Spiritual Exercises for the laity in Torrent (Valencia), Spain, from December 4 to 8, 2015.
On the last holiday encompassing the Feast of Immaculate Conception we had a silent retreat according to St. Ignatius of Loyola, also known as Spiritual Exercises, for the laity in the house of the Servant Sisters of the Home of the Mother in Torrent, Valencia. Father Félix Lopez, Servant Priest of the Home of the mother led the exercises. We were about 28 people in total.
We started on Friday, December 4th, with the Holy Mass at 8 p.m. In this way we put the exercises under the Lord’s protection. Then, before entering into silence we had dinner while conversing to get to know each other and to situate ourselves. Around 10:00 p.m. we entered silently into the Spiritual Exercises with the first talk.
We began each day with the Angelus and Lauds followed by breakfast. Then, we had the first points of meditation to help guide our prayer and time for personal prayer in silence. Then we had some free time to walk, read, or pray the Rosary. Later, there was a talk and afterwards lunch. After a time of rest, there were other points of meditation and time for prayer. Then we had the Rosary, Holy Mass, dinner and the last talk of the day. During meals, we would hear tapes on the life of St. Edith Stein that helped us a lot. The life of this Jewish philosopher impressed us a lot. Through an intense search for the truth, she had an encounter with Jesus Christ which led to a radical conversion, allowing her to discover her vocation to the Carmelites, and ultimately give her life in the Holocaust for her people, dying in the Auschwitz concentration camp.
Father Félix accompanied while we meditated on the life of Jesus and helped us with talks about trust in God, being lukewarm, and many more topics. The Lord and Our Mother have been pouring many graces in our hearts. Although we struggled a little to leave behind our daily occupations and enter the inner silence, at last, we succeeded, and the Lord started talking. And He has spoken! Blessed Mary, on the other hand, has had a thousand motherly details with us, because she knows how much we need them.
On Monday night we had the vigil of the Immaculate Conception with the Blessed Sacrament exposed. Through the ritual of the Vigil, we could penetrate into the beauties and the graces with which the Lord has adorned his mother forever. On the morning of December 8th, we had the Mass of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception and with it we ended the exercises. The ones that didn't have to travel far stayed for the meeting, where we exchanged experiences and graces that the Lord has given us. We ended with lunch and a rosary in honor of the Virgin Mary.
Thanks to the Lord and Our Mother, we left strengthened in spirit in order to give testimony in the midst of the world and to continue growing in the spiritual life, in order to reach someday, by the grace of the Lord, heaven, and have the joy of seeing everyone there.
One of the things that always draws my attention is the buzzing that you begin to notice in your ears when you go into silence... It's like leaving a war zone and going through the door that puts you directly into a “piece of heaven”. It truly takes a great effort to calm the internal storms and to put yourself in the presence of the Lord, but, once you achieve it, you soon notice the delight that this means for the soul... You start to listen, to meditate, to deepen and to recognize the wealth left to us by Our Father in heaven as inheritance in our beloved Church... The great gift of Our Mother, teacher of faith and the life experiences and thoughts provided by the Saints, undoubtedly older brothers, who, with the legacy of their writings, give clarity to our mundane eyes and immerse us in the Majesty of a God who invites us day after day to know him and to establish a relationship of perfect love between Father and Son.