As a conclusion to the Ignatian Year, I’ve been thinking about material to drop here (almost) daily. My first spiritual director (early 1980s) was steeped in the Ignatian tradition. I don’t think I recognized it at the time. My booklet, Orientations, disappeared from my library long ago. Some years later, I found it online. Including my first assignment “Entering into Retreat,” which was part of my initiation into regular daily prayer.
As I enter into retreat I begin with deep faith and generosity; deep faith that the Divine Shepherd wants to communicate very personally with me. God can do so only if I am as open as possible, no matter where I have been in life, no matter how closed I have been in the past.
Apparently, my director thought this was a good approach to begin a year of discernment about the diocesan priesthood.
I was on Ignatian retreats in 1987, 1992, and 2014. This was broadly how I was guided:
I shall plan on making at least four periods of prayer each day, at least fifteen minutes; at most an hour each. As the retreat progresses I can discover with the help of my spiritual guide the number of prayer periods and the length of time of each period that may be more appropriate for me.
In between the times of prayer I shall try to keep in harmony with the gift I am seeking either by relaxing, or by reading the supplementary scriptural texts, or by sleeping, or by enjoying nature, or by ruminating, or by a combination of these ways of recollecting oneself. I do all this in order that I may become more and more responsive to God speaking to me.
When people hear I’m heading off for several days of silent retreat, they are curious. I prefer no speaker, just quiet time and meetings with a director to begin and end the days. My director four decades ago suggested I zero in on this bit of advice, and so I did.
For the prayer periods I can choose one or other of the following key scripture texts:
Lk 11:1-13; Ps 139:1-18; Mt 28:16-20
Oh look: this weekend’s Gospel. How shall we pray? Ah, a favorite psalm: how did God make us? The mission statement of the Church. Well.
A great way to start a retreat, or even any day.