me?  I can’t put my finger on it … I know it is something about his focus on transformation … his actions in healing at all levels … the physical and mental barriers to living fully … it’s something about living more fully ... Then I pay attention to His words … he is preaching about God being here now … about repentance … yes some of this is not new … John the Baptist did this also … also many of the religious leaders … but there is something more here … a deeper call.  How am I really responding?  In my busyness .. in my anxiety … do I fully embrace this? Then I experience Jesus’ little lesson for us … as he persuades us to pull out and fish from a spot that even fishing through the night was barren.  We pull in a huge amounts and Jesus tells us that from now we will not catch fish but others for the Kingdom. I see that I have a role in this … I need to go deeper in that role … but as I look at my companions and the people on the beach who have listened to Jesus we all feel some common attachment.  I resolve to be part of that and to work to bring his message more fully to others by my work … by my life.

Week 12: As I was gazing at the picture of the bombed out Bosnian villiage, reading and reflecting on sin in the world, my sin and the atonement, At One Ment on the cross, I was struck by the way the sanctuary of the holy church is violated by the body of all believers. A family member was repeatedly raped within the confines of the Sanctuary as a child. Our children were bullied in church school, another family member became weary of some the "Praise Band" who were making the music about them and not about worship. the relationship with those members became irreconcilable. We became angry, frustrated,and ourselves ugly as we tried to make relationships work we realized we were actually in a spiritual turf war. It has taken a new church, wise counseling, prayer/repentance for our pride, lack of productive response and extension of forgiveness even though it was not sought by the others. The personal dynamics in our new sanctuary are healthy and spiritually dynamic. God used this experience to move us to a different pasture where we could thrive and our gifts received. We have a sense of Atonement in our new church family, we are one with Christ, God and the body that worships in that place. We are grateful God led us to this place. It has been a difficult journey. We almost gave up on His church.

Dear Jesus
I fell more and more in love with you this past summer.  It was indeed a summer of love.  (It had all the elements of falling in love that week 12 exercises speak of.)

What attracted me to you first was the recognition that I received a miracle of healing from depression and that miracle came from you.  I had done all that I could to relieve my depression, but I still wore its heavy cloak.  I had done all that I could to remove the shame of my past, but I still bore its leprosy.  I had done all that I could to grieve the pain, suffering, and loss of my dignity and personhood, but the burden of it would not leave me.  I cannot pinpoint the exact day the miracle happen.  Sometime in 2013.  How do I know it was you?  How do I explain it?  I just know.  One day the cloak, leprosy, and burden were gone.  To me it was a miracle.  You are the only person I know that miracles come from, so there you have it, that’s how I know it was you!  Plus, the very coming about of this miracle took place within the context of charities done in your name, theological writers, and study of SS.  It moved my mind and heart.  The cloak and burden just fell of my body, heart, and mind.  Just POOF – GONE.  That’s how I know it was you!

It moved me to praise and worship you in thanksgiving.  It moved me to want more SS in my heart and mind.  I increased my Mass attendance.  I happened upon Adoration and Benediction one evening.  Something happened inside me during that very first Adoration.  I don’t have words for it; other than love, peace, joy, gentleness, happiness, to the very core!  Awakened!  Alightened! It was you, of this I am sure!  Then I began reading the Gospel of John, chapters 13-17, during Adoration. Therein were the gestures (spoken about in this retreat exercise) where you revealed yourself and the Father to me.  There you were before my very eyes and heart.  I fell deeply in love with you there.  The consolations were incredible, amazing, uplifting.  I wanted more.  I wanted you!  There you were available to me in Eucharist at daily Mass.  I didn’t want to miss out on receiving you – your Life and Spirit.

I began to watch with awe the gestures of Mass.  It was all beautiful to me – our gestures to you – your gestures to us.  I wanted to stay in this world.  This world of the Catholic Mass.  It moved me to tears every time.  I wanted it to be a part of my world, my everyday life.  I decided to make the Divine Office part of my daily life.  It all made me hunger for community.  Not only did I want to be with you, I wanted to be with people who love you and celebrate you every day throughout the day.  I wanted to grow in you, with you, with others.  It disappointed me that I couldn’t attend an actual morning or evening prayer.  I was so hungry for it.  I told Father Tom that and how I wanted to join a tertiary order.  He said, not yet, wait a while, put it aside for now.  I heeded his advice, but I did not ask him why.  Perhaps I will ask him when I see him next week.  I had to settle for the Divine Office at home on my own, which drew me to join the Rosary group at my parish J which has proved to be very fruitful!  (Interesting how I came to accept the need for community and came to want it.  I think Lohfink talked me into it initially.  LOL).

