Sharing the Retreat
Weeks 32-34


Week 32

Week 32
What a week this has been, beginning with the birth of a precious Grandson my net was filled to overflowing. Then a setback as he had to undergo an operation to repair a hernia with 4 days so far in intensive care. So the blessing and grace was to be able to appreciate all that Jesus has given me over the course of this retreat, and to be able to share it with family and others undergoing the same pain and suffering seeing their beautiful children struggling with pain and sickness.
So many times this week I have felt my Lord, my friend my companion at my side. Showing me the flock he is asking me to care for.
The journey for my Grandson isn’t over yet. But his healing has been filled with grace as each step has been overcome quickly. The repair was smaller than anticipated, his ability to breathe unaided was immediate after the ventilation was removed and he is going from strength to strength. Praise God!
Thank you for the richness of this retreat that has taken me to such a deep understanding of what it is to have God in me and me in God through the love of Jesus in my life.

Week 32 "Dear Lord, I love you and I trust you.  I lay all of my troubles, worries, and concerns at your feet.  I wish to serve you.  I wish to share your Easter Joy with all of those around me.  Give me the strength I need, Lord; show me the way.  Thank you for your great mercy and love.  Amen"

I have made it to the 32nd week of this retreat, I've grown to depend on it, and I'm a little anxious about coming to the end. What a fruitful journey it has been - - but I know I have far to go. I went through some big life changes during these weeks. I was laid off from my job in December and turned 65 in January. I had pictured my retirement as filled with volunteer work and travel but financially I wasn't prepared. I tried to find a job in my field but no luck. Jesus showed me a path of service I could follow through home care for seniors. I was apprehensive and afraid at first but I prayed for his guidance and I felt his call to do this. It is such a blessing to know that I am doing what he wants me to do. -Week 32

Reflecting on each element of this week's reading about Jesus' encounter with the disciples who have returned to their former occupations as fishermen, I am aware that I vary between great joy being with them and being with the Risen Lord and returning to my occupation and particularly my pre-occupations.

At the Sunday's mass I returned to the scene. I imagine the disciples after they have landed on shore and eaten with Jesus, reciting with him the Psalm, "Give thanks to the Lord for He is good ..." Then after Jesus takes Peter aside and challenges him somewhat in public 3 times, we recall his talk to us with His image of His being the good shepherd.
I find these images powerful. I ask for the grace to take them forward in my life. To take more direction from the Good Shepherd ... To hear His voice ... To be a shepherd for Him.-Week 32

Week 32: Please give me the grace to love you Lord for that truly is enough for me. For the first time in my life with you Lord, I now know and celebrate your love for me, my love for you and our love for others. Thank you, thank you.

Week 32: "You Know me Lord"  the title of the prayer for this week. 

The past week has been a time of "wilderness" for all of us.  We suffered the wrath of nature,  so to speak,  fiercer than the previous one which left.  For 5 days we have been witnesses to the devastation wrought by mother nature.  Towns inundated by flood water, street canals clogged by garbage,  people refusing to leave their houses for fear that they will be ransacked by lawless elements.   The outpouring of generosity was never lacking.  Students/parents trooping to the relief operation centers helping out in whatever way they could,  rescuers staking their lives to save families stranded at the top of the roofs,  schools and churches opening up their doors to the homeless, school kitchens cooking hot meals for people in the evacuation centers.  These scenes were replicated all over the metropolis. It's the multiplication of the loaves/fishes again.    Everybody helping out one another.

A priest-friend of mine was in tears as I recounted what happened.  "  Whatever you did to the least of your brothers,  you did for Me."  He reminded me.  What better example than that?  When Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Jesus,  He was giving him a chance  to vindicate himself when he denied Him three times also.  Feed my sheep,  feed my sheep,  feed my sheep. 

Lord,  you know that I loved what I did last week.  And I thank You for the chance to help. In the homily of the priest,  he asked us if God ever thanked us for what we have done for Him.  I thought it was arrogance to even expect it.  But hey,  a |God who gives thanks to us?  WOW!  So in the whisper of the breeze I hear Your thanks. In the cold rainy days  feel your thanks.  In the smile of my child, I see Your thanks. 

Lord,  let me always be sensitive to the needs of the people around me.  You know me Lord.  You know what's  still missing and I count on your generosity to fill it up to overflowing.  Amen. 

Week 32:  One of the things this week is supposed to do is to help us feel a deepening sense of joy  with Jesus.  I struggled with this idea until it occurred to me that I became very emotional at the thought of the retreat ending.  (And, yes, I do realize that I can begin again any time I feel like it).  But I was completely surprised at the depth of emotion I felt at the thought of "the end".  Then I realized that this must be exactly how the apostles felt at the Ascension.  So I think I can say I have been enjoying the joy of being near Christ.  I do know He has been with me my whole life and is not likely to up and leave me now, so He will remain here with me when I go back to my normal life, whatever that is, after this retreat experience.

This week I am asked to bring what He has given me to a new experience, and to follow Him.  I guess I would say that the newest experience I have had is to be a hospice volunteer.  I can sing and love music.  So I have brought music to my hospice patients.  One day when I went to the assisted living home, my patient was actively dying.  I played music for her for an hour until her daughter arrived.  I followed Jesus and I knew she would not last out the day.  But I also knew that she heard the music.

Jesus does nourish us for the mission.  He never sends us where His grace can't help us.  I know from experience that things always turn out better for me and all concerned, if when I hear the call I say yes and do what I am asked to do.  It is always better that I could have imagined or dreamed up.  It just takes faith to say yes when you can not see what is really being asked of you.

Marie in Illinois

Week 32: Early in the week I was struck by a prayer, attributed to Anthony de Mello SJ, in one of the Daily Reflections:

Good and gracious God:
Thank you for the gift of all life
Thank you for the gift of my unique life
Thank you for the gift of my life in this day
Thank you for the gift of my life in this moment

Somehow it helped to connect me with the reflections for the week. It was again a very busy week with a lot of work challenges but I kept coming back to this prayer and the encounter at the Lake with Jesus. I feel Jesus' call ... not so sure it has to be here and I'm not sure where ... but I realise that too often I wrap my call around what I have to do rather than who I have to help and serve. This is what I'm going to focus on this coming week.

Thank you for this retreat.
Week 32:: The scripture passage this week (Jn.21:1-20) has been for me like a flower gradually opening up. It is as if I have taken time-lapse photographs, recording each unfolding. Here are the snapshots: Out of the blue – on a walk outside of prayer time – it suddenly dawned (dawn!!!) on me that I was “on the shore” with Christ…that I had made a huge crossing. I was in a new surrounding.As I look back through six years of widowhood, and the re-building of a life – this time not a partnership and family, but a life with time for solitude, prayer, and writing – I see myself in the night, catching nothing, until Christ tells me to let down the net on the other side. (I’ve learned in spiritual direction that “turning” has great significance.) Here much is caught! The invitation to begin this retreat last fall was Christ telling me to “let down the net into the deep”. It has come up loaded with grace-filled gifts.This week I feel I have reached the shore. It is dawn, Christ is present, I am in a new place enjoying breakfast, and I have touched deep peace.Twice in the last few weeks I have had friends visit. They have sat in my living room and their first comment has been: “This is a very peaceful place.”My ministry at this time in my life: The offering of hospitality, of a place (my home), an empty space, where people who enter feel free to discover their own inner wisdom. My mission: To stay where I AM, on the shore with Jesus, drawing a map for others (through my writing) of how I got there. As I reach the shore, I am happy to lay the great heavy haul down. I am tired from the hauling, happy to lay it at the feet of Christ in thanksgiving, for Him to guide me in how I am to nourish others from the many graces and gifts in this huge net.In my writing I am to take signposts from within to draws a map for others to the heart of Jesus – a guide within which others can add their own tracings. The beloved disciple has struggled to come to the light of day within me for 60 years – me too afraid to “go there”, happier to be active like Peter. I surrender (finally) to this deeper call within to go “where I would rather not”, bound in love to Christ. I am not alone as I travel unknown roads.
-- Anita
This is my final week. I started this retreat with an open mind. Life was proving difficult and I faced a few intractable problems...a veritable mountain to climb. I persevered with this retreat, without high hopes or expectations - just see how it goes. I drove on, dealing with my various ups and downs...trudging on from day to day What is worth sharing here is that the transformation is barely noticeable from day to day - but its only when you when you look back you realize how far you have come. I keep a diary and it was remarkable to read the entries for this time last year when I started the retreat. The mountains are still there but the perspective has radically changed and so has the direction I'm going in. This time I have a map and been shown "the Way"
Lord, I understand how easy it is to go back ... and even though I desire to follow you ... to resort to old patterns. But I know you are constantly present ... lovingly trying to lead me forwardf ... something like a father coaxing an exhuberant young child on a trip ... the child (me) intent on stopping ... exploring ... and sometimes stubbornly just sitting down and refusing to go any further. And this week as I rushed from place to place ... new faces ... new ideas ... it was more powerful hearing your words, "Follow me" and for me to respond ... sometimes with a little resistance ... "Yes, Lord I am with You, here". So Lord, I really do want to be with you here ... guide me so that my steps demonstrate your love to others. Amen. -Week 32
Blessed are the poor in spirit. Week 32 a second sharing from nell on tweed. battling all week to ' cheer up' when i look down in the valley below my cottage and there is a fire burning on the bank of the creek. in the morning there is smoke again and sure enough there is a small group of fishermen there just like our reading for the week. its been a real comfort to me the last few days. as if jesus himself were down there with his followers talking and givineg them direction . i am still feeling very lost but the sight of that small group and their little boat on the water is making a big difference to me . looking forwards to the wee fire again tonight. and know that direction will come to me too . and the comfort of the Masters love . yours.
--Nell from Tweed
It seemed easier to understand Jesus' feelings during his passion and death. I needed only to magnify enormously the pain, the abandonment, the fear and the tremendous effort to trust the Father. It was enormous but I could understand it. I prayed to understand Jesus' feelings having been risen up by the Father. I went on blankly for more than a week but then understood as Jesus' said "why ask me? You know what it is like. Through my death and resurrection and thru your baptism you are in the last days - you are living the life with me. The intimacy you feel with your sisters and brothers who are my sisters and brothers in baptism is the intimacy and peace of the risen life. When you gather around my table and recognize me in the breaking of the bread you are in the fellowship of the risen banquet with the angels, Saints, saints and those around the world who recognize me in the breaking of the bread and offer me and themselves to the Father thru ther power of the Spirit."
I recall someone saying that ther last page of the book of life is already written. It says, Jesus risen from the dead, followed by the list of all humanity risen from the dead.
Thanks to Jesus for his great sacrifice that even today gives us life.
Thanks for this retreat as well. -Week 32
I should be finished by now, but I have allowed my self to be distracted some weeks by things I thought were more important.

