A 34 week retreat for Everyday Life – A Ministry of the Collaborative Ministry Office at Creighton University.
- 1. I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
- 2. I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
- 3. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary.
- 4. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.
- 5. He descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again.
- 6. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
- 7. He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
- 8. I believe in the Holy Spirit,
- 9. the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints,
- 10. the forgiveness of sins,
- 11. the resurrection of the body,
- 12. and life everlasting.
Each week is different, in the graces asked for and in the material reflected upon. And, one week builds upon another. The growth is progressive and step-by-step.
The Retreat uses the movements of the Spiritual Exercises to help us grow in spiritual freedom and the ability to find intimacy with God in the midst of our every day busy lives.
So, how do I do this? It’s simple. Early in the week, read as much of the Guide page and the resources to the right. They will shape what you do during the upcoming week. Usually, the invitation is to let the grace you are praying for become a part of the “background” of your daily life. Asking for the grace in the morning, and staying conscious of that grace throughout the day, will allow that grace, that reflection, interact with the events, conversations, meetings, challenges of each day. And, spending a few moments each night to express our gratitude for what we have received, will begin to shape each very interactive week with God – my asking and opening my heart, and God being patient and generous with me.
Should I use the Sharing option? It is up to you. It is our advice that it will enrich the graces of the retreat to share your experience of how God is working in your week with someone, somehow: a spiritual director, a friend, several friends, a group, or by sharing the graces you received with others making the retreat.
Should I read the Sharing beyond where I am in the Retreat? We recommend you don’t. You can read the
Retreat Feedback page, because that sharing is from people who have sent in their feedback to us after they have finished the retreat. It can give you a sense of what the retreat has to offer.
Most of all, trust in God. God will not be outdone in generosity.
Guide: The Memories That Have Shaped Us – This is the first week of a thirty-four-week journey. We begin at the beginning — our story. Prayer is about our relationship with God. We will begin to grow in this relationship with God, in the midst of our everyday lives this week, by simply reflecting upon our own story. There may be times we will want to take a period of prayer to reflect upon our story this week. What is most important, however, is that we begin by letting this reflection become the background of our week.
Did you ever get a song in your head and realize that it was there for a long time, no matter what you were doing? This is like that. Throughout our day, each day this week, we will have in mind the memories that have shaped us. (Note especially, the “Getting Started” link at the right for how to do this.)
Let this be the image: This week, let’s go through the photo album of our life. Let’s go back to our earliest memories. Let’s let the Lord show us our lives. What pictures are there? With each part of my life, what scenes do I remember? Who is in those scenes? Some photos will be of happy times, some will be quite sad, others will be difficult to recollect at all. They all constitute our story and the journey that has brought us to where we begin this retreat.
Take it easy. Go slowly. Take a little bit each day. Being faithful to this exercise will help tremendously to prepare for the weeks ahead. Write down notes or memories or stories if you’d like.
End each day, before going to bed, with a few interior words of gratitude to the One who has accompanied me through my life, even to this day of presence with me.
The first and most important point is to begin this journey with great hope and confidence. God is never outdone in generosity. So, if we make even a small change in our weekly pattern, that is a tremendous opening for God to work in us. One way to affirm this hope and confidence is to express it for just a brief instant, each morning, at the same time each day — as I’m finding my slippers, or as I’m brushing my teeth, or while I’m pouring that first cup of coffee — “I know you are with me today, Lord.”
Each of us will have a different amount of time we will be able to give to this retreat each week. We recommend that if your time is limited, just read the guide. On another day that week, you may find you have time to return to reflect on another resource.
This week’s guide offers us the opportunity to review our life stories through the photo album of our lives. Throughout these weeks, we’ll make use of the practice, habit, exercise of letting a reflection or image be part of the background of our day. All of us are aware, from time to time, that there is stuff that occupies the background of our consciousness. The song that plays in our head is a common example. This retreat invites us to practice taking advantage of this facility our brain has. Rather than have that space filled at random with stuff that just comes and goes, we will focus it more consciously. While doing all the ordinary tasks we do in our everyday lives, we will be using that background space to give a distinctive tone to our week. This won’t be a distraction to our work, or take any extra time away from our work, but it will eventually make a difference in how we experience our work. It just takes practice.
Concretely, for this week, we all know the outline of our story. This isn’t new material. What is new is that I will consciously be aware that I am reviewing my life story this week. I can plan it fairly deliberately — as an example: Monday and Tuesday, I will be remembering the images of my childhood; Wednesday and Thursday, my teens and early adulthood; Friday and Saturday, the rest of my adult life. So, throughout Wednesday — as I’m finding my slippers, driving to work, walking to my first meeting, walking to the restroom, looking at that image on my monitor, walking to the parking lot, getting supper ready, sharing a memory with a family member, or undressing before going to bed — during all those brief every day times, I’ll have in the background the formative images that shape my story during my teen years.
