Retreat with St. Paul of the Cross–Day 1

 Paul Danei writes on his first retreat day:    “Saturday 23 November,1720 which was the first day of my retreat at St. Charles; unworthy though I am, I received Holy Communion. I was not especially recollected neither was I distracted. For the rest of the day I was interiorly afflicted with a peculiar kind of depression, but not like that which comes from worldly troubles. It is a certain interior suffering in mind and heart, mingled with hidden temptations which are recognized with difficulty and which therefore greatly trouble the soul. One does not know where one is, so to speak, whether here or there, the more so because at such a time there is no sensible sign of prayer. God makes me understand that these temptations purify the soul. I know that, by the mercy of our dear God, I desire to know nothing else nor to taste any consolation; my sole desire is to be crucified with Jesus.” 

 Orlando’s reaction:A very dreary day.  The cable news interfere with my efforts at prayer. Donald Trump and the Republicans refuse to concede the election. It seems as if our country is on hold, or walking on a treadmill. The future feels so uncertain. The number of COVID cases are increasing every day and thousands of people are dying. I feel like Paolo Daneo on his first day of retreat— unhappy, tempted to anger, not sure of what is real. But my focus is on Jesus. I forgive, I accept, I love that multitude of fellow Americans on either side of this unbreachable chasm.. My Lord, Our Lord, writhes upon the Cross while His heart burns with love for them and for me. Out of respect for Him, my Living God… I will love everyone, even the ones I disagree with. Thank you Lord, for the minutes that I spent reading and praying with the woman I love. Please heal her. Please hold us close together (“the three” of us) during these coming 40 days! 

 Berta’s reaction: God as family.Dear Jesus, when and how will I find peace through prayer? I was thinking that one way I find a bit of joy and peace is when something happens so that I’m inspired to say “Thank You” to You my God! It could be the smallest of things: like contemplating a bird feeder full of birds, feeling a soft breeze, sitting in the porch quietly in the morning with Orlando, spending time with friends and family (even if social-distancing), walking on a beach or in a park close to nature. All those things have inspired me to call out “Thank You, my God! I love You!”Orlando mentioned that sometimes he sees You as family, sitting with You, quietly talking as friends, putting his head on Your chest and basking in the peace and love that comes from doing that. I know deep in my heart that You, my God, are my family, but it’s hard for me, because I adore You as someone that I should look up to, and someone to reach for! I see You as my Savior and Creator. Are You then also family to me? Help me be close to You! Help me to find peace and joy in You! Let me always see the Truth through Your eyes. Let me be open to Your loving embrace as a Father, a Brother, a Friend and Advisor, Savior and Guide.    Thank You my Triune God! I love You and know that You want the best for me. Teach me to use the gifts You give me! Thank You! 

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