Archives for posts with tag: Retreat

I saw this portrait of Ignatius for the first time last year in Manresa, Spain. We rarely imagine Ignatius this way, so gaunt, so stripped bare of any mark of prestige. He seems to offer himself naked of all pretense to the Godde who has ravished his heart and soul.

In a few days, Paul and I are returning to Manresa for a 30-Day retreat, a time of silence and stripping of layers accumulated over the years. All sorts of layers.

As I reflect on our decision to go through with this retreat, I am filled with wonder. Who would have ever thought that I’d be filled with joy at the idea of spending all this time alone with Godde…

Very much as in the case of the Camino, I took the decision to go for reasons then different from what they are today. At first, I wanted to experience kenosis (a self-emptying of my own will); then to understand the Exercises from within so that I would be able to invite others to experience them in their turn.

But a fervor has come into my soul, as if I had fallen in love with Godde in a way never felt before. A sort of call to join Her for a while and let Her guide me to a place I cannot imagine just yet.

A month with Godde, with prayers for several hours a day, a daily Eucharist, a brief encounter with a spiritual guide, all this while looking at the mountain of Montserrat, and possibly once in a while walking the streets and praying in churches and chapels where Ignatius prayed centuries before.

Some time in the past twenty years I once prayed to Ignatius, asking him to help me understand his spirituality. It’s only last year as I was praying in the Chapel of the Rapture in Manresa that I realized how much more I had received than I had asked for.

Now, as I prepare to return to Manresa for an immersion of another kind, I see that the blessings are still being showered upon my head.

I have this strange feeling that the whole of me is going, that is, all those various moments of my life when I did feel the presence of Godde, or her absence. I also marvel that I am called so late in my life to turn my heart, soul, and spirit toward Godde to come as close to Her as is possible on this side of life (and death).

I call it an Inner Camino because I expect good times and dry times and lonely times and ecstatic times. As I walked toward Santiago, I so often felt that I was walking by Jesus’ side. So many times we talked of all sorts of things. This time, I will walk with him to get to know him better, to follow him and love him so much more.

Ignatius is called a mystagogue because he initiates us in Sacred Mysteries. He started nearly five hundred years ago in Manresa. He called his time there his ‘primitive Church’. He started giving his Exercises to women who felt drawn to him. Women still come to him to meet Godde face to face. I will soon be one of them.

Thank you, Ignatius. Thank you, Godde.

Art: Ignatius of Loyola, Montserrat Gudiol, 1991, Manresa. Links:



My work is loving the world.

Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird—

   equal seekers of sweetness.

Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.

Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.


Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?

Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect? Let me

    keep my mind on what matters,

which is my work,


which is mostly standing still and learning to be


The phoebe, the delphinium.

The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.

Which is mostly rejoicing, since all the ingredients are here,


which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart

    and these body-clothes,

a mouth with which to give shouts of joy

to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,

telling them all, over and over, how it is

    that we live forever.

Thirst, Poems by Mary Oliver


Mentioned in Father Kevin O’Brien SJ.  

The Ignatian Adventure: Experiencing the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius in Daily Life.

Kindle Edition.

In these days of preparation for our coming Ignatian retreat, I am spending a lot of time with Ignatian authors. One of them is Fr. Kevin O’Brien, whose book I own, and whose retreat on I follow.

Add Lent, when I am very much staying away from Facebook, and my involvement in the retreat, and you have me pretty much cut off from mainstream news of all kinds.

When I attend a retreat, I embark on a spiritual journey of a few days, opening myself to the Spirit, and all that She has to tell me or show me. Working on a retreat is more like giving birth than walking a spiritual maze. The heart and the mind together, while being very much open to the guidance of the Spirit, struggle to bring about clarity to points that need to be developed, like so many signposts on the journey the retreatants hopefully will take.

While guided by a Sister of the Sacred Heart, a great soul, and with the help of all that we have learned all these years, all together, we make a group of disciples going into a terra very much incognita. Every so often, when we meet and share our progress, the presence of the Spirit among us, buried deep within the talks we have prepared, delights us.

I would like to ask you then, you who happen to read this, to say a small prayer for us this coming weekend. ‘Us’ includes those who will listen and those who will speak, those who will eat and those who will prepare the food to be eaten, all of us remaining in silence for two days.

The theme of our retreat is: Finding God in my Daily Life.

Thank you.


Art: Sheila Landry Designs. Found here.