I led my last retreat for 2018 yesterday, and it was a great day. About twenty of us spent our time together reflecting on our desire to not only look for Emmanuel, but also find Him in the everyday rhythm of our busy lives. Of course, this isn’t always easy, but each of us can use the days of Advent (there are plenty of days left) to be a bit more reflective, a bit more sensitive to God’s presence. Let’s face it, for most people, the season of Advent is taken up with shopping, decorating, parties and lots (too much?) of food and drink, with many disconnected from the singular event of Christ’s birth. Sadly, these special days are mistakenly focused on US, rather than HIM. By prayerfully changing our focus, we can continue our Advent journey with a desire for holiness.
In the past, most people did not think they were called to be holy. That was for special people, not those of us with day jobs. Now, the Church teaches that there is a “universal call to holiness,” that each person should be striving to be holy as they go about their daily living. Just think of the positive impact that would be made if everyone were trying to be holy, not just at church, but also at work, at home, in their neighborhoods, with every person they encounter each day. That would not just be a life changer, but a world changer.
As I brought up on yesterday’s retreat, St. Ignatius’s Daily Examen is a great spiritual practice to help us review our day, discerning how our desire for holiness was played out that particular day. Were we successful, or did we completely miss the mark? It takes about twenty minutes to do an Examen, and some choose to do the prayer at the end of the day before going to bed. Others use the quiet of early morning, praying while sipping their cup of coffee. No matter what time of day/night you pray the Examen, just do it. It’s a habit worth forming, and your life will be better because if it.
Over the span of 2018, I was blessed to lead quite a few retreats, and each one was rooted in Ignatian Spirituality, which I’ve adopted as my own. I think it is the perfect spirituality for our time, right now. Recently, I finalized my retreat schedule through 2021. Can you believe it? There’s nothing else in my life which is planned that far out, but the Maryland Retreat Center I use is a busy place, and being able to offer multiple retreats each year, properly spread out and with various topics, makes a lot of sense. I’m grateful that these retreats are popular and now, some people are even flying in to make them! God is so good.
My retreats in 2019 include weekend and day retreats, and I hope you’ll click on the link above and see if there might be something which would work for you. I hope to see you in the New Year, but in the meantime, let’s use this Advent season to strive for holiness, look for God in all things, develop the habit of praying the Daily Examen, and to pray for our country and world, both of which are so greatly in need of prayer.