in gratitude

Dec 10, 2021


In early November I posted a note here asking for your prayer as I began the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius, a process often referred to as the 30-day retreat.

A few hours ago the retreat concluded and last night those of us who had made this four-week journey together gathered for a meal before we return to our homes today.

The journey of the Spiritual Exercises is intense. After a day of preparation we entered the silence and prayer, free from all phone, internet, media and conversation. Each day we met in individually with a Spiritual Director who accompanied us, helping each of us to remain open to the purpose of the Exercises.

Ignatius writes in his introductory notes that just as a healthy person will take physical exercise, these four weeks are, in the same kind of disciplined and demanding way, spiritual exercise:

“For as strolling, walking and running are bodily exercises, so every way of preparing and disposing the soul to rid itself of all the disordered tendencies, and, after it is rid, to seek and find the Divine Will as to the management of one’s life for the salvation of the soul, is called a Spiritual Exercise.” (SE Annotation 1)

People often envy those who go on retreat fantasising a peaceful escape from the regular routines and demands of life, and I did enjoy this sense for the first couple of days. But after a day or two it is clear that these weeks are a not a break or an escape but an engagement with the divine. Not simply time an encounter with a human friend whose company I enjoy, but a robust and reality-centred relationship with the all powerful and almighty God who does not hesitate to encounter me, to lead me, and when necessary to wrestle with me.

Again in his initial notes Ignatius reminds the retreatant:

“The most important qualities in the person who enters into these exercises are openness, generosity and courage. As retreatants, our home and desire is that God will place us with his Son so that in all ways we seek only to respond to that love which first created us and now wraps us round with total care and concern.”  (SE Annotation 5)

Over these retreat weeks I have been grateful for the prayer of many people, including many FFF readers. I have prayed every day for those who read these posts, and for your intentions.

As we finished the month together last evening we reflected on the graces we have received. It was a strange sharing since we have not spoken a word to each other in our month together, but together we have sought maturity of relationship with Jesus.

The evidence was undeniable. Jesus has been present and active in each of us, leading us to greater maturity of faith.

The great news is that while retreat opportunities are great when we can take a day or two or thirty, Jesus requires only an instant to transform, to heal, to forgive and to strengthen us.

All we need to do is to ask.

Take a moment now…

  • …to ask Jesus to reveal Himself to you in a way that is real and undeniable in your life in the next few hours.


  1. Hoki pai mai John
    Surface gently
    May Mary of Loretto deepen our Advent

  2. Praise God for His blessings! So happy for you John that the Grace’s that were played for have been abundant in your time of retreat.
    God bless you


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Latest Posts



Most people think of the Ascension of Jesus as being a ‘departure’ moment. Jesus was here and now he is gone. We imagine Jesus going up into the clouds and the disciples waving farewell from below.
This is an unhelpful image.
It is essential that we understand what does happen and what does not happen in the Ascension event.
It would be easy to wrongly think that in his ministry showed us how to build the city of God on earth, and now he has gone and the mission is left to us.

touching the sacred

touching the sacred

A few years ago I was on Rēkohu Chatham Islands for what has become one of Aotearoa New Zealand’s most sacred days, the ANZAC day of remembrance in gratitude for those who gave their lives, their health, their youth, their service that we may live in peace.
The art above was produced by one of the students at the local Te One school.

every which way

every which way

A good number of Food For Faith readers have discovered one of the more recent FFF initiatives, the weekly Homily Studio.
The recording of this half-hour podcast is one of the highlights of my week.

in the room

in the room

Today’s reflection marks the end of the FFF Lent-to-Easter daily email posts. Thank you for your company on this journey.  While these daily posts (for those who have signed up for the Lent / Advent reflections at this link) will take a break until Advent, those who have signed up to receive every post or regular posts at this link.  You might take a moment now to visit this page now to check your email preferences.

During retreat this week I found myself pondering just how difficult it is to accept that God, in Jesus, is really with me today.

disciplined discipleship

disciplined discipleship

As I write I’m nearing the end of retreat days with a group of fifty priests from across the USA.  As I mentioned a couple of days ago the diversity and youth of the group is remarkable with the majority being aged under 40 and a good number ordained for fewer than five years.