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 2/22/19

In Sunday’s gospel (Luke 6:27-38) Jesus offers his teaching and practice of human relations, advocating love of enemies and avoiding retaliation against those who harm us. Though this might seem to be saintly virtue, it is also good advice in the realm of human relationships, especially in contentious social and political contexts such as those many experience today.

Social scientists see the types of power we use in human relationships as corresponding to they type of involvement we can expect from others. If you try to coerce someone, you can expect that person to be alienated. If you base your relationships on reciprocity, you can expect that person to be always calculating on the basis of quid pro quo, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, a favor or advantage granted or expected in return for something: “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.”

In today’s Gospel (Lk 6:27-38) Jesus invites us to be more virtuous (and effective!)  in our most important relationships, emptying ourselves into our dealings with others, beyond retaliation or an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.

What kind of power do I try to use in my relationships at home, at work, in my ministries and even in the public forum? Is it a coercive top-down type of authoritarian force, or do I invite full participation in important choices? Do I approach relationships with others on the basis of “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” or do I try to stretch beyond coercion and retaliation to the fullness of the self-emptying love Jesus exemplifies for us all?

 

Weekend Reflections for 2/15/19

In contrast to the longer beatitudes of the “Sermon on the Mount” in Matthew Ch. 5, in Sunday’s gospel St Luke (6:20-26) presents a “Sermon on the Plain” with a shorter list of blessings and corresponding woes addressing contrasting real life economic, social, and cultural situations, which can serve as an Ignatian “composition of place” about so many in the world of Jesus and in our own world today:

  • the rich and the poor

  • the satisfied and the hungry

  • the laughing and the grieving

  • the privileged and the outcast

Perhaps Luke’s version, contrasting blessings and woes, can help us grow in learning the path of discernment through the Spiritual Exercises we undertake at White House.

Luke reminds us that our “beatitude” flows from using our many blessings to address the woes of the world, converting ourselves in favor of those most in need. As we identify our blessings and our woes through Ignatius’ consciousness examen prayer (White House prayer book pp 41 and following), Jesus invites us “blessed” people to live the self-emptying life of Christ ourselves, making Christ-like decisions directing our blessings to the service of those who are poor, hungry, grieving, excluded and oppressed. In this way our advantages can also become blessings for freely sharing all the gifts we have received, making our own “Suscipe” prayer of “take and receive.”

-Fr. Ted Arroyo, S.J.

PLEASE PRAY FOR THOSE ON RETREAT THIS WEEK AS WELL AS OUR DECEASED RETREATANTS.

PLEASE PRAY FOR PEACE IN OUR COMMUNITY 

Weekend Reflections for 2/8/19

The Bible is very “fishy”, full of references to fish and fishing, but today we probably miss most of the symbolic references. For many of us, when we say we’re “going fishing,” we’re probably aiming for relaxation with no other goal in mind, and we might be pleasantly surprised if we actually catch a fish, though we might not know what to do with it once we catch it! But today’s gospel places fishing at the center of the call to discipleship. “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching (fishing for) people.”  “And at that moment they left everything and followed Jesus.”

The Spanish language has a curious distinction that we don’t have in English. In Spanish, a fish which is still swimming around in the water is called “pesce,” while a fish which has been caught, and is ready to be cooked is called “pescado.”  The truth of today’s gospel is that it is only because we are “pescado,” only because we have been caught up by God’s grace in Jesus, that we can swim around freely as “pesce” ourselves, and receive the call to go fishing for others.

We can only toil effectively in our mission as “fishers” for others if we at the same time receive and cooperate with the grace of our calling, the grace accomplished in Jesus, the grace we grow in every time we experience the Spiritual Exercises. It is only because we have been “fished,” only because of God’s purifying and redeeming grace in Jesus, that we can get about catching not just fish, but people.

And we are about this together. First caught up in the gospel net together, we are a “fishy” community of fishing disciples called by God’s grace. Once caught up in the gospel net ourselves, we are immediately called to drop our own nets, whatever impedes our fishing, and go about this new kind of fishing together, as disciples in a community that is all about this new kind of fishing, after a new kind of catch: to catch people, and drag them, through the miracle of God’s grace, into this net themselves.

-Fr. Ted Arroyo, SJ

Weekend Reflections for 2/1/19

In today’s Gospel Jesus’ hometown folk perceive him to be stepping shamefully beyond his traditional hometown family boundaries. Jesus stirs controversy at the very least because he does not seem to be carrying on Joseph’s trade. He is doing something different. He is reaching out to “untouchable” foreigners, just as the prophets Jeremiah, Elijah and Elisha did. Their prophetic boundary breaking also got them into trouble at home. Likewise, Jesus’ hometown folk find his breach of family honor intolerable.

While the gospel is always Good News, it is not always comfortable, because it sometimes challenges us to stretch beyond where we are “at home” now. We too, like Jesus, share in his prophetic call. While we might prefer the romantic side of the love St Paul expounds about in today’s second reading, any good parent knows that authentic Christian love also sometimes requires us to challenge our own hometown folk as well as to comfort them. This requires the type of discernment we learn in the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises.   

