My father went on many informal retreats. Along with a priest friend, they would load up the car and head to Iowa to visit another priest friend my father knew from childhood, then they would head to the nearby Trappist monastery for the weekend. As a child, I always thought the things he brought back with him, incense and breads, were such treats, too young to ask about the retreat.
Looking back, retreats must've been a way for my father to recharge. And, a way to grow spiritually and move through the various rooms in the castle described by St. Teresa (my father was a Third Order Carmelite). By the time I was in college, my father was spending hours each day in prayer, a great deal of it consisted of prayers for the intentions of others. Without grace, I don't know how anyone could persist at this level. Obviously, when God calls us, He gives us what we need as along as we are receptive to His grace.
This year at the Homeschool conference, a Miles Christi priest seemed to have a desire to talk to me about the retreat. Granted, he could've been eager to get the message out to everyone at the conference, but he pulled me out of the crowd. Two friends I ran into at the conference also encouraged me to attend the retreat. One was so insistent that she offered to pay for half the retreat because I mentioned it was a lot of money for me right now.
Maybe it is time. I had been drawn to the retreats, but for the past few years was either nursing, had an infant to take care of, or both. Plus, the retreats aren't cheap, costing almost $200. I can't even remember the last time I spent $200 that wasn't for for car repairs or heat. However, if I make this a priority, I could save a little each month. The lay person manning the Miles Christi booth attends the same bible study that I do. She told me that I shouldn't let anything stop me from participating in the retreat and that they have scholarships available. This did not make me feel better. I know if I didn't let money leak out of the budget for goofy things, I could muster the money for the retreat.
But, more importantly, what is the "well-proven method of St. Ignatius of Loyola?" The Miles Christi priest at the booth got my address and sent me a small packet of information, but it doesn't explain anything about "the method." I know the late Fr. John Hardon, SJ, and Archbishop Burke supported these exercises, but what are they?
For Father's Day, my husband wanted to go to the bookstore. Going to the bookstore for him is similar to other men enjoying a beer. He loves bookstores. Usually, he likes to visit Barnes and Noble, but for some reason he wanted to go to Half Price books. Although it was Father's Day, hubby didn't find anything, but I managed to find a arm-load of books for under $20. They include a hard cover book, similar to Usborne, called Inside Ancient Athens; Anne of Green Gables; Anne of Avonlea; Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm; Pascal's Pensees (since I didn't get to hear much about Pascal at the Chesterton conference); St. John - The Navarre Bible commentary; Making Senses Out of Scripture - Reading the Bible as the First Christians Did, by Mark Shea; and The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. Serendipity, indeed.
The book explains how the exercises are to take place over four weeks. I don't know how the retreat will condense this into a weekend, but now that I have a little background on what to expect, I'm eager to go. I only read the exercises for the first week because it warns against moving too far ahead. The first week consists of an in-depth examination of conscience. A little voice in the back of my head will have me pondering my sins until the conference takes place in September.
This expression "Spiritual Exercises" embraces every method of examination of conscience, of meditation, of contemplation of vocal and mental prayer, and of other spiritual activity that will be mentioned later. For just as strolling, walking, and running are bodily exercises, so spiritual exercises are methods of preparing and disposing the soul to free itself of all inordinate attachments, and after accomplishing this, of seeking and discovering the Divine Will regarding the disposition of one's life, thus insuring the salvation of his soul.
* Link for more information on the Miles Christi priests and brothers and for information on the retreats offered. If you've attended one of these retreats, please let me know your experiences!