Sharing the Retreat
Weeks 20-21


Week 20

I am working through Week 20 and am moved to share for the first time...

Something that jumped out at me from the Temptation reading that I hadn’t thought deeply about: “…the Spirit led him into the desert.”  It wasn’t an accident, but it also wasn’t as if he purposely went out to “test his strength” of resolve.  He went out led and accompanied by the Holy Spirit, and after a time of fasting and prayer (during which, also, the devil tempted him, according to the text), the temptations we’re considering this week happened. 
And…  Unconnected directly to the theme for this week, a prayer from Bob Hostetler’s  One Prayer a Day blog posting that sums up pretty well how I feel about prayer most days:
Shepherd of the Stars,
Whole galaxies form your royal train.
The countless host of heaven,
blazing suns,
mighty planets,
dappled moons,
comets, asteroids, vapors, black holes,
all follow after you like so many ducks behind their mother.

And yet, Lord, my immense, mind-boggling, Star-Shepherd,
you condescend to me,
to sit with me,
whisper to me,
commune with me.
Such thoughts are too marvelous for me,
I cannot attain unto them!
But I praise you and thank you,
in Jesus' name, amen. 

I am ending week 20 and have learned some lessons about myself that I need to address. It was heartening to read in the sharing that I am not alone in these.

The first is how I can be the person of satan, when Jesus told me he was to Fast for 40 days I was incredulous! I harped on and on that he couldn’t do this that he needed to eat, that he would become too frail and sick to carry on with the work He has to do.
How often I do this when I think I know what people need to do, when I feel I have all the answers! I need to let others be themselves and travel their own journey, and learn that there are other ways besides mine.

Secondly the need for approval, that I am doing things the right way. Throwing myself into action to gain the approval of those around me, so that I can satisfy myself with a pat on the back, and a polish of my halo!

I need to learn that the only thing I need to do is to trust in God, that he has all I need all I could ever want. That my journey with Jesus is unique, that as long as my focus is centred on Jesus and I am following his ways I can never be lost.

I am heading out to reconciliation to clear the air, ready to start week 21 tomorrow! May God bless all of us and especially those people who have brought this wonderful Grace of this retreat to us.

Week 20:

After dawdling around, procrastinating etc.,  ‘doing' this 20th week … I finished it 12 days after I began!  
The last two days were horrific: I flunked temptations left and right.  
But on my knees at the end, came love and peace and grace as He has promised!
I am the Bread of Life.  Amen to nervous snacking.
But I am convinced that there are times when he allows us to be led …
Into temptations in order for us to identify with Him in the Wilderness!!!
Deliver us from evil.  He does.  
Kingdom, Power, Glory, as in heaven so on earth, in me, as I serve him.
Week 20 helps you keep your priorities in line!

It is difficult to not live your life for honor and glory. Even when the things we want are desirable and will bring good to others, we are secretly doing it to be loved. Even this fasting is to get God's attention and like the Pharisee say God see how better I am than he. I ask for your mercy O Lord, for me and my family. Even with my imperfect heart, imperfect will and imperfect prayer. Even with the weak muscle that is my offering to you, have mercy. -Week 20

Of the three temptations I see the lure of power and riches as the most compelling for me personally. I try to spend time observing how Jesus deals with this. I see his resoluteness to be what His Father desires of Him. I pray for a special grace of resoluteness ... Somewhat akin to the prayer of St Patrick in this week's prayers. I also tried to understand what is really going on in the two other temptations. I finally see that what underlies them is potentially an inclination not to put one's trust in God. On the face of it, I can see the mental argument in Jesus' head that there is nothing inherently wrong about breaking His fast and solving His hunger problem. But then I see again that resoluteness to follow through on what He has promised the Father. He puts His trust in God that there will be a time to eat and He will be satisfied. The othe temptation is also potentially a temptation not to trust God but in this case by being willful with our own care. I can see how many times I also fall for this. In my most selfish moments I can justify how I act ... God will take care of me. That's true but what underlies it is a test. Am I really sure? Am I really acting in Union with Him? So as well as the grace of resoluteness I also ask for the grace to trust God more in all aspects of my life. -Week 20

Week 20's emphasis and reading has me silenced, paused, as if I am experiencing something profound and want to stay in it for a while so it does not brush away in a moment, not to be remembered.

I have never identified with the temptations of Christ in the past. It was as if you had read the end of the mystery and knew the killer and how the job was done: I knew he would resist temptations; I knew he was the Christ and could resist; I never felt it had anything to do with me other than further proof that I err, and on simple stuff, not the arduous task of living alone in the desert for 40 days or facing the death he knew he faced, all for a thankless lot of self-absorbed sinners like myself.
A few statements really pulled me in. " . . . if they helped him be who he was called to be — for others." Working at a Jesuit university, I am well aware of and try to do my part in formation of students, faculty (including myself), and the communities in which we work to be 'men and women for others'. I never considered that Christ could have used his gifts for himself and the end game was to do so 'for others'; in effect, we are being asked to be Christ-like in our mission, without the trite WWJD bumper stickers. Very simple, yet the whole connection -- or maybe the depth and immediacy of the connection--escaped me before now.
" . . . living out his belief in his Father and who he is in his Father’s own words". What I am seeking is who I am in our Father's own words. And Jesus did the same, before me.
When I read, "He is beginning to experience the unity between him and his Father, which does not have to be proved . . ." I just felt joy, warmth, love, reassurance, certainty, togetherness. It helped me realize, I, too, seek unity, with Jesus and our Father. I feel I am on the right path. I am not alone. I have been given a great gift.
Thank you so much! With tears, Sarah

Week 20: Of the three temptations I see the lure of power and riches as the most compelling for me personally. I try to spend time observing how Jesus deals with this. I see his resoluteness to be what His Father desires of Him.  I pray for a special grace of resoluteness ... Somewhat akin to the prayer of St Patrick in this week's prayers. I also tried to understand what is really going on in the two other temptations.  I finally see that what underlies them is potentially an inclination not to put one's trust in God. I can see the mental argument in Jesus' head that there is nothing inherently wrong about breaking His fast and solving His hunger problem.  But then I see again that resoluteness to follow through on what He has promised the Father.  He puts His trust in God that there will be a time to eat and He will be satisfied.  The othe temptation is also potentially a temptation not to trust God but in this case by being willful with our own care.  I can see how many times I also fall for this.  In my most selfish moments I can justify how I act ... God will take care of me.  That's true but what underlies it is a test.  Am I really sure? Am I really acting  in Union with Him?  So as well as the grace of resoluteness I also ask for the grace to trust God more in all aspects of my life.

I have completed WEEK 20 and until taking the time today to review other's comments,  it had not really sunk in.  Jesus showed me that through God I  have the power to say NO to temptations.  Jesus was as tempted as I have ever been, only He continued to seek His Father's advice, not anyone else's counsel.  Temptations will always be a part of my life here on earth, but knowing that Jesus faced temptations has given me the strength to not be afraid.  Yes, I will run from temptation when possible, but when I am confronted, I don't have to succumb.  I am not alone in the struggle.  Jesus struggled and never sinned.  He knows me.  He loves me and with Him, I too can stand tall and call out "In Jesus Name, Satan, get behind me!"  One day at a time, one temptation at a time.  Prayers for all who are sojourning on this retreat from Christine in Bethel.

Week 20:  Testing

I am sad today because the priest who introduced me to the online ministries of Creighton is bedridden.  He is getting weaker.  He has a will that when his time comes he should not be brought to the hospital.  Could death be imminent?

This is one of those  times when I think of what I have gotten myself into.  More than a year ago,  I started as a lay volunteer in the infirmary where old/sickly priests reside.  The first few months were really a challenge. Sick priests,  waiting for God's call. I almost  backed out until a priest-friend of mine enlightened me.  How lucky,  he told me,  could I be. Being with them,  trading stories with them,  making them laugh,  at the last few moments of their life.  

Fr. M.,  has become my spiritual director.  Visiting him was like going on a weekly retreat giving me insights and light into some darkness in my life.  The last 2 weeks before he got bedridden,  he knew from the start that there's some heaviness in my heart.  And when I pored it out to him,  he cried with me.  When I left,  I kidded him that we could not watch a tearjerker together because we would end up soak in tears.  

Last week,  I was surprised he was already bedridden with an oxygen tube attached to his nostrils. We conversed about what happened and tears flowed from his eyes.  He said he is tired already.  He pities his nurses because he's very heavy.  Maybe he is still undergoing some purification before he goes up to heaven  according to him.  

 I know all of them are in their departure area already,  so to speak.  But when you've develop a relationship with them already it's hard not to get affected.  When I get affected I want to back out.    Last year,  a dear priest,  Fr. G.,  passed away.  Oh, that was sad!  Here comes another test.  Am I willing to go through this again?  Shouldn't I just stay comfortably in my house?  