All this brought me to a summer full of love.  I don’t know if I can describe the experiences specifically.  You were present with me.  Like we were in a dance together, a never ending dance.  I knew it was you from the joy bursting inside me.  We were TOGETHER!  ALIVE.  I found joy just living day to day, hour to hour, just in being.  Someone who doesn’t know just how long and how much I suffered from and contemplated suicide for 20 years might not understand the magnitude, blessing, and beauty in my experience of simple joy with you.  There became within me a dancing ballerina within my heart and spirit.  Just over the joy of life.  The joy of you, Lord.  I disliked it when I had to attend to worldly things. I didn’t know how to take you with me.  I just wanted to stay with you.  Be with you.  Remain in our dance.  It all made me a babbling chatter box in correspondence with Father Gene.  What was I to do with all this LIFE and LOVE inside of me?

It actually started in the spring time during Lent, then Holy Week, Eastertide, and then Pentecost.  The Holy Spirit courted me during the last week of Eastertide.  I chickened out on dancing with the Holy Spirit on the eve of Pentecost.  It looks like I got that dance with the Holy Spirit, after all!  All summer long J Jesus, you AMAZE me!  Looks like I don’t have to be scared of the Holy Spirit anymore!

Summer ended and fall came.  It seemed you went away or I went away from you.  Time and circumstances seemed to leave me without a dance partner.  Your love remained settled in me, but we were no longer dancing L  The only way I could find you again was in Adoration, and sometimes Mass and Rosary group, and always in the Eucharist.

I recall the love and joy now each night before I go to bed.  I go to sleep smiling, full of comfort and peace.  I awake smiling each morning, greeting you first, delighting in the thought of you.  I hope I never forget the summer of 2014.  Everywhere I went there you were loving me bringing me much joy!  It was delightful!  It makes me laugh a cheery laugh inside, out loud.  You have certainly made a lasting impression on me. 

Now I find you in the stillness of the winter.  It is a quiet love. It is a peaceful, gentle love.  It brings me to contentment.  It does not leave me so hungry.  (I would still like to experience morning and evening prayer in community.)  It leaves me content in waiting; content in emptiness, knowing the seed of love lies within me awaiting spring.  It leaves me smiling at you in the Nativity.  It leaves me pondering the idea and intent of it all.  The meaning of it all.  The tenderness of it all.  The compassion and mercy of God’s heart.  It silences me, yet again.  It makes me grateful for all the seasons – of nature, of life, of love, of the Catholic Church.

So, here we are, Lord, at this juncture of this retreat.  I am being directed to fall deeper in love with you, to discover deeper feelings of intimacy and love, deeper desires to be with you in your mission, to ask you to show me your photo album, tell me your story, to see your gestures even more with my eyes and heart, to allow you to inform my mind and will, to see the compassion of God’s gesture and his courtship with the human family. 

We begin again in Adoration in the Gospel of John.  This time chapter one verse 1-18.  (Before I even knew it was a Scripture for week 12 exercises!)  I am beginning to hear you, Lord!  I am beginning to listen!  I recognized it at least twice now during Adoration.  It seems to come from outside of me but inside of me.  It is a fullness of voice.  If that makes sense.  You directed me to John 1:1-18.  The first pictures of your photo album J Oh, Jesus, you always pleasantly surprise me!

It is hard to make this discovery without head knowledge.  It’s hard to not make it an intellectual exercise.  I wish I could settle down and draw what you show me through SS.  Maybe one day.  There is an artist inside me.  I’ve experienced her.  It would be nice to draw the photo album you show me this week.  I have not allowed the artist in me enough practice or time to play, learn, and grow.  Oh well.  Maybe time and circumstances will bring it about someday. 

I do hope you will show me the story of your life.  Today, we begin in Mark, your Baptism, and Colossians.  Is a deeper bonding, deeper union, really possible?  Please help it be so.  I am left pondering YOU as the RESPONSE of GOD to the sin of the world.  Who you are and how you are as God’s response!  WOW.  Take my hand, Lord.  Talk to me.  Show me your photo album and your life.  Help me say Yes to you every day.


PS Thank you for loving me as you did this past summer J  forever and always.  Amen.  Thank you Holy Spirit. 

As I reflect and pray with the 12th week of this retreat, I am thankful for the people who are all joined together in these prayers.  For those who carefully organized this retreat and for all those who are alongside in their longings and hopes.  What a privilege it is to feel your presence and what a gift it is to be touched by faith.  I pray that we all continue to be mindful of Christ's presence and mindful that we are all One Body.

Week 12: Lord

How can I resist your love?  I see you looking down on all the creativity and dynamism that surround me. I have no trouble appreciating that. But I wonder how you feel about our (my) selfishness.

