I was coming to the end of the second week in my 30 Day Ignatian Retreat. To simplify, let me say that my spiritual director gave me spiritual exercises to do each day. We would then talk about what happened between God and me which lead to more exercises. Saint Ignatias Loyola discovered a way to know and love God that changed his life for all time.
Fortunately, he outlined the general route up to the proverbial spiritual mountain top. Now you should know this: it took 5 years of planning and preparation before I made the commitment and began this adventure into the heart of God and my own heart. It’s a slightly different route for each person, but with the grace of the Holy Spirit and the help of a good director and with the capacity to be honest, open, and willing you should make it.
Anyway, back to the story. My exercise at this point was to try to realize what I had learned so far and put it into words that make sense to my director and, of course, me. So that’s what tomorrow’ five one-hour prayer periods will be about.
One last assignment tonight. In the assigned passage — Colossians 3:1-4 — Saint Paul warns us to seek and set our minds on the things that are above. A very good choice given the next day’s work. So there I was reading, reflecting, praying — nothing! So I prayed, “Okay, God. I’m not getting the message (my fault, not yours.) It’s time for plan B.”
There was no flash of lightening or peal of thunder (that was a few hours ago — someone must have needed some encouragement!), but suddenly a scene from a Billy Crystal movie came to mind. I laughed and started writing.
In the 1991 movie City Slickers three men having mid-life crises decide spending two weeks working a cattle drive was just what the doctor ordered. They meet a crusty old cowboy Curly played by Jack Palance who they realize is a very wise man, however grizzled he might be. At one point he asks, “Do you want to know the meaning of life is?” Billy Crystal’s character agrees. Curly says holding up an index finger, “One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that….” Curly says everyone has to discover that one thing for himself.
Confession time (Yes, priests do go to confession): I knew that, but sometimes I need to be reminded. Remember Jesus’ words, “But seek first the kingdom (of God) and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides.” (Matthew 6:33) Put God first. So simple, it’s difficult.
After I returned home, I lit a candle and said a prayer that Jack took his own advice and is now with God forever.
— Fr. Paul J. Wharton