Inner Peace in Service of God
Let love be true; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord (Rom. 12:9-18).
If I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet (John 13:14).
The Spirit, who is named fire, will show you how to serve.
The service of God was a favourite catch phrase of Ignatius in giving the First Spiritual Exercises. This particular retreat aims to free sacred desires and loosen your feet for the service of God. It hopes to bring you the peace that comes from knowing your work with Jesus, in a particular service, is deeply right to who you are.
This is done in a gentle and simple way. The first week exercises offer a way to discover meaning and find relish in your faith or desire for faith. Using the rhythm of your breathing, the second week exercises take you into deeper divine relationship. The third and fourth weeks provide whole days for you to seek a gift of the Spirit, deepen a virtue or ponder a work of mercy.
The four Sundays pray with the Body of Christ in different ways. So, each week of your retreat builds on the next. Finally, in response to the graces of the whole retreat, you may consider how to bear greater fruit in the service of God by creating for yourself a Program for Life.
How to make a retreat
To make a FSE retreat first print the exercises to be made, one week at a time is the most useful. Alternatively, this site is designed to work well on a tablet and mobile phone. If you have an internet connection you will always have access to each exercise.
Each week of exercises usually includes Monday to Thursday exercises and a weekend exercise. Some retreats have a Friday and a Saturday exercise. The exercises are written with a dynamic that means you need to make them in order, one after the other. You will receive the most fruit this way.
These retreats are ‘retreats in daily life’. That is to say they are for busy committed people who cannot afford to take time off work and pay for increasingly expensive retreats in spirituality centres. The FSE retreat is made over four weeks, normally one after another, but could be stretched out a little further to make way for unavoidable life events or commitments.
Choose a good time in a prayer day for your exercise, where you will not be interrupted. Turn your mobile off. Follow the steps outlined in each exercise with the suggested timing provided.
Use your Listening Book
Enter your experience after receiving an exercise in your Listening Book, an Ignatian prayer journal that will be a very powerful voice to your desires and everyday life choices. The craft of using a Listening Book is taught here.
As well as your own private Listening Book you are encouraged to use a Cloud Listening Book for each week of your retreat. It is found under the menu item Listening Books. There are guidelines for using the Cloud Listening Book here.
Through a Cloud Listening Book your graces will help many people around the world and they may help you to break open to greater depth the graces you have received. A great many people have found this sharing throughly life giving and confirming all round.
A word to the wise
Please do not read the Inner Peace in Divine Love retreat at depth if you are in the middle of receiving a different retreat. The reason is simple, you have chosen to receive one retreat at this time and God has responded. This means that a sudden interest in the other retreats is a very real distraction that will take you out of your retreat and so out of the special relationship you are forming with God through it.
Sometimes this can be simple curiosity, sometimes it can be the bad spirit, who realising that you are receiving great help from God, wishes to draw you away from that source.
How to make a retreat with others
The first way is to find a companion or a local group of people to make a FSE retreat with others. You could approach local communities or organisations that you already belong to and invite a small group to receive a retreat together. Ask them to join the FSE Cloud community and print the retreat exercises.
Each person in your group prays by themselves through the week and fills out their Listening Book after each exercise. Then you meet weekly for spiritual conversation to share the experience of your exercises the week just past. There are special guides created for you and your group on the use of the Listening Book and practice of spiritual conversation. You will find them in the Art and Craft Studio under the School of How menu.
Look at the three main phases of spiritual conversation, sacred listening, conversation and mini-discernment, one at a time each week you meet, learning as you go by experience. There is also a very good threading together of these three phases in The Golden Rules for conversation in our FSE Cloud community under the same menu name in the secondary menu.
Organize weekly meetings – serve each other
In each weekly meeting, the first half is spent in spiritual conversation on the previous week and the second half in learning the first exercise of the coming week. The method will be new but the same throughout the week. Of course, celebration, food and drink, and social conversation are always good for a group of on a retreat in daily life..
The second way to make a retreat with others is to share your experience of the exercises in the Cloud Listening Books for that retreat each week. This is in addition to your personal Listening Book and local sharing. There are careful guidelines for sharing in the Cloud Listening Books in the introduction to each retreat.
Your graces, gifts and insights will help others and they may help you to deepen the graces you have received. Indeed, this way the Spirit will flow over and through you to many people over the earth.
Please Note. The retreat exercises are under the retreat sub-menus, available one retreat each month, rotating through the four retreats.
If you are interested in a retreat, unavailable in a particular month, you will find four taster exercises from each the four retreats under the menu FSE Taster Exercises. If you want the full set of exercises of a retreat immediately, the book of The First Spiritual Exercises is available here.