WHITE HOUSE JESUIT RETREAT

Jesuit retreat center high on the bluffs of the Mississippi River in St. Louis, MO.  Since 1922, thousands of people from around the world make annual three-day silent, guided retreats here to relax, reconnect with God and strengthen their spirituality.  A true gem in the Midwest!  Call 314-416-6400 or 1-800-643-1003.  Email reservations@whretreat.org  7400 Christopher Rd.  St. Louis, MO 63129

Both men's and women's retreats are offered as well as recovery retreats.

Take Spirituality to the Next Level!

Weekend Reflections for 8/16/19

Jesus’ Challenge

Sunday’s reading from Luke’s Gospel has Jesus issuing a fundamental challenge to those who would follow him: “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!” He’s not speaking of the wild fires that destroy everything in their path but the fire that melts gold ore to purify it, the controlled burns that consume the dead grass and brush to make the fields green and productive. His challenge to us is to follow him in his life of self-sacrificing love, giving of ourselves so that we can be free to be and do for others, our loved ones and even strangers and enemies. The Holy Spirit continues Jesus’ work of purifying us of our ego and our selfish choices and decisions.

Jesus warns that love can be divisive and not always peaceful, even within our families. When we try to live out the line in the Our Father, “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”, not everyone agrees.

Some of us can’t let go of our grudges and resentments and they can become family traits. Maybe the Spirit needs to turn up our thermostats a few degrees.

Fr. Ralph Huse, S.J.


Weekend Reflections for 8/9/19

Our Destiny 

Life is sometimes described as a journey with its beginning in birth and ending in death. When I was growing up, Dad and Mom would often take me and my siblings for a ride on Sunday afternoons. Sometimes they had a destination in mind, other times just a meandering ride. I seldom knew where we were or where we were going, but I knew that Dad did and we were safe. In Sunday’s Gospel Jesus tells us: “Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom.”

I used to be afraid of dying because I was afraid of the god I would meet.  The years and struggles and life experiences along with faith and Scripture and prayer have gifted me with a realization of God as Abba, the infinitely loving and merciful parent. I’m not afraid of death anymore but am able to look beyond it and see it as falling into the loving arms of the God who is pleased to welcome me home and will usher me to my seat at the eternal banquet. What an incredible end to the ride!

Fr. Ralph Huse, S.J.

Weekend Reflections for 8/2/19

The Foolish Farmer 

Sunday’s readings are a stark reminder of who we truly are, God’s beloved children who have come from Him and one day are destined to return to Him. In the meantime all is gift. In Luke’s Gospel Jesus tells us “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.” Then he tells the story of the very successful farmer who builds bigger barns to hold his valuable harvest, only to meet God that night. We all know the expressions: you can’t take it with you and you never see a hearse with a U-Haul trailer behind it. In a conservative branch of the Jewish faith they have the ritual of one day a year wearing their burial garment and it has no pockets, similar to the Catholic Ash Wednesday. The message is clear: remember who you are.

We will be judged not by how much we have accumulated, earned or control but by how much we have loved others and been loved. We are defined not by our possessions but by our relationships. Things can intrigue and satisfy us for a while but Love lasts forever.

 

Fr. Ralph Huse, S.J.

Weekend Reflections for 7/26/19

"Ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you." If only it were so easy! These words of Jesus presume that we are praying in the Holy Spirit and not out of our own personal desires that may not jive with God's desires.

The Holy Spirit conforms our heart to the heart of Christ, such that the deeper desires we find welling up within are but a cry of the Holy Spirit from within our temple to the Father.
And the Father never refuses that cry of the Holy Spirit. There may be a time lapse between the request and the receiving, to strengthen our spiritual muscles, and to remind us what a gift the favor is. But such a prayer will always be heard and answered!
May we learn how to pray with the simplicity of the Holy Spirit.

-Fr. Anthony Wieck, SJ

Weekend Reflections for 7/19/19

What does it mean to have a Marian spirit? Martha has to learn the answer the hard way in this Sunday's Gospel, from her own sister Mary. A Marian spirit is actively receptive. It is prayerful in the midst of busyness.
Martha does eventually become St. Martha, we know, so she learns her lesson! So can we.


