Sharing the Retreat
Weeks 22-23


Week 22

Reading again the gospel on the feast of st Joseph, my gratitude abounds for all his intercedence for us over the years. My husband's father was killed in world war 2 so he acted as foster father. Now after 60 years of marriage, awareness of the blessings received through his intercedence, is about me. Still the prick of conscience. 

Now, I write, what is revealed to me by Grace, most generously given, despite my most shocking judgemental Pride. 

I write in gratitude for this understanding, most especially as I am such a sinner myself, deeply forgiven for multitudinous sins over my long years, yet so loved by the Lord, enabling me and giving me the freedom to readily take up all my crosses and follow Him where so ever he Wills.

Deo Gratias for this very especial retreat keeping us safely on the road!

Week 22 - All that has shared before resonates! in journeying hand in hand with Jesus across the world now, in reflection, we are besieged by our world wide virus, broadening the perspective! Indeed it does!

Lying in bed with a sore throat and cough after a sweaty night gives food for thought. Self isolating a nuisance, yes, but a joy! Why! In the peace and quiet and safety of our home, we find through u tube a daily on line Mass!

It is watched and listened to. Still,in the presence of the Lord, invited to spiritual communion, together with all those on line watching gives us Peace! Bless you all and keep you safe.

I am reading the Readings for this 22nd Retreat week.  At first read, I feel a frontal challenge.  I know I need to go back and read again, but the first feelings are of some comfort. The rest are disturbing feelings are about the challenge to follow him and do what he says.  It feels directed to me.  Jesus asks why I listen to him and don’t do what he says.  I cuts straight to my heart. I am surprised at my response and it hurts, painful.  This morning’s (6th Sunday Ordinary time, Matthew 5: “let your ‘Yes  mean 'Yes;, and ‘No’ mean “No”.  Jesus’ words are clear, straight, and uncompromising.  - follow me - do what I say - I’ve had conflicting feeling lately and they are intensifying.  Social and secular acceptance vs more moral and traditional mores.  I am not doing well trying to keep these “liberal” and “conservative” views at bay. Doing the right thing should not be fuzzy.  I am needing to follow Jesus and to rely upon him.  I need the Lord to help me.  And He will.
Week 22
Wow it’s only the first day of the week, and how wonderfully I have been blessed by the Holy Spirit in coming to see Jesus reaching out to heal. Casting out the demon from the man, I recognised that demon’s voice in my own life. The demon of self doubt, the one that puts me down, telling me that I am not good enough, not doing things properly. The demon  of self righteousness, telling me that I am already doing what Jesus is asking of me, I don’t need to change. The demon of judgement, criticising others seeing their faults to boost my own ego.
Jesus I come before you in awe of your healing power. Fill me with the Grace of your love to reach out in your name to bring that healing to those people in need of you touch in my life.
Blessings on all those who have made this wonderful journey possible, and to my fellow travellers.
Jane NZ

Change is not easy for anyone. The people of Nazareth are no exception. They were good people by earthly standards but not did not understand who Jesus was and how he had become so famous. When he called me, I was very resistant to change. I am in the process of changing my heart. I close my eyes and whisper his name and He is with me. 

On the 155th day of The Exercises, I am called to poverty of spirit (Matthew 6: 25-33). I have always loved that passage as it brings me help and hope. Today I hear it differently. It is my call along with the Beatitudes. When I actually 'hear' Jesus say the words to me, I MUST change. I have grown to love this Lord of mine over for the past 21 weeks, as I have been there for his life and come to know him and his family. I take this as a clear roadmap for moving forward, "Only people who do not know God are always worrying about those things." 

When I do what I normally do, I am putting other things before him. My possessions and quest for them, my quest for prestige, my polarizing need to be independent, have all been brought to my attention. I stand here exposed for my foolishness. All of these ego needs have kept me at a distance from God. The constant need to feed my ego has been brought to my attention and I am dealing with these changes as I am simply called to leave it all behind and follow Jesus. 

Ah Ha! I fully understand the detachment of the 3rd personality now. It was not an easy path to change for me. I stumbled and veered off track many times. I will probably do so again. Next time however, I will be better prepared to see the folly of my ways and, hopefully, find my way back to the road with prayer and a whisper to Jesus. Rebecca - Week 22

God Blesses those who depend only on Him. Other words for "Blessed are the poor in spirit". I have been working towards depending on God, and even as I use these words it smacks of me wanting to be in control. This culture teaches control. If you don't have any, you are not worthy. So to carefully remove the backstops, the lifelong programming and to say, Jesus take control is hard for me. But I am grateful for today and for this time without handrails. I have learned much, seen much, and my feet are set on a different path. In the desert, the temptations are more real. And I strive to leave them behind. I know there is new life, but I tremble as I approach. -Week 22

Throughout this retreat, I have become more and more aware of how much I need to trust in Jesus, and how many times I fail to do so. Despite my limitations, my failures, my omissions, my imperfections, He is always there and I feel such love where I think I should feel only condemnation. I am so humbled, and so grateful. I want to love Him even more, to reflect Him more, to be like Him more, to glorify God more, for what else can I do when the response to constant disappointment on my account is love, mercy, and a call to be even closer?

I have been particularly touched by the readings this week. As Jesus says that He is the vine and we are the branches, He calls us to abide in Him. As I have gone through this retreat, I want this more and more deeply than I thought possible. I want so much to abide in Him, and to follow the call to love one another. I desperately need to do this, but I am not enough on my own. It is only by trusting in Jesus that I can do so. Much of my life is me trying to do it on my own: be better, be stronger, be more confident, be more trusting, and just be more.

But that is not the point, and that is not what we are called to do. We are called to do all things through Jesus, by abiding in Him. This particularly stood out to me in the other reading for this week where Jesus says "Why do you keep on saying that I am your Lord, when you refuse to do what I say?" This reading from Luke was particularly powerful. How often do I pay lip-service, but don't abide in Jesus or do what He says? I fail when I rely on me. This is incredibly hard for me to say. I am incredibly proud, and have always been quite boastful. What I have learned in this retreat is that I am nothing without Jesus. I always thought it would be weakness to say that I needed help.

Now I see so clearly that Jesus knows exactly what I need, knows our challenges, knows our conflict, and knows that we need Him. In finally humbling-up and admitting that I need Jesus' help to be successful, I feel even more freedom, love, and hope than ever before. Jesus, I trust in You. -Week 22

Week 22: I became attentive this week to the parable of the Kingdom of God being like finding a treasure in a field and the finder goes out and sells everything they have so they can buy the field.  I started to think what were the alternatives here.  It would be stupid to ignore the treasure but maybe I do that in my spiritual life.  Certainly, times when I totally ignored the promise , thinking I could do everything on my own.  Yes this is as stupid as ignoring the treasure.  Another approach would be to just take it.  Of course, this is dishonest.  Technically, the treasure belongs to the owner of the field.  But how often in my own spiritual life do I really want to take the easy way.  This is the pretend way where I have taken God’s word but I’ve warped it for my own uses. Of course, one problem with taking the whole treasure is that I have to keep it hidden from my neighbors because otherwise they will suspect me of dishonesty.   Another approach would be to keep returning to the field and just taking a bit at a time.  Again, this lack integrity but how many times do I do this in my spiritual life?  I take a little spiritual consolation then just keep doing what I want to do or a bit of spiritual wisdom to turn for my own good.  So then I ask, what does it take for me to give everything?  I want to do this.  I recognize the immense difficulties.  I ask for the grace to experience even more what this means. Mary M.

Week 22: I decided to read The Message translation of the Bible this week. to try to really see what Jesus was doing in his mission (I stopped before the Passion each time). I like that during his ministry he retreated to live in Capernaum by the sea. I think the sea must have calmed his soul as well when he was weary. he wandered beaches & dusty roads, through small villages & to the mighty city of Jerusalem. he so wanted to remove misery from their lives, but they had to believe that there was a better way & this was it. when they turned away they continued in their miserable choices. & he used a million stories. stories for us, the simple folk, yes even simple-minded at times.  thank goodness the disciples kept asking Jesus to explain the stories again. simple folk i tell you. he healed them of their physical burdens when the suffering one or someone who cared deeply for that person just trusted & stepped forward in trust.. trusted that if they put out the effort, this Son of Man & Son of God could do miraculous things. trusted with the simplicity of a child. it's a beautiful thing to see-childlike trust.  I see it in the face of my grandson.. total dependence yet unwavering trust in the unconditional love of his parents. that's what God wants from me. but back to my purpose: Jesus realized quickly that his radical way of thinking & acting was for sure gonna ruffle some feathers. Neither he nor his message were what the common people or religious leaders thought he was going to be. He stepped on toes, he ate with the riff-raff of the day, the despised ones, he touched lepers. He flew directly in the face of some of the most powerful. but his message continues--The Great Reversal.. the first shall be last & the last, first. How would I have responded if i'd been part of the crowds that followed him for days, listening to him teach, challenging minds & hearts about doing things a different way. Did things begin to change in the crowds?.. kinder interactions, more sharing, fewer quarrels, more smiles, more hugs, more carrying another's load, more forgiveness...  just a few prayerful thoughts from a grateful--and working on grace-filled--pilgrim.