It would be very easy to finish this retreat and return to a less spiritual life than before I began for there are so many useless distractions, but what a waste that would be! Although I soon will have completed this retreat, I must continue the journey, for I know that God is calling each of us to a higher spiritual place to Him in Jesus. Whatever I have learned on this journey and the future I must pass it on to those I encounter along the way. With the grace of God, I will continue fishing on the right side of the boat. -Week 32
during the 32nd week, the article "bring some of the fish you just caught." was so impressive for me. while I have been continuing the retreat, I contemplated what some of the fish I just caught was.
I came to be more aware of myself as a sinner. and I experienced Jesus' love for me is timeless regardless of being myself. Although I was a poor sinner, Jesus has not only been with me but waited me with His great love.
In a last evening mass, Jesus invited me to make a confession, like he was telling " follow me."
with the help of confession, I will have a coming Easter day more excitedly.
I experienced again and againt that Jesus' nourishing presence is most effective when I accepted his invitation.
I focused on the scenes on the shore:So we decided to go back to Galilee. Yes it’s certainly not as glamorous as Jerusalem but its home and familiar. There were 7 of us and Peter decided to go fishing. We’d been sitting on the shore becoming accustomed again to the setting. We were talking … even a little joking … just like the old days. Returning to the “old days” seemed not a bad idea after everything that had happened. But really how could we? Had we not been present when Jesus healed … when Jesus called people who you would never have thought would have been candidates for transformation … but they became transformed. And he had called us. How could we return to the “old days”? But going fishing seemed like a good idea. We fished all night. Fish sometimes are not cooperative. We had almost decided it must be down to a “low pressure area” or one of the many excuses we fishermen find for not being productive when we caught a glimpse, through the breaking dawn, of a figure on the shore. He asked how it had been going and when we told him he suggested we cast to the other side. What had he seen there? Sometimes you get so focused on where you think the fish are that you forget the obvious … try something different. We had been casting where we thought there would be fish … repeatedly. Sometimes it takes someone who can see the big picture. The nets filled up. John recognized it was the Lord and Peter when he heard that jumped in the water and half pulled the boat, half skipped ahead of us. We took some of our catch and the Lord carefully prepared the fish and cooked them on the fire. He broke bread with us and we had absolutely no doubt who he was.Later he took Peter aside as sometimes he had in the past. Peter looked embarrassed but the Lord had clearly forgiven him … we all recognized Peter as our leader but we also recognized like the Lord his impetuousness. Jesus’ clear invitation “Follow Me” … said in clear but also whispered tones remained in us. Later John would talk to us about this as the voice of the shepherd whose voice the sheep recognize and we certainly did then and still do today.So like Peter I am not sure where my response to follow the Lord will take me. I will not forget that lesson on the boat to remember to cast out where I am today. I will continue to ask the Lord to challenge my assumptions about the best places to cast and let me see his bigger picture. I will also not forget the lesson that I need to be prepared to feed all of God’s flock and certainly if I cannot feed them all myself not to deny one part of the flock because that is the more comfortable thing to do. I pray to continue to respond to the Lord’s call to follow him, “Lord I am here with you ….”

As an avid fisherman I definitely understand the feeling when you’ve fished all night and caught nothing! What struck me particularly is that in my response to the call I still have no definitive path. I think when I started the retreat I believed by the end I would have a definitive path. Jesus, though, did not give Peter the definitive path … only the warning that he would not go through life for ever with his energy and impetuousness. Goal oriented people like me have a hard time accepting that the destination is different than what we set out for. But now I feel more accepting that the call is not clear. I am open to the call and some of the excuses for not listening that I had before … particularly money and status … I am willing to give up if that is what the Lord wants.Thank you again for this retreat. -Week 32
Week 32: The reading about Peter and his conversation with Jesus is a very powerful scene. Jesus knew exactly what Peter needed to allow himself to be healed of his denial ,and to move forward in his mission.  Peter didn't know what to do, except go back to something that was very familiar and comfortable for him.

Jesus gave Peter  encouragement and challenge at the same time. He allowed Peter to see that if He listened ,answers would come : yet he challenged him to action as well ; "Feed my lambs".

I am feeling that way too, I know that life will never be the same after experiencing this retreat. I also know that it is not the end, it is the beginning. I want to share and nourish others, the way I have been nourished. But how and where?

It would be easy to just go back to my life, and the ways that I participate in church, yet I feel that there is something more that I need to do to  follow Jesus. My weaknesses and old patterns though touched by grace are still an undercurrent , to I pray to keep my eyes on Him.  To focus on Jesus and the great love that is present at all times in my life. It was the Holy Spirit that led me to this retreat, and to all things that have brought peace in my life.

I am asking God for the grace to remain open to taking a risk, not being afraid to follow Him. The  question of where, how , and who will be answered . I will follow Jesus, I will follow His lead , but can only do so with God's grace.

Praying for all who are making this retreat, as well as the on-line retreat staff. God bless you.
I was planning to stay with weeks 30-32 of the Retreat until I could feel the joy of the risen Christ more consistently. I have seen that my self-centeredness and focus on my fears and problems has kept me from living in the presence of Christ risen each day. But, then I thought about those first Apostles who knew Christ risen, who were renewed by the Holy Spirit and who moved out into the world with the Gospel. They struggled, they had problems and conflicts and ordinary lives.Still, they kept their focus on Christ and did the work he called them to do--they moved ahead and so will I. Each time that I feel fear or react with anxiety to life, it will become the time to recall the joy of Christ present-the Retreat has taught me to live with a beginning awareness of those "decision points" where I can choose to focus on my self or on God. Week 33 here I come. -Week 32
The renewal of our call from the Lord in the Thirty-second Week of the Retreat was very uplifting.  While I had said 'yes' to the call of the Lord as part of the Eleventh Week of this Retreat, it was with some fear in completely saying 'yes' and with the accompanying prayer that the Lord would grant me the strength, faith, and courage to follow through with that 'yes'.  While I know that I too have returned to my 'old ways' since my 'yes' all those weeks ago, it was easier to respond 'yes' this week.  While I can not explain exactly why, I know that it must be the work of the Lord in my life helping me to live out my 'yes'.
I always like to think of the risen Jesus on the shore with grilled fish, just before dawn, waiting for me. Week 32
The broken record is back again. It seems impossible that I am already starting week 32. I wish I didn’t feel so confused. On one hand, I know I have come a long way. On the other, I don’t feel ‘ready’ to end this and return to life as it was. I don’t WANT to return to life as it was, but I know myself and fear that that is just what I’ll do. Lord, help me move on, as Peter did. I hear Your call, and I want with all my heart to follow, yet my fears persist. Help me. Fellow retreatants, pray for me, as I will be praying for you.
It's week 32 - so much has deepened in my relationship with the Lord. I thank you because my son is so much better! I placed his care to you and you are healing him. Thanks and praise be to God!

I am in week thirty-two.  This whole retreat has blessed me in a way that will, hopefully,  allow me to bless others!
The Jesuits teach a magnificent spirituality where we become part of scripture as a living character witnessing the events...this has affected me profoundly.  I am grateful for this new way of worshiping my Lord and look forward to each new day of participating in the online retreat.
Those of you who are just beginning this retreat- know that you will be profoundly blessed by the handiwork of some great Jesuits who will bring Christ to you!   May you grow in your likeness of Christ and experience hope, joy, peace and God's love!  I never want this retreat to end.  Diane 

Week 33

Our family is not as the paintings of old. It is messy and sometimes troubled; however, there have also been times of sublime joy as when our children are born, a dance recital, a graduation, a vacation, a trip back home, or even a reunion. But also we have suffered: through deaths, illness, disappointments, divorce, and other losses.
I hope on this day we remember only the joyous things that bind us as family, not a legal family of blood but one of trust, love, and a bond that is forever inexplicable. Let us this day forget and forgive the past. Let us overlook all the "little things", those hurts, unfulfilled expectations, and failures in relationships and instead, concentrate on just loving one another "as we are now" with all our warts , scars, and defects. After all, we are all blessed to be good and holy people in the eyes of God. We are each His favorites, just as we stand here now! So today let us try to see the person God sees in each of us as we celebrate and remember the Holy Family.  I would like that. - Week 33

"For the Journey": God wants only this, then: that we experience infinite love being revealed within our finite experiences and our reception of that love in our lives.