When Jesus was tempted by the devil,  He stood His ground and gained freedom. I want to put my feet firmly on the ground and tell Him that I will be here for Him for as long as He will allow me to.  So, with courage in my heart I will visit Fr. M again and will continue to do so until he is called by our Father in heaven.

Help me Lord! 

I'm supposed to be sharing my graces - all I'm getting is confusion this week. I'm on Week 20 and I've been avoiding this sharing because it's another verdamnt thing to get done. Because I don't have much to share. And because it's just rubs me wrong to put it all out there - kinda like Tweeting about what I had for breakfast. Blech! No one cares what I ate for breakfast, nor should anyone.

But it is on my heart that this is what I should be doing - that my holding back is somehow selfish. But it just feels so.... icky, like I'm doing the very thing I'm not supposed to be doing. If the idea is to avoid the temptation to be absorbed in myself, then why am I feeling pulled, drawn, pushed to put this out there? If "The demon is always to focus on our hungers and to fear we will starve," then why do I feel so strongly that I should be praying that my preferred work will get me and my husband our living, our daily bread? (Which it isn't right now.)

Observations on Week 20: I had the opportunity this week to cross paths with a few unusual people.  Men and women who had obviously been in deserts in their lives some years ago and accepted an invitation to follow the wrong path.  One, a group of three older men who had borrowed their identities from the seemingly glamorous Hell's Angels.  The others, a group of three young men and women who had borrowed their identies from what they see on the glamorous MTV.  Lord, when I am next in a desert, please be with me when I choose the next path. 


Week 20: The Temptations in the Desert

Mark 1:12-13; Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13
Why did the Holy Spirit deliberately lead Jesus to the desert in order to be tempted by Satan, right after Jesus’ baptism? Why did he lead him to a place where he met his enemy, Satan? I don’t quite understand. Jesus could have started his public ministry right away, teaching, preaching, and healing people. It almost seems a bit like a waste of time to spend 40 days in the desert. But God obviously thinks differently. Moses had spent years in the wilderness to get prepared for his public ministry. So not only the baptism, but also Satan’s temptation must have been a preparation for Jesus’ ministry. The fact that Jesus didn’t give in and managed these temptations victoriously showed that he was spiritually strong. God had also given Satan the permission to tempt Job. Through all his suffering Job proved to be faultless in his character.
Satan tempted Jesus in areas where he was vulnerable. Certainly he was very hungry after 40 days of fasting and would have liked to eat something. Jesus was very clever and wise in the way he responded to Satan. He replied using the word of God, which has power. This shows that it’s important to have God’s word in my heart and mind so I can use it when I need it. Satan is so deceiving; he can even quote God’s word, but turns the meaning around. God’s word can be badly misused when it’s taken out of context. One needs to see the meaning in its original context. Jesus replied with another verse from Scripture. He worshipped only God. Don’t submit to any other powers! The world belongs to God, Jesus’ father anyway, so his father is rich. Power and riches are common temptations for leaders.
“If you are the Son of God” – it sounds very tempting for Jesus to just do what Satan tells him to do and thereby prove that he really is God’s Son. Jesus would have had the power to do what Satan said, but he chose not to submit to Satan, but only to his Father, God. Jesus knew exactly who he was and didn’t need to prove his son-ship. God had just told him at the baptism that he was His Beloved.
When Jesus commanded Satan to go, he left. Satan had to submit to Jesus’ power as God is stronger, the Almighty. After Satan had left him, angels came and served Jesus – God’s messengers. It sounds like a confirmation and celebration of victory. Jesus probably came out of this temptation as a stronger person, being certain in his identity.
This is a good reminder that I should just tell Satan to leave in Jesus’ name when I’m tempted. I’m sometimes tempted in my thoughts, troubled by negative thinking or wanting to be accepted and loved by others. Temptation sometimes seems attractive and at times I give in to these thoughts instead of rejecting them. Lord, help me to determine whose voice it is I’m listening to. I want to listen to your voice only. Help me to reject Satan’s voice and not give in to or play with temptation.
My motives for doing good things for others are not always pure. Sometimes it’s partly because I want to be appreciated and accepted by others. Lord, help me to be certain in who I am – your Beloved, so I don’t need to prove myself.
This wasn’t the only time Jesus was tempted by Satan. Jesus always walked out of temptations victoriously and never sinned. Lord, help me not to give in and follow my own desires, but reject Satan’s false invitations and promises, put you first and follow and worship you only.

Week 20: Week 20 ends and I feel closer to Jesus than ever. I think about him in the desert frequently. Letting temptations go is difficult for me. This week I can see Jesus alone, sweating, hungry, thirsty, sun burned, wind swept, dirty, weak, almost to complete heat stroke and yet he says no. I pray for that freedom to do the same. Jesus the man heard God’s word and decided to carry out God’s mission for him – wherever that led. The grace this week has been to sin less often. Thank you, God. Thank you, retreat presenters. Thank you, all you that are praying for each the success of each retreat person. -Joe
Week 20 Temptation is everywhere, and it's so hard to recognize. Sometimes things just fly out of my mouth and I think oh my gosh why did I say that without even thinking! Even my friends have said I've never you heard you say that, or you've never done that...After contemplating on this weeks exercise, I've asked Jesus to be my advisor, sometimes I have to ask all day long because of all the decisions I have to make in my job and personal life, and to help me recognize him in those decisions. When I picture Jesus in the desert so hungry and fighting off the temptation to turn stones into bread, I just melt, I'm just filled with so much love and awe and wonder at how he lived the way he did, and when did he know what he was called to do? Was it without questioning why or wanting to know what his future was or did he already know that? I would love to live my life as he did, for His Glory not mine. Peace, -- Patti
It is Sunday afternoon and week 20 has ended. My reflection this past week brought me to the awareness that Jesus was tempted to become like the rest of humanity; sinful. I've been tempted throughout my life to give in to the attractions of pleasure, power, popularity and was willing to sin to realize the anticipated outcome. I guess I knew that Jesus was tempted similarly but he didn't give in. The anguished remorse that he comes to feel as a result of sin is due to my sins not his. Temptation is mass marketed; sexuality, expensive things, a lavish lifestyle are packaged for all to seek. Attainment is the reward for idolatry. We can only gain what we focus upon.

The gospel today was Matthew Chapter 5, the Beatitudes. Jesus teaches that we will attain 'blessed' happiness by focusing on the attributes associated with the kingdom of heaven. This focus is away from idolatry and toward eternity. Whatever measure of pleasure, power, and popularity one experiences, there is still something missing, something more to desire. Somehow when I experience some awareness of the kingdom of heaven through the presence of Jesus in the sacraments there does not seem to be anything missing. I rely on Jesus through the sacraments, the scripture, and the community of believers, my fellow retreatants to encourage me to keep my focus on the Lord of Heaven.
Thanks, you are all in my prayers.
-- Roger

