Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Invitation to the Quiet

At first, I was not looking forward to a weekend retreat. I had experienced a hectic and long week, and I had so many things on my to-do-list to be completed. Despite my anxiety about the week ahead, I found myself at ease throughout the retreat. The leaders of the retreat gave us an invitation to participate in various spiritual exercises, reflections, and conversations. I appreciated that these were invitations and not expectations. These invitations gave me the opportunity to participate in various retreat activities, but to also take time needed for personal reflection and rest. As a person who enjoys talking with others about spirituality, I appreciated one-on-one time with a spiritual director throughout the course of the retreat.

Overall, I am so thankful for this experience because it gave me the time and space to grow closer in my relationship with God. I walked away from the retreat with a sense of hope, renewal, and peace.

Beth C.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Warm Fuzzies

While we think Charis Ministries is pretty cool, there are other fantastic ministry groups doing God’s work here in Chicago. On Saturday, Old St. Pat’s Young Adult Ministry hosted a blanket-making service project, led by Keara Coughlin.

Three Charis Ministries staff members were enticed by the promise of hot coffee and a craft project, so Lauren G, Briana C and I set off to Old St. Pat’s. Keara Coughlin greeted us with a big smile and hot coffee, and told us why we were really there. Keara’s colleague, Padre Orozco, works with prisoners and detainees on the Mexican border who are in need of warm blankets as winter closes in. We became our own community as we learned how to make fleece tie blankets, shared scissors and argued over college football. At the same time, Keara made sure we knew why we were there. She related to us Padre Orozco’s firm belief that as Catholics, it is necessary have the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other; we need to be aware of our faith and conscious of the world around us.

All in all, a great way to spend a gray Saturday morning and meet new friends. Old St. Pat’s and Charis Ministries have plenty more service opportunities to come.

Lauren B.

Finding God in the Everyday

On Thursday night I MC'd the Living Ignatian speaker event with Claire Noonan. She was great and the audience seemed very engaged. Most exciting, it seemed like we got a large number of participants who were new to Charis events. I hope that they come back to more events and maybe try a retreat or two.

Claire talked about the Examen, a method of prayer that is about reviewing one's day in order to find the movements of God in one's life. As a particularly insightful Loyola student noted in the audience, it is a very practical prayer that puts her in touch with God much more than many devotional prayer practices that involve reciting memorized prayers. As a Jesuit, I can certainly attest the value of the Examen in my life--it only takes 10 minutes!--and I am thrilled that Charis brought this 400-year old spiritual practice the some of Chicago's young adults.

Philip S.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

19th Annotation

Those of you who have participated in Charis retreats, days of prayers, service trips, etc. probably know that St. Ignatius not only founded the Society of Jesus (commonly known as the Jesuits), but also handed down to us the Spiritual Exercises as a guide for enriching our lives and strengthening our relationships with God. While the Spiritual Exercises are intended to be given in a retreat format over a 30-day silent period, not everyone is able to participate in a retreat of that length. So in his 19th Annotation about the retreat, St. Ignatius wisely said that the retreat could also be given in the context of daily life.

Currently 4 young adults (myself and 3 men who have been active in Charis activities, retreats, and/or spiritual direction) have discerned and committed to a 3-month retreat of the Spiritual Exercises in Daily Life which may be extended to a 6-month period. Each of us has committed to praying an hour per day as we follow through the days and weeks of the Exercises as prescribed by St. Ignatius within the context of our own daily lives. Each of us will not make this journey alone, but will have the companionship of a spiritual director with whom we will meet on the weekly basis. Additionally, we will meet as a community of retreatants every other week to discuss, pray, and delve deeper into the Exercises under the guidance of Fr. Bill Creed, S.J.

For each of this will be a deeply personal and individual journey. We will proceed through the retreat and retreat materials at our own paces and within our own levels of comfort. The journey begins for each of us with a reflection on our lives through writing about and reflecting upon the events which define who we are. And so as we write our own autobiographies and enter into the Exercises, I invite you to also reflect upon your lives and the defining events that have made up your journey.

- Leigh H.