Parish Lenten Retreat

Lenten retreat feedback request: 
We pray that your encounter with God -the Trinity was a deep and meaningful experience for you during the Lenten retreat. As the Lenten retreat (Journey into Freedom) is now over we would very much appreciate your feedback of your retreat experience. This questionnaire should not take more than 10 minutes to complete. The questionnaire will remain open until 10 May.
Lenten Feedback questionnaire link – please click here
 
As a reminder the contents of the Online Pentecost retreat is also available here

 

Below are the reflection per week of the Lenten Retreat for your reference:

Week 1Week 2Week 3Week 4Week 5Week 6Week 7Week 8

Days 1-4

In these first days we ask God for the gift of an appreciation of creation. God´s creative life-giving Spirit continues the work of creation all around us, in us and through us. This week is an invitation to enjoy the created world and to soak in all that you see that is good. You might choose to have a period of prayer outdoors and to pray with what you see, hear, smell and touch. Notice too how God, your Creator looks at you with love and rejoices over you. There are also some suggestions this week to help structure your time of prayer. Decide where and when you are going to pray. Read the material in advance, take a few moments to become still, stay with whatever you are drawn to in the material and let that lead you into a conversation with God. If something has particularly struck you in the prayer, notice it and return to it later. We pray that this Lent may be a time of deepening your relationship with God and others.

Days 5-11

The Lent Retreat is now underway here at John 23rd and indeed, further afield. Whether we are taking part as individuals, in families, groups or even virtual communities, our prayers and efforts connect us to each other. As we pray to deepen and strengthen our personal relationship with God, we are also saying ‘Yes’ to supporting and caring for each other. As we move into this coming week, we ask for the grace to hear God ‘s still, quiet voice and to respond. To notice how God wants each of us to ‘be’ in our everyday activities. We know God only wants what is best for each and every one of us. In these coming days, we ask the Holy Spirit to give us the gift of a growing awareness of what God wants us to do, each and every day. How God wants each of us to live, to respond to the world and the people around us. The Review of the Day, on page 6 of the booklet offers us a simple way of looking back over our day with God. This simple, gentle and powerful prayer deepens our awareness of how God communicates with us, and how we have responded. We are asking God ‘Please use my experience to teach me and guide me in Your ways Lord – so that I may know you more clearly, love you more dearly, follow you more nearly’.

Days 12-18

This week begins (Day 12 and 13) with a very strange prayer: for the gift of shame and confusion. This may seem quite the opposite to what we are normally encouraged to pray for, such as the gifts of the Spirit. Yet as is often the case in our prayer, resistance and discomfort are themselves an invitation to a conversation with God. Shame and confusion are an apt description of how we feel when we see ourselves as we are, and we realise how much of what we have lived has come from a false self. As we draw closer to God in prayer this awareness is inevitable. It is important here to focus on God and how God sees us, not on ourselves. We find that God waits for us and longs for us as we are, not as we would want to present ourselves. We are invited to live ‘in our own skin’, in loving relationship with God, who rejoices over us – despite and amid our brokenness, mistakes and past hurts. David Fleming SJ, in his book, ‘What is Ignatian Spirituality’, equates sin with a lack of gratitude. He maintains:” If our heart could only grasp what God is doing for us, how could we sin? We would be too grateful to sin”. Our prayer this week brings us face to face with Christ on the cross (Day 15). There you may find you are not as good as you have made yourself seem, but you are much more loved than you could ever have imagined. Useful links: An online copy of our Lenten retreat book can be found at : Online Lenten retreat online book. It is never too late to join! Any questions on the Lenten material can be sent to: lentenretreat@johnxxiii.ch.

Days 19-24

Yesterday, Day 18 of our Lenten Retreat, we prayed for the grace to hear Jesus as he speaks to each one of us. We asked for the grace to respond to him, to show we hear him by how we live our lives; through our respect and compassion for others and creation. Now, as we move into this week of our retreat, we find ourselves being reminded of the miracle of the incarnation; maybe in a way we have never thought of it before? We imagine the Father, Son and Holy Spirit looking down on our world; on all of us. We imagine their compassion and love for us as they see all that is happening in our world. And we hear Jesus say, ‘Let me go there; let me go to them’ And so, in this beautiful energy of our Lenten Retreat, this week we pray with very familiar Scripture passages. We begin with Mary, who hears God speak to her, who hears what God asks of her. We hear her saying Yes to God. Through Mary’s courage and faith, Jesus comes to us. He is here, amongst us. Let each of us commit to getting to know Him better. Let’s look for Him in those around us, and listen for him in our hearts. Useful links: An online copy of our Lenten retreat book can be found at : Online Lenten retreat online book. It is never too late to join! Any questions on the Lenten material can be sent to: lentenretreat@johnxxiii.ch.