Week 20: I have never fully contemplated Jesus’ temptation in the desert. I have always tended to dismiss it as “of course He resisted, He’s God!” But when I fully embrace Jesus’ humanity - that he was truly a human who chose to follow God’s plan, his resistance to these temptations bear more thought. Even then, I find myself running through a simple scenario; Jesus goes into the desert and doesn’t eat for a while. Then the devil shows up in a cloud of sulfurous smoke, with horns, a pitchfork and spiked tail. His voice hisses with evil as he suggests that Jesus make himself some dinner, jump off the roof, or gain power over the kingdoms of earth. For a man who is close to God and understands his destiny, this also seems pretty easy to resist.My struggle is that this is not a good model for the temptations in our own life. If the devil showed up in the house, reeking of evil and offering cash if I just kiss his ring – I think even I could resist that. In my mind, that’s the movie version – the Lord of the Rings where the good team is pretty and the bad team is ugly and so obviously evil.But my struggles with evil are more subtle and insidious, so why shouldn’t Jesus’ be? So, I imagine Jesus’ temptation in a more personal way. I believe that Jesus knew his mission, and had a good idea of how it would end. He knew he was going to die, and that it wasn’t going to be pleasant, but he also knew it was what God wanted. He may not have known every detail, but he knew enough.He went into the desert to prepare himself, practice his self-discipline and to speak to God. He knew he would only please God by following his plan, and needed to clear his mind and body to ensure alignment with God’s will. He fasted to add stress, to test his will and to clear his mind so he could speak to God. After 40 days of fasting and praying, he had to be physically weak and hungry beyond our capability to imagine. During this time, maybe experiencing some trepidation as what was to come, maybe hoping that he was misunderstanding what God was asking of him, he had a visitor. A lovely young woman traveling through the desert came upon him and began to speak with him. She was kind and gentle and seemed concerned about him. “You’ve been out here too long, you are nothing but skin and bones - sunburned, dirty and tired. Let me help you.” She offers him some water, and sets up a shelter to give him some shade. She speaks about her journey and asks what he is doing out here.As a human, I can see Jesus thinking, “she seems so harmless; surely it is odd that a woman like this is visiting and offering to help during this time. Maybe God has allowed this to happen – it has been over a month of fasting and praying, maybe I’m to get a little kindness before I set out on my mission”.She begins to prepare a meal, seemingly out of nowhere, and with a variety and richness beyond what anyone could possibly carry into the desert. Fruits, berries, roasted meat, bread, and wine that smells as pure as the wine from Cana. She asks him what he’d like, but he refuses. She says “look at this spread, these are all God’s creations, God put these things on the earth for man to consume – remember what he said to Adam about dominion over the plants and animals? Do you really think that I just happened upon you, that is was mere chance that I show up with all this? Merely say the word and these rocks will turn to bread and more, and you will have your fill. Then you will have the energy and stamina you need to begin your mission. You will need more energy than you have now in order to convert the world.”In my mind, it is much harder to identify the evil in this scenario, much less make the decision that Jesus did. This is the kind of temptation that we see today, it is subtle, and often seems good, just or fair – but it is evil all the same.Jesus is able to identify the evil. Did he know it immediately and just play along, or did he find himself reaching for the food before he saw the truth? Either way, he dismissed the temptation…. To me, the third temptation has the most potential for failure….Same setup, Jesus is tired and hungry, preparing for his mission. The devil waits for the optimum moment of weakness and again, pays a visit.Another pleasant person, a healthy, smooth-talking man with high energy and vitality arrives to speak with him. He says he knows of Jesus plan, and what he has been called to do. He describes the future in great detail, the calling of the Apostles, healing of the sick and the surge of followers and converts to the New Covenant. Then he begins to speak of Jesus’ torture and death. He is able to create ‘word pictures’ such that Jesus is transfixed on the words and is mentally transported into the scene. He almost feels the pain, the humility and the frustration that is to come. It is not only the physical pain, but the unjust nature of what he is experiencing – would God really ask me to do this?Then the visitor shows Jesus the future. “You have gone through all that, physical pain and torture beyond imaging, but you know you are saving the world, so it is worth it. You are able to keep your eyes on the ultimate prize. Let me show you what happens after you leave”.At this point the picture changes to shortly after Jesus death. The devil continues to weave his story and Jesus sees his disciples spreading the word. The world is being converted and Jesus begins to feel the pride of his accomplishment. It was all worthwhile, God’s people are saved!Then the devil begins to spin the story farther into the future. He begins to describe for Jesus what the present day world is like. He shows babies being aborted, some of them after they’re born. He shows rampant pornography, murder and rape, child abuse and the evil perpetrated by those in power. He shows priests abusing children and the prevalence of rot and decay in our world.Then he asks Jesus– “is that what you intended? It sure seems like you’ve gone through so much pain and suffering to save your people, and look what they do with it? There has to be a better way.”The devil transports Jesus to a mountaintop and shows him all the kingdoms of the earth. “Jesus, look at the people – they follow leaders! These kings are human, not from God and the people follow them. They write laws, collect taxes and control the power. How much more could you do in that seat! Imagine you as a benevolent and wise leader, not the selfish and myopic rulers you see here. You could live forever, ruling the world with kindness and mercy. You could show people the way of God – AND THEY WILL LISTEN because you are king. My way is so much more effective! God would be so much more pleased with you if you are successful, and you can be successful my way. You could purge evil from the world by removing all that go against God’s will, and teach your people forever!”Tougher to resist?
Week 20: I love the wilderness. This week’s photo touched deep joy within each time I turned on my computer and saw it on my desktop. I love the wide open prairies, and the harsh landscape of the Rocky Mountains – both deserts in a sense. I read somewhere that Jesus entered the desert of temptation as an idealistic young man, and left the desert as a wise elder.In my 60th year – grateful for God’s grace – I am becoming the wise elder. The 40 days in the desert, like the 40 years of the Exodus, are symbolic of a lifetime…As I age, I feel more and more the presence of the angels that ministered to Jesus at the end of his ordeal – angels full of mercy!
-- Anita
This is the twentieth week for me, and I have just made a wonderful discovery. It seems for years I've been encouraged to find my "mission" in life, and this morning I suddenly realized my husband is it! It's so obvious I marvel at my blindness. I have always loved him dearly but I never thought of him as my "mission". God uses me a bit "outside my mission", but He can use other women for those purposes.
As long as I am alive in this world no one else can have this particular mission which God gave me when we were married 59 years ago.
There is nothing in this world more important for me to do than to do whatever my dear, kind husband wants me to do. As soon as this came clearly evident I thought "That's the "old fashioned" idea of woman's place in the world." But it feels so right.
Week 20: Lord, As I meditated on your temptations, I tried to watch you. I wondered … what if the temptations were not that hard … we assume this is experience is really was hard for you … what if it were easy? Maybe I think that because you look so still at prayer out there in the desert.
Then I realize that this is hard … that you wouldn’t be one with us if it were not hard. Then all week I’m looking for how you do it … how you really resist. I see myself …often I try hard to resist just one of the temptations … only to succumb … usually with great rationales built in … sometimes on one of the others. Yes adulation, impact and constantly satisfying whatever I desire … these are quite easy for me to take on.
So I ask, “How you really do it, Lord?”But I gradually come to appreciate that this is not a self-improvement exercise. You are not fasting in the desert as part of some new keep fit method. You are able to resist because you can lay your desires out to God … because all this is part of your journey with God and for God. So you ask of me … not for another try … another piece of self-improvement … you ask that I lay my desires before you.
So when I dream of adulation … it is better to lay the task out to God. When I want impact, I ask God to provide the impact. When I want to satiate my desires I will humbly offer them to God. Yes, Lord, this is what I will do … acknowledging that there are layers of sinful patterns that I must give up on the way … but your encouragement is not to try harder but to offer them up to you.
I have just begun Week 20 of the On-Line Retreat. First of all I have to thank Creighton University for offering the public the opportunity to make this retreat with the Liturgical Calendar. This is my fourth year to make this retreat and the spiritual growth that I have experienced since first making the retreat is astounding. Looking back on my faith journey, I see how much I have integrally incorporated the messages from the reflections, readings, sharing of other retreatants, and prayers for each week. My whole life has changed and I can truly witness how I have taken on "Christ" in my daily encounters with people. Two weeks ago, on my way to pray for an hour in a Perpetual Adoration Chapel, a stranger who had been a victim of a robbery at knife point was crying and begging for help when I was stopped at a red light. I opened my car door and welcomed her in. She only wanted to go home, not go to the police or hospital. The robber had taken all of her money, and she had no food in her home She was truly a victim of the circumstances of getting off the city bus at the wrong stop. I prayed to God that if this was legitimate, that He would have to stop time for me because I had to be at the Pregnancy Resource Center in an hour and a half where I am a volunteer counselor for women in crisis pregnancies. I was able to take the woman to a restaurant for food, a grocery store where we went up and down every aisle, and take her home where we unloaded the groceries (enough for two or more weeks). I gave her all of the cash I had except for two dollars. As I was approaching the interstate to go to the Resource Center, a man had a sign begging for money. I rolled down my window and handed him my last two dollars. When I got at the Center it was exactly 1:00 P.M., time for my shift to begin. God did stop time and I saw vividly His hand at work in orchestrating this beautiful encounter with Him through this very needy person. I was also able to witness to this person about Jesus' great love for us, the blessed Virgin Mary and her motherly role for all of us, and the fact that this stranger gave me far more love than I gave her. I am so happy to be a part of this walk with Christ and am so grateful for the way this retreat has helped me become a better person and to respond to the needs of strangers.
Greetings to you all from Nell on tweed. I wont write much this week as i am away in the cold country with my son and his family. and allowing the decision about where i live to evolve with the retreat. i travelled here with an irishman who had interesting stories to tell me about monasteries and convents in Ireland.
for me the images of the temptations are sinking in and i am finding the retreat very deeply comforting in the last few weeks. jesus becomes real in ways i hadnt dreamed of. since i was a little girl i have struggled to understand something about him which is now just beginning to show a glimmer of light for me. my love to you all. Nell
This week I am to think of you in the desert, being challenged to do things which must be near your heart. You came to us, and I think you were aware to some point why you were born, but not yet sure when you came to be baptised. There I think you were sent a public message from your dear Father, your Abba, where everything clarified and you knew who you were and it was a huge shock. You needed time and space after to that to get things clear in your head and your heart. I think you must have looked back on your life and wondered how you had managed so far to fulfil your Father’s plans for you: by just working unnoticed in Nazareth you must have wondered how you could possibly save the world and teach the people about the love you had been quietly developing over your time at home with your mother Mary. We don’t know at this point whether Joseph was still alive so we don’t know whether you were leaving your mother alone. We don’t know whether you had fallen in love at any point with a particular person, and in any possible thoughts of resolution whether you perhaps you knew for some reason in your heart that you weren’t for one person, you were for all. Your heart was too big for one single person. As God you wanted all to be your children, and you, as God’s Son, would draw all of us to you as our brother….With such thoughts you must have been going crazy in the desert – and for a long time not even thought of food. Eventually you got hungry: After the mental shock, it may have suddenly occurred to you that you could sort that problem, right now. Then maybe you realised the triviality of such a plan: you remembered the prophets and what they had foretold. God’s larger plan imposed itself in front of you, the words from the Psalm, ‘you will step on the viper…and not be harmed…’ mixed with other words ‘I will give you the nations of the earth…’You must have thought how these could apply to you – you could do anything and God would look after you. You could do an arrival in style to impress everyone – but think, you might have said to yourself, would that be what God – who had just called you His son - wanted? If it was, He could have done it when you were born, instead of letting your mother give birth to you far from home in a stable….But how, you must have thought again, how am I going to get the world to listen? I’m a nobody, a village carpenter, I don’t know the famous, the important and the powerful – but then, yes, yes! you must have shouted: I am the Son of God. He told me I was, He will help me…I know His plan, it is written for me. I have studied it since I was a boy…I don’t need anyone else, and certainly not the Evil One. ‘Get thee behind me, Satan…’It is written, dearest Lord, that you were tempted in every way we are… I am. I have been trying to look at my temptations: I know I drink too much wine, but it is good and I thank you for it. The other thing is wanting to be loved and to be assured of it by everyone, but most importantly by one person in particular. Which would be a disaster for that person and for me. I know it is not the loving that matters, it is the wish to know that I am loved in return, which is where the temptation lies.It is desirable, but I also know it is not important. It is important that I love all but more important is that I know I am loved fully and unreservedly by one truly faithful and constant lover: my dear God. He gives me everything – everything, from life itself, to the beauty of the world, to my family, to so many people to love – oh, to so many things! - to the overdose of talents he has given me which I am happy to use for him and for the building up of the Kingdom, for that is why they were given to me. He uses his love to mend me when I am broken, but best of all Abba has given me Jesus who loves and accepts me as I am, with whom and through whom and in whom I have everything. ‘The Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want…’Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you! I love you! I love you always, all the days of my life. I love you, dearest Lord! I shall never understand why you are so kind to me. . .
Two things struck me this week as I reflected on the time Jesus spent in the desert. First, Jesus was baptized—his identity as Beloved Son of the Father was revealed—BEFORE he went into the desert. This is a reminder that God loves us first and reveals his love to us long before he subjects us to our own experiences of the desert. (Imagine if Jesus had been baptized and his identity revealed AFTER he had been tested in the desert—it would seem like God’s love and favor had been earned.) God’s love is a free gift that never fails us, even when we are tempted, even when we fail the tests of our deserts. Second, the temptation passages are dynamic events; one senses in the dialogue the struggle of Christ and his adversary. In contrast, I usually envision my desert places—where there is little consolation in prayer, for example—as static, passive, lifeless places. Retreating into the desert with Christ over this past week reminded me that, while our deserts may require surrender to God’s will, still that surrender is active—brilliantly, dazzlingly active—and moreso the greater my surrender. Like someone once said, “Be kind. Everyone you meet is fighting a terrible battle.” Tom, Pennsylvania
Lord Jesus, I watch you as you grapple with temptations.
What you seek at first does not seem all that bad … at least by our human standards. You are not seeking flagrant violation of the Ten Commandments. What you seek may even be considered by some to quite normal

