A few years ago, the director at the retreat center which partners with me to offer retreats in the Ignatian tradition planted an idea in my head. I had been doing the same retreat a few times a year for some time, and maybe I should think about a second retreat with a few new presentations and experiences. After a time of prayer and discernment, my Ignatian Way retreat was born. This past weekend, I led an Ignatian Way retreat, with the help of my friend Nancy, and it was a wonderful, powerful time, not just for the retreatants, but Nancy and I as well. God was gracious to everyone and I felt so blessed as I drove down the hill which the retreat center rests upon, and headed home.
There are many spiritual paths people can take, and most of us have tried several of them before settling on one which seems to fit their life. I know that was the case for me, and it wasn't until I was in my 40's before I began to experience the Ignatian Way. My introduction to this 500 year old spiritual tradition came by chance, but it came at a perfect moment. I had just been diagnosed with a chronic illness, and I realized I had to do something. God lovingly and mercifully put some people in my path, in two different parts of the country, and both were living the Ignatian Charism. These people, who have never met, started, very slowly, introducing me to St. Ignatius and the spirituality which came about through his own life experiences of God. A massive and life-altering conversion came about, because he needed it. He spent the rest of his life helping people fall in love with God, not only for their own benefit, but also for the benefit of others. Ignatius's gift was not just meant for himself, but was to be given freely to all who might be helped. That's how the Ignatian Way is, and that's how Nancy and I present it. To be sure not perfectly, but to the best of our ability, so that the retreatants can know in maybe a new and/or deeper way, God's incredible love for them.
Some of the retreatants who were with us this weekend did not plan to be there, even days before. Divine Providence was at work, and one person said she felt "compelled" to register, not even knowing what the retreat was all about. God sometimes works like that, for whatever reason, and I for one am very grateful for that. He works the same with me, and God does for you as well, even though sometimes you may not realize it at the time.
Yesterday, I told the retreatants that I hope I can continue helping people learn the Ignatian Way for the rest of my life. It's a beautiful and profound way to live, and I believe with all my heart it's a perfect way of living for the times in which we live. It can be a much needed antidote for the poisonous and toxic rancor which seems to be coming at us from all sides. Maybe it be just the antidote for what's ailing you.