Our relationship with God and with each other really is about ENCOUNTER. The reflection I listened to this morning on the USCCB website concerning the daily Scriptures focused us on the relationship of prayer Jesus had with God the Father and the resulting actions of the Holy Spirit. Jem Sullivan emphasized that we hear Jesus praying before each very significant action of the Holy Spirit through Jesus and his apostles in mission and ministry. I thought Jem would tell us Jesus' prayers brought the Holy Spirit in power. But, instead, she underscored the relationship Jesus' prayers brought about--a relationship of Love. He encountered the Father in Love before he was engaged by the Holy Spirit in power in his mission and ministry. Very powerful Love, indeed. - Week 33

Dear Lord
I thank you for the many gifts you have showered in my life.
I reflected even on the problems that I encountered as I went through the week. I tried to turn these into gifts and Lord I realize that many were gifts … opportunities for me to think and act as you had called me and many times chances to reach out to you again.
Sometimes, I am overwhelmed when I think of the immensity of your love.
I bring also those aspects of my life when I might more often put a chain link barrier up and pretend that these are my own created gifts. I often treat my leisure as this. Yet I see you also present and I thank you.
I know you keep reaching out to me both when I am thinking, “I’m not worthy, Lord” and also when I am in relentless pursuit of my own interests. You gently call me.
Lord, help me to ever know how to bring to others your love, which is contained in all these gifts and especially in your own sacrifice which I have meditated on here in this retreat and I celebrate in your holy Eucharist.
Lord, thank you. -Week 33

Week 33: One of the Jesuits I talked with almost on a weekly basis told me that if in the future he will have Alzheimer's disease then that means his prayer, which all Jesuits pray,   has been answered." Take...... my understanding,  my memory and my will."  What a way of looking at that disease.  Suddenly I got scared because I also pray that prayer with my kids.  I don't want to suffer from Alzheimer's disease.  I don't want to get to that point where I can't recognize my loved ones anymore.  I don't want to lose my memory. And yet this priest has been asking for it. He even asked his doctor if taking medicines to delay the onset of Alzheimer's is a contradiction to the prayer." All that I am and all that I possess You have given me,  I surrender them all to you."  Really now Lord?  Are you willing to accept my selfishness,  my arrogance, my infidelity?  I bow before Your graciousness O Lord and like St. Augustine whose souls is restless until it rests in you,  I only need your love and your grace to live. 

Week 33:  This is the end of Week 33  for me.  But I'd like to back up to a question in Week 32 for a moment.  The question was when the retreat ends I could say " I'm returning to..."  I could not answer the question last week but would like to attempt to answer it this week at the bottom of this sharing.

These are some of the things I'm grateful to God for: My mind; my liberty; my understanding and my free will; God's constant love, help and protection; God's presence; the flowers and crops I plant and God grows; living in the USA; for rain and sunshine, heat and coolness; my spiritual life and spiritual nourishment; my vegetable garden-food for nourishment; my talents; my husband, children and extended family; for the number of hairs on my head; taste, touch, smell, hearing, sight; communication and memory; for 10 toes and fingers, walking and grasping; the color of my eyes and hair; for color and rainbows; for strawberries and chocolate; for the song of birds, chirping crickets, and sound of tree frogs; for sunsets and sunrises (my own private paintings from God on the canvas of the sky); my health; and my hearing His call to follow Him.  I could  go on for a very long time.  But I freely give all back to God because in truth they were given to me by God and are His not mine.  Memory stopped me cold because My Dad had dementia and at the end could not watch TV because he forgot the plot 2 seconds into the show.  Dad loved doing puzzles but could not do puzzles at the end because he'd forget what color and shape piece he was looking for.  So after Dad went to bed I would sit down and put an easy puzzle together and leave out 3 pieces.  It would take Dad the whole next day to get it done because he forgot to turn the pieces until they fit.  But he was so proud when he would get one done.  With all that said, I still give my memory back to God.

I read an amazing book (Rediscover Catholicism by Matthew Kelly) which in part said that if each of us is not our best selves the church cannot be its best self and that we should strive to become a saint.  This was a brand new concept for me.  In Catholic grade school I'm sure I heard that we are all the body of saints - saints to be if you will.  But I never internalized this message.  I never really thought of myself as a potential saint until I read this book.  So I have been praying to become a saint and to be told what I need to change about myself and how to go about it.  I was lead to this retreat.  This retreat is part of the answer and I thank all involved in its creation for your work.  The answer to the question of Week 32 would be something like: "I'm returning to become a saint in progress."   May the Divine Assistance remain with all of us.

Marie in Illinois

Week 33: Lord, There is no doubt that I can give you thanks with my whole being ... I feel your presence in all life around me and this week I feel this reinforced ... With family, friends, being in exciting places, with exciting people, fishing, in the country with my wife. I thank you for how you have uniquely entered my life. I commit each day to you. But what about the unease I feel here? Lord, I ask you to use that ... To be with me when it becomes self serving and potentially destructive ... Because I offer all I have for you to use ... Who am I having made that offer to question how you are using it? Yes there are barriers here at work ... There are ways in which I don't think it is working the way I expected it ... But in my discernment I need to come back to you ... Are these barriers preventing me doing your work or my work? So if I love with you with all my heart ... And listen to your promise ... I trust that I will indeed find the answer to that question. Lord thank you for loving me ... Help me to continue to return that love to you every day. Amen
Week 33: This has been a strange week of mixed emotions: relief that the exercises are coming to an end, and also grief at their ending. They have provided a framework and discipline over the 30-plus weeks that is difficult to leave now. It is like being on a nine month sabbatical and having to return to the “ordinary”. I return strengthened in my commitments, and passionate for the true, good, and beautiful. I have had to take a difficult stand in a leadership capacity, putting community ahead of individual agendas, and I have been blessed with the grace to a further letting go of my adult children and grandchildren.I undertook these exercises as a symbolic way of entering my 60’s. My birthday has come and gone, and I delight in the new journey ahead. My backpack is lighter and has space for new found treasures on the way!
I found this a very energising week. I truly am thankful for the many gifts in my life. As I reflect on what I may do in return I think of where Jesus has brought me since I started this retreat process. When I first went through the retreat I was physically "comfortable" but spiritually "uncomfortable". So when I started this time I had been shaken out of comfort. Experiencing Jesus' love and forgiveness moves me to be comforted spiritually. Since the retreat started I have moved to a different life in a different city. I'm not sure where this path will take me but I pray that it may be with Jesus and that he will guide me along the way. -Week 33

Week 33 greetings to you all on the first day of the last week of this retreat which has become my way of life. its been a quiet and reflective week for me and again i become wordless. i will be 57 years old tomorrow . and am quietly emerging from a darkness of the last few weeks. one thing i have come to this week is that i simply cannot live as useless a life as this. i dont know whether it will lead me to being a Nana and moving near my family or what. but i KNOW the Master doesnt want me sitting here half alive. i havent been given the gifts i have been given to leave them wrapped in boxes on a spiritual shelf. perhaps some of these birthday gifts for a woman at this age and this time are ones i havent had before. its time to begin opening them and see what they are able to do. my love to you all.
-- Nell from Tweed

Week 33 greetings to you all from nell on Tweed. i seem to have less and less to say with each week of the retreat. and am sad to have the ending so close. as i sat at the edge of the lake this week . i thought about how lost the disciples must have felt. knowing their lord was alive but not knowing what to do next. unable to just go back to the way things were before. i am troubled and still unsure of what im being called to this time. the answer remains YES - nevertheless i havent come to peace at all and maybe i wont. NOR DO i have a direction i can see in which to move. Springtime is just touching us here - and my loved ones are all in far off places. i am still on my hill with a lot of time alone and this week was very short of food and companionship. this year has driven me to the centre. to leaning into the Master and trusting.
it seemed to me i was on the shore in my cottage when the young men came and took themselves out fishing - then when the Master came along i was there with him lighting the fire and preparing for the young ones to come in from the Sea. when he went to call them in - i craved THEIR excitement. their newness and youth. i envied them the exiting missions they would be called to and sent on and yet as i sat eating with them all - i could hear the voice of my friend Sister Clare from Maroubra in sydney saying to me - you are being yanked into spritual maturity,
sometimes the quiet and unseen jobs are just as challenging as the action jobs . sometimes the simple life of a woman alone may have more significance than she or anyone else can see. perhaps staying still is as important in its own way as the daring adventures.
when He comes i am here. when He sends lost ones - i am here. if i am called to something else i will KNOW. for now god grant me patience. and for those recovering addicts and alcoholics i know are following in this retreat - for those of us who have been inclined to drama and display - have faith. we are being formed into something finer . honed and refined. the disobedient becomes obedient. the unthinking learns to wait. and think. so i take time and see what fish i have brought in this time. and i love with the many faceted love. and i WAIT. my love to you all

I completed the Online Retreat in August 2004 but I was drawn back to week 33 today 2 years later and I want to share my experience. I am overwhelmed by my experience of God's love. I consider the gifts God has given to me: life, self (with so many talents and abilities), all of creation, so many people dear to me--and I am filled with gratitude. I more freely than ever before, offer it all back to God to use. I realize that am incomplete, unless and until I make this offer, to give all back for God to use. I feel God's love more deeply every year and I want to share love and grace with others more each year. I am grateful.