Week 22:
As I return to the Retreat time and time again, I find I may have missed a week with profound personal meaning. So it was this morning, the Feast of Purification and Candlemass, yet another festival of cleanness and light, the presentation of the Lord to our world. 
Last week (the 21st) I could have reflected on the meaning of freedom, and instead I found a profound lack of freedom in my usual addiction. Yet the solution is not in the equally "usual" sense of self-flagellation and resolution " to do better". That just focuses once again on the self. Instead this, the 22nd week, will be in the sign of listening to the words of a friend, Jesus.  I am not sure what he will say. I trust I will find the meaning in the various translations of the New Testament, and in his references to the scrolls of scripture as he read them, as other friends reported them, as the Christ filled Community interprets them.
Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam. - Tom

Week 22:  Jesus Shares His Message/Let the Word Penetrate

I want to follow YOU more freely. I am still constrained by fears,  imagined or otherwise.  I know I am following You bit by bit in my everyday life but what would it be like to follow You with wild abandon?  More freely?  Yes,  what would it cost me?  

Yet I am reminded of what some scholars say appears in the bible 365 times.  As if to remind us in our daily life.  "  Do not be afraid"   or "  Fear not."  

I think I am still "on the verge of". Not willing to take the jump lest my feet get hurt.  Not 100% committed but still holding back for fear of getting burned.  Not yet there.  And still a long,  long way to go.  

Lord,  help me to be faithful to my service to you.  

Week 22:  This week was for me all about love.  The first 3 commandments are about loving God, and the last 7 commandments are about loving everyone else in your life.  It is easy to love those who love you back.  It is not so easy to love those who do not agree with you, or hold grudges against you, or whom you hold a grudge against.  Loving the way Jesus did and does, takes a lifetime of doing and is not easy.  But God is never outdone in generosity for those who try to live the way Jesus did. 

Week 22: Jesus shares his message
Luke 4:14-21
Jesus’ mission was to help the needy, poor, sick and oppressed. The rich and healthy didn’t need a helper and saviour. Many Pharisees and religious leaders also thought that they didn’t need him. According to this passage to preach good news to the poor needs the anointing of God’s Spirit; people can’t do it by themselves. Jesus preached, set prisoners free, made the blind see and released the oppressed. God wants to heal people and set them free from bondages – physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Also today God wants his followers to be there for the sick, needy, suffering and oppressed. There is so much sickness, suffering, oppression and injustice in this world. It needs the anointing of the Holy Spirit to fulfill Jesus’ mission. We can’t do it in our own strength. Lord, empower me by your Spirit to be a healing channel for the needy.
Matthew 5:1-16
The values in God’s kingdom are different from the values of the kingdoms in this world. The “upside-down” kingdom of God … In this world the rich, healthy, highly educated and successful people are considered to be lucky. In God’s kingdom it’s the other way round. Those who mourn and suffer, feel poor inside and hunger for God are considered to be blessed, as God will meet their needs.
Soup without salt tastes bland. Jesus’ followers are meant to be the salt in the soup of this world. Jesus said: “I am the light of the world.” (John 8:12) As he enlightens the lives of his followers, his light shines through them so they become a light in the darkness.
Somewhere else Jesus said that we shouldn’t show off with our good deeds and prayers, but do them quietly. Here we are encouraged not to hide our light. The purpose of letting our light shine is not to receive praise ourselves, but to point people to God.
Matthew 13:44-46
The people in this passage risked to “put all their eggs in one basket” as they were convinced that they had found the treasure of a lifetime. It was worth to invest absolutely everything they had.
I don’t think I always see the treasure of God’s kingdom to the extent that everything else seems worth nothing compared to it. Lord, help me see the real value of your kingdom so I’ll gladly “put all eggs in one basket”.
Luke 6:46-49
“Don’t build your house on a sandy land … build it on a solid rock …” (song)
It’s so important to have a good, strong foundation. As trees that have deep roots, so houses that are built on a solid foundation can stand firm in a storm.
Following God’s word means to build my life on rock, a solid foundation. When the storms of life come, I will still be able to stand. “Thank you, Lord, for providing a solid foundation for life through your word. It is so sad to see people’s lives crash when there could be hope. There are so many social problems that could be avoided if people followed the guidelines given in your word. Lord, let more people get convinced about the importance of a strong foundation for their lives.”
Matthew 25:31-46
This passage really made me think again. It is a call to social action and shows that it is important to help the needy. There are so many poor and needy people around. I sometimes help a bit individually, but not on a larger scale. There is so much more that I could do. This passage makes me question: Are there people who I should help and support, but have overlooked? Show me, Lord, give me open eyes!
The righteous in this passage were not aware that they did a service to Jesus. They just met the needs of people around them. When I do something good for others, Jesus sees it as if I do it for him! He identifies himself with the poor and needy and really has a heart for them. Help me to be aware, Lord that you see what I do for others as if I do it for you!
John 15:1-7
A branch can’t exist on its own, it gets its juice and life from the vine. Only when I stay connected with Jesus, the vine, will I stay alive. There is no use leaving withered branches on the vine. Pruning is necessary for the vine as it stimulates growth and cuts off every part that is useless. Pruning is painful at first, it leaves a wound, but then it causes growth. I don’t want to carry useless parts around with me, but want to have them cut off so my life can be effective and truly fruitful. Pruning can happen through difficult life circumstances, problems in relationships with people, etc. I don’t really like it as it’s uncomfortable, but without it I would grow less. I want to accept the challenges as opportunities for personal and spiritual growth.
God’s word cleanses. In order to remain in Jesus, I need to remain in the word, i.e. continue to meditate on it and let it influence my thoughts. Lord, help me to remain in you so my life can bear fruit for you.
It is a great promise that my prayers will be answered if I stay connected with Jesus, give his words room in my heart and pray according to his will. The purpose of bringing much fruit is to glorify God.

Week 22: I started the week contemplating “The Lord’s Spirit has come to me, because he has chosen me to tell the good news to the poor.” and “Why do you say that I am Lord when you do not do as I ask?”For much of the week I was in a state internal commotion, noise, confusion, and restlessness. Prayer sometimes brought me to the almost crying stage. I became painfully aware of my stubborn unwillingness to obey. One part of me wants the peace of eternal life with Jesus and another part keeps telling me to do it my way. Progressively louder scripture versus related to Gehenna started playing and I flinched when I prayed that I avoid eternal burning. I was being moved by the punishment not my love. Yesterday the daily mass gospel reading was Matthew 16 24-28 – similar to this retreat’s Matthew 25 31-46 in some ways. I interpret both as He will separate those that will have happy, healthy body cells forever and those that would suffer agony forever. I closed the week with this prayer. Oh Jesus, your love is helping me to find even more incentives to follow you. As your Father loved Israel – He gave, they sinned, He punished, He rescued and the cycle restarted - help me, dear Jesus, to really, really follow you. In my need, help me to give, to help others, to proclaim your Good News, and to have just a mustard seed of faith.- Joe
Week 22: This week of moving ever more closely to Jesus, I was indeed moving more closely to others, and to creation. In a strange way, moving closer to God is in essence finding God in one and everything I encounter. Closeness is touch – incarnation – sacrament – “God with skin”. This small quote from St. Francis says it all:
I once spoke to my friend, an old squirrel, about the Sacraments – he got so excited and ran into a hollow in his tree and came back holding some acorns, an owl feather, and a ribbon he had found. And I just smiled and said: “Yes, dear, you understand: everything imparts His grace.”
-- Anita

