Last week the Salvadoran Carmelite bishop of Chaltenango led the spiritual exercises for the clergy of diocese of Santa Rosa de Copán. Monseñor Oswaldo Escobar, O.C.D., was a breath of fresh air, sharing his understanding of the spirituality of Saint Teresa of Avila.
He began the first night with two questions:
“Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9)
“What are you seeking?” (John 1: 38)
And he noted the request of the apostles:
“Lord, teach us to pray.” (Luke 11:1)
And it got better throughout the week as he shared with us his understanding of St. Teresa.
He spoke of prayer as the relationship of friendship with God that needs the virtues of love, humility, and detachment.
He noted that in getting to know ourselves, it is important to remember that God enhances (engrandecer) the human condition; he does not denigrate it! We should not begin with sin.
This fits in with a passage from one of my favorite canticles in Evening Prayer (Ephesians 1: 4)
God chose us in Christ,
before the foundation of the world
to be holy and blameless in his sight,
to be full of love.
There was so much more. I need to read the articles he shared and the notes I made. It was exactly what I needed at the beginning of Lent this year.
Thanks be to God.
If you can read Spanish, you can find links to pdfs of his writings here. The retreat was largely based on these articles:
“Las conversiones teresianas y su discernimiento”
“Las falsa paz en los orantes”
“Conocimiento propio según Santa Teresa de Jesús”
“Los deseos según Santa Teresa de Jesús”
Five days away from my ministries in Santa Rosa is in some sense a luxury, but one I desperately needed.
I had been wanting to do this since September and finally carved out seven days – 5 days of retreat and two days to travel.
It was a largely silent retreat and, though I talked with the Jesuit who offered me a place to stay, it was largely self-directed – or, rather, as it turned out, God-directed.
I had brought a digital version of St. Ignatius Spiritual Exercises, as well as two books: Néstor Jaén’s Toward a Liberation Spirituality and Michael Harter’s book of prayers, Hearts on Fire: Praying with Jesuits.
Part III of Jaén’s book had a paraphrase of the Exercises from a liberation perspective. Hearts on Fire, parts of which I’ve used for personal prayer, is organized around the Spiritual Exercises. They were both very helpful.
But what happened, without my planning, is that each day presented me with a challenge.
- to be open to God’s love
- to let myself be freed from the pursuit of honors and recognition
- to be available, disponible, especially to the poor
- to accompany, to be present to witness the degradation of the Son of God and the children of God by the powers of this world
- to wait, in hope for the Risen Lord.
These are very personal, reflecting my idiosyncrasies, my obsessions, and my needs – but perhaps they might help others to begin to ask themselves, “Where is God calling me today?”