“Take, receive.” This imperative, in which I offer myself to Christ, is, marvelously, an echo of the imperative with which he offers himself to me: “Take, eat.”Communion has always before now seemed a one-way interaction: Christ offers himself and I receive. But now, I see it is more like a kiss, a mutual self-giving. When the priest says “The Body of Christ” and I say “Amen,” I am also, in a way, saying, “take, receive.”While it is beyond understanding—but not beyond faith—that Christ should come to me in the Eucharist, it seems to me even more astonishing that he should accept to take and receive me. Christ, the infinite, eternal one, took on flesh in his conception and birth and enters into the flesh of all us in his Eucharistic form. We have almost come to expect these incarnations. But for me to be accepted by Christ—why is that so much greater a leap of faith? I don’t know the answer, but it is encouraging to know that when I receive Communion, I now have in my heart the words to offer him something in return. That hope of reciprocity enriches the relationship.
Tom, Pennsylvania -Week 33
I felt especially graced this week. It was fortuitous that the week started with a 40 hour Adoration in our parish. I used some of my time to reflect on all I had to be thankful for and what I had come to understand about the Lord in this retreat. I felt a deep appreciation in a special way for Jesus’ love for us. I ended the week with a retreat organized in my parish. Two reflections were especially useful in the context of this overall retreat. We meditated at the start on a prayer attributed to Archbishop Romero. One verse stood out for me personally:
“We cannot do everything and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. That enables us to do something, and to do it very well. It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest”.
We finished with reflecting on some propositions by Father Van Breemen OSJ on the differences between “Fruitfulness and achievement”. I had a brief resistance to this. My propensity to see the opposite side and challenge started to rise up. But this was more about my pattern of resistance. I wanted to say that achievement can be good sometimes. Think of the inventiveness and creativity that comes when people feel driven and motivated to improve or excel? Think of how much good can come from this? Think of how many social problems we could solve if we really harnessed this? And, of course, this is all true and the achievement motivation is one of God’s great gifts to us. But that is the point … it is not our accomplishments … this is God’s. As Archbishop Romero’s prayer, quoted above, ends: “We are the workers, not master builders, ministers, not messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own”.So I look forward to planting and watering seeds wherever God may desire with trust that may one day they will grow.Thank you again for proving this retreat. Week 33
I just thought it would be good to share on behalf of our small group who have been doing the retreat now for seven years. It has taken us 7 years to get to week 33. We have managed to meet more often in the last few months and hope to finish within the next two weeks. After that we are planning to do it again but in a much more concentrated and focused way over the course of 6 weeks or so. It is so difficult to find the time when we all have such varied and complicated lives. In the course of these years, we have all experienced life changing events and having the retreat going on in the background has helped us to cope and to see God in our everyday lives, sometimes in very unexpected places. The Retreat has emphasised for me that God meets us wherever we are in life, with no conditions attached, and that is a message I can't hear often enough. These exercises are just so powerful and certainly in my own case have helped me to deepen my relationship with God. During this time I have been through a painful divorce and family break-up and almost lost sight of God altogether. I have struggled so much with my current position in the church and feel like an alien. Through these pages, I have experienced a very loving and compassionate Jesus who wants the best for each one of us and never gives up on us. I want to thank everyone who has been involved in this retreat, from those who have provided it on the web, to those who have put all the materials together and to all those people who are taking part in it, whatever stage they are at. We keep you all in our prayers.

Today I feel the need more than ever to share, yet it is so hard because I am so full. I have felt the presence of Jesus as never before; I cannot express all that I feel now, only that I am so pleased that I have continued. This seems like almost the end, yet I know it is the beginning of a deeper journey and I so look forward to it.

This week brought all the previous weeks together, a reminder to see God in everything and everything in God. Week 33
It is hard to believe that I am so near the end of this retreat. I was overcome with happiness and gratitude as I read this week's materials, thinking about, and feeling, the connection I have felt with God through this retreat. It is such a subtle thing, a small change really, in the way I think each day, a habit I've formed of turning to God in the quiet moments of my day, those times when my thoughts used to turn to worry or anger. Not always, I'm still not perfect, which I now understand God does not expect or want from me. But so much more than before, praying and feeling an intimate and real connection with God is a routine part of my day. Thank you to those who created this retreat, what a service God made of your gifts! And thanks to God for my life and my gifts and the freedom the turn them back to God and God's work -Week 33
my retreat is almost over. i have come so far, and have so far left to go. but i am changed, and for the better. it is not miraculous, sweeping, revelational change, but slow, incremental shaping and molding, like the work of the stonecutter who knows the church steeple he is fashioning will not be completed in his lifetime.

i have accomplished something i never thought i could...i have now prayed, every day, for 33 weeks. with grace i will continue tomorrow, and every day after that, one day at a time.

i have been able to face my own sins, hate them, and accept forgiveness. i have stopped making deals with God to change if this or that will go better. i have begun to fill in the empty spaces with Christ and acccept my weaknesses when i fall. and i have learned to hurt when i separate myself from God's grace through the failure of sin. i never want there to be a time when i cannot stand in His presence and say "You mean more to me than anything that can keep me from You". i have begun to allow God to heal the relationships in my family, including the ones damaged my me through my arrogance, anger, lust, and despair.

i see teachings all around me in everday life and challenges to my notions of how it ought to be and how i am doing. one recently came from my 12 year old son, who plays baseball and dreams of the big leagues like so many boys before him.

pitching a good game, his team rose and fell on typical little league errors. but he persevered, and in the last inning, he was ahead by one run with two outs, when a pop fly came to him. he settled under it, perfectly corraled it in his glove...and dropped it, flushing the lead. he pitched out of the inning, but they never got the runs back and lost the game. in its aftermath, my son, the team captain, had to lift up his teammates while bearing his own pain and disappoitment. he at first blamed himself, but quickly accepted that he was responsible only for his own part and neither he nor any one player could win or lose on his own. he lost no confidence, accepting the fact that errors occur, and that tomorrow is a new day and a new game and another chance to do it right.

in comforting and supporting my son, i grew so proud that in a 12 year old's way, he had learned so many lifes lessons on the field, and that i had become willing to learn from his example the way i hoped he had learned from mine.

my errors are sins...i am responsible for my part....but i cannot do it alone. to win, i must be part of a team, a community of faith, and accept the direction of a loving and merciful Savior, who has always been there to remind me that yesterday is over, and today is a new game, and another chance for greatness. all i need do is follow Him where he leads, because He believes i can do it. and because He does, i do to.

so i go to bed tonight, so grateful for the opportunity Jesus has given me, anxious to get in the game of a good and decent life in God....and win.
During the 33th week retreat I experienced more deeply that God's sustaining love and care for me flows much like the warmth of the sun. that made me so happy. It was so touching for me to reflect that everything I have is a gift by God. I 'd like to keep it in mind and respond God's love. It also was a great grace to aware that my flaws and shortcomings I so often look at was a God's gift and invitation.
Now I can't but express the overflowing gratitude in my heart.
"Lord, In all, Let me love and serve you. Amen."
Week 33: Thank you my Jesus,thank you my savior and love . I am unable to say what I feel, but I know that You are my love for all time.  I thank God for giving me life and sharing His gifts with me.

During this week, I have reflected on God's love and gifts to me and to those that I love.  How unbelievable that so much has been given by this ever loving present God.  He is the present of my life. I have been like the ungrateful child on Christmas wondering if there is more, but through this retreat I am beginning to realize that the "GIFT" of being His child is enough.

I am incapable of saying enough thank yous, so I really need to put my love into action by living a more authentic life of love. God has graced me with so many people, talents, and life, how can I truly make a return. Sometimes I think what I have to return is not enough, but then I remind myself that all good is from God, so how can that not be enough?

Before I started this retreat, I can remember driving in my car one day, feeling very sorry for myself, thinking what do I have to offer? what are my gifts? I was that child who did not realize that the gifts were enough. The evil one had me actually scoff at my gifts.  I remember thinking, not bright enough , not talented enough, not this not that.  I actually pinpointed a gift that I could name, and I scoffed at it. I remember thinking, I do have the gift of compassion, and at that time I actually thought,  this gift is not something that the world thinks is so great. When I remembered that this week , I feel sorry for not being grateful to God for that gift and the countless other gifts He has given me.  Now I say , thank you Lord, whatever you give me is enough. It is for you and your greater glory if I use it.

Another gift, remembered this week. Before starting this retreat, I noticed on the back of our misselette in church the prayer of St. Ignatius, Take Lord Receive, it was an abbreviated version ; I remember thinking I can't say those words. I did not want to give back those gifts of life, and memory, etc.  Now when I read that prayer it touches me in a new way, a way that will continue to grow as I grow in love with Jesus. How could I not want to give back all that He has given to me.