Week 22: For me, I feel a need to critique the lovers’ metaphor of this retreat, that is, the frequent reference to our relationship with Jesus as that of “lovers” falling in love. Maybe it is my own misguided interpretation or maybe I am missing something that is better suited for others. Our desire for union with Christ, goes far beyond the lovers’ metaphor. And for me, and I think for some others, the lovers’ metaphor has a limited place on this journey. Its value should be understood and then left behind as we go forward.
There are a few things I needed to sort out. One is a reflection on my marriage and the meaning of love and trust. The other is the word of God as revealed to me in Matthew 6: 24-34 where Jesus helped me to trust in God’s love. The other is a growing resistance to reduce this attraction to Christ to what I am calling the lovers’ metaphor seen on more than one occasion in this retreat.
So I am challenging myself to reflect on this metaphor in the context of my personal experience of love in marriage, and a renewal of that marriage through a closer union with Christ, who died for us.
I have received many graces throughout the retreat and am grateful to its organizers It has become the center of my spiritual growth the past year, and has grown like a vine with surprising offshoots and sprouts.
Sometimes I willfully stretch out the time of a particular “week,” until I deeply feel and abide in the hidden message, as a spiritual lesson to be discovered, assimilated, savored, and learned. I appreciate the helps, the readings and the sharing, and usually end on the final prayer to see if my heart is really in the same place as writer of “in these or similar words.” Then I write in my diary or compose a sharing if the quality of the experience is something I can capture.
This week, I almost but not quite accepted the message of Jesus Shares His Message, week 22. I may have some issues with intimacy with Jesus and really don’t know what is holding me back. Maybe it’s the difference between eros and agape, (which I don’t fully understand but am beginning to explore through the recent Encyclical Letter of Pope Benedict and other writings). He writes there are two kinds of love, with eros as the passionate, reciprocal giving and taking in close relationship and desire for union, and agape as the more selfless or divine expression of love, just giving for life’s sake. Both are needed in the Christian journey, but eros is what I am taking to be the point of the lovers metaphor.....
I am now on week 22 and have not shared for a number of weeks. I feel so much that I have been paying lip service to this retreat over the last few weeks and not really settling to thinking about it every day, or even reviewing it every day. I have spent part of two mornings a week looking at the material, but it has stayed in that space and not moved further into my life, so everything seems to be staying the same. I DO want it to change and I know that Jesus knows my failings and that he continues to love me, but I feel I am still putting up barriers to getting to know him more deeply. When I went to the readings for this week and re-read John Donne’s poem, ‘Batter my heart’ that I had studied many, many years ago whilst at school, it really summed up what I feel. Unfortunately Jesus does not follow this way. He won’t take anyone by force. He is there waiting - longing to encourage me. And I still linger on the edges, dipping in my toes.
Week 22: I have always felt the pull of Jesus' call as he reads from the scriptures in the synagogue. When I was much younger it spurred me to social justice movements. But I never felt that my involvement there brought me closer to Jesus. It was only later after I had moved much further away from these positions that I felt Jesus' gentle prodding. These happened particularly in small personal encounters … in a day shelter giving out clothes, talking with the homeless, visiting homebound or troubled people. When I was younger I was openly cynical of what I thought were "middle class" attempts to assuage guilt by engaging in "works of charity". But now I see how powerfully they affect me not because I am doing good deeds but more by what I learn about myself and others. I also see that my companions in our community start to develop a voice for the poor. Then I pray "in these or similar words" and the theme of Jesus' invitation to stay joined to me and "together we will produce fruit" resonates with me. I see that Jesus has been there all along. Yes he wants my "acts of charity" but more importantly he wants to reach me and for me to see that I am not always as self sufficient as I would like to think. He reaches out to me in the places I am particularly powerless. So I am free to move forward with Jesus in our journey.
Week 22. Although I move slowly, almost subconsiously, through this retreat, much is happening. Just as I am asked to be 'poor and humble' I am given the opportunity. And there I am complaining, so ungrateful. Really, it is a gift from God and I am trying to accept it. He shows me myself. But at the same time He is giving me the opportunity to be myself. To move from a situation that sits right with the world, gainful employment, to another where I am learning to pilgrim, to act out my trust in God. I can't even look for another job now because of 'disability'. Am I willing to accept that for myself, for others? Jesus is the vine and the Father is the gardener. He sure knows how to prune. And He tells me to be myself, the naked me. This really is a gift. Continue.
a lovely morning before dawn here in the sub tropics of australia. my prayers are with you all. the further i walk with you and jesus along this walk, the more i am aware of my own newness to this way of life.. im 56 years old and i have been clean and sober for 19 years this month . i have experienced the wonder of working through the 12 steps and being led into worlds i didnt dream existed and now i find myself in the same state of adventure and blessing. during the week i felt as though i were passing my days not only with the one companion but with all the followers. of a night i lay down snuggled in robes with others around me and words in my mind that ive never heard before .
the choice welling up in me is very unexpected and im sure it comes as a result of trying to read these words as if i have never hear them or jesus story before. im also not deciding what is spiritual or not. just listening to the words. and watching the events of my life and feeling things well up in me which are very very new to me. i think each week i will write something intelligent but i seem to get less intelligent each week and more wordless. my love to you all.
-- nell from tweed
“God blesses those people who depend only on him.”Depending on God in my life often means depending on other people to be generous. However, when I find that people have let me down, I often find myself alone with God— and still trusting. Sometimes I feel that God has let me down too—like when he does not answer my prayers the way I want him to. Then, I feel like I do not know why I continue to pray. Still, I pray, even with a renewed sense of how utterly I depend on God. He gives me what I need, and I am afraid of how well he knows how little I need. He keeps showing me I need less. He keeps showing me I need only him. This is the blessing he promises: to sweep me off my feet like a lover if I will let him.-- Tom, Pennsylvania
There are so many strong and familiar images this week. I always feel a strong tug when I imagine Jesus in the synagogue announcing his mission in the words of Isaiah. I think how he must have meditated so much on these words and now he is ready. His gaze is steady. There is no doubt he is announcing his calling. What do I need to do to respond … what should I change to "tell the good news to the poor"?Then I think of Jesus' view of investment. He certainly does not follow the "diversification philosophy". The Kingdom of God is like the finest piece of jewelry you could ever imagine … so fine that you would sell everything … all your savings, investments, IRA, 401k, college fund in order to possess it. My financial advisor is going crazy. "You'll never recoup this investment … you don't know what it's worth …. at least in this world". Pray that I can make that kind of investment. Following Jesus is not a part-time hobby.Then at the end of the week, I get a real jolt. My younger son tells me about some trouble he is in … reckless … thoughtless. I am so angry that initially I cannot even speak. Then I am very clear … I love him but he must see that actions have consequences and he has to take responsibility. Our society is certainly one where diversification of morals is a great thing … we invest our moral decisions where it is most convenient. I tell him I don't see that way of acting as consistent with God's call to us.But then I am back to the retreat and Jesus' teaching on the hill takes full force. Of course, I want purity … holiness … and Jesus promises that desire can be satisfied. But don't get too self-righteous. You've said your piece. Now is the time to be merciful. I also feel so poor because my own patterns of sin earlier in my life could easily have taken me on the same road as my son. Jesus sees my poverty of spirit … my disappointment … my sorrow. He asks that I follow the road of peace here and keep my strong views of what is right clear in front of me.This has happened to me before. I start being with Jesus in the synagogue wanting desperately to "free everyone who suffers and proclaim this is the year the Lord has chosen". Then I am brought back to the here and now … this is where you have to start it.
Week 22. Lord God, take me over and be gentle to me. I beg you to heal and not to inflict. I know that I am careless and even foolish, but have pity on me. I do not want to hurt you and I do not want to offend you--but please understand that I am mentally ill. I long for your love, but fear your power. I long for your healing, but am afraid of the cure. Lord, take this body and soul which I have desecrated, and make it acceptable. And if it be your will, lead me to help others.Amen.
I am on week 22 of the retreat and I have to admit it has been a blessing for the most part. I guess this retreat was meant as a preparation for me to know who I am and who God is in my life. I have grown in faith and love to the Lord never questioning any thing that has happened in my life. On December 23 ny dad was diagnosed with Liver cancer with no hope. So I prayed to Jesus and I entrusted my dad into his hands. My prayer was that the Lord would spare him suffering. The Lord listens to the cry of his people. On January 16,2006 my dad passed away peacefully with all family members present. The lord gave him strength but also gave me strength in that I was able to be with him in passing something that I did not thing I would be able to do. I praise God for the 87 years of life he gave to my dad and for giving me the grace to continue this journey I started September 18. I miss my dad greatly but God assured me through his word that he has gone to the home that Jesus had prepared for him. I ask for prayers that the lord continue to strengthen me on my journey.

God Bless
I started week 22 (very early) this morning. It has spoken to me so powerfully. I recently reached a point in a 30 plus year marriage where I did not want to continue with the relationship. The marriage has never been a really close or happy one. I knew when i married him that my husband had had a very damaged childhood but felt that together we would bring security and wholeness into each other's lives. Just over two years after our marriage when I was expecting our first child, my husband had an affair. Of course, when I discovered this (did he "let" me find out?) I was devastated but my husband asked my forgiveness and I was determined we could build a strong marriage in which to bring up our child. In recent years during a bout of depression he told me that he had not ended the affair, that he continued to see his girlfriend until she ended the relationship sometime in the first year of our child's life. In fact, he went straight from sharing the birth with me to his girlfriend and she was (unknown to me) also present at another very important event in our lives just before our baby was born....