What does she learn? What is it that our Lord reproves in her? What is it that he wishes to correct? Let us listen to the sage insight of St. Therese of Lisieux in this regard: "It is not Martha’s works that Jesus finds fault with; His divine Mother submitted humbly to these works all through her life since she had to prepare the meals of the Holy Family.  It is only the restlessness of His ardent hostess that He willed to correct." (XI, 258)
You and I can indeed perform the very same works during our day either with a spirit of restless anxiety, or a spirit of prayerful openness. The choice is ours.


In our busy day-to-day life, how is the Lord inviting us to acquire a Marian spirit? A helpful suggestion in this regard is to bookend our day with prayer. When I grew up on the farm, there was a beautiful painting on the wall of our home stating, "A day hemmed in prayer is less likely to unravel." It is true. Let us pray to St. Martha to teach us the Marian spirit of her sister, so similar to that of the Mother of God!

-Fr. Anthony Wieck, SJ

Ignatian Spirituality Trail construction begins!

Construction on the Ignatian Spirituality Trail began this week! The entire path has been cleared, next will come the gravel that will cover the trail, construction of a series of bridges, retaining walls and stairs. This project along with the grotto restoration should take approximately 9 weeks to complete.


To find out more about this project and how you can help, click here

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Weekend Reflections for 7/12/19

Two weeks ago my second cousin was carjacked, and badly wounded by his own car during the experience. Recently we have had a very sad spate of killings in St. Louis.  Is there anything you or I can do to ameliorate these all-too-common issues?
"Who is my neighbor?'" is the question posed to Jesus in this Sunday's Gospel. Basically, Jesus' answer is "anyone in need." He then offers the story of the Good Samaritan to illustrate his point. 

We should note that the unique thing about this model Samaritan in Jesus' story is that he is moved with compassion at the sight of the one beat up and laying alongside the road.  Neither know each other, they don't belong to any friendship group, they don't share the same religious values or cultural mores. But nonetheless, assessing his plight, the Samaritan is moved with compassion at the sight of him.  Note how the Samaritan shares the very view of God, who suffers to see the abuse that has occurred.

Can you and I also be moved with compassion at the frightening experience not only of my second cousin, but of the perpetrator of that crime, a 14-year-old girl of a different cultural background? How might the Lord want you and me to help succor the needs of those who aren't even asking for our help at the moment? How can we help raise up strong leaders among different cultural communities in this proud city of ours, sadly so racked with racism on many sides?  Perhaps too can we help raise up strong political leaders to incentivize such local leadership?

Who is my neighbor? May I too be moved with compassion as I come to know this "other", both the one harmed and the one causing the harm, and succor the needs at hand.

-Fr. Anthony Wieck, SJ

Weekend Reflections for 7/5/19

The greatest joy we can have in this life is to bring someone to a one-on-one encounter with Christ.
St. Ignatius opines that we can gauge the true love we have for another person according to how effectively we help them in serving and glorifying God! And such charity we know covers a multitude of sins (1Pt4:8).
We are all connected, literally.


In this Sunday's Gospel, Jesus sends out an additional 72 to prepare his way, to ready others for a personal/one-on-one/sacrmental encounter with Jesus. You, O Reader, are part of the 72. You definitely are.
Whom is Jesus inviting you to lead to him this week? Christianity never was a "me and Jesus" religion. Our deepest joy and source of salvation is to bring others to him. Who is that for you? How will you do so? Be bold; be creative. And thus you will be Christian. The Church has always prayed that the harvest master would send workers like you into his harvest. Allow the Holy Spirit to inspire you with a generous "Yes!"

 -Fr. Anthony Wieck, SJ

Weekend Reflections for 6/28/19

Today in the Liturgical calendar of the Church, we return to “Ordinary Time,” and the readings are appropriate, as Sunday’s bible readings are about following God’s call. This involves a journey of ongoing discernment in freedom at every step.

“Vocation” is our baptismal calling, not limited to a specialized calling to priesthood or religious life. As Pope Francis frequently states it, we don’t “have” a mission, we “are” a mission. But how do we identify this vocation, this mission in our daily lives?

For those of us who are familiar with the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, which we offer to over 4,000 people every year at White House, we can identify with these retreats as both a school of prayer and a school of discernment. These exercises offer us “rules” for discernment which are ways to grow in freedom rather than the slavery of a limited job description. This involves growing in intimacy with our God, who shows us the way in the path of Jesus’ journey in the gospel.