What was wrong with trying to quell your hunger? Especially after 40 days of fasting? But you recognized that this too was an act that might spring from self absorption. Today we face daily the same voices of self absorption: to place more emphasis on ourselves than on others. For myself, I recognize that I am at my most vulnerable to self when I am tired. Traveling too much … overworking … I hear the voices … “it’s OK ... you deserve this”.

But what freedom you receive, Lord, when you reject self for God … when you put your trust in God.

Then I recognize very well the temptation for power and glory. You could even justify that somehow that would help your ministry. Often, decisions I’ve made have been crafted in these terms. But you know, Lord, how easy it is to enjoy the trappings and forget God. You remember even your ancestor David and his son Solomon succumbed to that temptation.

So you are willing to reject power and glory to let God live through you fully. It is natural that you stand back with us and maybe even start to question whether God’s promise is not too good to believe. You listen to the voices that require a sign from God. But the signs we want are often not the signs that God loves us but other signs of affirmation … that we are whole … that we are valued … that we can get what we earnestly want … but not necessarily what God wants of us … I at least strive to see signs that both of these come together.

But Jesus you show another freedom. You recognize these voices but you also recognize and live out the freedom from trusting completely in God … that today God will provide … today God will offer not only what is good for me but if I listen … wait … through me what is good for God’s Kingdom.

Lord, let me hear that voice … and not the voices of self absorption however prevalent they may be.
At the beginning of week 20, I have only one thing to say: OUCH...You got me where I'm living right now.
OK, the 20th week of the retreat has motivated me to finally share what has been happening to me over the past 5 months into this profoundly life changing experience.   I have been motivated all my life by trying to find love everywhere but from my “Dad”…our loving Father God, Brother Jesus and Mother Mary.  The three temptations as described on the main page are mine.  I never, ever saw it this way before.  The wisdom I have been praying for since 1980 at the Notre Dame Charismatic Conference has finally begun to appear in my brain and sink deeply into my heart.  It explains everything I have done right and wrong in my entire life.   I now see myself as the prodigal son, fully welcomed home by my loving Father and totally forgiven for my sins in a new and profound way after being seduced and falling for everyone of the temptations Jesus faced.  I pray for the Holy Spirit’s power, wisdom, insight for myself and everyone to withstand those temptations now and forever.

Thanks for maintaining this web site.  It is life changing and a tremendous blessing.  I am incorporating all of it into my life and my work integrating personal and professional coaching with spiritual companionship with my clients.  I look forward to savoring and with some trepidation about what more I will learn, experiece and grow through completing the remaining 14 weeks. With my prayers, gratitude and deep appreciation.
The biggest realization that I received in the contemplation of the temptation during Week 20 of the Retreat was that in order to be tempted there must be some level of desire there or it would not be a temptation.  I suppose that I always imagined that Jesus while tempted and lured by the Devil just said 'NO' without any real hesitation or thinking about it.  But this week caused me to ponder that if the 'no' were just automatic and the temptations caused no desire in Jesus to accept them then they could not be called temptations.  That gives me a new insight as to how much Jesus does understand us as he experienced human form.  He was tempted in every way possible but did not sin.  He knows the struggle and can help me to come to the correct response because He is not unfamiliar with the process.  He can help me and does understand temptation and struggle.
Temptation in the Desert: Thank you for the beautiful meditations on Jesus in the desert.  His temptations were more than one can imagine, and he struggled, but was triumphant. He did this by preparing himself with prayer and fasting... He wanted to be alert.  It makes me realize that in order to fight temptations, I have to be aware and alert to what it is in me or around me, desires that are attractive yet sinful.

Jesus showed us His love and the ultimate strength of his love,  by resisting the temptations and giving us the role model of facing our temptations... He is there for us... He knows what it is like to face demons.

I felt great compassion for Jesus, and great gratitude that He would do this for me.  When he was in the desert angels attended him, they were his sole companions in this .  I imagine Jesus being exhausted, and spent as he faced those forty days in solitude.  The angels gave him comfort.

I pray that when faced with daily temptations, I will look to Jesus, and remember that He showed me the way... he will send his angels to attend me in my need. He can overcome anything,  I have to turn to Him more, and allow myself to face what he wants me to face about myself.

May God watch over and protect all of us . Week 20
Jesus was tempted to use his power--yes for himself, but the really major temptation would be to use all that power and authority later on for the good of others as he did his ministry. To make himself the center--to be as god to them providing for all their earthly needs. Then with all their needs provided for,  the people would follow Jesus to faith and repentence. The problem with all this is that, as Jesus so clearly understood, he would become their god. Jesus pointed away from himself and to God and God's Word as he went about doing his ministry. I am a pastor and I see the ways that I'm tempted to attract and draw people to me "for their own good."
This week's retreat comes at a good time for me to reflect on my own ways of leading and doing ministry. Throughout this retreat, I see the many ways that I allow my self to be the center of my world, instead of allowing God to occupy the center. Week 20
How I resist "the Spirit lead him into the desert to be tempted" My Goodness, how I resist that thought!  ...

What is important is that Jesus goes into the desert and demonstrates His humanity.  He is tempted, tested, thinks about what to do and asks himself, "What does the Father want me to do?"  Then He does it. 

