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Encountering The God Who Cares

I was sitting with my retreatant (an individual who has chosen to practice the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius) a few weeks ago, noticing a quietness about her. She was more serious than usual, and I sensed her prayer times that week had been somber and heavy. We began our time together in silence and stillness, honoring the Lenten season. My retreatant broke the silence and began sharing, “This week has been hard. Jesus isn’t someone I am reading about anymore; He has become my friend.” She went on to describe the scenes she envisioned during her prayer times.

“I imagined Jesus riding through Jerusalem and felt a sorrow in my heart; people were praising and celebrating Jesus, yet, I knew that in a short time, some of those same people would soon be yelling ‘crucify Him.’ It felt like a betrayal and my heart was hurting for Jesus. I imagined His heart filled with despair and I saw a sadness in His eyes. It was as if Jesus was silently saying to Himself, ‘they don’t understand me, and soon they are going to reject me.’”

“As I prayed through the Last Supper, I saw courage as Jesus washed the feet of Judas, His betrayer, and I wondered, ‘How was Jesus able to do that? How was He able to be so humble and still show love to a person that sold Jesus out for money?’ I wanted to protect Jesus from all those betrayals. Instead, I had to let things continue.”

“I saw the Father, with agony in His heart, looking at Jesus as He prayed in the garden. The Father’s anguish seemed to mirror mine. I could imagine the Father struggling, wishing there was some way to rescue Jesus from the horror that would soon be happening. I wanted to stop the horror too. It was comforting to know that God felt the same way I did. I saw that God truly cares and was present to Jesus’ suffering and heartache.”

As I brought our time to a close, I asked the retreatant what felt most significant to her. She was silent for a few minutes in prayer, then said: “It was seeing the Father with Jesus in the garden. It’s a side of God’s heart I have not seen before. He was there; He cared. It affirmed for me that God will not abandon me in my hard times or when I suffer.”

The retreatant’s noticing of the Father’s heart in the garden gave witness to that deepening relationship the Exercises were cultivating. She experienced Immanuel, God is with us, even in our suffering. I prayed that the next time she finds herself in a hard time, that caring face of God she described would surface in her mind and give her peace and assurance that she is not alone, and that God is not indifferent to her situation.

Introducing The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius

I’d like to introduce you to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. The Exercises are an eight-month-long retreat of prayer and reflection. Each day there is a time of prayer leading you through the Scriptures, awakening and reviving a thirst for God. The structure of the prayer time is designed to provide a personal, intimate encounter with Jesus. Over the months of prayer, you rekindle your love for the Trinity, grow a friendship with Jesus, and come to know yourself better. At the end of the retreat, you will sense a difference in yourself and a growing freedom to love God, love self, and love others. You will also find it much easier to say “Yes!” to God’s invitations in your life.

Praying the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius is being offered this year, starting in the fall and finishing in May of 2022. It involves 4 retreat days at Fall Creek Abbey and weekly Spiritual Direction sessions with an Ignatian Guide. If you are sensing a desire to deepen your relationship with God, please consider attending the virtual informational meeting on Monday, June 14th at 7 p.m. to learn more of what this retreat entails.

To reserve your spot at the meeting and receive the zoom link, contact

Karen Block at


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