Throughout this retreat, I have fallen in love with Jesus, by knowing him more intimately, and letting myself be open to His love that was and is always there.  If I love Him, I have to be with Him in all that I do, this is a challenge because of my weakness, but His love is stronger than mine,and He will never let me out of His loving embrace.

Yes, one day all will be returned, and I want to make my life , my love poem to God.

God bless all who are making the retreat, and to all who have made this retreat possible.
The Lord has given me so many gifts.  Truly everything I am and have is from God.  While sometimes this realization is in the forefront of my mind how wonderful I realized it would be if it were always in the forefront.  It was nice to look over the reflections that I have shared throughout this Retreat as one of the ways to assist my reflections for Week Thirty-three.  I saw the many ways that the Lord gifted me over the course of the thirty-five weeks (counting the two weeks of review) that I have been taking part in this Retreat.  There were so many insights and gifts from the Lord who has truly blessed me.
Saint Ignatius’s “Take Lord and Receive” prayer is so perfect.  It is a prayer I believe and love, but in my imperfections I do not often give you Lord what you deserve. Since I seem incapable of giving, I do ask that you take of me whatever serves you. If you want it, I know I can do without it. Week 33
As I near the end of week 33 and of the retreat, I find myself wondering what comes next. Will I return to my old ways, or will I be the new creation the Lord wants me to be? My Rosary this week again had six decades that I refer to as the Mysteries of Gratitude: 1) the Mystery of the Gift of Life; 2) the Mystery of the Gift of my Parents; 3) the Mystery of the Gift of my Wife and Children; 4) the Mystery of the Gift of my Job; 5) the Mystery of the Gift of His Beautiful Creation; and 6) the Mystery of the Gift of Jesus on the Cross and in the Eucharist. The first time I prayed those mysteries, my eyes misted as I thought of my parents and their love for me, a love I have not deserved; I laughed as I thought of my family and some humorous happenings in our travels.  When I think of all the gifts the Lord has given me, I am overwhelmed. I want to repay Him, and know that it is not possible. All I can do is live the life He has given me. If I live it in love, I know I am secure. I pray for the grace to live as He wants me to do. Pray for me, you who read this, and know that I will be praying for you.
I am in week 33 of this wonderful retreat.  As I reflect on this week's offerings, I am so very much aware of God's goodness to me and my heart overflows with gratitude for my life as it is.  As I reflect on God's goodness to me, I can see more clearly how he has been beside me all along the journey and I can rest in confidence that He will be with me always.  I can now see Him as my beloved friend, not a stern, judging God.  He longs to be with me, an idea that is mind boggling to me - to know that He sees the real me and that I am precious to Him.  I can only thank Him with inadequate words but be secure knowing that He sees in my heart. May God bless each of us as we continue our journey in this retreat and in our walk with Him.

Week 34

Today I would have started Week 35 if there was one!  Of course, I know there is a Week 35 and others after that which have all been transformed by Weeks 1-34!  While I have been a faithful follower of the Daily Reflections for many years, I had noticed the “online retreat” link many times but never followed it; however, 2020 with the raging pandemic and all the unsettling election hype  made me long for my annual summer retreat more than ever.  When  it was cancelled due to the pandemic I was so disappointed, discouraged and even annoyed with God.  One morning as I prayed I asked God to get me out of this funk I was in when the “online retreat” link caught my eye again.  After exploring it a bit, I thought “34 weeks… I don’t know if I can sustain that!?! “ In any case, I really felt God was inviting me to accept the challenge and enter the journey, so beginning Sept 13th and ending yesterday I have experienced and encountered God over these many weeks in ever new and surprising ways.  That I remained faithful to the retreat was probably one of the biggest surprises!

    The weekly guides, reflections and suggestions for prayer provided so much support and inspiration especially in the hard weeks leading to the Lord’s Passion and death.  Being connected to so many other God-seekers in prayer, in pain, in hope, in amazement, in gratitude through the many “sharings” provided additional prayerful support and encouragement.  As so many others have expressed, this retreat is really not over but rather continues to unfold new revelations of God’s grace and mercy.  How amazing that God always has MORE for us…

    How grateful I am to all those who have contributed to all the very helpful and inspiring resources and to those who have been joined with me in prayer!  May we all keep this Godspel song echoing in our hearts: “O dear Lord, three things I pray – to see Thee more clearly, love Thee more dearly and follow Thee more nearly  DAY BY DAY!”  Amen.


Dear Lord

It has been hard to leave this retreat. Through it I have been reminded so much about the blessings of your presence and how your love for me and for everyone can be truly transformative.
I have found it particularly empowering over the last few weeks to hold as many things as I encounter as gifts from you … even the problems I meet. Then I see that you do ask a return from me … a lot of times to give of my best but many times just to be present as you are present. This challenges me out of my inherent selfishness and my constant need to see myself as the center of everything when in fact you are really the center.
So, Lord, I will continue the journey that you have gently pointed me towards … in thankfulness. I will keep the practices that this retreat process initiated a number of years ago when I first followed the exercises. I will also use the Examinen to ask for the grace that I continue to see your light shine through my daily encounters and to continue to revere your gifts and to give back for the many graces i have received.
Thank you, Lord. Thank you also fellow retreat followers. You are in my prayers -Week 34

I am just about to start my 34 weeks, starting tomorrow, planning the best times today. Please pray that I will listen to the Holy Spirit enough to complete it and benefit from it.
Jill -Week 34

I am approaching the last two days of this retreat. Since I never retreated for the real world, I now realize this retreat never needs to end. Thus, the tears in my eyes represent the joy in my heart. Thank you. - j s gray -Week 34

Hello and thank you. The 34 weeks have been completed and so much gained. The greatest Grace received for me was knowledge of self that brought many tears and a grateful heart that will hopefully allow me to be open to the needs of others. Please know I will share this withall I can and pray they are open to the gift that is available.
Again, thank you. -Week 34

I am so pleased that I have committed to these 34 weeks. This retreat has been transformative for me. While I have always followed Jesus, I feel as though my faith has deepened and my mission in Him has been focused. These last six weeks since Easter have been very challenging in my personal life with a sick elderly mother, sick elderly inlaws, and a very critically ill brother of whom I am primary caretaker. In the last two weeks, my brother and I faced his imminent death and I feel like with the strength I received from this retreat, I was able to pray with him through the crisis, reassure him of his acceptance by Jesus, and give him peace through prayer. In the midst of the crisis, the Lord placed many people in my life who showed me HIS presence and instead of walking in to despair, I rejoiced in HIS presence. During one of the long nights, my husband and I went to dinner. One of the things we like to do, is pray for our waiters. It is a great way to show the love of Jesus and to evangelize. I asked our waiter and server who brought our food if we could pray for them and without hesitation, they both offered their petitions. Our server immediately burst in to tears as she was struggling with her marriage. I jumped up to hug her and just reassure her that she is and would be in prayer. The Lord showed me in this instant, that the world is hungry and desperate for people who care. This retreat has taught me even more that self love is not where God would have me but rather ministering to his people. While I was so exhausted from long nights and days in the hospital, God gave me strength beyond my self to reach out to others. What an incredible witness of love he showed me. Never underestimate the stirrings of the Holy Spirit. He is always working.-Week 34

I am beginning the 34-week retreat this year for the seventh time. I found these spiritual exercises to be the best experience of prayer I ever had in my 79 years of life.   A Jesuit once asked me, “Is it different each year?”  My response was, “The guidance and resources available to us are always the same – but we are different.” I come to the retreat each year with new questions, new insights, new expectations - and so I approach the exercises each week with hope and trust that God has something new in store for me if I come with an open heart.  I have not been disappointed yet; in fact, how can anyone be disappointed when sharing intimately with the One who loves me unconditionally. Thank you, God, for another year of life, for another chance to work with you in creating me into the person you want me to be.  Thank you!  Thank you!

I am from Malaysia and stumble across this online daily retreat one day. Now I have managed to arrive at 34th week, the final week. I just want to share briefly how tremendously I am blessed from this exercises, even I think I managed only about 30% on average of these meditations. One big difference I.e. grace I receive in these times is to experience God's love and mercy in a real way. As a result, I feel I respond to God more willingly, knowing He doesn't reprimand me in my failures and weaknesses. I think also I am more readily to forgive myself and accept others' failures and weaknesses. I am redoing the whole year exercise again from 15 sept following the liturgical calendar. With God's help and grace, I pray I would grow deeply into intimacy with Him. Praise be to God.

I had finished the 34 week long retreat middle of this month of May, and I can't help but come to this space and share my wonderful experience.  The retreat has been such a healing time. It has also paved the way for a most wonderful grace: the deep appreciation and gratitude for my Catholic Faith. Since I was doing graduate theological studies at the time I did the retreat, the insights and reflections from my course work just beautifully blended with the theme of the week. What an immense grace!  I came out of the retreat deeply grateful for my Catholic faith and all those people through whose teaching I have been formed in the faith.
 It also brought me inner healing towards greater acceptance of myself and my personal history.  What can we not embrace with a God who embraces us so unconditionally? Nothing indeed. Nothing!!

I thank all of you at Creighton for this beautiful work of love that you share with all of us.  May God continue to guide and bless your work.
All the best!!

