Eight days of silence – crazy! I’m still not sure exactly how to process everything that happened, even though we’ve been “unsilent” for almost a week now. We spent four or five hours a day doing the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius – which are crazy. Basically you’re supposed to imagine yourself in the setting of the gospel story and then you’re supposed to have a conversation with Jesus.
It was difficult for me at first because I was not used to praying with so much structure. I felt like some of my holy hours were fruitful, and others were just confusing. There were times when I wasn’t entirely sure what I was doing, but the good thing is that the Lord shows up and speaks even when we don’t feel like we’re good at prayer. I think the thing that I missed most during the retreat was just the comfort of other people. I love that in our daily lives here, we can see God’s love for us through community and through the way that we love one another. It was difficult for me not to have that comfort, because I really had to enter more deeply into prayer to know of God’s love and His desire for me.
In the silent retreat, I felt like the Lord was really challenging me to grow in my faith. I know that He has really been asking me to trust Him more, to surrender more of my life to Him, to be willing to be persecuted for Him, to live in the freedom of His love, rather than in the chains of my own fear. It was beautiful to really be able to focus solely on the Lord for eight days, to not have to worry about what other people were thinking or doing, to not have to worry about anything really except for being faithful to prayer. I hope that I can continue that in my daily life. I hope that I can truly focus on the Lord and trust in His love and His promises, no matter what is going on around me.
I was reading Story of a Soul by St. Therese over parts of the retreat, and there was a part that really stood out to me. St. Therese is talking about surrender, and she says, “among His own disciples, alas, He finds few hearts who surrender to Him without reservations, who understand the real tenderness of His infinite Love.” When I read that, it really struck me that the reason I don’t fully surrender my heart and my life to Jesus, is probably because I don’t know “the real tenderness of His infinite Love.” But how beautiful and simple is it that all we have to do to surrender ourselves to Jesus is to ask Him to show us His love, which He desires to do anyway!