Some Practical Help for Getting Started This Week

A week of review is very different from the other weeks of this retreat. Here we are just staying where we find fruit. We are savoring and enjoying the gifts that have been given us, the way we savor and enjoy some very special time we have spent with a loved one. It stays with us for a while. Not moving on to something else too quickly really deepens the love we have in our hearts.

We use the same methods that we have been using in the weeks so far. Very brief but focused times throughout our day make this retreat happen. Perhaps this week we will pay more attention to our feelings, particularly what seems to give us deep joy, often beneath lots of conflict, and what seems deeply disturbing, often seeming to push the joy away. The movements in our hearts help us become more attentive to how the Lord is working in us. We become more attuned to the language of God within us by paying attention to which movements seem to come from God and which seem to come from something much more base (indecent, nasty, cowardly), much more intent on our not growing. When we are moving away from the Lord, the movement from God will often be the one that disturbs us or confronts us. The base movements tend to keep us comfortable and lazy and make us come up with all kinds of excuses for why this way of living is actually good.

When we are moving toward the Lord, the way we are in this part of the retreat, we can trust that the Lord is offering us deep joy, a sense of liberation, courage, and peace. The Lord is offering us something that stirs inside of us that will be saying, “This is good. This is right. This is from me. Trust it.” And when we are experiencing the desire to know Jesus, to love him, and to follow him, we can expect that there will be conflicting base desires that will raise doubts, confusion, even an unexplainable sadness. They tend to reinforce old habits, which seem to become unreasonably more powerful just now. We can chase these movements away so easily just by saying, with a smile, “I know what’s going on here. I don’t need this. I’m going to choose life and the peace that is being offered me. Goodbye.”

The Triple Prayer
As our devotion grows, we might again use this very simple exercise to dramatize the seriousness of our desire and the depth of our sincerity. It’s as if we say to ourselves, “I really do want these graces.”
We might first turn to Mary, Jesus’ dear mother, whom we spent time imagining these past weeks. We can ask her to beg her son, on our behalf, to give us these graces. We can name them. We can say we want to understand these ways of desiring and to be given spiritual poverty, and even actual poverty, if that would help us serve God more and help us save our souls. If it helps, our prayer to Mary could end with the Hail Mary.

Then we might turn to Jesus and ask him to beg his God and Father, on our behalf, for the same graces. And if it helps, our prayer to Jesus could end with the Soul of Christ.

Finally, we might turn to our God and beg on our own behalf for these graces. And our prayer to God could end with the Lord’s Prayer.

We remember that our progress is by God’s gift. And one gift opens the way for our receiving another. We have seen how these graces prepare us for new graces. All we need to do is stay open and trusting that the One who brought us this far along our journey will graciously remain faithful in bringing us to its conclusion.

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