We sometimes ask ourselves, "What would Jesus do?"  Other times we do as Jesus did do and ask "What do You want me to do, Father?  Please give me guidance and strength"

Thank You, God our Father, for giving us Guidance, Your Son, our Sun and Savior. Week 20
In rejecting the temptation for expediency, Christ was granted a God-centered form of all three of the other “gifts” Satan used to tempt. Instead of turning stones into bread, Christ turned bread into his Body. Instead of ruling as a material king, he became the king of our hearts and souls. Instead of God saving him from a fall, he was raised up from the dead and conquered death.
Here I am toward the end of week 20, reflecting on the temptations of Christ. The week has been hard in a number of ways, but I have found the meditations of the week comforting. For several years I have prayed a daily Rosary (at least 5 mysteries, often 15). This week I made a new set of Mysteries for myself, the Mysteries of the Temptation of Christ: 1) The Fasting in the Desert; 2) The Temptations of the Flesh; 3) The Temptation to Power; 4) the Temptation of Presumption; and 5) the Temptation of Pride. It is the fifth temptation that I found especially intriguing. After ‘defeating’ Satan in the desert, Christ could have thought to Himself, “I have defeated the enemy, I need not fear any longer.” But this would have put too much dependence upon Himself in His ability to overcome further temptations. Instead, He realized Satan would be back and, most importantly, that He would need grace from the Father to overcome it. When we begin to think that we are beyond temptation, then it is that we are weakest against it. I pray for the grace to recognize temptation at its first appearance and to run from it as quickly as I can.

When I wondered whether to give up my long - desired lecture because of joining church activities or not, When my voice grew louder in sharing groups,  I experienced concrete and practical temptations that want to feed myself and to look beautiful. At first, I didn't realize they really are temptations. But repeating reflection upon, I could find out a reality of temptation in everyday lives. I wish a grace to walk more by faith in care of God's Love.

WOW!!!! From Baptism to Temptation!!!! What a challenge,Such  a contrast,and a paradox of humanity and a HUGE responsibility of Christianity . You have the seal of life!?What are you going to do with it now? You are changed forever as a CHILD OF GOD. You are baptised  and you will forever be blessed, offered gifts & graces and offered the challenge of resisting temptation!! If you fall,come to me.and do not repeat your sinfulness.I give you the promise of eternal life  so that you may live this life in abundance. PRAISE GOD!!! In the mystery of this badge of honour, with my life in God's hands,where and what else is there to compare??

I'm finishing week 20. This has been the most powerful week for me. I've always struggled with Jesus being truly human and truly divine.  I guess what I believed was that Jesus was divine, only he walked around in a human body. I never really grasped the concept that He was tempted until I meditated on this. It never dawned on me there was any real possibility that Jesus could have given in to the temptation, until I sat and thought about what the experience of being tempted was like for me. The desire, the  attraction, the feeling of weakness to give in, the struggle, the rationalizing that happens when you are tempted and that you can't be tempted by something that does'nt appeal to you. Now I understand what it means Jesus was like us in all ways but sin. Now I can absorb that He   loves me and understands and forgives me. My prayer is that all who are seeking will experience His overwhelming love.

During week  20  of  the  retreat  I  was  given  a  box  of  chocolates  by  a  friend. The  temptation  to  eat  several  of  these  delicious  bon  bons  was  given  into  even  though  I  kept  trying  not  to  eat  more  than  3  at  a  time!  How  difficult  it  must  have  been  for  Jesus  when  he  was  tempted  in  the  desert.  I  kept  thinking  about  this  as  I  seemed  incapable  of  resistance  to  such  a  tiny  temptation.  Presumably  if  Christ  had  succumbed  to  Satan  we  would  not  be redeemed.  How  grateful  we  should  be  to  the  great  moral  strength  that  Jesus  displays.  Oh  that  we  could  follow  Him  more  closely but  my  weakness  is  so  great  as  is  my  need  for  Him.  Only  through  our  brother  can  any  weaknesses  be  overcome  as  this  so  clearly  shows  in  the  retreat.

The 20th week.  This is the first time that I can truly relate to Jesus' humanity, He was tempted He made a choice, I too can now make choices that are empowered by the knowledge that I am not alone.  To embrace my own humanity and depend on God to give me a new heart so that I also can love. To trust that by turning over temptations to God brings me that much closer to that which I truly am, a work in progress.  What a privilege to be graced with this "Retreat".

I continue on week 20 reflecting on Jesus' temptation in the desert; how he was tempted to use his gifts and power for his own good rather that to serve the purpose he was sent to this world to achieve.  I so often use my own gifts to satisfy my ego; to win praise from others. I struggle with this, but yet I know when I do choose to simply allow God to work through me, the inner joy I experience is so much greater than when I receive praise from others.  I am slowly beginning to absorb the fact that my self worth comes from inside of me; that my value is being a beloved child of God so precious that Jesus died forf me.  As I meditate on Jesus' temptation int he desert, I am strengthened and encouraged to believe that God will give me the grace to recognize my own temptations and will also give me the grace to choose his way.. To my fellow retreatants - you are in my prayers today.  May God continue to bless all of us and help us to get what He wants to give us this week.

Week 21

Semana 21: Estuve absorbida por el trabajo y la dispersión,
Tuve la visita de dos personas que como envíados de Dios me hicieron caer en la cuenta de lo lejos que estoy de imitar a Jesús y con la lectura de la semana 21 me sentí animada a retomar mi retiro,
Y con ello la responsabilidad de mí vida.
Rueguen por mi.

Week 21

My husband and me are struggling with our son's addiction. however through great effort, which is exhausting, we are having psychiatric help for him. Instead of being grateful the reaction is lack of sleep, anxiety and stress.

Overtired I wonder what I wrote in the last sharing and see week 22 refers to my encounter with the Lord last week, as he took up the scroll in the synagogue. Surprise surprise.

Because I am weak and sure thing a sinner loved by God I am tempted not to go to mass, irritated in measure by a member of our tiny congregation, three or four or five or six in toto. He shouts out loud at every mass the responses, his wife rings with great vigour the bell at the consecration making me jump!

Why did Jesus choose fishermen? Fishermen go out each day and never know how much fish they will catch. Theirs is a patient profession. Theirs is a profession of waiting. Theirs is a profession of knowing the signs, good weather, bad weather. Theirs is a profession of getting caught in a bad storm and surviving or not. Theirs is a profession of being lost at sea and being found or not. Theirs is a profession of gratitude for a big catch. Theirs is a profession of gratitude  for a small catch. Theirs is a profession of no catch and beginning again tomorrow, hopeful. Theirs is a profession of hope. Theirs is a humble profession. They smell like the sea, but yet they are awaited on shore as providers of needed food. That is why He chose fishermen. -Week 21

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 21

Week 21-When I first looked at the photo for this week I gave a little chuckle. You see so many "message" tshirts today! I pondered on this for a few days and it came to me that our lives tell people what we believe about God without us saying a word. Later in the week I began to ask myself what would I say if someone came up to me and said "tell me about God". Would my excitement and love for God come through the words? I pray that the Holy Spirit would provide just the right words for the questioner!
As I reflected on Jesus calling his disciples I could not find any common thread or trait that Jesus was looking for in a follower. It seems as if He chose people randomly. (We do not hear about any of the ones who did not answer the call.) I concluded that Jesus could use anyone who answers the call. Everyone is qualified to be a follower of Jesus-even the most unlikely sinners. It does not depend on the talents and skills of the disciples but on the grace and mercy of the One who calls. -MA

I'm on week 21 of the online retreat and only shared the first week.
As I continue practicing the retreat on a daily basis, I'm becoming more and more grateful for its existence. I have long been distanced from my faith of birth and through the retreat I'm reconnecting not only to my church but to God, Jesus and my fellow beings. Thank you Creighton! And thank God for making this gift possible.

Week 21:
Lord I want to follow you, learn more, understand more, grow closer to you.  I'm sorry for my weakness, distractedness and doubt.  I sometimes think I'm my worst enemy, and I seem so often ill! But I'm still here at week 21, doing my daily reading and trying, hoping.  Please help me to do better, Lord.  I suppose part of me wants to wake up transformed into some kind of amazing leader/preacher figure doing amazing things for you.  Maybe that has been my idea of a good Christian, a good servant.  But maybe I should think about a quieter, different kind of service.  Perhaps through my work as a counsellor, even though it's not 'Christian' counselling .... does that count, Lord? I am trying to help people who are broken, to show them compassion.  Does that mean I'm doing it to you too?  My Sunday School work is so valuable to me, it's such a privilege to work with the young people, but I sometimes feel inadequate, are we too basic, not challenging enough? Do I challenge my own child enough?  Is that how I could best serve you, Lord?  Town Pastors - I haven't done this for a while because I have been too ill, but maybe I haven't rushed to restart because I have felt disappointed, I thought I was part of something but no-one seemed to notice or care that I was ill, there wasn't the fellowship that I thought was there.  Should I move beyond my own selfish feelings and give it another try, or should I do something different?   What?  I have felt drawn towards Theological College, but I feel so weak, so unworthy of that, would I be up to it?  Would I be able to cope with difficult parishioners? Would I want to?  Lord, please show me what's next for me, help me continue being honest with you and with myself.  Today I looked up one of the suggested readings, Mark 3:13-19, and the footnote in my bible said this : "Don't disqualify yourself from service to God!  Being a good disciple is simply a matter of following Jesus with a willing heart".  So I will start from there and just trust you to work in my life as you think best.   Thank you for this retreat, and for all the people  whose generous sharings have meant so much to me. Amen.  Penny from England.