It is the middle of the 34th week.  Although I have managed to resist daily journaling or specific time periods for contemplation and reflection,  I have maintained the reflections in the background of my day.  This retreat has been a 'God-send", and I suppose it really was sent by God for me.  It is difficult for me to make statements of what I have received through this retreat.  I am struck, it seems,by a closer or awareness of God.  I think "God" has been more conceptual to me, and now I "get" that God is "real" to me.  I grew up Catholic, so God and Jesus were just part of life.  Always there, not needing to be "thought" about.  He was, and is, and will be.  But now, as I look at the crucifix, I see Jesus, the Son of God.  Jesus showed us how to use human concepts of love, sacrifice, giving of ones life.  He modeled for us... love, caring for another, dying.  He "emptied" himself and was filled with His Father's love.  I am not sure what to with that.  It overwhelms me. 

Week 34:
Let Us Reflect on the Path before Us
Guide: Contemplatives in Action

34 weeks ago,  I was not sure if I can finish the online retreat.  Back then,  it seemed such a herculean task.  But here I am,  'graduating' so to speak.  What have I got myself into?  Am I still the same person or has something happened to me that I would not like to acknowledge?  Has my pride diminished?  Am I more sensitive to the needs of others? Am I still impatient over people and things which are out of my control?  Has the Holy Spirit done its work on me?

The road is long but the path is clear.  To follow in the Lord's footsteps is the daunting task and not the 34 weeks of online retreat.  Lord,  I pray that I may spread the good news thru my words and actions.  Let's me always be reminded of St. Ignatius' Prayer of Generosity:

"Lord,  teach me to be generous,
Teach me to serve you as I should.
To give and not to count the cost,
To fight and not to heed the wounds,
To toil and not to seek for rest,
Save that of knowing that I do Your holy will."

THIS RETREAT has been the most beautiful gift; a special friend of mine send me the link. Now I don't have words to thank him, knowing Christ as he really is has changed my life, he works in me every day, I just pray to God to be humble and recognize his work.
In Christ,
Agar -Week 34

Week 34: My introduction to this ministry came through a friend. This is right on target for where I am in my life -23 months after retirement from 39 years of teaching in elementary school. I have spent most of this period reflecting on my many experiences during that period… some not too enjoyable. I had an even greater opportunity to reflect after a mild stroke in January this year. During these past 6 months I have experienced a drawing closer to God through many unusual events. A different style of praying as directed by the Holy Spirit, a great deal of inspired Bible reading and much silent meditation  has occurred. As one of the passages stated, I searched and I found, I asked and I was given the company of the Holy Spirit. My friend knows most of my recent life story and I thank him for sharing this site with me. It most certainly clarified what I have experienced in the past 2 years. This is great spiritual work that I will share with all my friends who are searching for the WAY.

Thanks so much, continued blessings in your work. You may use my name.


Week 34: I come from parents who are divorced, I do not see myself as worthy as I do not remember being told by my parents. There was a lot of physical verbal and emotional abuse which adds to this state of unworthiness. I know deep down I am special as I am made in His image and Likeness. I took this retreat to help me bring out my self confidence to be who God made me to be so He may bless me abundantly pray for me, thank you.

Week 34:  And here I am at the end and the beginning.  This has truly been a journey of love.  I will definitely return from time to time and maybe even take the retreat over again.  As to desires I would like to explore Sacred Space and the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises.  I will definitely continue to use the Daily Reflections. 

There are some difficult people in my life that I am trying to love as I have been loved.  I keep them close in my prayers.  I have been taught to pray for what I most want, to be given to those I pray for.

For me "dying to self" means not my will but thine be done.  I don't get my way, I need to put God first and see what He wants me to do each day.

The grace I am looking for is for the love of Christ, for tolerance, compassion, peace and serenity, courage to proceed, joy of life, wisdom and patience-a tall order!

I am so grateful that the Holy Spirit led me to this site through a church bulletin mentioning an Ignatian Retreat.  I thank each and every one who made this site possible and for opening it to everyone.  And I thank all who wrote in the sharings they touched my soul.  Thank you all!

Marie in Illinois

At the end of my 34th week of the Retreat:

    Take, Lord, and receive; I place my life in your hands.
    Make us grow in love.
    Ad majorem Dei gloriam.

Week 34

Week 34 ... it is hard to let go, to transition into an “ordinary “ time. What a lovely, exquisite time this has been. So much has changed since week 1. Our world has been ravaged by COVID. I have been a caregiver for the past eight years for my mother. Mom died four weeks ago and we cannot have a funeral gathering because of the virus. But, Jesus is with our world and with us. So many consolations to recount! Thank you Lord Jesus that I have been with the Exercises at this time.
Chris, Magnolia, MS, USA

Week 34
So here I am sitting in my prayer place, the day after the retreat ended. Wondering how to begin? It has been an amazing 34 weeks of discovery, enlightenment, and grace. There has been pain, tears and regrets. But healing and hope have been present in abundance.
So where to from here? The road is there ahead of me, it hasn’t changed much, there are still twists and turns, shadowy dark areas, and obstacles to travel. But the difference is, my heart is lighter, and there isn’t any fear of the future as I have Jesus right here beside me, holding my hand guiding me, and He will pick me up when I stumble and fall.
Thank you to everyone who has made this retreat possible. I will pray for all who continue on the process of enlightenment.
God bless us ALL.
Jane NZ

Hello there,

It's been eight months and now this retreat has come to an end. First, I 'd like to express my gratitude to everyone who have a part of this retreat. Thank you for allowing yourselves to be instruments of God's love and mercy. My heart and soul is only one of the many who thirst for a closer relationship with our Lord. In a fallen & lost world, who can we turn to but Him- our good a gracious Lord!

What do I have after all these months? Am I the same person? 

Isn't it something that as human beings, we always want to measure how we have done? Sometimes I think it is good but sometimes it is not so good because we can easily be puffed up with pride. 

I look at myself and I wish that after 8 months that  I am already a saint- but I continue to be a sinner. It tells me that there is a continued struggle between myself and that of God. Mainly, it is the I , me and myself.  Sometimes, I echo what Saint Paul says " that the things I have to do, I do not do. And the things I shouldn't do, I still do." 
What I know though, is that I do not walk alone,I have the Spirit that lives in me,  I need and have my Savior day in and day out. I know of my Father- Abba who is ever forgiving. The God of many chances, the God of new beginnings. 

I have learned to pray daily - regularly and to offer everyday- all of myself to our Lord- my liberty, my memory my understanding and my whole will. I am learning to surrender more and more to His will. I offer to Him all my reflections, failings and frustrations. All that I have and hold, it all came from Him- I offer it back to Him. All I need is His grace and love, and with that I will be rich enough and will not ask for more. I ask for the grace to be able to pray this everyday, and to able to live this prayer consistently. Funny, sometimes I pray this in the morning, and sometimes the day is not over yet and I take it back already!  That's how much I need His grace- I cannot do it without Him! 

I plan to continue to use the website as a help for prayer. I need a spiritual director, I still haven't found one. I will continue to pray for this.

God bless to everyone. Again, in this fallen world, who can we turn to but our Lord and Savior.

Week 34: I wanted to reflect on my 34 weeks of this very good on line-retreat. In background I am 67 years old and retired for the last 5 1/2 years. I have been "making" retreats at the Chicago area Jesuit retreat house, Bellarmine Hall, since 1981 and have been with the Ignatian Volunteer Corps for the past 5 years. While I was working, I daily prayed with the Irish Jesuit "Sacred space" website at lunchtime. As you can see, I have been "indoctrinated" in the Ignatian tradition (quite voluntarily, of course) for a while.

I started the on-line retreat on its official opening date and have followed faithfully each week of the retreat, with a few week's hiatus when the meditations were not in sync with the Easter season. My experience has been that I received many new insights, and, I think, became more grounded. It was not earthshattering, and my "feelings" did not always correspond with the reflections in the weekly material. That did not bother me, however, and I figured that God accepted me as I was.

For the past several years or so, I have been reflecting on God's love for me. Right now, it is probably key to my life, although I often can see how dense I am. The on-line retreat has helped me in this understanding. Also, I now appreciate the "Take and receive" prayer much more, and I hope to make it a practice of starting the day with the prayer you suggested.

In hindsight, these 34 weeks have been very fruitful, and I think will stay with me. It seems for me to be another very good step in the journey.

Thank you very much for the time and effort you have given to this ministry. It has and is helping me on my journey, as it has for countless others.
Week 34: As I come to the "end" of this retreat I thank God for the many graces it has provided. This is the third year I have done this ... Along with a friend ... I find it helps to centre my spiritual life. I am only too well aware reflecting this week that we cannot measure progress the way we might do if it were a self-improvement course. But I found it instructive to think of the movements that have occurred for me in the last 3 years. In the first retreat I became aware that some of the barriers that might prevent me from moving to answer God's calling to me were not as real and I could move forward ... Trying to give myself for God. In the 2nd retreat I physically experienced this movement as I moved location and job after a period of discernment. In this retreat I struggle with where God is leading me. Each day I have to find ways around the weeds of self-love and selfish thoughts and behavior. But I also come to realise that I cannot do this all by myself. Only with God's grace and so I end the retreat re-committing to "self giving" and asking for the grace to trust God that he will use whatever gifts he has entrusted to me according to his will.

