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Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius

Summary Of Advent Radio Retreat


 

Congratulations! You made it through the Following The Truth Advent Radio Retreat. During the busiest time of the year, you set aside one hour each night (or most nights, anyway) to focus on putting Jesus first in your life. Not only is that a great accomplishment, but it’s something that made the Lord very happy. You should feel very good about that. Let’s briefly review what we learned and, more importantly, let’s look at where we go from here.

According to Saint Ignatius of Loyola, the Lord should come first in our lives and everything else should be second. During the retreat, we focused on several obstacles that keep that from happening. I reviewed each of these obstacles in the last newsletter, so now let’s look at what we can do to live what we learned in the retreat.

1. Trust – We can trust the Lord by patiently accepting everything that happens to us. Although this isn’t easy (especially if we like to be in control), it’s a great way to console the heart of Jesus. A great prayer for this is, “O Jesus, I surrender this to you. You take care of it”.

2. Acts Of Mercy – Every time we do this we console the heart of Jesus. Fr. Gaitley mentioned 3 ways that these acts of mercy can be performed:

Deed – Do kind deeds for others.
Word – Offer kind words to others.
Prayer – Pray for others.

3. Pray Daily – Even if it’s only for a few minutes, we need to get into the habit of speaking to Jesus every day. Obviously, the more you pray, the closer you’ll get to the Lord. Therefore, I recommend that you try to pray as much as possible, but don’t set unrealistic goals. Two hours of daily prayer for a busy person is not realistic. Try to get into the habit of speaking to Jesus throughout the day, especially during the Hour of Mercy (3 – 4 PM).

4. Receive The Sacraments – Make an effort to receive the Sacraments of the Eucharist and Confession as frequently as possible. You will not only console the heart of Jesus, but you will receive many graces!

5. Spiritual Reading – We should get into the habit of doing some spiritual reading each day. Be realistic when setting your goals. If you’re not used to this, start out with 15 minutes a day. The Bible and the Catechism of the Catholic Church are a great place to start.

Finally, as a sign of your commitment and a reminder of reminder of what we learned, Fr. Gaitley recommends that you print and sign the following pledge:

I_____________________________, on this day ______________ , choose as my principle and foundation to console the Heart of Jesus. Dear Jesus, relying on your grace and the prayers of Mary and of all the angels and saints, I will strive to keep before my eyes the deep sorrow of your Heart and respond, with Mary, by consoling you in the following two ways: First, I will give you my trust. Jesus, I trust in you. I will try not to be afraid of going to you as I am (ecce), even when my sins and weaknesses weigh heavily upon me. With an open heart, I choose to accept your mercy (fiat), even all that mercy other souls reject. Finally, I will do my best to praise and thank you in all things (magnificat), even when you give me the privilege of sharing in your Cross. Second, I will strive to show mercy to my neighbor through my deeds, words, and prayers, remembering that by consoling others, I am also consoling you. Heavenly Father, for the sake of the sorrowful Passion of your Son, I beg you: Send forth your Holy Spirit to help me fulfill this choice.

It has been a great honor to lead this Advent Radio Retreat and I hope you’ll be able to continue listening to Following The Truth on BlogTalkRadio. If you have any questions or concerns at any time, please EMAIL ME. Thank you and may God bless you!

In Christ,
Gary

Following The Truth Advent Retreat To Begin On December 2nd!


 

It’s that time again!

Back by popular demand, the annual Following The Truth Advent Radio Retreat will begin on Monday, December 2nd! As in years past, we’ll journey together as we prepare to welcome Christ into our hearts. Each night on my BlogTalkRadio program, I’ll offer meditations designed to help you grow closer to the Lord. In addition, I’ll read and discuss the daily Mass Readings.

This year, we’ll be using the popular book by Fr. Michael Gaitley, Consoling the Heart of Jesus: A Do-It-Yourself Retreat- Inspired by the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius
. You can order the book by going to the link at the bottom of this post.

Get ready…it’s going to be GREAT!

The One Lesson We Should All Learn From Saint Ignatius Of Loyola

 

Earlier this year, I used my nightly radio show to lead a retreat based upon the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola. Although it was hard work it produced great benefits in many of our spiritual lives. Even though I’d heard of St. Ignatius and his Spiritual Exercises for many years, I knew very little about him or his teaching. Looking back on the experience, there was one lesson I learned that changed my life forever. It’s a simple concept and it can change your life too. It involves St. Ignatius’ motto:

“Ad majorem dei Gloriam”

Latin for “for the greater glory of God”, this expression is much more than a “cutesy” catch phase. When put into practice, it will not only ensure that you’re giving God your best effort, but it will put you on the fast track to Heaven! What it means is simply this – everything that you do should be done for the greater glory of God. Yeah, so…don’t we all do this? Not really. When we have to make a choice between two options, we often go with the choice that “feels good” or is less unpleasant. Unfortunately, that’s not always the choice that gives God the greater glory. He sometimes wants us to do something that we’d rather avoid. You know, like talking to that annoying person after Mass or turning off the TV and saying some prayers instead. Think about the many choices you make each day and then think about why you make them. How often do we take the easy way out instead of doing the right thing? While judging our personal motives can sometimes be tricky (because we fool ourselves), frequent prayer can open our eyes and help us to look at things objectively.

