I want to firstly apologize to my readers for my absence in posting anything recently, especially during this holy time of Lent. I just recently returned from a Retreat doing the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, and I had much to do before and after the Retreat that I have been unable to write. Nevertheless, I want to thank you for your prayers and sacrifices, and write a bit about my experience.
Some of you may be aware, but for those who are not, the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius are a way of meditating on the state of one’s soul, and once cleansing oneself from the evils of personal sin and mediating upon the reality of death and judgement, one then begins to use the Mysteries of the Rosary – the Joyful, Sorrowful, and Glorious mysteries to contemplate the life of our Lord Jesus Christ.
I will begin by saying that this Retreat was such as transformative experience, and I am glad that I chose to go during Lent. Quite fitting it is to consider my earlier writing about Lent’s transformative power, and this was such a perfect way to do this.
A soul arrives on Sunday evening, settles into their assigned room, eats dinner with others who are there, and goes to bed considering the many things they will contemplate throughout the week. Souls rise at 6 AM and are constantly engaged in battle throughout the day (through conferences, meditations, prayers, and recollection) until it is time to retire around 9 PM.
To properly understand the exercises, one must understand the life of St. Ignatius. St. Ignatius was a warrior; his life’s work as we would call it was to be a soldier. However, at a certain point in his military career, he got injured and was lying in a hospital bed. He asked for some novels about war and conquest, but having none available, he was given Sacred Scripture, the Catechism, and other religious books. Because of this, and because of his abandonment to the Divine Will, St. Ignatius had a conversion of heart, and when he became well, he placed his sword before a statue of Our Lady and consecrated his life for the battle of souls. So, the Spiritual Exercises, as given to St. Ignatius by the Blessed Virgin Mary, share in the spirit of battle; while not a battle of physical combat, the Spiritual Exercises are rightly exercises, they are work, and they are truly Spiritual Combat.
A soul will be tempted by the Devil when they consider going on such a Retreat, but do not let such things stop you from the graces that Almighty God wishes to dispense to you for going. Is it difficult to consider your own sinful nature and how just one sin is all it takes to condemn yourself to Hell for all eternity? Absolutely. Is it difficult to consider the pains of Hell and make a thorough General Confession of all the sins of your whole life? Absolutely – but in doing so the soul receives a freedom unexplainable. However, once doing this, we come to a knowledge of the love of God and how we can serve Him once we cleanse ourselves from sin and allow God to show us His ways, and how those ways are the purpose of our existence.
In short, the Retreat is to show souls that their first end in life is to know God, to love God, and to serve God, in order to save their soul. You cannot love Him whom you do not know, and you cannot serve Him whom you do not love.
Go on a Retreat, don’t make excuses, and the Almighty God will bless you and your family abundantly for doing so. Your eternal salvation is at stake…