Then I realize how much you became involved in our daily life and you still desire to. But I still want to know more. What does it mean for me? Yes, Lord, I am attracted to your ministry ... particularly to your outreach to the disadvantaged and your call to use my gifts to contribute to solving some of the more systemic issues that are barriers to the fulfilment of your Kingdom here on Earth.

Lord, I also recall how I need to keep you uppermost in this picture. I come back to a reflection of Father Rolheiser on John the Baptist. John was clearly able to see injustice and to preach eloquently about it. But however much he is honoured his mission is only completed in Jesus.

Lord, let all that I do be completed in You.

As I am in the middle of week 12, I thank you all for your on line sharing. For whatever reasons, I have been feeling more like that tree, and with “that realization” a bit of desolation awareness ...came to me, only after really taking in the love you have all shared, especially in week 12, beautiful consolation. All of you with your shares, have been the expression of Jesus, of Love, of God’s redeeming power, in my life, thank you. I pray for all of you, this beautiful world, and each and every person, be they humbled and broken or too mighty and full of worldly wealth and ideas, we all matter, and ease each others burdens, through acknowledging and seeing each others weaknesses and suffering....

Keep going and matters, to me, and I shall too

Week 12: I have been picturing your life, Jesus through the meditations of the Rosary Mysteries.  I guess I didn't focus on the whole salvation history, but you are filling me with your graces.  Especially the grace to know that you are with me and are walking right beside me. 
Jesus, you have become one of us. Human. Fully.  You knew fatigue and hunger, pain and sadness, even anger and joy as we experience it.  You knew your Father and that all would work for the good of all.  

Lord, Your life is complete.  And I want mine to be complete, yet I often yield to human weaknesses.  Forgive me my sluggishness.  Here I am, right now,. I smile at your welcome.  Thank you for being present even  though I have been unfaithful.  

Your love is so sweet.

Week 12: Seeing this picture for week 12, I am on the verge of wondering where Christ is these days? The picture did it for me....thinking of the violence in the world and Dec 7 tomorrow is Pearl Harbor  Day and I am thinking so many wars and violence that have come since then when they thought the sacrifices would save the world.  I do see goodness in so much but this picture reflection stirred up questions about how can we and those directly suffering burden so much sadness and suffering. So maybe we have to resolve to be evermore diligent to bring peace and prayer to our own worlds. As Jean Watson ( nurse therorist) says..."caring begets caring".   And that is how we impact humankind...caring.

Week - 12-  Jesus' Mission

    I cannot forget what one priest said in his homily:  "  If you cannot bring your husband closer to God,  then you have missed your target.  If you cannot bring your children closer to God,  then you have missed your target.  If you cannot bring yourself,  closer to God then you have missed your target."

     That's our mission:  to bring the people we love,  the people around us to live closer to God.  All the more if we can bring our enemies closer to God!  And so it should be our guiding light in our daily life.  For if we have missed our target,  which is God,  what is the meaning of life here on earth?

Week 12 - A growing loving relationship with God

     I lost my father to cancer when I was 12 yrs old and so I have very few memories of him.  But two events stood out.  First,  was when I did not take No for an answer when I asked him for a new school bag despite the usefulness of my old one.  This was when i was in first grade.  I was so envious of my classmate's new bag that I had to have one like it.  And so even on a rainy day,  we headed to the market to buy one. Oh,  I was so happy!  The 2nd was when I got involved in a "little accident"  I handed to my cousin.  We were playing in my aunt's house under construction and we were treading on the window sill.  I was behind her and I told her I could push her.  And she said, " Sure thing.".  And down she went in the debris below with nails and discarded wood.  She was all bloodied up.  I fled the scene asap but my father saw me hurrying up the stairs to our house.  He scooped up my cousin and brought her to her parents.  When he returned,  he looked up me in the eye and told me that I had to say sorry for what happened and he would accompany me.  This time I was not happy,  I was scared as s-------t!  

     I had a hard time thinking of my relationship with God.  Is it growing at all.  I'm on my 12th week of the online retreat.  There has to be an improvement.  And there it is,  staring me in the eye   Just like when my father gave in to my incessant demand for a new bag, He has never let me down. I cry for help and in the nick of time,  help will come.  Just like when my father brought me to my aunt and uncle to own up to my mischievous act,  Jesus led me to God,  to His compassionate Father so that I would extend the same compassion to those people around me.  Those times I come to understand that I did not choose to be with God.  HE chose me.  HE chose me to help my mom in her early years of widowhood.  HE chose me to guard the fort while my husband is away.  HE chose me bring laughter to the old and sickly priests I get to visit.  Isn't that what relationship is all about?

       Help me God to live up to St. Ignatius's prayer:  "  Three things I pray to you Lord. See you more clearly,  love you more dearly and follow you more nearly."