As St. Paul stresses in today’s second reading, we do this by growing in the grace of freedom. For Christian vocation is not simply growth in freedom from the “yoke of slavery,” but freedom for service, or as Jesuits like to put it, the vocation of becoming ever more “persons for others.” One helpful way of developing the habit of ongoing vocational discernment is the “Awareness Examen” from the Spiritual Exercises, which can be found on pages 41-43 of the White House prayer booklet. May your regular experience of the Spiritual Exercises, through your annual retreat as well as your daily “Awareness Examen” be the benchmark for your baptismal vocation.

 -Fr. Ted Arroyo, SJ

Weekend Reflections for 6/21/19

Corpus Christi

21st century science tells us that we are ALL literally connected to one another and to all things—ALL part of one vast web of life in our universe. This is not a mere metaphor or a symbol; it is true that the matter of all of our bodies is intrinsically related because all emerged from and is caught up in a single energetic event that is the unfolding of the universe. Our common ancestry stretches back through life forms and into the stars, back to the primeval explosion of light that began our universe. Atoms that may have been part of Jesus’ body are now part of our bodies. From our roots in the universe, WE are ALL one bread, one body. It’s not a matter of “us and them,” we are ALL one bread, one body. The bible readings for Corpus Christi invite us to claim this interconnectedness with Christ and with one another, for the ongoing life and flourishing of the world.

 

There are many wonderful ways to celebrate Corpus Christi, the one bread, the one body of Christ: with private devotion as well as public parades. Today, after communion, perhaps, instead of returning to the pew hugging Jesus to yourself, what if we look up at all the other people around us: some we know and like or even love; others we may not know at all or even maybe some we don’t like at all. Yet here we all are participating in the body and blood of Christ. Not just “receiving”, but becoming his blood, his body for this world. In a sense in communion we receive not only Jesus, but all the members of the Body of Christ.

 

For St. Paul, the Eucharist goes beyond individual piety; Eucharist binds us all together in the Risen Christ. To “Jesus and me” we add “Jesus and Us.” But if the Eucharist is the celebration of our unity, it is our remembrance, our being remembered, being put back together as one body in Jesus Christ who shared our flesh and blood. Our solidarity in this faith is greater than all our differences when we partake of one food and drink to nourish us on our way. Let those words we often sing ring true: One bread, one body, one Lord of all; one cup of blessing which we bless; and we, though many throughout the earth, we are one body in this one Lord.

-Fr. Ted Arroyo, SJ

Weekend Reflections for 6/14/19

Most Holy Trinity


On this Trinity Sunday we celebrate “divine” relationships, the music of the trinity that echoes in our Christian lives.


i)Divine Salvation: God’s mighty, saving works in history, especially our own salvation history.


ii)Divine Love, that gifts, lifts us, from slavery into freedom.


iii)Divine Grace as a gift we are called so share with others.


The Spiritual Exercises which we share in White House Retreats all echo the fundamental mystical experiences of St. Ignatius Loyola. Ignatius’s prayer was sometimes addressed separately to the Father, then the Son, then the Spirit. The“fourth” person Ignatius prayed to often was Mary, who inspired him with a mystical image of the unity of the trinity: “... while praying the office of Our Lady on the steps of [a] monastery, his understanding began to be raised up, in that he was seeing the Most Holy Trinity in the form of three musical keys, and this with so many tears and so many sobs that he could not control himself. And on walking that morning in a procession which was leaving from there, at no point could he restrain his tears until the mealtime, nor after the meal could he stop talking, only about the Most Holy Trinity.


"In St.Ignatius’s time, music tended more to simple harmonious chords rather than the discord so prominent in modern music, and that is how he resonated with the Holy Trinity. But for us today, perhaps the discord of our lives and world is also an invitation to let the music of the Trinity play on and on, especially through our“concert director” Ignatius and his symphony of Spiritual Exercises, where “Christ plays in ten thousand places, Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his. To the Father through the features of men's faces.” (Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J.)