Perhaps I am not good at forgiveness and like to let old hurts fester as my husband claims but it seems to me that the pain would have healed if the following years had been happy but they weren't. I always felt I wasn't "good enough" somehow for my husband, that he was always critical of me and I learned to accept far less than the marriage I had hoped for as if I tried to make any demands, he would be angry so I learned to accept whatever crumbs he offered. It was not the best environment to bring up children and they suffered their own feelings of rejection. We never had mutual friends, interests or a social life. Throughout our life together I have had to develop these things on my own and I recently reached the stage where I thought "what is the point'. I even told some family and friends I was planning to separate from my husband. However, I didn't want to pray about the situation but recently I have begun to realize that Jesus loves my husband just as much as he loves me (maybe more as he is a 'lost sheep', and has not been to church in about 20 years). I went to confession this weekend and asked forgiveness for hardening my heart against my husband. My priest was so kind and gentle in his advise.
Then I started week 22 this morning and the message spoke to me so powerfully. Jesus asks us to reject what the world might call happiness and just keep our eyes on him. This retreat is helping me to do that.
Thank you for putting it on-line where it reaches so many people.
"And then, can I experience these words as addressed to my heart?"
One bright morning I started to read the scripture readings for week 22.  "The Lord's Spirit has come to me, because he has chosen me."  Quietly these words became my words and I was praying to the Lord.  I was overwhelmed with an vague understanding of the meaning of humility
One of the things that stood out for me in Week Twenty-two of the Retreat was the prayer "Thank You".  How beautifully the words of this prayer express a wonderful truth.  God does indeed notice every aspect of who I am and when God does take note of those parts of my life that I would rather hide it is a true grace.  It is only then that I can be open to accept the healing that God can give.  It is something for which I need to offer thanks to God.
I was going to postpone my doing the retreat through Lent, as I substituted other devotional material, but after seeing the Mel Gibson movie, "The Passion of the Christ" I needed to come back to this Retreat--the place where there is closeness to our Lord, the place where I am reminded of his love, and the place where I come to draw closer to Jesus at his invitation. The movie made me feel separated from God by my sins--something I have almost never felt in my life. The movie made me feel shame and guilt for my sin--something that God has already cleansed me from in Baptism. I needed to come back to this retreat to reclaim and renew my awareness of and acceptance of God's unconditional and wonderfully arbitrary grace.
Week 22 is the perfect place to begin again.
In this 22nd week I have finally been blessed with the vision of actually walking next to Jesus. In our early 20s I lost my closest childhood friend and companion to an auto accident. Even now at age 66 he continues to be my companion.
This week's picture brought home to me the realization that just as Raymond continues to be my frequent companion so too does our Lord Jesus Christ walk with me and invite me to be his companion.
Thanks  very much for this retreat.I am in week 22 and I am beginning  to accept myself, with all my faults, all my fears and all my anxieties.It seems to finally  make sense that where I am is where I am supposed to be.'where I am is the only way to my destiny. God gives me what to do in 'this place' where I am.If I  learn this I cannot but have peace in my heart.Once again thanks for the retreat. 
I was moved by the John Dunne, Batter My Heart poem. It is so much of my relationship with the Lord. So often, I feel married to the enemy and need Christ to batter me home. I so much crave the peace of the Lord, it is a wonder I waste time on anything else, but I do.  

All the readings this week seemed to business-like and direct. Even more so than the “call” of last week, this week seems to indicate the responsibility and rewards of following Christ. I guess it is the difference between the thrill of an engagement and the work of marriage. All week long I have been looking at the picture of the two, poor boys. They are on my work and home desktop. When hearing the beatitudes, I see them in the crowd and in the thoughts of Jesus. For me, they are now part of that scene in Christ’s life.  These two children have enough poverty that dependency on God would seem to be easy. It is as if the beatitudes were written for them. I, on the other hand, with my USA, wealthy life-style wonder if I fit in to the group of those “who depend on Him.” Hopefully I will take more opportunities in my life to know these two children. When I spend time with them, I hope they can tell me about the day they were present for the Sermon on the Mount. Week 22
For many weeks I continued to refrect JESUS' words - especially in Mattew 5 - the 22th week. I kept on refrecting what "poor and humble" means to me in everyday life. But it was very difficult for me. One day when I heard the poverty of Franscican spirit was based on Jesus' weakness and vulnerableness as a baby, I came to understand a little what it means. and it helped me meditate this week. The word "Just depend only on God " was striking my mind. I thought I did my best and kept on doing in lifetime. but i didn't know that the most important thing was to listen to my God's invitation and turn to Him. I came to know that I have to change the way I live to become poor and humble.
This is my 22nd week in the retreat process. I have less need for food that is unhealthy for me as I want to become leaner and more clear minded to better hear and feel the presence of the holy spirit calling me closer. I stay joined even though I am filled with the tension of doubt and fear. I am reading with more careful attention and more understanding and belief in the love God has for me in all my weakness. I believe that God is calling me through all the weakness God accepts in me. I believe he has chosen me for some work we will do together. Work that will be filled with difficulty. I pray for the grace to hear the words that will lead me to where the spirit wants me to be and do what the spirit wants me to do for the greater glory of the kingdom of God.

I'm in week 22 which both challenges and comforts me.  I am challenged by the readings and reflections to listen more closely to God's call to me; to love others as I experience His love in my life.  I am encouraged that God's knows my resistance to follow this call, but calls me nonetheless.  I am learning that being poor in spirit is indeed a blessing; that God truly does provide when I acknowledge my poverty.  I am encouraged by the calling to be a peacemaker as my husband and I try to do this for hurting couples who come to Retrouvaille. May we all be open to God's call to each of us this week as we continue our journey.  God bless each of you and me too!

This  week was No 22  of  the  retreat  for  me.  As  a  doctor,  a  patient  came  in to  evening surgery  who  has  severe  learning  disabilities.  Probably  because  this  man  is   so  vulnerable  I  felt  very  close  to  my Lord.  The  patient  cannot  speak  but  grunts  and  gesticulates.  He  is  not attractive  but  so  obviously  needs  love  that  you  have  an  overwhelming  desire  to  do  as  much  as  possible  for  him  in  his  great  need.  He  is  not  cluttered  with  material  possessions  and  up to date  clothes  as  is  not  capable of  knowing  about  these.  In  other  words  his  simplicity  and  lack  of  evil  makes  him  very  lovable.  He  is  also  like  a  child.  It  made  me  think  of  Christ  saying  that  the  kingdom  of  heaven  is  for  such.  What  a privilege  we  have  in  serving  these  patients  who  are  our  brothers  and  can  teach  us so  much. 

Week 23

Week 23

I am meditating on Week 23, Jesus as lover and healer, and it is so cool because my Kingdom Community (who is not doing the online retreat) went down this path in our prayer hour yesterday. Jesus as lover and healer! We had a week of prayer and fasting in our churches this week and 200 people are showing up every night for prayer. Jesus is healing. Love how this intersects with where I am in the online retreat.

Week 23:

Firstly I just want to thank everyone who has made this retreat possible,  because it is through your love for God, your own discipleship in Jesus Christ, and allowing the Holy Spirit to work through you that you have brought so many people to know and love our Lord personally.  THANK YOU.
This week has brought so many graces, healing for my little niece from her severe allergic reactions.  Allowing me to be free of the demon who was constantly provoking me to question my faith and beliefs. 
Showing me that it is not me who does the work,  but Jesus working through me. 
I have just found out that I have to have a knee replacement and the pain I am suffering will not be fixed quickly.  But I have been able to give thanks to God as at least it can be healed,  I live in a country where our health system will look after me and I have many people who love and support me to care and help me. 
So once again thank you for helping me to find the person who is Jesus and to love Him as my friend and my lover.
Jane NZ

This week of the healing ministry. This week of Jesus revealing the power of God through Himself. Let us be vessels of healing in the lives of those around us. Let us continue to offer prayers, fasting, alms, thanksgiving for friends and strangers alike. Let us heal others by choosing to do good in our lives. I thank God for the great gift of breath and being. I thank God for the great gift of truth and understanding. I thank God for the great gift of forgiveness and peace.

Love God first. Love our neighbor's and ourselves. -Week 23

As I sat in the church after Noon Prayer yesterday, getting ready to leave the Abbey for the day/weekend, I again found myself full of tears, a deep, deep cry. Not of sorrow, not of fear or shame, but of some sort of sadness, yet hope, and love. What are these tears? I cry because I am leaving. Leaving what? I know I take the Lord’s love with me. I know he goes wherever I go. So why do I cry overleaving each week at the Abbey? I know something is changing. I want it more than anything, almost. It is a gift. I have foundsomething familiar that seemed so out of reach for me. Here it is, right inside me and before me. And I don’t want to leave it. Yet, it can’t be that because I know I can take it with me wherever I go, so what is it? I get a sense that I ammourning something and yet living toward something at the same time. I get a sense that it isnew life – I am crossing over – here I am at the threshold. I am scared but at the same time sure. I am steady yet somewhat shaky. I am somewhat doubtful but yet so full of belief. And Jesus says, “Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid” and he says, “Receive, Lori.” It is God receiving me and me receiving him. It is just so darn REAL and hopeful and TRUE!