Week 12 Sharing: With Jesus in His Mission
Dear Jesus, I see your gaze upon me, so intent, so loving, and so penetrating.  You have offered your love for me and the world by dying on the cross.  God the Father, we praise You, we adore You, we love You for sending Your son Jesus to walk the earth to be our companion and model in our journey to salvation.
I feel the love of Christ in the loving ways of my daughter and her happiness and joy experiencing life in school and in her relationships.   I feel the love of family in my sister’s love and care and in the kindness and thoughtfulness of friends.  I experience the loving perpetual help of Mama Mary in all my trials and tribulations, constantly abiding.
Thank you Lord for my life and Your unconditional love. 
Your love shines on me as we journey in our mission .
Each day brings me closer, so dearly, so intimately to Your loving arms.    
Thank you for this retreat and the grace of surrendering and just trusting.

Week 12: As I move into week 12, I am increasingly aware of how hard it is for me to love.  It seems to be a worthy pursuit, but I feel inadequate.  I give at work, at home, in my parish and with various charities, but something is missing.  I study and pray and receive sacraments, but I seem to lack an easy capacity for love.  There is a sense of reserve, not a lack of emotion in general, but a lack of generosity.  Perhaps, if I am able to know Christ more fully, I will increase my capacity for love.  I have doubts and hope for grace. I want to move ahead in a steady weekly rhythm, but regret that I am not entering Advent at this point in the retreat.  It seems so easy for me to find fault, get discouraged.  Why is that I have not written to discuss all that I have already received from this retreat?  Because this is where I am.  As discouraging as it is to see my faults, it is good to be honest.  It would be much easier if were just a better, more loving and enthusiastic person. As for patience, that would be a blessing, too.
This is my first day of week 12 and I am excited and open to God's love. Mostly I want to love our Lord and God deeply and humbly. I have always know and felt Their love for me. I have always felt my love is not really there. I hope and pray that subsequent retreat weeks will create a strong and lasting love for God and all his creations. I also believe that "When God is repositioning your life the devil will begin to attack" I sense it happening and pray to fend him away.
Week 12 Jesus is in my heart and soul, I can't imagine the compassion he had for the world when he was healing people, the sick the hungry, the dying, people who are spiritually searching. I can only imagine the compassion he feels now looking at the world he created and wondering why there's so much that's without Him. The bombings in India, the supply trucks being torched in Pakistan, the people in South Africa who are without, our own hunger and poverty in the US. I can see God in people, in everyday life now. I feel his presence in church, at home, work or wherever I am. If I'm present and not distracted by life, ie. my son calling me to tell me he needs a new cell phone, or our ongoing discussion that he's agnostic now and not atheist, or the stresses at work, or my beautiful grandson whom I adore, and pray everyday that my other son will have baptized, he's now 4. But then God's there too in everyday things. I can see the beauty of his creation all around me, my family, friends, the changing seasons, compassion for others. I wonder why it's taken me so long to become aware and mindful. Lord, help me to know where you want me to go, to serve. I say St Ignatious' prayer everyday, it's so beautiful. Teach me to serve you as you deserve, to give and not count the cost, to fight and not heed the wounds, to toil and not to seek for rest, to labor and not to seek reward, save that of knowing that I am doing your will. Amen --Patti
On some levels I felt this should have been a deep week for reflection. After all the fact that God loves us so much that He is willing to enter and re-enter our lives even in the midst of great sin and suffering is an awesome proposition. But there was so much happening that in some ways I felt my spiritual life was under a veil. Maybe that is a very appropriate image for the first week in Advent. There was so much happening both good and also challenging in my work life. Then I woke up on Saturday with a terrible back spasm so I spent most of Saturday either in bed or flat on my back in living room. I felt there was definite veil covering my spirit. But then I see that what is more incredible is that God desires to tare this veil away and to be there in love in my life. I cannot respond selfishly to this. I need to respond by thanking Jesus and truly asking for the grace to love him more dearly, see him more clearly and follow him more nearly even if the direction seems foggy.
I appreciate this retreat and the communion with my fellow retreatants in prayer, through the reflections, and through the sharing. The image of the bombed out village recalls an experience in Viet Nam. My hootch was wooden shack partitioned into six rooms, each with a cot and a locker. It had a metal corrugated roof that would amplify the rain during monsoons. There were two steps up to the door, so the wooden floor was about twenty inches off of ground.

