Spiritual Exercises in Torrent (Valencia, Spain) December 5-8, 2014.
This month of December, taking advantage of the feast of the Immaculate Conception, we had spiritual exercises which took place in the Servants Sisters' house in Torrent. They were led by Father Felix and around 25 people attended.
They were the first exercises done by the majority of the participants, and perhap for this reason, there was an additional component of expectation, hope and, why not, fear of the unknown.
They were somewhat short exercises, but it was still worthwhile and we made good use of the available time. When you have a desire for God, time is never sufficient, and the fact is that, as St. Dominic Savio said, we must be in a 'hurry to be saints'.
We started on Friday with the Holy Mass and then had dinner together to get to know each other a little better, and start creating the right environment for the exercises. After dinner, Father Felix gave us instructions so that we would take advantage of every moment and enter fully into the spirituality that demands being alone with the Lord, in silence on the outside, but with the Lord speaking out loud on the inside.
As St. Ignatius very well defined, “just as strolling, walking and running are corporal exercises, in the same way, every way of preparing and disposing the soul [to rid itself of all disordered affection and seek God's will for me], are called spiritual exercises”. The spiritual exercises help the individual to know their own resistance, difficulties and disordered affections, which are present in our lives: selfishness, hatred, envy, desire of being what we are not, comfort, thinking we are better than others, living selfishly, thinking only of me and my problems without solidarity with others, living life with a lot of disorder, without a meaning for our lives, without knowing why and for what I live for. And when we get to know well all our resistance, disordered affections, which are those things that will not let us live our life to the fullest, we then can order our life, and be united with God, living as true Christians, doing the will of God, making Him the center of my life.
So, in this spirit, and knowing that our Mother was going to be there with us, we began the silence, the meditation, and we started opening ourselves up little by little to the will of God.
Every meditation left us with questions and answers, according to the frame of mind of each person, according to the openness of their heart and according to how the Holy Spirit was acting. What prevents me from surrendering myself to God? This was one question that marked me in particular, and for which I tried to find answers that were rational, logical, from this world, without realizing that there was a simple answer, and it is answered with another question: What do I get in return? Eternal life, holiness.
After each meditation, we had the privilege of enjoying something great, as Fernando pointed out; we had the opportunity to be in the chapel face to face with the Lord, there in silence, in prayer, in peace.
Sin ... This meditation really impacted us, as it made us think about how one of the greatest evils present today is that we have lost the sense of sin! But it also gave us hope knowing that God forgives so much, so many times, to the extent that he gave his only Son to save us.
Father Felix also managed to convey to all of us the love that Mary showed and shows the world, her willingness, discretion, and how she was at all times loving and caring for her Son, our Savior.
During the meals, we listened to the life of St. Francis of Assisi, one of the most surprising lessons of conversion and humility that history has given us.
I can't summarize all the topics that were touched in the Spiritual Exercises, the Birth of our Lord, the hidden life of Jesus, the Passion, the Way of the Cross, the Resurrection and that spectacular event that is the Eucharist, but I dare to say that each meditation, thrilled each and every one of us, it has awakened and has helped us to find the way that we had so wanted to take to reach Holiness. On the last day, to summarize what we had lived, we had a short meeting and each person shared their opinion about what they liked best, about the experienced lived and what was learned. It was very rewarding to hear the testimonies of the participants.
And as we were celebrating one of the feasts in honor of Our Lady, on Sunday night we held the Vigil of the Immaculate Conception, where we organized and took turns adoring the Blessed Sacrament throughout the night, in honor of Our Mother.
On Monday, we ended with the Holy Mass and then said farewell to all the participants. Those of us who remained in Valencia were able to lengthen their stay and watched a video about the Immaculate Conception of Mary and we offered a rosary to Our Mother together with the Servant Brothers and Sisters.
Finally, we thank Father Felix for his disposition and direction; the sisters for their service, and to Monica, for the beautiful musical transmitting the spirit of the songs of the Home.
We cannot deny that the temperatures were a bit low, but even that contributed to a greater recollection, and made us think of those who suffer every day and seek the warmth of Our Mother.
And finally, just remember this: 'Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?' (Luke 24, the disciples of Emmaus). So, may it continue to burn and may the fruits of these exercises be seen in each one of us with the help of God and our Mother.
By Pedro Leal, LHM