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Location: California, United States

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The retreat, Frasier, and zebra finches

I didn't realize how much I'm not being Christmas-like until I saw an old episode of Frasier on the computer last night showing Frasier's apartment (and Eddie the dog) decorated for the season :) .....

The most Christmas-like thing I've done so far was to go with my sister to a local pet store. She wanted to buy pet food for her work's Christmas donation to the county pound. I wanted to donate some cat food to representatives of a no-kill shelter who were at the pet store that day. While there we saw fish, reptiles, and birds for sale. They were so attractive but sad because they'll be spending their lives in cages. Here's a Wikipedia photo of one of the little birds we saw, a zebra finch, which was only about as big as my finger ....

The other Christmas thing is Creighton University's online Ignatian retreat which I'm making in sync with the liturgical calendar - the retreat material is about the annunciation, Zechariah and Elizabeth, Joseph and Mary, up until but not including Jesus' birth (week 14). This is the first week of the retreat in which we're asked to try gospel contemplation, a vivid imagining of ourselves taking part in the scripture story ....

Be attentive to where you are standing when Mary is visited by an angel. Be aware of what you imagine the angel is saying and what Mary is thinking. What do you say and do as you accompany Mary to the house of Elizabeth? What is Joseph doing after he awakens from a dream in which he understands that he must marry his betrothed even though she is with child, which he knows is not his?

- The Angel Gabriel appearing to Zechariah by William Blake

Then Ignatius asks us to make reflections on ourselves and draw some insight and grace. Perhaps we watch Mary from a distance. That is good. Now we pray with those feelings of distance. Perhaps the distance comes from not wanting to have anything to do with mystery and having to trust. There we are then, praying with a truth, whose realness has been revealed in a new and dramatic way. For Ignatius, getting close to Jesus and his close friends is a way of getting closer to ourselves. This is in no way self-preoccupying or narcissistic. The closer I get to myself and my real truth, the more intimately will I find Jesus being with me. God’s Truth, made flesh, enters the lives of these three persons by charging them with trust and charging them with the mystery of giving in to surprise and adventure. This is a frightening, yet consoling, week for us who watch and listen to the human struggle to let God into our private and personal scenes. We also pray to receive the grandeur of God’s charge.
- link

- The Visitation by Maurice Denis


Blogger Cura Animarum said...

HI Crystal!

An early Merry Christmas to you! The fmaily and I are heading to the West Coast (BC) for a few days over Christmas to spend time with family out there and I wanted to make sure I sent well-wishes your way before we head out.

I also have a Christmas present for you in the form of a link (I know you LOVE those!) It's to a 26-week video series by Father Tom Gallagher on the Discernment of Spirits. It's such a good series and every time I watch an episode I find myself thinking not just about my own spiritual journey, but much of what you've shared with me about your own.

Discernment of Spirits

As you're also doing the Exercises again you might find it very helpful.

Have the very merriest of Christmases Crystal and I hope that the New Year brings to you the all graces you need!

12:12 PM  
Blogger Cura Animarum said...

Oh, one other note about Gospel Contemplation for you and/anyone reading your wonderful post; the kind of imagining Ignatius invites us into can be accomplished on a number of levels from full-blown "'s like I'm right there!" entering into the entire scene start to finish to simple visual imagining, to scents and sounds, to purely emotional responses with no 'pictures' at all. Often I hear complaints about people who are adamant that they can't 'do it right' when they don't find themselves magically transported to a full-on sight and sensory immersive experience and so never attempt it again, or miss out on the kinds of imaginative experiences that they are having and that God seems to want to draw their attention to.

Just felt the need to clarify. ;o)

1:04 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Thanks for the link. I listened to a few minutes and it sounds like it will be very helpful. I have a link for you too :) not as nice as a video, but a page on books on the exercises and spiritual accompaniment and stuff ....

I hope you guys have a wonderful Christmas.

1:04 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Ha - we must be commenting at the same time :) Thanks for the further info on gospel contemplation. Sometimes when it doesn't seem really "sensurround" I feel like I'm doing something wrong.

1:08 PM  
Blogger Cura Animarum said...

That's so funny! I just sent that last comment then saw yours! yes he is very good with this stuff. I found the discernment of spirits part of my training a little difficult to follow sometimes but he does a very good job of clarifying. If I'm involved with putting together training for new directors down the road I'm going to try to incorporate some of these.

Thanks so much for the book links! I have two of the Maureen Conroy ones (Looking into the Well and The Discerning Heart) both very good but that list at Loyola! ;o)

1:10 PM  
Blogger Cura Animarum said...

Yep...we've caught each other on-line ;o) - Actually watching his vid on rules 3 and 4 right now...the whole spiritual/non-spiritual consolation movement. Nice!

1:14 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Speaking of consolation, last night I had the most consolong experience trying to memorize the lyrics of the Sussix Christmas carol I'd posted. By the time I finsished singing it enough to learn it, I was so euphoric I couldn't go to sleep. Maybe I am feeling the Christmas spirit after all :) Merry Christmas, Cura!

2:08 PM  
Blogger Cura Animarum said...

Just finished my own time in prayer here at the close of my day and felt some small bit of consolation in the midst of some struggles. Then I popped back here and saw your own. That sounds like a wonderful expereince and even hearing about your own lifts my heart and soul and made me smile.

Thank-you so much!

Merry Christmas Crystal!

2:26 PM  

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