One day I noticed that through the space between two floor planks, up from the darkness a tiny delicate flower grew and curled around the leg of my bunk. That gift still brings tears, forty years later. Grace meets adversity. Faith waits.
-- Roger
In thinking about the Incarnation and God made Man, I also found myself thinking about what we mean by God in the first place, how our language manages to encompass the Infinite and how I would explain the concept of God to an unbeliever. I think I have food for many weeks of thought there.
-- Liz W
Week 12: Widowed 6 years ago, someone said to me this week that my husband’s death has made me a pilgrim in body, soul, heart and spirit. (I was describing my recent travels.) I have been gifted with the resurrection like Jesus’ promise at Lazarus’ death – for me a life that allows the broad exploring of the world and the deep exploring of the soul. Also this week, I received news that my children and grandchildren will be elsewhere this Christmas. My home will be empty. I will be alone. My prayer this Advent will be for a new pregnancy, like Sarah in her old age. I will wait “in emptiness and longing” for a new gestation of God’s word. THIS is how I will celebrate the Incarnation this year. My faith tells me that darkness and emptiness hold treasures. How difficult it is to let go of one’s children as they establish their own homes and traditions.
Week 12: Ever since I received Salvation, an ongoing prayer of mine has been that I would fall head-over-heels in love with Jesus. This request is being answered with this retreat. The best that I can offer is that I am hopeful. since I have never been in love before, I feel as though I am treading on a new path -- one that has not been tested, so I am unsure of its steadiness or where the twists and turns will lead me. I always thought that falling in love just happened; the connection was made and magically you fell in love. However, I now realize that falling in love is a conscious decision that needs to be made (We have the choice to accept or refuse the invitation / connection). Then once the decision is made, we/I have to work on it. that thought astounded me. On page two of the guide it says, "...sustaining a loving relationship that leads to self-sacrificing love, takes a lot of fidelity. "Fidelity" is a word that has been mentioned numerous times in past weeks. I kind of, sorta knew the meaning of the word, but I decided to look it up anyway to refresh and renew my mind. Fidelity equals devotion, constancy and faithfulness. That knotes a lot of hard work! I really thought that love was there or it wasn't; I didn't know you had to work on love. Naive, stupid or just plain uneducated -- I don't know; so I decided to follow the guides instructions and find out what I could about Jesus that wasn't head knowledge. I knew that I couldn't physically walk and talk with Him watching His body language, so I did the only thing I could think of this week. I asked the Lord which gospel I should read. We chose Matthew. I am reading it slowly, deliberately doing the best I can to hear His tone of voice, voice inflection, see His body language and the look and demeanor of His face. I'm taking it slowly; praying my way through so that it is Jesus and me and not my flying off into a fantasy world.
I appreciate the wording in the guide that "we are in the process of falling in love with Jesus". This takes away the pressure that I would place on myself to conjure up feelings that I don't have yet -- but they will come!
-- Jan
I made the decision to change my job (actually career), move to a city we had never dreamt we would want to go to. I did a significant amount of prayerful discernment. I feel consolation. I put my trust in God to continue to guide me. Pray for me. This movement started when I did this retreat last year. It's probably not a good idea to make major life decisions during a retreat but I consider this decision emanated from the process started over a year ago. There is a great temptation to stop.. ("OK Lord, I've done it … can I return to my life now?"). But I also know that Jesus wants to deepen His relationship with me … with all of us. So now I need to continue to reflect on further expanding Jesus' presence in my life. I have been contemplating the themes of his great love for us. My spiritual partner on this retreat and I have discussed this over the last few weeks. How inclusive is His love? I find it useful to develop a Litany of Hates. For every person or type of person or category that I might be tempted to not love … even despise … I list but in the sentence "God loves very deeply XXX"). I find this helpful and changes my views in sometimes subtle … often radical ways. I also more deeply reflected on this at the beginning of the week when the Gospel reading for the day was about the Roman Centurion who asked Jesus to heal his sick servant. Jesus did not give him a lecture on the merits of Judaism. He recognized the love the Roman officer had and how he had been touched by his servants' suffering. In looking at Jesus' pictures of his life perhaps the reason for Jesus' strong reaction is that being touched by suffering … indeed seeing the real humanity in others (as opposed to seeing others as "instruments" to get things done which we often see in our workplaces) is what is central to Jesus' own pictures. I am thankful that I am loved and I ask for the grace to recognize the Lord in others and reach out to them as Jesus did. Thank you for this retreat.
Part way through week 12, falling in love with Jesus. I have loved Jesus for a long time, but this is a time to let Jesus show me more of Himself. As I try to be open, I am also finding that I am seeing God the Father. They are One, so when I see Jesus touching people, I am starting to see the Father touch them as well. (This is new for me.) Can it really be that the Father not only gave His only Son for us, but He also gave Himself? I want to love God more. As with last week, every yes brings love closer. May I always speak and live that yes. And when I don't, lead me back.
hello to all on retreat.i was travelling to family throughout week 12 and i tried to have the background theme running but i couldnt quite understand it. and battled to grasp the feeling of jesus here on a mission from god. i suppose that seemes foolish. i could glimpse the compassion of the father looking at this world and sending his son to us . i could see me travelling from my son in one city to my daughter in another and understand just a glimmer of the divine taking care of his loved ones. and when i was with my son and his family the joy and delight in seeing these young people who have struggled and run wild - now fine young adults - warmed my heart.
on the last day of my trip i went to work in sydney with my daughter to see what her daily life is like so i can imagine her there when im home here 1000 kiloometres from her and as we walked through a long cold railway tunnel in winter - this lovely young woman bent to each busker and each homeless person and smiled and put gold coins down for them. and her compassion was a beautiful thing to watch. it was just one element of a loving and blessed week . im glad to be done with week 12 but i cant quite tell you why.
as i roamed over 1000s kilometres here on buses and trains and planes - i was aware of the concept of following to whatever jerusalem i am led to and now i can picture the light again. lighting the path god wants me to follow. god bless you all.
-- nell from tweed