-Fr. Ted Arroyo, SJ

Weekend Reflections for 5/17/19

A New Creation

 

If you believe, as I do, that there will be life after our death then the question has or will more than likely come up, "what will it be like or what is it like?" The four Gospels in their resurrection appearances of Jesus provide a most encouraging and heartening description of how Jesus is now and will be for all times.

 

But what will it be like for us? What will that "world" be like for those who will be enjoying it. St. Paul is cannot be more positive when he exclaims "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither has it entered into the heart of human kind, the things God has prepared for them that love him."  As wonderful as these words are, I believe many of us still long for so much more.

 

I find some satisfaction in the brief selection from the book of the Apocalypse in this weekend's second Sunday reading: …a new heaven, a knew earth... God dwelling with the people... Always being with them... Wiping every tear from their eyes.... Death or mourning, whaling or pain no more, for the old order has passed away

 

The one who sat on the throne said "behold, I make all things new.".

For me this is a wonderfully remade creation. Very simply, everything is all right. But most importantly a loving God is with us and together with all of the beloved people of my life.

 

Jim Blumeyer, S.J.

2019 Golf Tournament Fundraiser for Veterans

Thanks to all of our players, sponsors and volunteers who made our 2019 golf tournament fundraiser a huge success! All of the funds raised by this event go toward sending U.S. Military Veterans on a spiritual retreat at White House!

The 2019 Veterans retreat is scheduled for June 28-30. This is a co-ed retreat and there is still space available! www.whretreat.org/veterans-retreat

Our 2020 golf tournament fundraiser has been scheduled for Friday May 8th at Annbriar.

Weekend Reflections for 5/10/19

Living with the Mystery of God\

In the Gospel readings for this week, May 12-18, Jesus provides a variety of revelations into the mystery of the Holy Trinity.  He does this indirectly by describing some of the relationships He and the Father have, as well as relationships that we have with him and his Father.  You might say they are samples of the richness of the being of our triune God.  Here are a few of them.

The Father and I are one.

As the Father loves me so I also love you. Remain in my love.

I’ve told you this so that my joy might be in you and your joy might be

complete.

I no longer call you slaves… I have called you friends.

It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you

Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and I will not reject

 anyone who comes to me, because I came down from heaven not to do my

own will but the will of the one who sent me.

If you know me, then you will know my Father

Whoever has seen me has seen the Father

Can we ever fully understand these relationships?   No.  A spiritual writer recommends that we do not try or struggle to fully understand the mysteries of our faith.  As mysteries they are insolvable. Rather we should lavish care and attention on them.  Take the Eucharist as one such example. By pondering and reflecting upon it as well as we can we take in the mystery.  Even though only partially it can by the grace of God enrich our understanding and appreciation of how fully and completely our God wants us to be a part of the divine mystery and life of God. 

Jim Blumeyer, S.J.

Weekend Reflections for 5/3/19

The risen Christ with his Disciples on Lake Tiberius

In this Sunday’s gospel the evangelist John concludes with the episode of Jesus joining his disciples on Lake Tiberius. It is reminiscent of some of the key moments in Jesus interaction with them. The carpenter from Nazareth again telling his fishermen disciples how to ply their trade. I suspect that as they came ashore to join Jesus with the large catch of fish that some of them had to laugh to themselves thinking, "he's done it again."

When Jesus first called to them on the water they did not realize what who he was. But when they see him preparing a meal for them, as he had probably done so often during their journeys with him, there is no doubt about who he is. Even the way he prepared the food, seasoned the fish and served it to them, all of these little touches left no doubt in their minds about his identity.

Finally there is his gentle, touching interaction with Peter. In this he confirms for all of them that nothing is changed regarding Peter's position and authority with the group. Indirectly he's also confirming for all of them that they too are the ones chosen to carry on the work of the kingdom.

The disciples are now prepared and ready to go out to proclaim the good news that Jesus Christ is truly the risen Lord. With the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost this is exactly what they will do. May each of us in our own unique way and circumstances through the gift of the Holy Spirit in our Baptism and Confirmation continue our role in building up the kingdom of God.

Jim Blumeyer, S.J.

