I had the same Spiritual director from my last retreat. I did not raise any issue or desire, although there were a few insights and issues which surfaced before the retreat commenced. I believe that the SDs are chosen and I don’t select my SD although I am free to do so. From my experiences I am convinced that to bear good fruits from a directed retreat, obedience to my assigned SD is being obedient to the Holy Spirit. To listen to the Holy Spirit is to hear, to understand and to try to do as directed by the SD. I knew I had to tuck away the 2 books when the retreat proper began, because my past SDs always discouraged me to read my own books, as it might be a distraction, unless that book was strongly recommended by the SD. Besides, I anticipated that my SD, being a Jesuit, would follow closely the steps of St Ignatius’ spiritual exercises. On my first meeting with the SD, after his directives, he added, to my surprise, that I might also grab a book to read. I felt my retreat already started 2 days ago with the permission to use the 2 books I borrowed. Indeed, the contents from the books were like filling the valley and levelling the mountain.
As a result, I was more interested to follow the books than the materials given by the SD. I was carried away by the next chapter instead of reading and reflecting on the assigned bible texts. It touches on virtues towards others, ‘Justice and Fidelity’ Justice is about treating everyone equally. A virtue of fairness where there is no special treatment or preference. Fidelity is the opposite. The virtue teaches me to treat those to whom I am more closely related – spouse, children, parents, friends, relatives, neighbours, community members with impartial speciality. Justice has no preferences. Fidelity is about preferential treatment. I had embraced the fact that ‘discipline’ is the tool to solve life difficulties; that gave me a turning point in life. I found another tool ‘prudence’ that would help me to figure out the tension between Justice and Fidelity. I saw that prudence would help me to figure out my erroneous way of treating relationships with people who should be in my preferential treatment. Prudence helps to find the reason to act.
Prudence reminded me to do my homework from the SD. Every directed retreat begins with self-knowledge, that is looking back in one aspect of my life, my darkness, my faith, or my relationship with God, my relationships with neighbours and this time it appeared that I should be looking into the aspect of my self-esteem pertaining to how I should live with myself and what my internal dialogue was. I was asked to look into my way of life, my wisdom and appreciation of what I had: food, clothing, work, place of residence, companions, knowledge and skills, health and sickness, success and failure. The lists were so ordinary in my everyday living yet upon recollection, it reflected my attachments and detachments, my blessings and gifts, my needs and deprivations, my achievement and failures in life value. The revelation of the detrimental effects from my broken relationship has made me overwhelmingly disappointed with myself. I could feel a stir in my heart with resoluteness but also the equally strong feeling of resistant. But the longing for a soul companion, the needs and deprivation, and when orientated to the Charity of God, to justice, fidelity and self-esteem got the better of me to face the questions squarely. What is important? What is central? What is concrete? What are my sacrifices for greater good and value? What are the treasures of my heart?
I never felt so heavy of heart in such an early part of my 8-day journey with God before. Each day the scripture prayers were pointed directly deep into my heart, that part of my being, my very soul. I had been working around the heart and avoided touching my soul in the heart. I realised that it was rather hard for me to read any biography of great Saint who strongly emphasised on sins that harm their souls. I could not recognise that my soul indeed is my treasure. For a start, I should look after my soul, who is also the treasure to God. Contemplating at the edges of my heart on my present stage of life, I saw money and businesses, the loving God, my family, brothers and sisters, those things I loved, people who helped me, the pleasure of joy and peace. With a little courage I ventured further into the heart, I saw those I wanted/ didn’t want and those I liked/didn’t like. I saw ugliness and the taints, the blessings and unfulfilled desires. I saw smiles from my blessings and a few drops of tears for my obstinacy and stubbornness too.
What is important, central and concrete is to normalise my marriage relationship once more. The sacrifices are the preservation of joy and peace as a pleasure, the worldly freedom, the satisfactions and the fulfilling enjoyment of personal independence. Ideally, giving in to the greater good and value, beginning with a new set of teeth, companionship, a home to greater intimacy with family, friends and relatives. What are my treasures? My soul is my treasure. My work and my family are also my treasures. Undeniably, I am a treasure to the living God. When I am lost and found, God justified a celebration. What does my heart want? I want to love God. I want to share with others the love of God. I want to protect myself from the influences of evil spirits. I want spiritual growth. I want to try another business. I want to travel for mission works, to Holy Sites and for overseas retreats. What I previously wanted and received, precisely are gifts and blessings from God’s Charity. What I received by graces are not for me to hold on to but to return back through His way in serving and loving of His people, my neighbours and my communities