I had a hard time making sense of this week’s material. There was talk of falling in love and of Jesus’ photo album and of why Jesus took on flesh to be with us. None of it seemed to line up for me.I kept thinking about this week’s picture: the tree—what does it represent? Eden or the Cross? And the barrier of yellow tape that surrounds it—what does it say? “MINE! MINE! MINE!” More ambiguity—though I know the tape warns of land mines, it also seems to shout out someone’s ownership…“God’s compassion missions Jesus.” The best I can do is this: at the center of my heart is the Cross. From before time it waited for Christ. Christ saw the barrenness of that cross. He has navigated the MINES! of my heart—all the selfish attachments I cling to—so that my cross, all suffering, will not be empty any more, but bear his image. If I want to see him there, I must, too, navigate the MINES! They will be suddenly behind me, just as the glories of heaven were left behind when Christ chose incarnation. And he and I will be together, there between heaven and earth.Tom, Pennsylvania
Lord, as I have sat with you this week, contemplating your story … trying to understand it more fully … relating it to my life … I am struck even more by the immensity of your creation and loving power. You created a world which could be self sustaining … a world which evolves in dynamic ways. You created variation. Our ancient wisdom texts saw variation as a sign of your majesty … whether it was variation in language or variation in nature. The fact that we can understand the dynamics of most natural systems through the eyes of probabilities does not imply that creation was a random event. Randomness is a “null state”. Probability distributions illustrate the dynamic development of your original plan.That original plan offered us the opportunity to live with you in perfect freedom. But free to explore the world we lived in we chose not to live with you. Rather, we saw opportunities to put ourselves at the center of things often for our temporary good and at the expense of others around us. We have repeated this pattern century after century … passing on our self-centeredness to other generations … seeing our creativeness as evidence of our superiority rather than as part of your creative plan.How frustrating for you, Lord, who only wanted to put all things at our disposal to understand you better and to live in perfect freedom with you. Variation also can have catastrophic effects not only dividing and separating people but causing the powerful to continue to flourish and to ignore the center of creation as being in you. So you also demonstrated even more love. You breathed your Spirit on your people so that they would see the effects of our disobedience and return to you. As we repeat in the Eucharistic Prayer, “”From age to age you gather a people to yourself … from East to West … so that a perfect offering may be made”. The witness to your loving correction is played out over and over again. But still we have a hard time taking up your offer.So you come to us in the form of your Son to show us your love in concrete ways. But, Lord, you are realistic. That event is transformational because He touched deeply a small group of people who saw again your transforming power. You were realistic because you saw that the probability that the rich and powerful and those who thought they depended on them would not necessarily be changed by you in this form. You engaged where it most hurt … becoming a victim to their ultimate cruelty … and then having the audacity to rise again and show that even death could be overcome.So I look at the picture of Sarajevo and I ask … how is this playing out here? I see the depth of cruelty and inhumanity and realize that you ask me to be there with you because if I’m not it is to deny your ultimate action on Calvary. But I look beyond there at the skyscrapers in a city that could be any 21st century city. I see the creativity that springs from that then I see that there we have the sponsors of inhumanity, the indifferent and the refugees. Then, I think of my friend and mentor, Luis, who month after month, consistent with his Ignatian roots, during the heights of the Yugoslavian troubles flew secret missions to Kosovo and other places to try to broker peace. I think of my friend Justin’s father who despite having suffered terrible cruelty himself in Central Africa, true to his Catholic upbringing, worked tirelessly in East Timor and now in Cote de Ivory for peace. I see in these people that your transforming presence, Lord, still lives on.So I ask … what part of your transforming presence do you want me to take on?
On Friday of this week, Jesus spoke to me, as always, through the Gospel…”Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will save it.” Luke 17:33 Then the reflection written by Mitch Finley said, “The only way to be a channel of the presence of the risen Christ in the world is to let your life slip right through your fingers in whatever way you can.” At this point on this journey, I have been more able and willing to let that happen. “I just can’t seem to do enough for you, my Jesus!” Now, as I am assured of His love for me, it has become so much easier. I cry in thanks everyday at one time or another. Somewhere I read that we experience true joy only at the foot of the cross. Before I always separated the two…now they are enmeshed and my peace is overflowing. Week 12 --June
Week 12 was difficult for me. I have a 36 year old son who has retreated from life, fails to work, lives off a small inheritence and does not communicate with me or much of anyone. I continue to write to him, expressing my love but getting no response. His stepmother contacted me to say that she thought I should take guardianship of him so he does not lose the house that he was given free and clear. I could not do so, because while he is self-destructive and irresponsible, he is not mentally incompetent. Twice before recently I have struggled in prayer with how to help him and the message has been "let go and let Me take over ." I have done so knowing that because of family history, this could mean some rough times ahead for him. I have been given the Scripture of the prodigal son who had to come to his senses and the lame man who was asked if he wanted to get well, and then told to take up his bed and walk--both requiring something of the person involved. This time again I asked for Scripture and the passage in Matthew came to mind (most like because of our study this week)--Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how I longed to gather you under my wing like a mother hen gathers her chicks, but you would not. I felt such sadness and compassion for my son and realized that the Father and the Son look at all their children in this world with the same compassion and desire to act that I have felt for my son---but they too need our response.
I did not feel as though I was bearing much fruit in week twelve because it seemed to call to mind some of the same feelings and images I had in week five (perhaps because of the similarity of the pictures for these two weeks).  My interpretation seemed to be of a God looking with feeling from a distance at what was happening to the earth where people were not valuing one another and creation.  From this vantage point, God saw the big picture and felt the anguish of seeing what had been created for happiness and good abusing and hurting and being abused and being hurt.  It just seemed that people did not get the truth that we are all equal in the eyes of God and that God wants happiness, joy, love, and peace for all.  God wants all of us to understand that and so became incarnate.  After I went back and read my reflection from week five, I realized that this week did produce slightly different fruit.
Ask and you shall receive! We have our song for this week. Day by Day. Another powerful prayer. Help me to know You more clearly, love You more dearly and follow You more by day.  Sing that one as you smile through your everyday routines. I will!  Week 12
Come Lord Jesus!