Days 25-31

This week begins with an exercise entitled “The Ways of Good and Evil”. In its original form Ignatius used the image of the medieval battlefield, where in the chaos of the action, it was essential to look frequently and to check who’s standard or banner you were fighting under. He personifies evil as “the enemy of our human nature”, i.e. all that distorts our truest selves and good as the fullness of life in Christ; where overcoming our weaknesses we can use our talents in ways that might surprise us. George Aschenbrenner S.J. approaches this material with a different image, that of a sailing boat. He notices that as we begin to steer the ship of our own life, our sails long for the bracing wind of other people´s honour and respect. In fact, a drooping sail seems so discouraging that the needed breeze of public honour and affirmation sets off a dynamic of manipulation. We find we have to work harder and become harsher to stretch the sails of our own life. In contrast Jesus invites us and draws us. He embraces our vulnerability. When we recognise that everything about us belongs to God, God´s love becomes enough to stretch the sails. And when the sails are stretched, we find the desire to live fully our distinctive, special vocation, giving glory to God. All is held in magnificent balance. Useful links: An online copy of our Lenten retreat book can be found at : Online Lenten retreat online book. It is never too late to join! Any questions on the Lenten material can be sent to: lentenretreat@johnxxiii.ch.

Days 32-38

This week a number of the readings lend themselves to imaginative prayer. (see p.11) When we pray in this way we are not trying to relive an event from 2000 years ago. We are inviting the Risen Jesus to walk with us through the story as it unfolds in our imagination and to show us what he wants to show us in the here and now, in the circumstances of our present lives. Our desire is to get to know Jesus better. Watch what Jesus does. Listen to how he speaks. Note how people react to him. Talk to Jesus as you experience him in the gospel story. Much of the fruit of such prayer comes after the time of contemplation. It is good to briefly look back at the prayer and note what struck you, especially the unusual or unexpected, and ask why did you react the way you did? Does it show you anything of the way you see God, yourself or others? How did what Jesus said or did in the contemplation relate to your own life? Towards the end of this week, the term consolation and desolation are used. Prayer that is from God will bring us consolation, build us up and encourage us to trust that God will support us, no need to rely on self alone. If our prayer encourages us to feel loved, to reach out to others; if it inspires us to have confidence in ourselves, to be more in touch with our true self – the person behind the respectable, self-confident mask we often put on – or to see Jesus as more truly human, then it is from God. If, on the other hand, we feel depressed and worthless, with a sense of ‘why bother’, then God is not at work Useful links: An online copy of our Lenten retreat book can be found at : Online Lenten retreat online book. It is never too late to join! Any questions on the Lenten material can be sent to: lentenretreat@johnxxiii.ch.

Days 39-46

Each day this week, as we prepare to pray the scripture passages that lead to the crucifixion and death of Jesus, we ask for the ‘Gifts’ of shame and confusion. These may seem like the strangest of gifts. But in truth, shame and confusion are only felt when we know that we are personally involved. This is about us. Jesus loved us, loves us. Not some unknown, distant strangers; but each one of us. And he suffered for us. In truth, we will find that the fruit of these strange gifts is a beautiful, deepening within us of the grace of compassion. Compassion was once described as love in action. During our Lenten Retreat we have travelled with Jesus as he shows us how to live a life that is filled with compassion; we can have no better example of love in action. When we began our journey on Ash Wednesday, little did we know how different our world would be. This week, we travel together with Jesus, his mother, his disciples and all who love Him, towards the solemn emptiness of Good Friday. We stand together, bearing witness. We pray, too that after this week, we will continue to honour Him, by living through this crisis and beyond, as people who are the living embodiment of ‘Love in Action’. Useful links: An online copy of our Lenten retreat book can be found at : Online Lenten retreat online book. It is never too late to join! Any questions on the Lenten material can be sent to: lentenretreat@johnxxiii.ch.

Days 47-52

In this Easter week we pray for joy in the Resurrection of Christ as he defeats sin and death. And yet this Easter is like no other as we find ourselves in the midst of the Covid 19 pandemic. How might we then “share in the deep joy of Christ and his followers” in Easter 2020? Firstly, this joy, like any grace we pray for, is a gift from God; we cannot earn or force it. We simply try to be open to receiving Easter joy by contemplating Christ as he shares the joy of the Resurrection with others. We might particularly notice the Risen Lord does very human things: eating, talking, consoling, teaching, and enjoying the company of others. The Risen Lord seems to come alongside people where they are and as they are walking, working and having meals, with others or alone. The joy of this week may be experienced as emotional and exhilarating but often that is not the case. Perhaps we are aware rather of a lightness that creeps in like leaven even though the sorrow and heaviness may still be there. “To be glad and to rejoice intensely” is the keynote of Ignatian grace here. Gladness and joy seem easy graces because our hearts yearn so much for them. But this is not about us. The motive for joy here springs from the desire to be identified with the Beloved. Your gladness and joy are “because of the great glory and joy of Christ our Lord.” The spotlight is not on your joy and gladness but on His. His joy is to be here with us his sisters and brothers. Useful links: An online copy of our Lenten retreat book can be found at : Online Lenten retreat online book. It is never too late to join! Any questions on the Lenten material can be sent to: lentenretreat@johnxxiii.ch.