If there’s one thing that we should learn from the teachings of St. Ignatius of Loyola, it’s that every decision, every action, every word we speak should be done for the greater glory of God. When faced with a decision, asking the question, “what would God want me to do?” puts St. Ignatius’ important teaching into practice. By doing that, we can honestly say that we’re loving God with all of our heart, soul and might (Deuteronomy 6:4)!

St. Ignatius of Loyola, pray for us!

The Spiritual Exercises Retreat – Final Thoughts

 

Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam!

It’s difficult to find the words to adequately express my thoughts on what took place over the past 7 weeks. All I can say is that, for me, it was a life changing experience! According to the emails I received, many of you felt the same way. In fact, I had several people tell me that this was their “best Lent ever”…that is a VERY powerful statement!

Through the various meditations, we learned that we exist to “know, love and serve God in this life and live with Him forever in Heaven”. We also discovered that there are many things in our lives which hold us back from fully loving God. Hopefully, we have learned what some of these things are and taken steps to detach ourselves from them. It’s important to remember, however, that this retreat isn’t an “end”, but rather a “beginning”. We’re going to be making decisions and discovering inordinate attachments for the rest of our lives. By participating in the retreat, we’ve learned some techniques for dealing with these situations. According to the late Father John Hardon, “the vocal and mental prayers of the Spiritual Exercises have this twofold aim: that I may see myself as God sees me, and that I may give myself to Him without reserve.”

On Friday’s Following The Truth radio program, I presented the final topics of the Spirtual Exercises, as taught by Saint Ignatius:

1. Contemplation for Divine Love

2. Three Methods of Prayer

3. Rules for Thinking with the Church

I also recited the Suscipe, a prayer composed by Saint Ignatius of Loyola. He recommends that all who made the Spiritual Exercises pray it each day:

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding,
and my entire will,
All I have and call my own.

You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.

Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace,
that is enough for me.

Follow Me…

 

As Jesus passed on from there,He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. (Matthew 9:9)

As we head into the final 2 weeks our Spiritual Exercises retreat, I just wanted to reach out and share a few thoughts. Today, with the celebration of Palm Sunday, we enter into the holiest week of the year. Over the next five days, on my nightly radio show, we’ll meditate on Our Lord’s Passion and death. As we do this, we’ll recognize the fact that He gave EVERYTHING out of love for us. NOTHING was held back. This is a good time to reflect on the invitation to the apostle Matthew (above) and to each one of us. When Jesus issued the invitation to “Follow me”, Matthew got up, left everything and followed Him. Jesus gave everything, Matthew left everything…How about us? Are we following Him completely or are we holding something back?

When we started this retreat, I mentioned that its main purpose was to identify and remove our inordinate attachments and learn what God’s will is for our lives. Once we figure out what it is, we can then put it into practice. As we prepare to make a “retreat election” (how we’ll better live out God’s will), Saint Ignatius asks us to reflect upon the 3 Degrees of Humility:

First Humility. The first manner of Humility is necessary for eternal salvation; namely, that I so lower and so humble myself, as much as is possible to me, that in everything I obey the law of God, so that, even if they made me lord of all the created things in this world, nor for my own temporal life, I would not be in deliberation about breaking a Commandment, whether Divine or human, which binds me under mortal sin.

Second Humility. The second is more perfect Humility than the first; namely, if I find myself at such a stage that I do not want, and feel no inclination to have, riches rather than poverty, to want honor rather than dishonor, to desire a long rather than a short life — the service of God our Lord and the salvation of my soul being equal; and so not for all creation, nor because they would take away my life, would I be in deliberation about committing a venial sin.

Third Humility. The third is most perfect Humility; namely, when — including the first and second, and the praise and glory of the Divine Majesty being equal — in order to imitate and be more actually like Christ our Lord, I want and choose poverty with Christ poor rather than riches, opprobrium with Christ replete with it rather than honors; and to desire to be rated as worthless and a fool for Christ, Who first was held as such, rather than wise or prudent in this world.

Can we achieve these levels of humility on our own? NO! All we can do is ask the Lord to CHOOSE US for one of the levels. Which level should we ask to be chosen for? In order to answer that question, we have to ask ourselves a question…

“How much do I want to love and follow Jesus?”

Do I want to, like Matthew, leave everything and follow Him all the way or do I want to hold something back? Do I want to imitate the Lord’s love for us and love Him with all my “soul, heart, strength and mind” (Mt 22:37) or do I want to keep something for myself?

The purpose of asking for one of the degrees of humility is so that we can make a better and more honest retreat election. If the Lord wants us to consider a career change (that will bring Him greater glory) and we are too attached to our money, then we’ll probably ignore His request. If He wants us to have another child, but we are too attached to our freedom, we’ll probably pass on that one also. And so it goes for any number of other things that would bring great glory to God. If we are too attached to our own personal comfort and desires, we’re not going to pay attention to the Lord’s call.