The most loving ,compassionate act ever was realized by the missioning of Jesus to bring his light and salvation into our bombed out worlds, both personal and global.

God's greatest act of love came to us in such a obscure way... His Son changed everything! This week I had such mixed insights and actions... at times looking at friends, neighbors, strangers with the thought that His mission of love and salvation is for all. Why do I so easily forget this in the middle of challenges?  I know that Jesus is there and that His mission is to save all.  I just need to keep reminding myself that in the middle of  lifes harshness, disappointments, and heartbreak that the Light is there to overcome the darkness of my soul and heart at times.

Lead me on by your light Lord Jesus.  The line in one of the prayers struck a chord with me,   "to give me the courage to follow Him to whatever Jerusalem He leads me, today, and everyday, for ever and ever.

Thank you for allowing me to know that He is working in me in moments of great light, and in moments of darkness, He has overcome the darkness and is continuing to do so, if I allow the Light into my heart.  Come Lord Jesus, break into my heart.
This week the retreat focuses on a general view of Christ. The readings I have reviewed so far have focused on Jesus as God, Son of God and Savior. The photo for the week is a bombed out village with the saying about God loving man so much that he sent his Son. I was initially confused by this photo and its accompanying but contrasting statement. Eventually, it made sense. I started this retreat with the hope of finding God in the ordinary. I thought it would be good to attempt to retreat while in the throngs of my everyday life. In this retreat, I did not want a series of consolations that would be granted in the beautiful solitude of a country retreat center. Therefore, it makes sense that I should focus on Christ while thinking about a burnt, deserted village and not just focus on His Godliness and unconditional love within the blessings of life. Christ should be as easy to find in the turmoil as He is in more peaceful and idealistic settings. It is in the smoke and dirt that Mother Theresa and so many saints found Him.

Lord, let me find you in the bombed out villages of my world.  Of course added to the problems of finding Jesus in the external turmoil, I have an additional problem. While I may want to follow Jesus, often I ask him to wait so I can go back and “bury the dead.” I wait the fact that I make him wait because One thing is clear, without the Lord there is no peace in my life. I wish I could be sinless and always in his presence.

