From Sister Donna Fannon, MHSH
I am spending the month of July directing four people through the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius at Eastern Point Retreat House in Gloucester, Massachusetts.
The Exercises were developed by St. Ignatius as an aid in helping people know, love and follow Jesus Christ in the midst of their active lives. Through a series of prayer experiences—“exercises”—a retreatant is led to deeper intimacy with Jesus and discovers his or her call to labor with Christ in the world in order to further the kingdom of God.
Eastern Point is located on the ocean and the natural beauty that surrounds the house draws retreatants to a desire to know the Creator. On further reflection, they begin to realize how deep and unconditional God’s love is.
The Exercises then invite the retreatant to consider the quality of his/her response to this unconditional love. As the retreat progresses, the participants consider the gift of God’s son, Jesus, to the world, and they are invited to respond to Jesus’ invitations to friendship and His call to labor with Him in redeeming the world and restoring all of creation to His Father.
The focus then shifts to an invitation to be with Jesus in His passion and death and to consider the cost of discipleship. Toward the end of the retreat, participants encounter the risen Christ, who is with us always, and contemplate God’s presence in all things.
Throughout this month, retreatants pray with selected passages from the Scriptures, asking God for graces necessary to live out this call to discipleship. For more than 450 years, the Spiritual Exercises have been a source of inspiration, spiritual strength and a deep, abiding friendship with Jesus Christ.
A number of those doing the Exercises this summer are men and women preparing for final vows in their respective religious communities. There are also a significant number of lay people who desire this friendship with Jesus as they continue to live out their vocations in the world.
P.S. The Feast Day of St. Ignatius of Loyola is July 31.