One of the goals of the Spiritual Exercises is to help us develop practices for ongoing personal growth. Although we likely won’t have the time or inclination to continue those practices in the intense mode we experienced during retreat, we can and should take advantage of what the retreat gave us. The fruits of retreat go beyond the experiences within that time frame. The work we do spiritually continues to produce fruit as we remember the retreat and carry into our future the wisdom and consolation we gained there.
As you go into today, tomorrow, and the next day, consider the moments that were powerful for you during Lent. If you kept a journal, look back over your experiences and take note of the ones that were particularly meaningful—whether in positive or negative ways.
- Is there a challenging aspect of your life that you need to look at some more?
- Is there a particular Gospel story in which you truly had an encounter with Jesus or someone else?
- Is there an exercise from the Exercises—The Principle and Foundation, The Two Standards, The Call of the King, The Contemplation to Attain Love—that helped you clarify your own calling or direction?
- Is there a specific experience of prayer that draws you back for further reflection?
- Is there an insight that grew out of the retreat, one that you know is important for you to integrate now?
Keep in mind that the prayer forms you used in the retreat are good all year ‘round:
- Imaginative prayer—entering a Gospel story
- The Examen—reviewing every day the graces you have received
- Conversation—simply talking directly to God the Father/Mother, to Jesus, Mary, or one of the saints
- Repetition—going back to a moment in prayer that was either very uplifting and joyful or that brought to your awareness some difficulty or wound to be tended
All of these methods are tools. All of your experiences are raw material for your future. Enjoy!