 

Weekend Reflections for 4/26/19

Doubting Thomas 

In Sunday’s Gospel we hear of Jesus’ appearance to his apostles in the locked room. They were hiding there from those who had crucified Jesus. For some reason Thomas wasn’t there. When he returned, the others told him about Jesus’ visit but Thomas refuses to believe that Jesus is alive. He puts down specific conditions for his belief: “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” His doubt got him a personal appearance from Jesus; he came back for him and for us. He offers Thomas his hands and side and says Go ahead and fulfill your conditions. The text doesn’t say whether Thomas put his finger and hand into Jesus’ wounds but I don’t think he did. He didn’t have to. This was Jesus treating Thomas the way he always had, putting himself at Thomas’ disposal. His mind, heart and soul knew it was the living Jesus and he professed, “My Lord and my God!”

The Risen Lord deals with us in the same way, calling us to belief in his loving power and presence in our lives. May we join Thomas in our profession of faith.

Fr. Ralph Huse, S.J.

Weekend Reflections for 4/19/19 - Good Friday

He is Risen! The Lord is Alive!

In the Spiritual Exercises St. Ignatius notes that in his appearances the

Risen Lord assumes the role of Consoler. He comes to his friends who are in need of consolation. Ignatius insists that Jesus’ first appearance was to his Mother. When he was challenged by his critics that this was not reported in the Gospels, he replied that if they knew Jesus and his Mother, they’d know that’s where he went first. Later he comes to Mary Magdalene in the garden as she mourns his death and her loss, to the apostles hiding for fear, Thomas in his doubt and the two on the road to Emmaus in their flight. He doesn’t challenge or scold them but takes them just as they are and then gently and patiently strengthens them with his loving presence. When they are reassured, he disappears.

The Risen Jesus deals with us in the same way. He comes to console us when we are grieving a loss, fighting with fear and doubt, running from a painful reality that we can’t accept or control. That’s when we meet him in prayer, the sacraments and the person who reaches out to us in caring compassion. As his followers may we do likewise to those in our lives.

Fr. Ralph Huse, S.J.

Weekend Reflections for 4/12/19

Palm Sunday 

Many of the Jews of Jesus’ day were waiting for and expecting a Messiah who would restore power and glory to their nation by driving out the Romans who were occupying their country. When he did not preach rebellion, many were disappointed and stopped following him. When Jesus performed his miracles of healing and deliverance from evil spirits, deeds of the Messiah, he often told the people not to tell anyone. In Mark’s gospel it is known as the Messianic Secret.  When he is asked if he is the Messiah, he doesn’t answer. He did not come as a military leader but as the Prince of Peace, the Anointed of the Lord.

 

The people all knew the prophecy of Zechariah: “Behold, your king is coming to you, a just savior is he, humble and riding on a donkey.” (9:9) When Jesus rides into Jerusalem, he is proclaiming his true identity. The crowd recognizes him and greets him with palm branches and loud songs of joy and praise. Let us ask the Lord for the grace to recognize him as he comes into our presence every day in the person of our family and loved ones, friends and neighbors and even enemies, the poor and suffering. Let us not keep his deeds of love and reconciliation a secret but rather give witness to all who would see and hear.

Fr. Ralph Huse, S.J.

Weekend Reflections for 4/5/19

Forgiving Love

 

Sunday’s Gospel is the story of the woman caught in adultery. The scribes and Pharisees bring her to Jesus and make her stand in the middle of the crowd to shame her publicly and debate her punishment. She is filled with fear and humiliation. The temple authorities are testing Jesus to see if he will follow the law and condemn her to death by stoning, but he knows their hypocrisy and refuses to play along. He simply doodles in the dirt. I often tell retreatants that our sins are written in sand at the seashore and are erased by every wave of God’s love. The good we do is written in stone and that lasts forever and when God looks at us, He sees only what’s in the stone. Our God forgives and forgets and by human standards that’s always too good to be true but we believe it is.

 

After the crowd disperses and her accusers leave, Jesus says to the woman,

“Neither do I condemn you.” Like the father of the prodigal son Jesus never judges, shames or excludes anyone who comes to him. As he hangs on the cross Jesus forgives the repentant thief and asks the Father to forgive those who are responsible for his crucifixion. In his death Jesus perfectly reveals the Father to be Forgiving Love. We ask for the grace to accept and imitate Jesus’ forgiveness of others.

 

Fr. Ralph Huse, S.J.