Sitting there crying yesterday, I found myself in the midst of a sort of prayerful letter to my family.

And so it seems, my desire to steal away to a quiet place like the Abbey was partly so I could say goodbye and tell my family the truth. I don’t know that I will ever really send them this letter. I have always sought an inner reconciliation with them, and hope in an outer reconciliation too. It is with many tears of love that I let go, and take Jesus’ hand. It is with a well of hope and comfort that I say, “Hello. This is who I am. This is where I want to be.” And so I sit and cry at the threshold, to hold and cherish all that was and is meant to be. I sit and cry with the faithful step I am about to take into a light filled darkness. I sit and cry with God as we both weep with a certain joy. It is light and unburdened. I am leaving home and coming home. When I am ready I will cross over. I have found the bridge to love’s divide, let me not look back or go back.

Please, Jesus, do not let me get lost from you, ever again! I thank you ever so much for your servants who are beacons of light and guideposts along the way. Please help me to grow into being one of them too. Amen. -Week 23

I was attracted this week to Jesus silencing the evil spirit from the man in the Temple. I tried to think what it must have been like for him. While I don't have strange voices controlling me. I think of the chattering that does go on in my head. Even the spiritual chatter. But also the obsessions, dreams, fears and everyday rantings. I hear Jesus tell them to be quiet. He asks that I sit in the silence ... In His presence. I find that this helps me refocus my day. I resolve to allow Jesus to lead me further in silence. -Week 23

This is the beginning of Week 23 for me and my first sharing. Throughout the retreat I have been practicing the Ignatian Examen and journaling each day. I reread the last 10 weeks of my journal this morning and I went to the Sacrament of Reconciliation to ask for some healing of the things I want healed in me. Reading the sharing this afternoon, I was reminded of Matt Linn’s wonderful book “Healing of Memories.” The readings too brought me back to that book.

Chapter IV is entitled “Ask Christ what he wants to heal.”

I realize I have been asking for the wrong thing. I will focus this week on finding what Christ wants to heal, not what I want to be healed.

-From Florida

Week 23:  Jesis Heals/Coming to know the Healer

" Increase his faith.  Help his unbelief."  This has been my prayer for somebody close to me when he was experiencing some crisis of faith.  How smug of me to think of him that way!  I should be the one praying that for myself.  Whenever I waver in my faith,  that's my 'unbelief'.  Whenever I question His will against mine,  that's my unbelief.  And whenever I wonder if He is really listening to my prayers,  that's a BIG unbelief!  

                Lord,  increase my faith,  help my unbelief.

Week 23:

I am one of the people who seeks Jesus’ cure and teachings.  What would I do if he was not there when I arrived?  Sometimes I seek love or reassurance from other people but they cannot give it to me at that moment.  I think I must allow them to continue on their journey and have hope and faith that they already do love me and if I really need them, they will return to care for, reassure, or comfort me.  Were the people jealous when Jesus cured their friends’ diseases first?  Definitely some were.  Still, Jesus healed them too and by loving them so deeply healed their jealousy as well.  But I must love my brothers and sisters and feel only joy for their revived body and soul.  Then, there is no waiting, no jealousy, even, perhaps, my own disease disappears?

Week 23:  When I was a child I often wished I had lived "way back when...".  I might have been a princess and gotten to have my own horse to ride.  I might have seen Jesus and gotten to witness His miracles.  I am no longer a child and realize now that I have the choice to have or to not have a horse to ride.  I realize now that I don't need to live in the time of Jesus to witness His miracles; the miracles happen around me all the time.  I just have to be open to seeing them.  I live in Illinois and it is March as I am writing this.  Never in all of my 60+ years do I remember seeing lilacs bloom in March.  They are this year.  It has been 80 degrees for several days.  All the fruit trees are blooming.  It is gorgeous out.  It is a true feast for the eyes.  And yet it is March, usually cold and wet.

This year I tried something different for Lent.  I stuck with this retreat.  The miracle is that I am overwhelmed by my feelings towards a God who stops and asks, "What do you want Me to do for you?"  He cures illnesses but He also cures my sick heart, He opens my eyes to needs I can fill.  This retreat has caused a chain reaction in me.  It is like everything is coming together and being revealed to me in tiny steps I know I can take.  Thank you so much, all of you, who put this retreat together.  This retreat has made a profound change in me.  I ask for prayers, and will continue to pray for all on this retreat.

This retreat never ceases to amaze me. I had taken a few weeks off due to the busyness of my schedule and then resumed week 23. In an effort to make the retreat blend in with real life, I spent 3 days on a silent retreat at a Jesuit Center in PA. It certainly healed. My spiritual director gave me one passage to read at first and it so happened to be the one of the blind man. I found it ironic that it was one of the scripture readings for this week. For years, I have felt like the blind man. I have been stricken with anxiety and have been unable to focus. I need to take a leap. I need to call out to Christ and let him answer. Look and you will see. I have no doubt that if I put my faith in Christ he will heal. I took a big leap of faith going on this silent retreat and it strengthened my relationship with Christ. My faith is growing every week. If you haven't done a silent retreat, I would recommend it. It offers a great way to collect yourself and to visualize the exercises in a peaceful setting. I bless you all on your journey. This is one of the best weeks I've had on this retreat.

Week 23 Jesus the Healer.  I first met Jesus healing power in Nov. 1995 ,  during a Cursillo weekend. From the age of 13 to the age of 38, which is 25 years, I thought Jesus hated me. During a Cursillo weekend at the Healing Service, after forgiving all who hurt me, I was left in a semi-darkened Chapel to ponder if I was ready for Confession. When I was, I was to drop incense into a fire and take my New Testament and go to Confession. I couldn't go. As I sat there, I tried to understand if my life of faith as a child was real or imagined.  I was lost and I couldn't even pray because I forgot how.  So I sat up straight, took a deep breath and decided to try to pray. I told Jesus I was lost. I told him he had to meet me half way because I wasn't sure if the friend I had from the day of my First Holy Communion to that dreadful day at the age of 13 was real.

At that moment , a pair of hands went on my shoulders from the back. There was no one in front or back or sides of me.  I turned around and no was there. I moved to a different seat and the hands moved with me. I thought I was crazy. But I decided to take a chance. I whispered Jesus name. The hands tightened on my shoulders. So at that moment I took a deep breath and called Jesus name with force in my mind. Then the two hands came around to the front as if a man walked around to face me and sit on a chair that wasn't facing me and gave me a hug. Those arms felt so strong and so protective and so comforting, that for the first time in 25 years I cried. The walls that were built up around my heart and soul were broken down. The raw emotion flooded over me like a dam that had broken. I knew at that moment I knew that JESUS LOVED ME. I don't know how I knew it. I just did. For 25 years I thought I was the most hated person in the world. Now I know Jesus Love me. The Power of those words were more than I can explain. But that day Jesus healed my soul.

  During this retreat I have felt the healing power of Jesus working in my past.   In my life,  In my soul, Jesus is more apart of me now than He ever was before. This retreat is the most powerful retreat I have ever did. I have learned more about the person of Jesus, who He is and what He stands for.  Have I ever met Jesus in a person, yes, in Pope John Paul ll and a Presentation Sister, in St. John's, Newfoundland and I wish I had to listen to both. I have learned that Jesus cares about us so completely, that after he heals us he stays with us, he guides us to his Father. He guides us to a most loving of all Fathers. And for me that was powerful.