It’s about feelings. Each picture in my life story has feeling attached to it. I might look long and hard at that image of myself on the playground in fifth grade. Feelings come to the surface if I let them — or, the picture of myself in that relationship in my early twenties. We know there are feelings there. There are powerful feelings associated with the birth of a child, the death of a loved one, the change of jobs, terrible family crises, images that come to mind throughout my marriage, battles with people I’ve struggled with. My feelings will help me see and experience how these pictures tell my story, who I am today.
It’s about God’s fidelity. This isn’t a sentimental journey. With every picture in my story, there is a grace offered to me as I look for God’s presence there. If, throughout this week, I imagine God’s having been present there with me — even when I didn’t notice or feel it at the time — that would be a tremendous grace unifying my life.
It’s about gratitude. With every memory, every image and feeling, practice saying, “Thank you.” Even the painful ones. Even if I was not grateful then. Even if it involved some bad stuff I did to myself or to others. The Lord was there, loving me. Let gratitude now touch and span throughout the story of my life.
It’s about a journey. This is only the beginning. We have thirty-four weeks. We will move slowly. And all we need to do is give God just a little space to transform our everyday lives, a moment at a time.
Lord, I so wish to prepare well for this time.
I so want to make all of me ready and attentive and available to you.
Please help me clarify and purify my intentions.
I have so many contradictory desires.
My activity seems to be so full of busyness and running after stuff that doesn’t really seem to matter or last.
I know that if I give you my heart whatever I do will follow my new heart.
May all that I am today, all that I try to do today, may all my encounters, reflections, even the frustrations and failings all place my life in your hands.
Lord, my life is in your hands.
Please, let this day give you praise. Another Prayer – Blessed Are You, Lord, for Purpose in Life
Readings – “The Courage to Accept Acceptance” by Peter Van Breeman, S.J. from As Bread that is Broken – Psalm 8 – Psalm 139 – Isaiah 43:1-4 – Luke 12:22-34 – Luke 11:1-13
“Tell Me the Story Again, Grandfather” by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault from Knots on a Counting Rope
This seems easy, going back through the photo album of my life. Can I really call this prayer? I can go back to my earliest memories, of being a toddler. I wonder what connection this little child has to me?
As I move through my life, into school, learning to read and expanding my world, I can notice things in this album that I don’t want to see. They are difficult memories that cause pain and I thought I had put them away permanently. Not everything in my childhood was good. Where were you in that, Lord? Were you with me as I watched the shouting, the arguing?
There were good times, too. Running so freely as a kid, climbing trees, exploring the banks of the creek, and sledding down the big hill in winter. There is a freedom to those moments and I sense you in that, too.
As I got older, I made choices, Lord. For some of them, I ignored you completely and tried to pretend you didn’t matter in my life. But you stayed with me so faithfully anyway. You guided my headstrong decisions into choices that helped me into a loving life and a good marriage.
Thank you, Lord, for your constant presence in my life, especially today.
I feel a little uncomfortable. This kind of prayer is new to me and I’m a little more comfortable using someone else’s words. But I tried it yesterday and it wasn’t hard; it just didn’t always feel like prayer.
I return today and I look at the places where it hurts, the memories that make me want to squirm, pull away, and try to forget again. It hasn’t always been easy in my life. Were you really with me in all of it? I feel you so strongly now, but I never thought much about you during those times.
How have these difficult times shaped me into what I am today? How has your faithful guidance helped me, unseen, over the years? Please help me to see your presence in my life and to be guided by it.
Do you know what’s good for you? Knowing and then doing what we know is good for us are two distinct things.
I know that jogging is very good for my body and spirit, but going over to the recreation center is not only a good idea but also something I don’t always want to do.
Taking vitamins is good for us, the medical profession tells us. We are just beginning to believe them, but we don’t all take them all the time. We resist those activities that do not give us immediately the feedback we desire. We might begin a diet Monday morning and Tuesday morning we step lightly on the scale hoping to find less of us there. We want results and pretty darn quick!
We begin these weeks of exercising our spirits according to the pattern given by God to us through Ignatius Loyola, accompanied also by this human resistance to what is good for us.
The first guide, then, is this: do not expect, look for, or demand progress. Enjoy and live the process, even though, as with physical exercise, you might not like doing it every day. As with a diet, you might have to give something up, like time, activity, or accomplishments. We allow God to give the increase, the insights, the progress. We begin expecting God to be busy laboring on our part of creation, which we have found quite unfinished as a work of art.
This is the first guide along the way; don’t stop here; the journey is worth the expense. Go for it!