Week 21 - Jesus Calls Others to Join Him/  Being Drawn to Him

Somebody sent me this message:  "  If somebody asks you what you do for a living,  tell him you make other people happy."  That is it.  That's how Jesus calls me to join Him. Not in some high places in the corporate ladder,  not as an entrepreneur  or a big time fellow who earns billions.  HE calls me to be a mother and a wife,    a friend and a lay volunteer in the infirmary where old and sickly priests reside.  The last one,  being a lay volunteer,  is the new call of Jesus. The infirmary where He draws me every day to trade stories with our priests.  I think I get more from these daily visits than they do from me.  They have become my friends and as my friends who have more wisdom than I have they never fail to direct me to the right path.

Amazing grace is what I call it.  

Week 21:As I read over the "Getting Started This Week", I was troubled by the part saying, "If the other I love is in poverty or suffers or is rejected, I no longer want to stand apart so as to shield myself from the experience. It becomes natural for me to see the poverty or suffering or rejection as part of our relationship. I simply want to be with the one I love." I often have trouble with the concept of poverty in my own life. If it were for me, I would be a volunteer my entire life, as I have already been for over two years of my life in domestic and international volunteer programs. However, I notice that I still have to depend financially on my family in the "in between" times when I am not volunteering. Furthermore, I don't have my own health insurance and I couldn't afford to live on my own or to buy many of the amenities most friends my age have. I feel that if I decided to be a volunteer as my life's work that I would be a burden on my family members who work full time and have families. It makes me feel irresponsible for not getting a full-time job and start earning money to support myself. In addition, when I think about the people I serve, I think how much most of them would jump at the opportunity to make money like I can.
In sum, by poverty, are you referring to spiritual poverty, and, if necessary, material poverty? I suppose I could live without things like health insurance, but after awhile it doesn't feel good to have to rely on your parents and others for it and other things that I sense I should be able to pay for on my own now.

Week 21:  I think that Jesus saw a trait in each of his apostles that would help them to carry out His will and to build the kingdom.  Perhaps it was determination, or a loud voice that would carry, or a charismatic presence.  They each did the best they could to carry the message of Jesus.

I had a moment of grace thinking about this.  In 2004 I found out that my Dad had dementia, and 2 weeks later my mother passed away.  I felt the call to help my Dad out.  He lived a 3 hour drive from where I lived.  In the summer of 2005 I decided, with my husbands backing, to move into my Dad's house 5 days a week and care for him.  I gave up my job, my 401k, my health care, and saw my husband only on the weekends when another caregiver took care of Dad.  The call for me was not on the phone or Internet nor in the mail.  The call for me came in the form of a small very quiet voice or urging to do this.  I was my Dad's primary care giver from  the summer of 2005 until February 26, 2008 when he passed into God's arms.  It was the best, the hardest, and the most rewarding job I ever had. 

I have found out that answering the call is always the best way.  If I try to ignore the call it always goes badly for me.  However when I do what I am asked the results are astounding, absolutely astounding, better by far than anything I could dream up.  I was given all I needed to do the job I was called to, even though when I said yes I had no idea how I would get through the whole thing.

Please pray for me as I do for all of you.


Week 21: So this is the first time I've written about the retreat, but I have been moved by the last few weeks. Finally I understand the phrase ' you have a friend in Jesus'. Jesus always seemed out of touch to me, beyond my reach (read comprehension). Was I to love him above God and the Holy Spirit? What was all the hoopla about? Then in a moment of clarity it came to me. He is there to lead me to God. He is like the person you meet and can't get enough of, some sort of attract that makes you want to spend time with them, to get to know them better. The novelty of something different. What makes them tick?
Now I am beginning to feel the same attraction towards Jesus. This outpouring of friendliness and love, an interest in me. How can I be more like Him? How can I emulate his behaviours and beliefs? Be more like Him? So here is the challenge. To learn more about Him so that I can apply His ways to my life. Onward ho!

Week 21: Jesus calls others to join him
Mark 1:16-20; Matthew 9:9-13
As far as I know, at the time when Jesus lived it was common for a person to choose the Rabbi they wanted to learn from. The Rabbi could decide whether they accepted that person as a disciple or not. Jesus was different. He was the one who chose his disciples. Was that maybe one of the reasons why they followed him immediately and didn’t hesitate to leave everything behind? Or had they already heard quite a bit about Jesus’ deeds and teaching before that? It’s quite amazing that they just left their fishing boats and nets and followed him. It must have been a special, unusual honor to be called by a Rabbi.
Jesus chose simple, uneducated working people like fishermen and despised people like tax collectors. Was that unusual? What kind of people usually studied with a Rabbi? Obviously “righteous” people, but Jesus came to call sinners - people who are not good enough in other people’s eyes.
Luke 5:1-11
The amazing catch of fish showed Simon who he was – a sinful man – and who Jesus was – a person from God. Jesus used the example of Simon’s profession: instead of fish Simon would catch people. Simon was willing to change his job from catching fish to people. This reminds me that I quit my work at the bank a few years ago to go into missions and put my “savings” into the eternal bank of heaven. I haven’t regretted it!
John 1:35-42
John the Baptist pointed his disciples toward Jesus and didn’t keep them to himself. Andrew took his brother Simon to Jesus and introduced him to the Messiah. I also want to be a person who points and takes others to Jesus.
Mark 3:13-19; Luke 9:1-6
Jesus appointed his disciples. Appointed – the verse came to my mind that was given to me years ago regarding my calling to missions: “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last.” (John 15:16)
It wasn’t my own idea to go into missions, but God’s calling. The purpose of being appointed is to bring lasting fruit.
Jesus sent his disciples out to preach and heal the sick, and gave them the authority to drive out demons. Many people must have been demon-possessed at that time as this is especially mentioned. Truth and power encounter! From my background I only know the preaching part, but in Asia demons are also more common. I haven’t driven out any demons yet. Lord, give me faith in you and in the authority you give your followers to drive out demons in your name if I ever get into that situation!
Why should the disciples not take anything on their journey? Was it common hospitality at that time to host travelers? Nowadays everyone takes their own stuff that they need along …
Luke 10:1-12
Jesus appointed six times as many disciples to be in his wider circle – 72. Again people didn’t choose to follow him, but he was the one who chose his disciples. He sent them out in twos, not alone. It’s easier to minister together and face difficulties and rejection in twos rather than alone. Also, it’s not just an easy game to drive out demons and heal people. I’m thankful for my team as I wouldn’t want to work alone in missions.
Jesus sent his disciples ahead of him to prepare the way. This way he already knew before he arrived which villages and people were open and receptive to his message. If people were open, the disciples were told to stay and if not, to leave. Jesus didn’t and doesn’t force himself on anybody, it’s a free choice.
“The kingdom of God is near you” was their message. Jesus brought God’s kingdom into this world, and those who received him could enter his kingdom.
Luke 9: 57-62
Interesting that Jesus turned some people away – probably those who had wrong expectations. Others who he called were not ready to leave their family and follow him. When Jesus calls people, he wants them to follow him now and not much later after they have first done this and that. When people have excuses, it shows that they consider other things more important than following Jesus.
Training by sharing life – that’s the way Jesus trained his disciples, not by sending them to a Bible college. The lives of mature Christians can leave a strong and lasting impression on people – often more than books. Sharing practical life rather than teaching just theory! I have learned a lot from others by watching their lives and wanting to imitate them. In the same way I can invest in other people’s lives and disciple them by sharing my life with them. Lord, guide me in the choice of my mentors and “disciples”!