Week 34 ended a few days ago. The image of the path will remain, permanently I hope. I realize that Jesus, the Father, the Holy Spirit, the angels and the saints and you my brothers and sisters are with me on this path. The retreat has helped to illuminate the path. I am very appreciative of the grace that the Creighton staff has cooperated with in presenting the on-line ministry. I continue with the daily reflections and the weekly prayers and I will probably look in on the retreat from time to time. Thank you and God Bless You!
-- Roger
Week 34: What an exciting time 34 weeks the gestation period for a new life in Christ!

Week 34: Well folks, this is my 34th and last sharing – I bid “adieu” (to God) with gratitude for all of you at Creighton and all of my companions on the way, that have shared this journey with me. I will miss you all!

It's hard to believe the retreat has gotten to the final stage ... or at least the "commencement" to go forth. Personally, so much has happened in my life since the beginning of the retreat ... I changed what I am doing and where I am living somewhat radically ... but I felt all was in concert with the direction of the retreat. One practical help I integrated actually came from a preached retreat I attended at my parish ... I like to use St Francis de Sales Direction of Intention both at the beginning of the day to settle into the theme of the day as per the retreat but also before I begin an activity or chunk of activity ... I find it keeps me centered better although I am by no means consistent. So before I start a meeting I might pray: Lord, I give you this meeting ... I offer you all the good that I will do and I willingly accept now for the sake of your love all the difficulties I will encounter. Lord, let my conduct in this meeting be pleasing to you. AmenSo as I end the retreat I recognize again that the garden of my life has been blessed and cared for by Jesus but that there is still pruning and quite a bit of weeding and weed control to do. What resonates for me most comes from the Prayer ... In these or similar words:
Lord, what I want the most, what I feel so very deeply, is that I want to live a life of service to you by serving others. I want to be where you want me to be and live as you want, without hearing the self-serving echoes of the world. Please help me in my struggle to be free from anything that keeps me from loving and serving you. All I want in my life is to love you. Amen
Thank you for providing this retreat and thank you to other companions on the retreat who have shared their thoughts and feelings. These have helped me immensely. Week 34
Week 34 I've completed the exercises, and I asked God what came after surrender and I "heard" the word "Joy".
May all who search for God be blest with Joy,
-- Michele

I completed the retreat last June. It was an awesome feeling to walk with Jesus all those 34 weeks. It help me to grow into my faith and to fall in love with Jesus.
I followed the retreat and with the help of my spiritual director, I was made aware where I needed more guidance and more prayer.
Thank you for this wonderful site.
Gods Blessings.
-- Roseann

Thank you for this retreat! I very much hope that I will maintain some of the practices that I have received such as naming my desires in the morning, foci for background during my day and simple thanks in the evening. I found Father Gillick’s reflection useful this week. If I reflect on whether and how I have changed, I am mindful that there are many weeds that still surround my life. But I give thanks for what I have learned and what I try to integrate into everyday life. I am not sure I have found yet the place where God is calling me. But I do know that this need not be a position or place … more situations where I can return God’s love for us. And this is what I give most thanks for in the Retreat … a deepened sense of God’s loving embrace. Thank you to all this online community for sharing your faith over this period. -Week 34
I am at week 34 of this retreat,,oh what joy, it has made a remarkable change in my prayer life. There is no question in my mind as to what next, my deep desire is to continue what I have started, to continue to show gratitude for all the graces that I have received. I started this retreat in September 2005 and I have been faithful to this retreat every week without fail.My desire is to continue this way with my prayer life. I am a member of an Ignatian spirituality group here in my island home Barbados I have introduced my friends in the group to this site .it was so useful to me in my weekend retreat which I attend every year.It seem that I was walking the Emmaus road with Jesus and through this retreat I have become closer to Jesus, in that walk I am taking time to be alone with God.reading scripture more,enjoying and getting more out of the mass, focussing on prayer and praying with scripture more, and sharing with others. When I started this retreat I was seeking spiritual renewal I have achieved my goal. My desire is just to continue what I have started, I feel blessed. Thank you all at Creighton, thanks to the Jesuits, may God to continue to bless you , I will continue to use your reflections daily.
-- Joyce, Barbados

What is the most surprising to me about the last 34 weeks is how quick and regular it was. The retreat went so naturally--it flowed from day to day from start to finish. I am here at the last day, Saturday morning, and I don't feel that the retreat is really ending. What does that mean? I am thankful for the quiet and calm influence that the retreat had on my life. Am I a different person now? I think that is probably true, though I can't say exactly how it is. It has been reassuring to see the other posts from time to time. I am glad that this retreat has touched other people's lives. Thank you Lord. Thanks to all of you.

It's the last day of week 34, .. an ending and a beginning, .. my prayer for all is that we "keep on keeping on", to "Know Him, Love HIm, Serve HIm" . My ongoing Thanks to you all!
Week 34. Again, "Thank you" for providing this Retreat. Words cannot describe how much I appreciate it. I plead with others who have started the Retreat to please continue.

At the beginning of the prayers today, I prayed that no tears would flow from me except from the presence and touch of Jesus; at the end of the prayers I could hardly stop weeping. I feel as though I am moving away from good neighbors and family, and it is so hard to say good-bye, yet I know it is not good-bye because I will come back to visit some times and to pray that you too will continue the journey. So this is not good-bye, as Jesus would say - shalom.

Today, I feel so much stronger spiritually, like I can face any challenge because I know Jesus is at my side.
It’s taken me about a year to go through the 34 weeks—sometimes lingering on a week for a little longer, sometimes getting distracted and falling away for a week or so, then getting back into the retreat. In all, it’s been a good experience, and I hope and pray that I can continue to live it out in the coming days, weeks and months, focusing not on what I don’t have, but on what I have through the grace of the Lord, and finding ways to use what I am fortunate to have to love and praise and serve Him.
I am finished with this retreat and I am a better person for it. I am so grateful to have had this experience. I urge everyone to finish it, at your own pace if you must. It is a doorway for God to enter your life. Week 34
This has been good for me. This is not the end of this retreat. It will begin again, whether next week or next fall, I don't know. My guess is that it may be too much a part of my day now to leave behind. It's helped me to stay on track, partly because it is so easy to reach to while I sit endlessly at a computer anyhow. Perhaps it is the steady guide it gives my days that I like the best. I can't seem to jumpstart a day into prayer while I am stumbling around in the early morning, so being able to tap into this retreat at work is my later jumpstart. I have remembered so often the guide at the beginning of all the guides--remembering that God will not be outdone in generosity. I love to roll that around my heart, trying to feel its meaning. While there are many other things that happened during the retreat, that is the one I most hang with for this round. I also remember how much you caught me on week 20: Freedom is all about confronting the temptation to use one's power to feed oneself. I have somewhat necessarily caught up in trying to heal my last experience of catholic community. When I started the retreat, I was still thick in the web of lies and gossip of other community members. As I end this retreat, I am coming back out of the experience...admittedly a little worse for the wear, but willing to try trusting again, try hoping that all experiences are not so painful, try believing that some of them may even be healing and joyful. And less concerned about my own healing as it now is happening, and more concerned that I learn again to care more for others. Thank you for setting this retreat in front of me. Week 34
I have completed week 34, but will be living in week 32-34 for the forseeable future. I wanted to share two images that are my summary not just of weeks 32-34 but of the whole Online Retreat.
                                    The glass
                                is not half-empty,
                                     The glass
                                is not half-full.
                                      The glass
                                is always and only
                                filled to the brim,
                                and overflowing
                                with God's abundance.
Because of God's grace, when I look into the shadows, I can see the light, and seeing the light, I also see that there is no darkness. As we read in John 1: 5 "The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it."
I have just finished Week Thirty-four of the Retreat.  It is hard to believe that thirty-six weeks have gone by since I began this Retreat.  I have enjoyed the journey.  As with anything that I experience, this Retreat will forever change who I am even if it is just in some small way.  For it is impossible to have not grown in the midst of these reflections.
I am completing the 34th week but I may stay with the 33rd and 34th weeks for a little while.  I take comfort in the prayers and suggestions for growing closer to Jesus and I don't feel strong enough to let go yet.  This retreat has been a grace filled time for me and I am learning to  rest in Jesus love and not to feel I am responsible for others.  Sometimes  I have felt dejected because I could not touch my daughter's heart with Jesus love but I am coming to realize that Jesus was shunned Himself, so why should I be different?  It is freeing to know that I don't have to be responsible.  I am  learning to let go and rest in Jesus love but I am not there yet.  My hope and prayer is that I will become more contempativie that I will recognize Jesus as my constant companion as I journey through my day.  I am improving but have a long way to go.  I love the term 'background times' .Thank you to all who have contributed to this exceptional spiritual retreat.
Week 34+ … It has been several weeks since I have looked at the Online Retreat page, though I continue to read the Daily Reflections. I came to work today feeling discouraged; discouraged by my own weakness and failings and by the direction I see so many people taking these days. It seems that in this age of ‘tolerance’ everything is tolerable as long as you believe that EVERYTHING is tolerable. If, like me, you accept the teachings of Holy Mother Church, however, THAT is NOT tolerable. Then the Spirit moved me to open the Retreat page again, and again I found comfort there. Thank you to all of you who contribute to the Sharing page, as that was the primary source of my comfort today. I continue to hope and to pray for the grace of courage and perseverance. I will pray for all of you, and ask you to keep me in your prayers also.
Week 34 (continuing). It seems so long ago that I first ‘ended’ week 34 and decided to keep it going. In many ways, my prayers have been answered. My job is going well in that we are getting more business than we can handle (a good thing) and our staff is again growing. At the same time, my weakness(es) continue to haunt me. I feel a special need for prayers today, and ask those on this retreat to include me in their prayers, as I pray for them.
Week 34 and counting (and counting, and counting,…). It is hard to believe I reached the ‘end’ of this retreat some time ago. I continue to use the “Daily Reflections” and occasionally the retreat material. Today I reviewed the Sharing section, and was so thrilled to read new sharings that sound so familiar: people calling on God in prayer, confessing their weakness, opening their hearts, eyes, and ears to all God has given and continues to give. What a blessing this site is. I have mentioned it to friends before, and feel called again to invite them to give it a look. As for me, the journey and its struggles continue, and I continue my amazement at His goodness. Increase my faith.
Thank you God for this retreat, for all those that are a part of it and protect and guide all those who journey through this way. As I end this retreat, I take with me a renewed sense of faith in God.