-- Linda

Week 23: This retreat has made a significant differance in my life and I look forward to each sesion.I have a friend and neighbor of over 13 years who has established a life pattern of alienating almost every one who gets to know him . This happens over a long time and now has happened to me. The lesson 23 forced me to realize that this is a life pattern and I have been praying to Jesus that he be released from these personal demons.
God Bless You
Week 23: Jesus Heals
Luke 4:31-37
People were amazed about Jesus’ teaching because it had authority. Lord, help me to live in connection with you so my words also have authority. The demon knew Jesus and had to follow his simple command and leave the person. Even though the demon told people who Jesus was – “the Holy One of God” – Jesus told him to be quiet. He didn’t want and need the confirmation of demons. The people who saw this recognized Jesus’ authority and power over evil spirits which obviously wasn’t so common at that time. Africans and Asians have told me how “easily” they drive out evil spirits in Jesus’ name. I want to be ready to do that, too, if I get faced with it.
Luke 5:12-15
Leprosy – an un-curable disease at that time. It meant being a social outcast as leprosy was contagious and the person was considered unclean. People didn’t come close to or touch such a person. What a stigma! Added to the physical discomfort it must have been emotionally painful and lonely.
The leper had faith that Jesus could cure him, but he left it up to Jesus whether he wanted to. Jesus responded immediately. He didn’t just cure the man with words, but dared to touch him. This must have meant a lot to the leper. Humanly speaking Jesus risked catching leprosy, too, but he was under the power of God. Not only evil spirits, but also diseases had to leave people when Jesus commanded them to. This shows that Jesus’ words have power. I want to have faith that Jesus can still heal sick people when I pray for them – if he wants to. 
Why did Jesus ask the leper not to tell anyone? Was it because the cleansing had to be confirmed by the priest first? Or because there were so many lepers around and crowds of people would have approached Jesus for healing (which they did anyway)? The news spread despite Jesus’ request and the crowds came to see him …
Luke 5:17-28
“The power of the Lord was present for him to heal the sick.” This tells me that Jesus might not always have been able to heal the sick, but only when God’s power was available to him in a special way. He probably felt it then. There are times when I feel closer to God. Lord, help me to know when it’s time to step out in faith, pray for others or do whatever you want me to do!
I’m impressed about the men who brought their paralytic friend to Jesus. They loved and cared for this man – true friends. They didn’t give up when they faced obstacles, the crowd around Jesus, but found a creative way to solve the problem and let the man into the room through the roof. I wonder why they didn’t wait outside until Jesus finished teaching and then approached him after he left the house? Maybe they felt such an urgency for their friend to be healed. Jesus forgave the man’s sins and healed him because of his friends’ faith. The text doesn’t talk about his faith, but their faith. This shows that whenever somebody has given up hope, others can still carry him, believe for him and bring him to Jesus. Lord, help me be such a person of faith who brings others who can’t believe for themselves anymore to you.
Jesus knew the thoughts of the Pharisees. By his actions he proved to them that he had authority from God. - Those people who saw the healing were just amazed and praised God. It doesn’t say whether all of them believed in Jesus through this. Signs and wonders point people towards God’s healing power and to Jesus, but it doesn’t mean that everyone who witnesses them will follow Jesus.
Luke 13:10-17
It sticks out to me that the woman had been crippled by a spirit for 18 years. What happened at that time? Did she make a promise to a spirit that punished her then? She couldn’t walk straight. She obviously wasn’t possessed by a spirit as Jesus didn’t drive out an evil spirit, but only healed her body by his words and putting his hands on her. Again words and touch go together here. This time the woman didn’t ask for healing, but Jesus called her out. In some stories the sick person asked Jesus directly for help, in others friends brought them to Jesus and here Jesus took the initiative to heal. There’s no direct pattern, Jesus treats people as individuals.
The Pharisees were so rule-bound that they were displeased about the healing on a Sabbath. Jesus was ready to help and heal people anytime. To him humans were more important than rules.
Satan had kept this woman in bondage. He brings sickness, bondage, darkness and death. Jesus’ desire is to heal people and free them from bondages – physical, spiritual and emotional. He brings light and life. I’m grateful for having experienced his healing in various ways in my life. I want to be a channel of his healing for others, too.
Luke 18:35-43
There must have been other people with the name “Jesus” as it says here “Jesus of Nazareth” to identify clearly who he was. The blind beggar knew Jesus’ family line as he called him “Son of David”. David was obviously still known as a famous king. The beggar pleaded Jesus for mercy. Others tried to shut him off, but he wouldn’t let them.
Surely Jesus knew that the beggar was blind and could have assumed that he wanted to see, but he asked him first: “What do you want me to do for you?” He didn’t force the healing on him. Also today Jesus doesn’t force himself on people, but asks what they want him to do. The blind man had a simple request: “I want to see.” Having heard stories about Jesus, he knew that Jesus could heal also him. Again Jesus healed here because of the person’s faith. This means that also today he is sometimes hindered in doing miracles because of people’s lack of faith. I want to be a person of faith, too. The blind man didn’t just praise God, but also followed Jesus. That’s the way it should be, that healing is the start of a life that follows Jesus. Other people who witnessed the healing also praised God. Miracles aren’t supposed to make people worship the person who performs them, but to praise God, the source of power.

Week 23: Week 22 led me into week 23 in such way that I did not do any work on Sunday. I had made the decision before Mass and the homily seemed to make the same call – spend time with the scriptures, prayer, Jesus. Talk about letting go. If I don’t work, how will it get done? I have survived one week and turned to Jesus more often. I am amazed at the outcome.During this week 23, because of this retreat, grace allowed me to stay focused to absorb the 5 readings about healing and specifically to ask Jesus to take my worries. To believe and trust.  I could imagine me in each of the readings - Jesus healing me when I don't ask, Jesus healing me when I beg, call out, and when those who care about me take me to Jesus in their prayer. Slowly, I am awakening to see others with similar healing needs as mine. I feel the grace of serenity. Thanks to those that pray for those of us working on this retreat. Please keep me in that prayer as I experience what the next week brings. Joe
Week 23: I had some "healing moments" this week. I was feeling a bit run down part of the week ... a combination of volume of things I've got on at work and some intense conflicts on a couple of dificult issues. This culminated in a meeting on Thursday which I found very dissatisfying and I went home quite depressed.

I didn't sleep that well on Thursday night replaying the meeting and on Friday morning I felt really run down like I was coming down with flu. I was putting in the effort. I some meetings that I had to attend but I was just putting in the effort. But at lunch time I had meetings with with some people that really needed my help with problems they had encountered. The issues were quite practical and I was able to give advice and follow-up. Around 2pm I felt quite different. At Mass that evening I realised that Jesus' healing presence is always with me. But at its core this is a relational experience. When Jesus heals he helps to reset relationships. I can very easily become self centred and quite self righteous about my positions. But when I reach out to others I really enter more deeply into that relationship with Jesus. I know that this does not solve the difficult core problems I encounter every day nor eliminate the annoyances and aggravations in some relationships. But it does make it easier to say, "Lord, my life is in your hands".

Week 23 is truly a blessing, and a healing. I've often thought about Jesus healing on the Sabbath and if he was teaching us not only about the merciful healing in Him but also about God's merciful presence in the gift of the Sabbath itself and our invitation to participate in His mercy on the Sabbath.
-- Roger

Starting week 23 with the gospel of the Transfiguration on Sunday morning, then reflections on healing with the retreat in the afternoon made me aware of my own need for healing on a very deep level and the fact that all healing is transformational. Healing is with God as we are transfigured. In Monday's gospel Jesus instructs me not to judge and to forgive. Healing continues as I stop judging and condemning my self and others and I accept God's compassion for us. Thanks for bringing me here to be healed in this community.
-- Roger

Week 23: Healing is about power/authority meeting need. This power is compassion, and humility and it is able to flow through barricades of law, ego-authority, mob hysteria…It takes place on an individual basis of trust – an open heart and mind – transparency. It is gift, and I am grateful!
-- Anita

Week 23 This was a peculiar week for me to settle on the reflection on healing. I was sick and I don't usually get sick. I had to accept that I needed to rest up and actually be taken care of.
Maybe that was not as bad a way to enter into the reflections. Too often I want to do it my way and on my terms. I was annoyed that my plans had to change. But Jesus' healing starts from that point. It starts when I walk away from my dependence on myself. Then I see it reaches beyond just physical healing to the core of what we need or indeed what we are lacking.
Understanding the core of what we need or lacking is at the heart of Jesus' process of conversion. I was touched by Father Gabuzda's reflection this week in Daily Reflections which brought that out to me:
"So often we feel our enemies and persecutors have "one up" on us, they are "at advantage." The hostility we feel from them makes us feel that they have something, and we are the ones with a deficit. Yet, here Jesus' insight into his enemies and persecutors tells us that they are the ones lacking something: they don't know what they are doing. They are empty, blind and ignorant. Tempted to retort that our enemies know exactly what they're doing, we are invited by Jesus to a deeper level. Yes, they may know that they are hurting us, but from God's perspective, they are the ones who are hurting."
I feel particularly blessed to be touched in some ways by Jesus' healing. I pray that as I recover from my physical illness I may also experience walking with Jesus as he makes me whole spiritually.