Week 21: Throughout the week I have had a difficult time trying to enter into any of the scenes. I thought the week was fruitless. I read all the readings but could only process the readings about Jesus recruiting Andrew, Peter, James, John and Matthew.Today I focus on the social network; I am amazed by the importance of John the Baptist. John gave up his status as the son of Zachariah, lived in the desert, and prepared the way. Andrew followed him. John pointed out Jesus to Andrew. Then Andrew followed Jesus and recognized him as the Messiah. Later, Andrew spent time with Jesus. He talked about Jesus and introduced Simon to him. James and John fished with Andrew and Simon. They heard all that Andrew had to say and his witness must have been very convincing because when Jesus invited the four of them, they all left – maybe not knowing that they would not return to full time fishermen. They left their unprocessed fish and unrepaired nets while the workers watched with wonder; Zebedee (John and James father) also watched with his shock showing and probably p otesting (as dads might do). The fish would still get processed, the nets would get repaired and someone would work in the boats – even though four key players were missing. It turns out that the four devoted the rest of their lives to follow Jesus – eventually giving up all their status as John the Baptist had done. These four followed Jesus as he preached and healed; his fame grew. The region had heard about him and I suspect that Matthew was listening because many people would tell about what they heard and saw. Then Matthew joined the four – leaving his tax booth. Probably someone continued Matthew’s tax collection business, but Matthew eventually would give up his financial status. It seems that these five, because of their social network and the network’s storytelling, heard a message, listened, and then acted. Small steps at first with each step leading to eventual total commitment. Maybe they were always thinking that they could return as workers (at least) to their former livelihoods.I pray for the grace that I can do the same: continue to be around those that tell the story, listen to them and keep acting the best that I can. Please join me in this prayer. -Joe
Week 21: I feel, as I am still in the middle of this week, that I am actually in less clarity than a few weeks ago. Here it is--Lent. I feel more overwhelmed by my "outside life," less spiritually tuned, and seriously confused by what I "ought" to be experiencing right now. It is as though I am trying to grasp a wave. I read the word "transformed" and long for a sense of change. I pray the words to my Lord and Christ, and feel like they are bouncing back against me. There is much need for transformation. I give you my all, Lord. Please take me, Lord. Love me, Lord. Re-make and re-mold, Lord. I am willing, but apparently I am blind. I ache for your love and your call, Jesus. Help me to fight against the walls of the life I live, for they are pressing in on me, threatening to take over. Those of you who are out there, praying and working through this week, I pray for you and celebrate your growth and joy. God bless each of you. I do feel our connection.
Week 21 Dearest Lord, take my hand, I am yours, lead me on. This week’s calling to grace, for myself, was the gift of intimacy, becoming aware of Jesus’ reverence, laboring, loyalty and faithfulness to me during my 64 years on this earth. Jesus before me, Jesus behind me, Jesus beside me. Wow! Awesome, tears of immense gratitude, clarity, consciousness, accountability and responsibility of His Call, I remained a week longer on 21 um! Oh I must now follow, the Way, the Truth and the Light one day at a time, one more week at a time. I march onward in all my poverty, to know Jesus more, to love Him more, and to serve Him more, all for God’s greater glory Amen. There but for the grace of God go I. God Bless and is with All on the journey. Gratefully and lovingly yours.
Week 21: I am in wonderment at how The Lord must be working in my life, for it can not all be coincidence. So to start. Last week I wrote a sharing about being tempted to sin in living life, so I wanted to stay in my own little world of imaginings and self pity. I did conclude with the uplifting thought that it might be a great endeavor to be a Statesman in the Lord's kingdom. Now what I had meant was really to be more of a citizen of the Kingdom where there might be one or two others to be with, in a kind of earthly circle of a few friends to share with.
Not to be. Maybe a Citizen but not what or where I had envisioned in looking back at this past week. First, I read a news release for the Passion of Christ and how the German SS had murdered two adults and a child to show the other prisoners in a death camp that there was no God. The conclusion of the story had someone pointing to the child and asking, "Where is your God." And the answer was, "He is there on the Gallows!" And this was in keeping with the theme that where there is suffering, there is Christ.

Then against what I had wanted, I was called to be a hall monitor for the CCD kids when they went to the Penance Service at Church. I got to talking to one of the teachers and the conversation led to my giving the retreat address to him and he will check it out. A calling and me an instrument? I don't know but he is a good man and if the retreat is right for him, I pray that he will persevere in it.

And again against what I wanted, I will be taking a more active part in the the Holy Week Services. OH Lord, I truly wanted less not more. And in his homily for the weekend, Father told the original story of the SS murdering those three people, and adding, the personal connotation of where is your own God. I can only answer that God is calling each of us, and each of us is being called, to the Little and to the Great. I pray that I might answer my calls in consonance with God's Will for me, for He wills Good for His Creation. And maybe, to love and desire the Good, is to love and desire Jesus Himself.

You may use my first name for the sharing, and I'll add a sincere Thank You All for making this retreat available and possible, Thank You.

Week 21: My mind kept coming back this week to last week's reflection on the temptations. I was much more aware when I was acting in ways which promoted my position or self interest ... much more aware of when it was my own selfish desires that were driving my actions. Then I saw in the reading that when Jesus called people he called them as they were ... right there and then. They follow ... they are immediately attracted. There are no promises either way. So I ask Jesus to accept me now ... here ... as I am. The only promise I can make is to agree to listen more attentively to His daily proddings.

Week 21: This week, I had my mid-year review at work. I really dislike appraisals in my current firm because I think they are conducted in a very coercive, top-down way. I have had other employers who have approached them in a far more collaborative and less intimidating way, encouraging the employee to reflect on their own work and set their own priorities for improvement. So I was dreading my interview with my boss, and I realised I was fretting and letting it distract me from my tasks. Then I thought of this week's theme of experiencing Jesus with us as we go about our business. How would I respond if it were Jesus rather than my boss giving me the review? I hope I would listen and take his uggestions as loving encouragement to improve. I decided to try and approach my boss in the same spirit. It turned out to be a far more positive experience than I had feared. Yes, there was some criticism, but I was able to respond much more positively and focus on how to do better rather than on feeling stung by it. It was such a blessing to be able to let go of my discomfort with the process. I hope I can remember this when my full-year review comes round in June!

Week 21: Jesus tells me:” Take nothing for the journey – no staff, nor bread, nor money…stay where you are welcome, leave where you are not…” These words have echoed over and over in my heart as I have moved through my days. There is something in these words about trust, about purity of heart (no hidden agenda/transparency), about hiddenness: “Be hidden; be a light to your neighbor’s feet” (C.Doherty – Little Mandate). There is also something about the type of hospitality that is a place of emptiness where others can discover their voice and being in God. (Henri Nouwen) Ministry is not about bringing people over to our side; it is about offering them freedom with no dividing lines. This journey that Christ invites me on is one of paradox, of “no-doing”, so that what needs to be done is done. It is about moving out of the way so that grace can move freely.
-- Anita
Week 21: Two themes kept coming back to me this week. In imagining the disciples' call I feel not only are they attracted by the content of the call. They feel its radical power. But also I feel their attraction for Jesus. His call is personal but the way he approaches people is attractive. He's genuine and does not like inauthentic people too much; he is warm and outgoing, attentive … particularly when he is able to see their core needs. Then I read the passage in which Jesus names his apostles … giving many of them different name … showing a sense of humor or maybe that he really does understand them or both? But what would Jesus name me? What does He call me today? I am not able to answer that question …would he use the label "Changeable" or "Anxious"? But I don't need a name to follow Jesus' call. He's there on my journey.

I am supposedly in week 21, but I don't feel like I am getting anywhere at all. I read someone else's share that this is not a competition. Thank God for that, because I would surely lose! Then I read the other posted messages and feel like I am alone, like everone else is getting enthralled and I am not. I read the 'getting started' for each week, and it just doesn't make sense to me most of the time. And then, the week of my life takes over and I forget to come back to the site and do more. I have always believed in God, but never established a connection with Him until within the last ten years. So, God I get, but I just don't know how to relate to Jesus in the way it seems the retreat is leading. He's God the Son! It's hard for me to be "in love" with Him, the way it says I am supposed to. That seems so human. Maybe the fact that I am willing to do anything to get a connection with Jesus is improvement.

good morning to all of you. i have just finsihed week 21 and was enjoying it deeply but woke this morning feeling very unhappy and alone.
during the week i was able to image on most days and enjoyed the walks on the lake shore. i think i always had jesus moving in fast motion. i liked the comment by one retreatant who said , i think, that he or she had always seen jesus as fully ready for his mission and just waiting for his body to catch up somehow. now i see the possibility of his being tempted by the temptations ( the certainty). and i begin to see that he wasnt sent to wander amongst us as a god but to fully experience those things we experience. this week, i began with my usual "jesus living out the gospel at full speed" choosing disciples -1-2-3. when i slowed it down. saw him coming out of the desert. victorious but ready for a lakeside holiday. wanderinfg the shores . watching the people. mebbe looking for the people he knew he wanted . or perhaps observing and choosing . taking them back to his place. talking and walking.
the last few weeks have somehow relaxed me into my own humanity and i am trying to read these stories as if i do not know what comes next because in a way - i dont. so im going on as if this is the first time i have heard the life of jesus. into the mystery. lvoe to you all .
-- nell from tweed.

