Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Sketching a retreat

Window, St. Ignatius Chapel,
Montserrat Retreat House
I was at Montserrat Retreat House outside of Dallas last week for a workshop on preaching the Spiritual Exercises, more specifically, thinking about the 18th Annotation in Ignatius' Exercises.  The 18th Annotation describes the sorts of exercises that might be given to those who could not or should not make the full exercises, either in their 30-day form (the 20th Annotation) or in daily life (the 19th Annotation).

"...each one should be given those exercises that would be more helpful and profitable..." — from Louis Puhl's translation of the Exercises, 18th Annotation

The practicum was designed to help us consider prayerfully and practically the movements of this sort of retreat, where the expecation is that people will leave with some tools to "make progress in the life of Christ." Including some thoughts about how the director might come to such a retreat.

The notion was that you could leave with a sketch, an outline, of a weekend retreat, with 10 or 11 short talks given over 3 days.  We were invited to preach an excerpt of such a talk along the way, and listening to others preach was not just an opportunity to see different approaches to crafting and presenting such reflections — watching a clip of a Disney cartoon, artwork, poetry, evangelical style preaching, quiet reflection, music —  but to hear the witness of people willing to return the gift they'd been given in the Exercises was a grace.

I sketched out a couple of talks for days of reflection, helpful in the sense that they helped me think through a couple of upcoming writing assignments.  (If anyone out there wants a talk on mission and Mary Magdalene in the garden or one on the sacredness of measured time within the context of the Examen -- I'm now set!)  I also sketched as the various presenters spoke, creating maps of the material and what arose in me as I listened.  I'm really not an artist, but as one of the Jesuits tagged me, "a good doodler."  Going back through them I can see what struck me.   Herewith some random bits of wisdom.

  • "We are looking for a busy God."
  • ...that I be not deaf to his call.
  • We are icons, doorkeepers, witnesses.
  • Never reveal your politics. 
  • Sin is a mystery and if it is too clear, we are in error.
  • Love costs.
  • We are not on a mission, we are mission.
  • Imagine your own resurrection.

The full text of Puhl's translation of the Spiritual Exercises can be found at IgnatianSpirituality

My friend Wayne is an inspired doodler - and his are art!

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