miércoles, 25 de septiembre de 2013

Immersed in Love

An article by Camille Devaney, from Chicago, a "companion on the journey" in our last 2013 Ignatian Immersion Course. She is an active member of Ignatian Volunteer Corps and her reflections on her experience have been published at their blog: http://www.ivcusa.org/chicago_blog/immersed-in-love/

Immersed in Love

How to describe this experience..?

The brochure on the Immersion course was quite clear: a) learn more about the man Ignatius; b) have a guided 8-day retreat; c) walk some of the streets/paths he walked; d) experience the cave at Manresa, the river, the holy mountain, the chapel of conversion; e) read and try to comprehend some very “heady” material presented by very passionate and talented writers. All this at a fairly reasonable, all-inclusive cost of approximately $53 per day. The above is all true but does not begin to capture the lived reality of the immersion experience.

What happened for me and the members of our pilgrim group was an experience of profound grace. It was now me walking the walk, climbing the mountain, savoring the sounds and tastes, breaking bread as an inclusive family, and experiencing moments of unconditional love. Am I being too dramatic or flamboyant in my description? Maybe, but how does one explain 35 total strangers from 14 different countries—ordained, lay and religious men and women—becoming not only friends but truly becoming a community and companions on a journey?

I was awed by the hospitality we received at the Jesuit communities in Manresa, Loyola, Javier: At each place we stayed, the men greeted us warmly and extended their homes to us freely, saying “Welcome, our home is your home.” Our personal guide, a Jesuit responsible for 35 individuals, did everything humanly possible to support us and make us feel loved and accepted. Every day, our guide was at the service of everyone in this way.

Blessings Received

This experience was marked by many moments of grace. Walking the camino (road) from Monserrat to Manresa, my companions and I sometimes spoke, sometimes walked in silence in private prayer. At one point, we talked about the friendship of Ignatius and Peter Faber, Ignatius’ first companion, who once walked this same road together. Ignatius and Faber were focused on their mission to save souls (through the teaching of the Exercises), but because they were always on foot, they also had the blessed opportunity to commune with nature and with one another. These men, like us, were pilgrims on a journey, “finding God in all things and all things in God.”

There were many graces in community. Each day a name from our group was picked and posted in the chapel and dining room as this person’s day and country to be prayed for. Amazingly, my day happened to be in the middle of our silent retreat, on a day when my heart was aching because I wanted to be home for my granddaughter’s First Holy Communion but I was on pilgrimage and wanted this as well. This was confirmation to me and provided a deep consolation that I was where God wanted me.

If you are in IVC we all know the Suscipe (“Take, Lord, and receive all I have and possess…”). During this immersion experience, through our talks, lectures, and prayer times, I understood much more deeply how the Father, through the Son, has given All to us so that, in the words of Scripture, His love is fulfilled in us and us in Him. Such experiences and understandings are difficult to put into words.

Returning Home

Besides missing my family and friends while I was away, I also really missed my resident-friends at Pavilion and Bayside nursing homes, where I serve with IVC. When I returned to Bayside for the first time last week for a surprise visit, I was hugged and kissed by so many people. They surrounded me saying “Where were you?” and “We are glad you came back!” Right there, I was in the presence of the Divine. I joined the Bayside community for Mass that day and our celebrant Fr. Jake’s words made me know again this is where I belong this is where I find God.

One day, in leading a session on Ignatius’ Contemplation to Attain Divine Love, Cecil Azzopardi, SJ, our retreat master, said that to know and experience the love Ignatius speaks about only happens when we are in Service to another. We can do service for many reasons—guilt, obedience, to feel good, etc.—none of which are bad. But True Love in only manifest in Loving Service which sees and experiences the Other as God/Love. This Ignatian immersion experience has returned me back home, to my family and friends, to the IVC, with more love to give and receive.

I invite you to come, taste and see this experience. Information on this course can be found at www.covamanresa.cat.

Thank you Camille!

