Spiritual Formation at a Jesuit Retreat Center

This is Sacred Heart retreat center. It is a Jesuit retreat center that I recently spent the day at. The day was one big stretch for me as it gave me a place to practice some spiritual disciplines that are altogether alien in my life.

From the moment we arrived we spent the rest of the day in solitude and silence. Not talking or engaging in human conversation for a day was really a challenge, but good for my soul. So often life gets swallowed up in noise, tv, internet, and ringing cell phones, that we miss the subtle messages that God might be conveying to us. Our lives get so busy and stressed out that anything other than the urgent seems impractical and unnecessary. Opening myself to a day in which I could just let God know I was there and willing to be quiet was a great spiritual exercise.

During the middle of the day I went to Jesuit mass. There church service was only a half an hour long and I and the the two guys I went with were the only ones there who were not eligible for Social Security. I have to admit that since the service was so liturgical I got lost at a few parts and felt out of place. The sermon only lasted about six minutes and the communion portions was about twice as long. The reverence and centrality they placed on the Eucharist was great.

After that we all ate lunch in a big room with a buffet spread. The meal though was all in silence with just a subtle sound of orthodox worship music in the background. What a strange experience it was to sit at the table with other people and not talk to them. We would look at one and other and nod but no talking. In some ways it reminded me of the my many days I spent in lunch detention during Jr. High.

As we were getting ready to live I got to talk to the Jesuit priest for a moment. I told him I was a seminary student, to which he replied “oh well make sure your brain does not outgrow your heart.” I have heard comments like this before and I think there is merit to them. When he said it though something seemed to have clicked. I thought of an illustration of a kinked hose with a rush of water not getting through. This is often what seminary can be like; a stream of living water and rich knowledge that is somehow not funneling into our hearts. I imagine for me, being a crazy reader, I will always be learning more than I can functionally incorporate into my life. So maybe a more helpful illustration for me is a steady drip. That from my brain to my heart will be a constant drip of truth that is made into action. Because it often occurs that what we once learned and meant little then, can often later on click and become life changing.

Old Truths often become New Realities.


One Response

  1. excellent post Ryan. Very well articulated. I love the illustrations.

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