Faith - a gift of awareness of God's love and trust in Him to provide me in all my needs in physical as well as spiritual life. for God is always there and when I seek Him and wait and hope and then.. to respond to His way  - joy emerges. Joy in Him, love through Him, love and caring of Him in every person that touches my life every day of my life. How do I respond to God? the same way I am responding to everyone throughout the day. Forgive me dear Lord, for mistreating you and bless me Lord for becoming aware of you today. Thank you for the gift of Faith and Love for you! amen   Week 34
Week 34, continued. Things have not gotten any easier since my first “week 34,” but my decision to stay with the week has helped. I continue to pray the Rosary daily and to read the Daily Reflections on the CU web site. Today I re-read what I wrote in that first “week 34” and am a little embarrassed to say that even my own words helped today. Life goes on, and I know the Lord is with me. I just wish He’d tell me how all this is going to work out. My struggles still get in the way, I still seem to forget that He will take care of me, and even as I mess up each day, I still want to do His will. I need help. I need prayer. I need faith. Increase my faith, O Risen One!
Already at Week 34, and not feeling ready yet. It was again “In these or similar words” that touched me. My eyes misted as I read the opening paragraph about walking down the road with Jesus. I felt the same way I did at the end of my Christians Encounter Christ weekend years ago: “It is so wonderful here! I don’t want to go back to the ‘world’!” Then, I read on. When I reached the final paragraph (which includes the words “accept these tears”), I wondered “How did you know?” The answer did not come immediately, but gradually I realized that it is natural to mourn endings, to forget that they are really beginnings. As I wondered what I would do next, I made a decision. Many of my co-retreatants have written of weeks they repeated many times. I will repeat week 34 as long as I find it helpful, then move on to another support (which includes the possibility of starting at week 1 again).

 I have not come as far as the words for this week suggest. I am not so sure that my weaknesses could be cause for rejoicing even though I have had experiences in which that was clearly the case. The debt I owe seems to great, and my desire to somehow ‘repay’ gets in the way. Writing this note itself is my remedy. I realize as I type that the way to ‘repay’ is to simply do the best I can with what I have, and to get up again when I fall. Lord, I so easily forget that You are with me on the road. Help me remember, help me see You in everyone I meet, help me accept my weakness as cause for joy, for the joy Your love and mercy brings. Take and receive all of me – I offer all to You.
Thank you for the many hours of preparation for each weekly Guide.  I especially am very grateful for your Monday morning e-mail...this kept me on track...I am also very grateful for the Daily Reflections...these helped me integrate the Eucharistic celebration into every moment of my day. Since I photographed all weekly guides I will return to them again and again...I will make my annual retreat in the last part of June and I will take time to reflect on the many insights of the retreat.  I almost feel like starting all over in September... -Week 34
In this last week of the 34, it is March and a war is starting.  As a recovering alcoholic, I am practicing the 3rd Step – making “a decision to turn my life and will over to the care of God”.  All these aspects of my spiritual path come together. What will I do to keep this focus?  Lent, church, Easter will help to do that.  A regular practice of the program of Alcoholics Anonymous will help.  I will miss this daily practice and want to continue it in some way.  Perhaps the answer is to continue to do the Daily Reflections. There is more to come, perhaps a repeat of this exercise.  I am still not as close to Christ as I would want to be.  A real life retreat has been a goal for some time.  Though Love and Service are always a part of my life, this experience has helped me to see how I might dedicate myself to these goals in other ways. In part, that means the process of coming “off the road” and dedicating myself more to family.  This five years of carrying our product to customers, and helping them to learn how to use it, has been a practice in applying Love and Service.  Now, it seems, there is another way to do that.  The choice to do my job differently has been both an opportunity to serve the greater good in a different way, and a sacrifice to me.  I love the travel and working with our customers, however the job means I am less grounded and less present to my family.  I plan to go on retreat, become an active citizen again, study, write  and concentrate on my health and home.  As it changes, my job will undoubtedly offer new ways to serve.  This new phase of my life as a mother and grandmother is a gift of this exercise.  Thank you for making this retreat available online.

I began the retreat on a suggestion of  a Jesuit friend. I had looked at in browsing from the Online Ministries daily reflections. My thought was at my age( middle 70's it might not fit my group. But after sticking with it the whole 34 wks. I found it very inspiring for the years to come. We are told by staticians that if you have good health and live to 70 , you have pretty good chances of living another 20yrs. Prepare by investments to have enough to live on comfortably. So how about our prayer and giving back to God time. Not just monetarily, butof self to the poor. This is what all seniors can do. Volunteer work with the poor, kids tutoring, emptying closets and giving beautful clothing., visiting neighbors who aren't well or can't drive. It doesn't have to be every day , but something is better than nothing. When I started this retreat I was going to go all the way. And now that it is over(my 2nd week away) I really miss it. I hope inthe future that that something could be done monthly or even a refresher week quarterly.. Thank you all again for your wonderful inspiration& may God Bless You All!!

Beloved, I am in the next to the last day of this retreat.  And for those contempating the journey, know that it has taken me more than the thirty four weeks.  In some of the dry and hungry times I had to go over the same ground looking for guidance and consolation.  Usually I found them where I looked, like hidden, heaven-sent moisture and manna,  but not always. That is all right.  Just more and careful searching needed.  Now in the quiet of the morning of the next to last day I can look back and feel like one who has come through the desert and is facing the promised land.  Praise God, I have been allowed to make the journey and can look ahead.  Now, too, I know not to worry about the diversions, distractions and detours; the dejection, dissembling and doubt.  It is just the landscape.  I know the comforting pillar of prayer that is always there by day, and by night, fiery hope.  And, so I commend the journey with a prayer for those who make it, who want to make it, and even those who may not make it:  God's blessings and peace be upon you forever and ever.  Amen.

Week 34 and I've dragged it out for two weeks because I am a slow learner in this world. This retreat has whispered many things to me: John the Baptist's words, "I must decrease; He must increase." Less of me and more of Him. Another whisper: "Find your gifts, count them, accept them for they are yours and yours alone-but by the way you must share them in time-not that I'm an Indian Giver but the reason you received without charge is that you must give without charge." Another whisper: "Albiet, it is mysterious, but I, Yahweh, want to be praised through your life. Your reward will be that, upon your praise work, I will infuse your heart with Joy." Another whisper: "I have plenty of time. Don't hang guilt on yourself. I will give your my Holy Prodder at just the right time for you to know the exact gift I want you to share-have faith, be kind, be compassionate and please be patient for you are mine and I am yours and I love you." Tears of Joy and contentment run down my face as I realize His Wonderful Love for me in making this retreat. It ain't over til it's over. I see as through a glass darkly. Pray for me please to be attentive and act on His Plan when the time comes. Sometimes I am a little lazy and selfish.

I am on the 34th. week of the retreat.  It has been long.  I really enjoyed the daily reflections pages they gave great me insight.  This retreat has brought me closer to God in many ways and has made me seek more in the Gospel's.  I want to thank all who have made this retreat on line possible. To summarize my feeling's for this retreat Spiritual Exercise #234 has to answer my feeling I now have for God.  May God bless you all and may peace and love be in your hearts.

I just want to share a big thank-you. This is my last day of the last week of the retreat, and it took me considerably longer than 34 weeks to get through. This retreat has taken me through major life changes, disappointments and readjustments.  The greatest grace I received from the Lord through this retreat was that my focus was continually renewed - am I grateful in all things?  God is good. I trust that there will be more helps from other quarters for me now that this retreat is over. I pray that my fellow travellers on this internet journey will persevere, and allow God to cleanse and renew them.  Shalom.
It has been almost another year since I started this retreat. Though I have not returned to this page for some time, I read the Daily Reflections before I start my day at the office. Work has been especially stressful the past couple of months, and I must confess that I was feeling sorry for myself. This morning as I rode the train (the 'light rail' in Denver, Colorado), however, it was occurring to me how blessed I have been all my life. Then, as if to punctuate those thoughts, I looked out the window to the East and saw one of the most beautiful sunrises ever! Dark clouds low on the horizon were being turned bright red by the rising sun, and a sense of peace and joy filled my heart. I thank God for all His gifts to me and rejoice in this day, knowing full well my own fickleness and vulnerability to 'dark' times. The darkness will return, I know, yet I also know that if I stick with my prayer, it too will pass and one day I will know the fullness of God's love -- if only I will hang on. Lord, help me. Week 34 - and counting.
The Retreat Sharing Home PageOnline Retreat