I love the stories of Jesus calling his disciples. Though each is different, they all speak of an attraction so powerful that all else is left behind. I can’t help smiling to myself when I think of St. Peter. We are told he had a mother-in-law—and an ailing one, no less!—but we hear nothing of a wife or children. What if St. Peter’s wife died in childbirth and he was left with only his ailing mother-in-law? That sounds like someone who might be more than ready to “leave everything behind” and follow Christ! Then I started to think of other apostles: what of the Sons of Zebedee? Perhaps they had grown weary of laboring over the nets under the thunder of their father’s voice. Maybe they were ready to “leave everything behind” too. And Matthew? Though collecting taxes had its financial rewards, perhaps he had grown weary of being ridiculed and despised for collaborating with the Roman occupiers. Perhaps he had been thinking for some time already about finding a way to retire. Into all these weary lives comes Christ. Though St. Peter’s situation first struck me as almost comical, it occurred to me that I, too, am weary. When I am, do I hear Christ and follow him?
-- Tom, Pennsylvania, Week 21

I started this week quite restless. I am wondering whether I really am in the right ministry. The fact that the alternatives are not immediately apparent is frustrating. I found the prayer Lead Kindly Light very useful in keeping me grounded. Then earlier in the week I was reflecting on the Gospel scene where Jesus has Peter cast again for fish where they have not caught anything all night. I think that Jesus recognized a trait that Peter had (or maybe more accurately that I have). I imagined that Jesus encountered Peter a couple of times before this scene and recognized him as really "gung ho". Peter was already imagining the fantastic social and political transformations that would happen through this man Jesus. Not all of this would be grounded as we know in what the Lord wanted. The last thing on Peter's mind is that this transformation could happen here and now where he was working. But that is precisely what Jesus demonstrated. Where we are now is just as important in the development of discipleship as where we will end up. Peter recognizes this and recognizes his own inadequacies in the face of these possibilities. I pray that when I cast my nets again this week the significance of what I do in Jesus's name will really be apparent ... however humbling that can be.

At first, it was just another retreat week. Some weeks are more fruitful than others, and that's normal. What I find unhelpful one week may be just what you need. At any rate, "What do you want?" "Come and see." I do not think it was mere coincidence that this week coincides with Christmas. All week, the Gospel readings have been in John, with Jesus calling his disciples. So I've had a good hammering all week.
Week 21, It has been a wonderful journey, yet I feel that I am not where I would like to be spiritually. Perhaps it is because, at times, I have allowed the busyness of life to distract me from a more intimate relationship with Jesus. I try to keep things in proper perspective, yet sometimes find myself becoming rather complacent, and not moving forward in my prayer life. This week's readings helped me to realize that I must become more prayer centered, more focused on the one who loved me enough to die for me - Jesus. Today I pray for all on this journey, remember me in your prayers.
Week 21  At the conclusion of this week, I have had many graces that have let me believe that in my small way, I am listening and beginning to follow Christ more willingly.  I am open to serve Him, and I pray that I will have courage to do what He wants.

I have a little fear, and yet excitement at the thought that whatever it is , He will provide the strength to follow.

I pray for a friend of mine who has confided this week that he is discerning a call to a possible vocation to the priesthood, I promised him to pray for him at this time, and I offer my prayers for all on this retreat who are struggling with the yes.  Pray for me as well.

I know that the apostles were very human , very flawed, and yet God saw something in them, that they did not see in themselves.  I believe it is that way with me too. I ask for the grace that Jesus become so attractive, so beautiful, to me that to follow will be the only choice... the true love of all time.
What stood out for me the most in week 21 was the immediateness of the responses to the call of Jesus.  Time and again people left their livelihood and indeed their lives as they knew to follow Jesus in an instant.  They did not have to think about it and ponder over the decision, they just did it.  How much easier life would be if I could just respond 'yes' to the Lord every time without hesitation and pondering.  It is possible!  Andrew, James, John, and Matthew all attest to that.  They left the lives that they knew for an unknown future.  But this was indeed the future they were intended to have with the Lord.
The call of Christ: I wonder if being called had a different significance in Christ’s time. Now, I am always being called; called to buy. I am called on the phone, the television and through the mail; and not just commercial calls. In my home we regularly get appeals in the mail from all sorts of mission groups. The number of calls is overwhelming. But in all this modern calling, I am not called to meaningful relationships very often.

Lord, thank you for coming so that I can clearly see the call of God. It is a call unlike all the others. It brings me joy to know that you are calling me. It brings me hope. It makes me feel worthy. Week 21
" what do you want ?", "come and see..."

Jesus' invitations made his early followers leave their former means of living to live lives that gave them new meaning of life. The most important thing in my reflections was to realize who He is and how much He really loved me and He stayed with me even when I'm a big sinner. In daily lives Jesus wanted me to respond his invitation and reform. but I have always been afraid of leaving and changing. Now I  came and saw and knew who Jesus is as His followers did . From now on I will follow JESUS .(  the 21th week)

I have concluded week 21. I pause to look back, over my mental shoulder, trying to see myself and my god where we have been, what we have resolved. Has he forgiven me? Have I forgiven him? I cannot forget that a penniless kid is a terrible thing. I cannot forget that being irish-mexican made me believe that I fit nothing properly. I cannot forget that I hated kneeling at the communion rail, because those lined-up behind me were gazing and laughing at the cardboard that filled the holes in my shoes. I cannot forget the dizzy prayers for quiet and peace in the midst of absolute unrelenting chaos. I cannot forget walking the nice streets, and hoping that my life was a dream, and that I was really a part of the serenity, the order, that those neighborhoods represented to me. Would I wake with a real set of parents? A good set of clothing? Waking without shame would have been an entire miracle by itself. Did my Jesus actually see me groveling in prayer? Did my Jesus actually hear me screaming silently for help? Was Jesus busy when I took that first drink? Was he busy when I prayed for help? Well, to tell you the truth, these 21 weeks makes me wish that Jesus could write his response. I laugh when I imagine what it might be. 'well, my boy. I must have heard you. I must have loved you. Check yourself out, my boy. Your marriage has reached its 38 uninterrupted years of love. Your children love you both. Your successes are many. You have learned a lesson from where we both walked. You learned compassion. You learned how a smile, a hello, helping hand makes for a very satisfactory life. I allowed you to see parts of life unknown to others as a child, and later overseas, and then right back to the streets where it all began for you. Do you think that you could have stood in all of those storms without me? I do not believe that there is any rancor in your heart whatsoever for me. For if there was, then why did you write a simple statement of your faith and love, by hand, that you have repeated everyday for so many years? "I, as your father,have already granted miracles that you have yet to pray for. Believe this. Have trust and faith in me... I am the author of your life." I rest my case. All of the weeks have made me a better person. My love for Jesus never dims. His love for me is obviously like a beacon, it is only I who shuts his eyes. Love to all.

This retreat has delivered two graces. First, I have an unprecedented clarity about creation, my friends, family and myself. I see both the beauty of the world and unrelenting challenges of being a worthy human being in modern society.   Second, the building of a trusting relationship with God over weeks and months has given me more courage than I  ever imagined was possible. This week (21) Jesus asked the apostles a simple but powerful question: What do you want? And then, he responds to them with an equally strong challenge: Come with me. For me, the answer to the first question is simple truth and beauty and acceptance. And the answer to the second part is I'm coming. it's not easy. But I'm coming.

Although I am on the 'review' week, following week 21, my heart and mind have been captured and illumined by a line by Fr. Gillick from a prior week:  "When all is gift, we can no longer measure ourselves by what we've accumulated."  I keep coming back to it, reflect and acknowledge this power-filled message; and, with humility, gratitude, awe, open myself up to greater acceptance, forgiveness and courage to "be", journeying with the ever present love of Our Lord, seen in others and within.  Thank you so much for the gifted individuals who have made this Ignatian retreat a reality and a very do-able experience.  The light is slowly dawning!  Prayers from me to all pilgrims involved in this retreat!  Chrissy

When Jesus comes up out of the water (21), and comes to sit beside me and ask me if I want to go with him, how can I refuse.  The joy on his face, reflects my own.  To be called by Him....we all are called by Him.  Yes I will go, but yes it is frightening.  What will happen?  Where will he take me?  What if, what if, what if?  He tells me I will be with you matter what if.  I feel his presence, his love, and want to go where he leads.....Please show me the way, guide me, keep me.

In week 21, I just read Cardinal Newman's prayer this morning to lead me on and light my way. This has been a tough journey, but the guidelines keep bringing me back to the incredible grace of God.  How kind God is and how patient.  I can see the things that still need to change, but I'm on a journey that takes time.  God bless everyone who is cringing as I often do at how far I have to go and who is laughing at the marvel of how kindly God leads them.

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