I think I have spent 3 weeks on week 23. I don't think it was so different than other weeks, but I got buzy, distracted, and I was intrigued by my responce to Jesus healing. It seems odd even to me, but in one physical area, I almost don't want to be healed. It is like I identify myself so much with that aspect, that I can't imagine myself different. Will I lose my identity? I am having such a struggle to pretend to be whole/normal now, that I can't imagine giving up the fight and letting healing bring me into an unknown, however wonderful that might be. I can say I want to be healed, and that I trust, but I still have reservations. If I am healed, then what more will He ask of me besides my suffering. What courage those people had who actually came up to Jesus in public and proclaimed their faith in Him. I have to confess that I may just be the type of person who knows the words, but can't live them in truth. Again, I have to realize that I can't even ask without help. I pray that when God hears my prayers, He will look at the small portion of sincerity and excuse the greater portion of pride. That would be a great healing!

this week my car broke down leaving me out in the bush for 6 of the days at home. that drove me to the centre of my self. i encountered this week the resistance i am very familiar with. the resistance to healing. to the prospect of what being well could mean to me. and fear surfaced. i have developed a life at last which feels do-able by me. a very quiet and simple life. i am in recovery from drug addiction 19 years this week and on a disability pension.
i imaged walking with jesus which is a comfort for me and has become a rich experience in the last months . but limping a little . not asked to do more than i think i can cope with. at last a rested woman leading a kindly life and i seem to think healing would cast me back inot harshness and pressures and into doign things which mean little to me in the world out there.
most of the week i stayed beside him - not asking for healing. not touching the hem of his garment. and as you have taught us - standing free within the unfreedom of not being really whole.
in my life as it is i have plenty of quiet times for study and prayer and i live in a very beautiful place. i have meetings and people and am often amongst addicts needing help. i miss my family who are in other places but we communicate frequently and are close in love.
i think being healed will mean i have to get a job which takes me away from this .
so at the end of the week. im aware that i dont know that i do want to see. dont know whether i want to walk. dont know that i do want the pox removed which could give me no excuse not to enter into a loving relationship which may be developing with a good man as this retreat continues.
neverhtless i have said YES - and this means reaching out and touching the hem. no courageous begging or yelling for me this week. but an hesistant touch,
and i seem to glimpse what it would be like . that he wont leave me to go on alone if i am well. that he wont direct me into work or a life which is abhorrent to him or me. i am like a prisoner who is afraid of the outside world or a patient long hospitalised . so i have merely touched the garment fearfully .
i have also begun to see Him - as increasingly human. he tells them not to speak but they are so excited that they do. and i see him going off into the remote places because he , like us , doesnt have full control of affairs nor full knowledge of whats to happen on this earth. i had never considered before that he were asked to and had agreed to walk in uncertainty and without using the power he had.
my prayers are with you all and my love .
-- Nell from tweed

I had been going along seemingly without too much effort in reading and reflecting on the daily scripture provided and also the helps given for each week.
Then my sister passed away. I had been appointed her primary care giver and though she was in a nursing home there were many things to considered. I visited her at least four times a week, saw that she was clean, had proper clothes to wear, etc. She had good care and I was content to know that she would live for some years. She was then diagonsed with Alzhiemier's disease and lost her memory of current events very quickly. For a time, she did not know any family member but gradually she came to recognize me when I would visit. After her death, my reflections on scripture stopped as well as the weekly reflections. None of them seemed to have any meaning and my prayer was nothing but sitting in our parish chapel and finding comfort being with the Lord. Then I discovered that Week 23, the week I had been on, was on Jesus, healing physical and spiritual ailments. Gradually, I began to read and reflect again on week 23 and, thank God, started with the daily reflections again. Something made me start again and I could feel the healing that I need gradually taken place. I still miss my sister but now I remember all the happy times we had together before she was ill and not so much the last few weeks of her life. I hope, with God's help, to continue the scripture readings and go on to reflect on the life of Christ by following the weekly reflections of the retreat. I ask for your prayers.

When Jesus healed the blind), Jesus “warned them sternly, ‘See that no one knows about this.’ But they went out and spread word of him through all that land.” (Matthew 9:27-31)All my life, I have wondered at Jesus’ admonitions to keep silent about the healing he has done, and wondered just as much at the disobedience of those who have just received such a great gift! Indeed, anyone who spreads the gospel seems to disobey this directive. It is one of those biblical paradoxes that I don’t imagine I’ll ever understand.A few years ago, I went on a weekend retreat where many of the participants shared profoundly moving—even miraculous—stories of how Christ had revealed his healing power to them. Many of us shed tears of recognition, relief, and release; many of us had carried inside us for years stories of healing that seemed too preposterous to breathe aloud. How astonishing—that such miracles are so common!I imagine that the blind men whom Jesus healed were so full of joy and love—not only could they see, but they had seen their Savior’s love!—that they could not contain themselves, even at Jesus’ request! They are filled with something like young love, which so overwhelms the lovers that sometimes discretion is abandoned. Perhaps such indiscretion is a form of disobedience, yet wouldn’t it be wonderful to know that enthusiasm where joy cannot be contained, where the love that has been revealed to us must be revealed to others, where we can recognize and proclaim and celebrate the miracles in our lives? Then, perhaps, people would see us and respond as St. Luke describes the crowds around Jesus: “Everyone was amazed and praised God.’”Tom, Pennsylvania
We’re walking along the road with Jesus. I’m excited to be there with him since I know his words touch me. I’m hungry for more and the journey to Jericho is long enough that I’m hoping to hear more of his teaching even if it’s informal as I follow him along that road. Now it’s quite demanding to try to keep up with him and ask questions and hear his responses. I’m not the only one seeking answers. This is aerobic learning! We pass a blind man begging and he asks us what’s going on. “Jesus of Nazareth is walking by”, I tell him. Suddenly he starts shouting … “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me”. Now we can hardly hear what Jesus is saying and I’ve lost my position close to him. I find this annoying. He keeps yelling, “Son of David, have pity on me” … others around keep telling him to be quiet. This only creates more noise. I’m really getting agitated. Now he is really yelling and screaming, “Have pity on me”. I utter a rather loud “Please …” Then Jesus stops and asks me to bring the blind beggar over to him. I gently lead him and Jesus asks him what he wants. “I want to see”, he replies. Jesus looks at him gently and puts his hands on his head, telling him in a quiet voice, “Look and you will see … your faith has saved you”. The man looks up as Jesus removes his hands from his head and he can obviously see now. He looks so thankful.Jesus starts walking again and the beggar follows as I do. It doesn’t really matter anymore that for this part of the trip I hear Jesus. I feel different. I see more clearly myself. My own needs were first even as I tried to be close to Jesus. That made me blind to others around me even if they were yelling in my ear that they needed help. May I follow Jesus now with my eyes and ears open to those around me.
In Week 23 reflections, we were called to become more aware of how Jesus loves us in the real scenes of our lives. I was amazed and grateful as I reflected on each reading this week. In Luke 4, I was reminded of two profound times Jesus came to heal me. Both times were when I didn't know where to turn. Both times I begged for Jesus' help. The first was when my husband and I experienced disillusionment in our marriage (over 22 years ago) and He sent us on a Marriage Encounter Weekend. The second was at the height of our daughter's rebellious years (11 years ago) and I promised Jesus I'd never turn my back on Him again. Both times of healing He evidenced to me the need for me to get a grip on my self-righteous and judgemental attitudes so that I could love my husband and my daughters as He does. Like in Luke 4, He ordered out my evil spirits and gave me eyes to see, ears to hear and a heart to listen with love. As I reflected on those hard times, I can only remember growing closer and more in love with Our Lord.

Reflecting on Luke 5:17 made me recall a similar remark to "We have seen a great miracle today." It was a statement my husband said a few years after my conversion experience in '95. Jim remarked that he couldn't understand how our daughters had been transformed from rebellious teenagers into mature caring women. I immediately told him that it was prayer and the grace of God. I have no doubt that God was beginning to transform me too since He'd told me to look inside myself, to work on myself and to leave the girls to Him. By my listening, letting go and taking a good hard look at myself, I've come to know how much I need to be transformed.

There are times I feel ashamed (like Jesus' enemies in Luke 13:10-17) when He reveals to me my rigid and anal personality. I tend to be one who "does the right thing" or "follows the rules" but at whose expense? my family, friends, co-workers? I still struggle with being open, flexible and compassionate. I still struggle with materialism and selfishness and yet I am so grateful for God's love, presence and guidance. He's teaching me that there is only one way to bring peace to my heart, joy to my mind, beauty to my life and that is to accept and to do His will. Fortunately, I couldn't have a better teacher and friend to show me the way.
How many times has Jesus healed me in the whole of my life? He has healed me in physical, emotional, and spiritual matters.  I am still broken and will not be totally healed until I can reach the point that I can become more and more like Him.

Through this retreat, prayer, and the sacraments, I have come closer to Jesus.  I am truly grateful that Jesus loves us most when we are broken, He does not give up.  When emotional hurts from the past and present come to the surface, it is there that I struggle.  It is easy to be loving when there is no "cost", but true love is very costly.  The prayer for generosity is one that I hope to pray and hopefully internalize.