As we enter into Holy Week, I invite you to tune into Following The Truth each night and let’s follow the Lord’s path together. Even if you’ve given up on the Spiritual Exercises retreat, please try to listen to tomorrow’s (Monday’s) show, as I’ll have some important words to share at the beginning. Jesus is calling us to follow Him and to help spread the “Good News” of the Kingdom of Heaven. How will you respond?

“Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” (Luke 11:23)

The Three Degrees Of Humility

 

On today’s show I discussed the 3 degrees of humility as identified by Saint Ignatius of Loyola:

First Humility. The first manner of Humility is necessary for eternal salvation; namely, that I so lower and so humble myself, as much as is possible to me, that in everything I obey the law of God, so that, even if they made me lord of all the created things in this world, nor for my own temporal life, I would not be in deliberation about breaking a Commandment, whether Divine or human, which binds me under mortal sin.

Second Humility. The second is more perfect Humility than the first; namely, if I find myself at such a stage that I do not want, and feel no inclination to have, riches rather than poverty, to want honor rather than dishonor, to desire a long rather than a short life — the service of God our Lord and the salvation of my soul being equal; and so not for all creation, nor because they would take away my life, would I be in deliberation about committing a venial sin.

Third Humility.
The third is most perfect Humility; namely, when — including the first and second, and the praise and glory of the Divine Majesty being equal — in order to imitate and be more actually like Christ our Lord, I want and choose poverty with Christ poor rather than riches, opprobrium with Christ replete with it rather than honors; and to desire to be rated as worthless and a fool for Christ, Who first was held as such, rather than wise or prudent in this world.

Listen to the show here.

Today Is A Big Day…

 

…in our Spiritual Exercises retreat. According to Saint Ignatius of Loyola, the Spiritual Exercises are a “way of preparing and disposing the soul to rid itself of all inordinate attachments and, after their removal, of seeking and finding the will of God in the disposition of our life for the salvation of our soul.”

The first topic that we discussed when we began the retreat was that we exist in order to “know, love and serve God in this life and live forever with Him in Heaven”. Over the past several weeks, we’ve meditated on our sinfulness, the severity of sin in general and various events in the life of Christ. Pondering these concepts has made us realize that we could do better. There are changes that can be made in our lives. These changes will better enable us to serve God.

Beginning tonight at 8 PM Eastern time (and continuing for the remainder of this week), I’ll discuss the “retreat election”…how we plan to better serve the Lord once the retreat is over. As I’ve mentioned on my show, it doesn’t have to involve a major lifestyle change. It should involve, however, an interior change. We should strive to live our lives “for the greater glory of God”.

Please tune in tonight as we begin exploring this important concept!

Spiritual Exercises – Day 20 & 21

 

Due to time constraints, I’m combining 2 days of shows into 1 post. Here’s what we discussed:

Day 20

1. Christ Calms The Storm – Even though we sometimes think that Jesus is “asleep”, He’s always aware of our struggles.

2. Christ Walks Upon The Water – When dealing with difficulties, always keep your eye on the Lord.

3. Christ Sends The Apostles To Preach – Be prudent and patient as you spread the “Good News”

Day 21

1. The Transfiguration – Keep your eyes on the Heavenly reward!

2. The Raising Of Lazarus – There will always be skeptics who don’t believe in God’s power.

3. Palm Sunday – Are you an admirer or an opponent of Christ? Are you sure?

Spiritual Exercises – Day 19

 

On today’s show, I concluded the meditation on the Our Father.

1. Thy Will Be Done On Earth As It Is In Heaven

– We ask that God’s will be done by everyone on earth.

2. Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread And Forgive Us Our Trespasses As We Forgive Those Who Trespass Against Us

– We ask that all of the world’s starving people may receive food.
– We ask for a greater appreciation for the Eucharist.
– We remember that if we expect God to forgive us, we must forgive others.

3. Lead Us Not Into Temptation, But Deliver Us From Evil.

– We ask for the grace necessary to combat temptation.

Listen to the podcast here.

Spiritual Exercises – Day 18

 

On today’s show, we meditated on the first part of the Lord’s Prayer:

1. Our Father

He sustains us…
He provides for our needs…
He created us out of nothing…
We are destined to live with Him in Heaven

2. Hallowed Be Thy Name

We ask …

That God may be known by those who don’t believe in Him…
That the name of God be used reverently…
That He may be served by ALL of His creatures…

3. Thy Kingdom Come

We ask…

That all non-Christians may come to believe in Christ…
That all Christians will one day be united under the Holy Father…
That all Catholics may grow in loyalty to Christ and His teaching…
That all Catholics may become zealous for spreading the Faith…
That the souls in purgatory may soon enter Heaven.

The musical selection was “Our Father” by Mark Mallett.

Listen to the podcast here.