Blog Template Theology of the Body: What's an Ignatian Retreat Like?

Monday, June 04, 2007

What's an Ignatian Retreat Like?

People often ask me this. I'm just back from a wonderful weekend Ignatian retreat on the shores of Lake Dallas, so I thought that I would share about the experience. Ahem:

First, an Ignatian retreat is hard. You are in total silence for the entire time, except for attending retreat talks and sharing with your retreat director. If you are fasting, you are hungry. You have lots of open-ended hours with nothing to do but immerse yourself in Scripture and pray; and, in contrast to the busyness and routine of ordinary daily life, this can be terrifying.

Secondly, an Ignatian retreat is beautiful and purifying. My body responds to these retreats in an amazing way; I always come back more refreshed and in better health than if I had been intentionally working on it for weeks. You fall in love with the silence, and you learn to "listen" to the other silent people around you with great care and compassion, even though you cannot speak with one another. You learn the value of every single word.

Thirdly, an Ignatian retreat is for falling in love a little more with Christ. It works! Ignatian spirituality is all about the heart. Through hours of reflection on the Gospels (and that's it, folks- nothing more, nothing less) you immerse your imagination in Jesus. You remember that our Lord ascended as a young man who loved His friends, and you open your heart to this Friend with just a little bit more abandon. You learn to pay attention to your own heart; having surrendered it to Christ each and every hour, you learn to distinguish carefully between moments of desolation (despair, discouragement, anxiety, and confusion) and moments of consolation in the faith, hope, and love that make us run to Christ. You renew your commitment to live in this consolation and to say a firm no to all that takes you from the love of Jesus.

And incidentally, for those of us who struggle with the discipline of daily devotions, an Ignatian retreat will make daily morning prayer and Bible study seem like a cake walk. - better yet, you sharpen your taste for prayer and the Scripture.

So that's an Ignatian retreat. Anyone interested...? :)