This past weekend, I led another Making All Things New retreat, and gratefully the participant’s positive evaluations reminded me once again that many people are looking to make positive changes in their lives through the lens of Ignatian Spirituality.
Its hard to believe I’ve been leading versions of this retreat for nearly ten years now. The retreat came about through my own experience of being diagnosed with Type II diabetes right around the time a wonderful woman took me through St. Ignatius of Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises. My experience of the Exercises is known today my many as the “retreat in everyday life,” meaning you are engaged in work, family life, etc., while making the retreat over several months. Although I didn’t really know it at the time, I needed to make some major changes in my life, and with Ignatius’ “cura personalis” (care for the whole person) approach, those thirty-five weeks of focusing my body, mind and spirit were transformative.
As noted elsewhere on this blog, I prayed each day using material from the Exercises and given to me by Nancy, my Director/Guide. I grabbed a hold of Ignatius’ description of himself in his autobiography as “the Pilgrim” and began walking twice a day for about thirty minutes in the morning and afternoon. Finally, using Ignatius’ “Rules for Eating” as a starting point, I changed my diet and began eating a very healthy diet.
These three daily practices (praying, walking, eating) had a wonderful effect on me, so much so that I felt compelled to share my experience with whoever will listen. Maybe that’s why you’re here. Please know I’m so glad you are reading these words, and I pray that you would find what you need here on this blog to develop your own transformative experience. Please note that if you have health issues, it is very important that you check with your healthcare provider before making major changes to your diet and exercise routines. Changes to your prayer life, on the other hand, needs no physician consultation! You can make those changes right now.
As we move through these first days of Lent, I’m challenging myself, with God’s help, to make this Lent 2023 transformative. My retreat last weekend reminded me that, as Pope St. Paul VI said, it’s more important for me to be a witness than it is to be a teacher.
This morning, I returned to my favorite walking path, where I passed this pond. I’m going to walk at least 30 minutes each day this Lent. I’m also leading a wonderful group of people through a twelve week version of Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises, so my prayer life will be extra rich, and finally, I’m going to work on my diet, choosing healthy recipes to cook for myself and my friends. Here are some websites you might find helpful:
Please note that I am not affiliated with these websites and offer them as possible resources.
Lastly, I would ask you to consider using these forty days of Lent to spend quality time working on those issues which might be holding you back from being the person God calls you to be. Make the changes God puts on your heart, and start writing your thoughts, feelings and inspirations in a journal. That’s what St. Ignatius did over 500 years ago, and his journal, now known as the Spiritual Exercises, continues to change lives. I know, because that’s what happened to me. Know you are blessed, and have a holy Lent.