Today I start week 12. Last night just before a service for peace at St. Mary’s, I prayed the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary. St. Louis de Montfort wrote some thought provoking (and attention retaining) phrases inserted into the Hail Marys of the Rosary that I have used for years. He did not have the Luminous Mysteries in his day, so I have been struggling to find my own short phrases to insert. The second Luminous Mystery, the Miracle of the Wedding Feast at Cana, caused more difficulty for me than the others. Last nite, however, the Lord revealed something to me. For so long I have wondered what great works He wants me to do for him. At the very beginning of my reflection on the Cana miracle, it hit me: Mary said “Do whatever He tells you.” Then Jesus said “Fill these jars with water.” A very ordinary task. Nothing at all unusual or especially difficult. I realized then that He does not ask me to do ‘great’ things, but only little things that He can make great. It is such a privilege to be an instrument of His love. He doesn’t expect much from me because He is the miracle worker. My pride had again been in the way. I insisted on asking what I could do. All I need do is act in faith and love, as He did. He takes care of the rest. As I enter this week, I pray for the grace to know Him and to follow Him, and, most of all, to ‘do whatever He tells me.’

First of all, in Advent I am happy to reflect the mystery of incarnation.(the 12th week) the picture inspired me about many sins and God's love much more than a couple of weeks before. Pondering Jesus is God's only son and a man like me, I was so touched by Jesus missioning and my mind had a deeper bonding with God. and I came to understand Wherever there are hatred and distrust and struggle,  Jesus is always with us for ever because of God's love and forgiveness. I will await Jesus' s coming and prayer to see Him more clearly, to love Him more dearly, and to follow Him more near

Week 12. I end this week on a high note! At last night’s Vigil Mass, Father John delievered a homily that caught my imagination, and struck at my heart. "Doubting Thomas" represents all "mankind". It is difficult for us to "believe" in what we can’t see. But, when he saw, Thomas, immediately responded with the words that still ring out to all, even unto this day; "My Lord and My God!" I pray for the grace to live my life as God our Father intended for me, I pray that one day, I too, will fall on my knees, and looking into the Face of Our Lord Jesus, and cry out, "My Lord and My God!" I know now that the Way will not always be smooth, that my path will be filled with "potholes", if not deep pits of despair, but I also know that I will not be abandoned, that the Holy Spirit will be my guide, my strength, and my will, and that I need only call out to Him to make it to another Easter, when I will be renewed in the Baptism Waters, until that final Easter when I meet My Lord and My God face to face!. Amen

I am beginning week 12.  Some of the weeks have taken more than 7 days.  I have for the first time in my 58 years felt such a closeness with Jesus. Many things have flooded back about my early religious education and experiences and I am amazed to see how much I didn't see.  For the first time my eyes are opening.  Each day, several times during the day, I feel God's presence in my life.  It's the most incredible feeling.  Recently, I was at Mass reflecting on some family turmoil and feeling very rejected.  I was sitting there thinking about how much I had done and how little I was appreciated and asking God to give me the grace the get through things. Suddenly I was thinking about Jesus on the cross and how He was rejected by his people and He loved them in spite of themselves.  My pain was inconsequential by comparison.  Getting out of myself has been an amazing gift of this retreat.  Each week brings a closeness with God that I could not have imagined.  I never knew what it was like to have an intimate relationship with Him.  I give thanks every day for seeing the newspaper article which brought me to this on-line retreat.

The mystery of the Incarnation (12) became more present to me as I pondered the Trinity looking down on Bosnia...starving children in Ethiopia,...AIDS  in Africa...the family down the block...and myself...The Incarnation is NOW.  The same movement of love that brought Jesus to Bethlehem and to Calvary, is active in our world. Would that I only believe it more!

Week 12, Luke 24:13-35, "On the road to Emmaus", has always been one of my favorite Gospel readings. How often I wished that I were one of those two men! Imagine meeting Jesus in person, listening to His voice as he talks about His life, and sharing a meal with Him! As I wrote this I was struck by these thoughts. Don’t I still meet Jesus every Sunday (and everyday if I choose) when we celebrate Mass? Isn’t it then that He is fully present to us in His Words, the Gospel? Isn’t it then that the meaning of His life, death and resurrection are made clear to us in the reading of the scriptures, from Moses and all the prophets? And finally, in the Eucharistic meal, doesn’t He make Himself fully present to us as He feeds us with His Body and Blood? Yes! Yes! Yes! and Yes! I thank you Lord Jesus for this moment, and this reflection that I know was inspired by You. I love you Lord Jesus, increase my Faith so that I may love You more. (An afterthought). And in loving You, learn to love others, especially those I find it difficult to love.

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