The lesson of love is a lifelong journey, not just for these 34 weeks.  I pray for the grace to love with more authenticity. I give thanks for the opportunities to love, and to heal and be healed. Thanks for the reminders to love and forgive those who Jesus loves so much.  Who am I not to love and forgive? Week 23
The photo for Week Twenty-three of the Retreat really touched me form the time that I first saw it.  My interpretation of the photo follows.  The priest is extending the healing gift of Christ to one man in the photo who appears to be totally into the prayer with him.  The other two people are intensely and reverently waiting as the priest will soon come to them as well.  I can almost feel the power and presence of the Spirit in that place.  It is almost tangible as I look at the four people in the photo.  They appear to have a true sense of the Sacred in this prayer for healing.
So long ago I learned the poem:    
                                  I could not pray as one should pray
                                  Nor trust as one should trust,
                                  Until sin took my boasted strength
                                  And dragged it in the dust.
                                  I could not pity those who fall
                                  Until as they, I fell.
                                  God has so many different ways
                                  To save a soul from hell!

(Whitney Montgomery wrote the poem.) 

This week (23) reminded me of the poem and my reaction to it.  Shall I tell how my reaction has changed over the last seventy years?  Shall I tell how my understanding has grown?  Perhaps it would be good to say I've learned my understanding has more, much more, to grow.  God loves me when I'm broken.  God loves me into wholeness.  God has so very many different ways.
Week 23: love. I think it is the most difficult topic. We all want love, to give and to receive love. And we so often fail, especially to those who are closest - what is love? I have been married for 24 years - the image of love seems to change and often enough I ask myself if I actually love my man. I really don't know. We share a lot, we have a lot in common - but love? I truly don't know. Maybe wrong concept of love? (ie being in love?), is love rather "agape" than "eros"? how can I combine both? is it possible to have a combination of eros and agape for the same person over all the years? In that case, we ought to be perfect... and then, having a bad conscience having truly experienced the love of god (during meditation, during communion) and longing for him, and not longing for my husband.
Jesus says, “Of course I want to!” when talking about healing. The conflict between his desire to heal, our desire to be healed and the amount of brokenness in the world is too difficult to reconcile. Yet I know Jesus has touched and healed critical parts of me. I have faith that he will do the same for each person that opens themselves to his love. I pray he gives me the strength to have faith in this and the ability to draw those around me to his healing power. Week 23
In the 23rd week, I am feeling the healing to be free from and to be free for.  For over a year I have struggled with depression over the loss of my professional identity as well as the struggle to accept that I am no longer a young woman with her whole life before her.  At 58, I have decided as a result of this retreat,  to be honest and to give up my attachment to the false image of my "self" that I invested the greater part of my lifetime creating.  I have dared to let my hair go to its natural color, white, this is no easy feat for someone as vain about my appearance as I have been.  I am taking responsibility for who I am in the world of the "ordinary" where I am no longer the "office" I held in my career.  I have become God's favorite child and rather than try to control eveything, I have let go and give my trust to God.  I don't know what God expects of me at this stage of my life but I am no longer deperate to forge a new worldly identity rather I wish to be what God has planned for me.

I am in the 23rd week of this retreat.  My life is everything I dreamed it might be, after many, many false starts, and many big changes in the "dream."  As one of the fortunate few, I am a professor and a social scientist -- a teacher.  For a long time I thought, just as in our Sunday reading from Mark, that I should be promised an important place on this earth.  And, it was a gift from God that I actually achieved such an important place, early in life -- early enough to see how empty most of our aspirations turn out to be.  And, it was a gift from God that all of my material accomplishments were snatched away, as quickly as they came, leaving only the memory of humans who were part of it.  I miss the them. The life I have now came after ten years of doubt, study, and a total revision of my aspirations.  After I reached the absolute bottomless pit of human want and need, I met and married the most wonderful man.  We have redesigned our lives together, with our love and the church at the very center.  So, it isn't my life anymore -- it is our lives together.  I pray for each of you here -- a prayer that you might also find the very center of your being and with it, the happiness and grace deserving to all.

This retreat has been very helpful for me.  This week, Ash Wednesday, week 23 of the retreat for me, will be difficult to forget - I live in Seattle, WA, where we experienced quite a major earthquake that day.  I was in a building on the waterfront where windows broke out and shattered next to me, and all the glassware broken during the quake.  As I huddled next to the wall hearing this noise and rolling with the earth, I was sure this was going to end with all of us in the Puget Sound.  But God's protection was with us, the earth stopped moving and we all walked out unharmed.  Amazing!  While there was a lot of damage in the Western WA area as a result of the quake, injuries were few and minor.  There was only one death, that of a heart attack, in spite of much falling debris and bricks and glass. My prayer has become one of deeper gratitude for the life we have been gifted with and that more people will come to the understanding of God's special love for us through the miracles of that day. Thank you again for this special online retreat - I am sure that my peaceful heart during the turmoil of the quake was a result of the prayer that I have been able to make part of my life over these last 23 weeks.

As I reflect on Week 23, I am challenged to look deep to the spiritual/emotional cause of my chronic sinus problems.  For the first time, I saw that my selfishness, my wanting control of my live may be a factor and that the sinus condition is simply the physical manisfestation of deeply submerged inner pressures.  As I meditate on these words, I am trying to accept that Jesus loves me even with these sinful patterns in my life; that he does indeed want to heal the physical disdcomfort of the sinus headaches and pressure, but more than that he wants to free me from the inner sickness.  Although I have worked hard at turning loose of selfishness and the desire to control, I realize that I have not fully committed these two areas completely to the Lord.  Perhaps during this week of reflection I will have the courage and the desire to do so. Dear fellow retreatants, I ask for your prayers for me in my struggle as I continue to pray for you in yours.

To the sex addict: Whoever you are, you are certainly in my prayers.  I think I understand what you're going through as I've waged a tremendous battle over the past couple of years with my fears which seemed to have had as terrible and restricting effect on me as your addiction has had on you. My fears, like your addiction, have tried to tell me that they are my authentic self and done everything to keep their hold over me.  But I made up my mind that I would let God take over my life, instead of those immobilising fears.  I'm on Week 23 of this retreat and it is wonderful to meet with Jesus, the Healer, who is not afraid to touch even those with awful skin diseases and so on.  With His help, the battle with those fears is being won.  All of you out there are in my prayers, and thank you all of you who have shared, as I've found many of your stories nothing less than inspiring.  We all should be most grateful to the very gifted staff at Creighton who have put this together and made it possible for us all to have this wonderful healing experience, even all the way from Australia.

The words "Jesus Heals" have been with me all week.  (23) They call me, like a blinking billboard, to look more deeply, to feel more deeply, and to finally approach the One who heals by loving.  I experienced a powerful sense of being "forgiven" in the eariler weeks of the retreat.  For me, this week was not a return there, but something new.  If Jesus heals, then I don't need to be so afraid of following him more completely.  If I get hurt, Jesus is there to love and heal me. It changes the way I think about how this retreat is going to affect how I live my life.  I've been just too afraid of being hurt, to be very courageous.  The other very simple grace of this week was to see more clearly that it is Jesus that does the healing, not me.  When I try to follow him in loving others, I look at people in my everyday life differently, particularly difficult people.  Jesus is already loving them unconditionally and offering them healing.  I'm there to contribute to his healing, by contributing to his acceptance of them.

I've been printing out the Retreat for people in our Retirement Community who don't have computers.  Last week I developed a little survey and asked the retreatants to discuss them at our Faith Sharing .   Everyone expressed gratitute towards those who shared online.  (I read several to our group)  One woman (in her 80's) said that three three meetings each week are making up for the education she missed from after high school to now!   Her husband doesn't come to Faith Sharing, but he reads all the material and they share together. I was particularly moved by the meditation on healing (23).  A few years ago, doctors didn't expect me to live.  But so many people were praying for me! Even Fr. Andy!   Maybe my coordinating this retreat is a way of thanking him for his prayers!    And thanking God for a chance to serve him.  There are so many things I can't do any more, yet God allows me to do this.     May you each hear your call from God.   May he bless you especially this Lent.

What a beautiful thing the Lord is doing through this Retreat.  The sharings are beautiful.  Such honesty, and genuine seeking.  I am often moved to tears.  Thank you for your sharings.  The expanse of this Retreat, it's immeasurable, height, depth, and width of God's love and mercy, is feeding our spirits.  Praise God! Yesterday, I attended funeral services for a young father of three who died suddenly, quite unexpectedly or a massive heart attack.  You can imagine the grief!  I'd like to say that underneath it all though, because of the love and strength Jesus the Healer, has demonstrated (Wk. 23), somewhere in all of this I see His gentle mercy and healing Love. My point:  this Retreat has empowered me to grow in my faith, so that even in the face of death, I know He is in charge, and while we are grieving, I know he cares and hurts far more for these children and their mother, who've just lost their 45-y.o. dad.  And, I know without doubt ...... He has a Plan. And His Plan is for our (their) welfare, not harm.  His Plan is Perfect!
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