A New Beginning

An article from Claire Bangasser, a "companion on the journey" from our last 2013 Ignatian Immersion Course. Published in her blog: http://acatholicwomansplace.blogspot.com.es :

A New Beginning

"Paul and I are just back from six weeks in Manresa, Spain, where we were invited to go deeper into Ignatius' autobiography and spiritual diaries, the sources of his Spiritual Exercises and how they developed over his lifetime; some of his letters; the origins and foundation of the Society of Jesus; its first Companions; its voluminous archives (Monumenta); its Constitutions; and, finally, Ignatian spirituality for today. Add to this daily morning prayers and evening masses, an eight-day silent retreat the second week, and a walking tour of Manresa where Ignatius lived nine months in 1522-23 (there he prayed, fasted, worked, meditated, had visions, and fell sick...), and trips to Montserrat, Loyola, Javier, and Barcelona.

We were thirty-five participants from fourteen different countries (with large contingents from India, the Philippines, Australia, and the U.S.). Our youngest member turned 32 during the Course and the older participant was 76. A majority of men and Jesuits, some religious sisters, a few laypeople and just one couple, Paul and me.

The Course was made of seven modules, the second one being the silent retreat, with one transition day in-between each. Those days were meant to help us process all that had been given to us (e.g. the medieval origins of the Autobiography, connecting the Spiritual Exercises with mysteries in our faith; the personalities of Ignatius' first companions; the importance of Juan de Polanco in the creation of the Society of Jesus, his importance as well in the writing of the Constitutions and Ignatius' very unique style of participative management. Finally, the new cosmic theology and new ways of looking at Jesus' teachings (e.g. table fellowship, inclusiveness and openness to sinners and marginalized folks).

Our lecturers are all University teachers, whether at the University of Barcelona, Javier Melloni SJ (a scholar and writer of many books, involved in inter-denominational dialogues); Jose García de Castro, from Comillas University in Madrid, with an insatiable love for archives and books, able to pass on his passion for old papers and the first Jesuits; Carlos Coupeau, SJ, from both Boston U. and the Gregorian University in Rome, who helped us understand the composition and intent of the Constitutions; and finally George Pattery SJ, from Jnana-Deepa Vidyapeeth in Pune, India, who introduced us to a cosmic vision of the Spiritual Exercises, bringing together Ignatius’s cosmic experience on the banks of the river Cardoner with Teilhard de Chardin’s very own understanding.

This time out-of-time was made possible thanks to the support and care of Josep Sugranyes SJ, the Director of the Course, Joachi Salord SJ a wonderful patient and ever smiling shepherd to us all, and Asun Puche, the Course’s feminine smile and intelligent presence.

Dear to everyone of us, as well,  were the women in the kitchen who fixed three meals a day and two snacks, making sure we could sustain those brains of ours so heavily taxed at times. Teams of us worked along them, clearing and setting tables, and drying dishes. Our Spanish improved at their side; we even caught a couple of Catalan words.

I come back with my head filled with images of young noble men giving up their wealth and station in life to walk thousands of miles across Europe, begging on the way, their hearts filled with love for Godde and her creation. Finding Godde in all things...

I think of the many women who helped Ignatius all throughout his life, the very first persons who were guided by him through his Spiritual Exercises, those who cared for him when he was on death’s doorsteps, who paid for his studies and his many journeys, many of these women asking him to become a Jesuit themselves.

My heart is filled with the graces of many moments, looking out to the mountains of Montserrat, inspired with a Spirit of openness, adventure, and longing. I catch myself humming songs sung every day or for special moments. I remember holding Ignatius’ begging bowl...

We drove home with boxes of books to read and a list of more to buy, papers and lectures to process and digest, a longing for prayer, quiet times, long walks, and notes to write.

Many times in Manresa I wondered what I had done to deserve such a blessing and grace to be there in the very place where he had prayed, met Mary and Jesus or understood the Trinity. I hope to share some insights received here, because I cannot stand the idea of keeping all this to myself.

Blessings and joy."

Thank you Claire! And Paul!