When we witness boundary breaking prophets in our midst, or even when we ourselves might be called to prophetic action in our world, like reaching out to strangers and migrants, what might be our response:

·         amazement or fury?

·         welcoming Jesus as he welcomes strangers, or expelling him from our midst?

·         growing in discipleship or stagnating in our “hometown” narrowness?

Weekend Reflections for 1/25/19

The Privilege of Being the Body of Christ

In the second reading for this Sunday, from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, he reminds us what it means for us to be members of the body of Christ.  Our union with one another in Christ comes from our baptism with its gift of the Holy Spirit into our lives. Each of us has received this gift and because of this gift each of us has a distinctive role as a member of the body of Christ.

We received this gift and grace from Christ for the benefit of one another. The ultimate goal of this gift is the building up of the body of Christ so that one day all of creation will be renewed in Him. To say that this is a great mystery is certainly an understatement.  But as with all faith mysteries, while we can never fully understand it, we can nevertheless continue to delve in the mystery and appreciate it more and more.

Jesus has told us that he came that we might have life and have it to the full. Becoming one with him as his body is for me one of the wonderful aspects of this fullness.  It is the fulfillment of his prayer: 

 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.       (John 17, 22-23)

It brings to mind our Lord revealing to Augustine what takes place as we are  nourished by the Eucharist: in partaking of the Eucharist we do not change Jesus into ourselves, but rather He is changing us into Himself. As members of the Body of Christ, the Eucharist is the essential nourishment for our role in it.

May we ever long for and be grateful for so great a gift.

Jim Blumeyer, S.J.

Weekend Reflections for 1/18/19

The Marriage Feast at Cana

Why was Jesus with his disciples at the wedding at Cana.  Based on what we have in the Scripture selection, I do not believe Jesus’ intention in coming was to do something miraculous like changing water into wine. 

The obvious reason is that Jesus and his family had been invited. Many people were likely aware that Jesus had recently undertaken a new career as a "religious teacher, " and like John the Baptist he had a special group of disciples accompanying him. 

So attending the wedding feast and taking part in the festivities gave Jesus the opportunity to be with his family and his mother. It also provided the opportunity to introduce his close circle of followers to other members of his family and friends as well as others attending from Nazareth and the nearby towns and villages.

Being at the wedding served another purpose for Jesus.  It provided his disciples the opportunity of getting to know Jesus in a much broader context. They saw him interacting with family and friends. They notice how he would respectfully introduce them to these people. They saw him taking part in the festivities and fully enjoying them. More and more he was revealing himself as a human being very much like themselves; although at the same time they also knew that he was very different.

Then, after the unusual conversation with his mother about the wine running out, you can only imagine how much they were taken aback and changed in their assessment and appreciation of him when they witnessed the miracle of the water being changed into very good wine. Scripture simply describes their change by stating: Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs at Cana in Galilee . . . and his disciples began to believe in him."

You may wish to consider how the Lord has brought you to belief in him and how he can help you too to grow ever deeper in your belief and appreciation.

 

Jim Blumeyer, S.J.

 

Weekend Reflections for 1/11/19

How Jesus Begins His Public Life

Jesus spent most of the first 30 years of his life in Nazareth. He begins to hear about John the Baptist and his preaching.  He knows that John’s message is advising and alerting people to prepare for the Kingdom of God, and to prepare for one who is to come, one whose sandal John himself is not worthy to unlatch. Eventually Jesus senses that he is to be involved with this, that he too is called to preach about the kingdom of God and his own role in it.  But how?

So he sets out to see  John the Baptist who has been preaching at the River Jordan.  In my prayer I  imagine Jesus leaving Nazareth and going to the Jordan River, a journey of at least 33 miles.  As he reaches the breast of the hill overlooking the river he sees the people gathered there, he sees John by the river preaching.  How he must have been filled with admiration and pride at what John was doing; but at the same time there were his own questions about what Jesus himself would do next.  Should John be involved or not?  Was Jesus proceeding in the manner which his Father wanted? And if yes, what else did that entail?

Although Jesus’ baptism is found in all four Gospels, The Acts of the Apostles, in Paul’s letters and Peter’s epistle, these sources  give us few details regarding the event:  Jesus journeys to the Jordan, John somewhat reluctantly baptizes him.  There is some kind of revelation from his Father, a theophany--the Spirit descends upon Jesus and he (and perhaps others) hears a voice say that "This is my beloved son; my favor rests on him."  This is interpreted as the Father assuring Jesus that he is proceeding in the right way.

For a variety of reasons some modern day scripture scholars  tell us, as does common sense, that Jesus and John must have spent some time together, weeks or month or even longer.  Jesus would have discussed with John his own call, how he might proceed now, how his endeavors for the kingdom of God will fit in, connect and continue what John is doing. 

Eventually Jesus realizes that the Spirit of His Father is calling him to consider and ponder all of this in prayer. The Scriptures simply say that the Spirit leads Jesus to the desert and that he spends many days there considering the mission God is calling him to.  It is there Jesus concludes that he is to gather his own disciples and proceed on his own.

How much Jesus is like us in making one of the most radical and important decisions of his life:  he carefully investigates, consults, pays attention to the Spirit of God in his life, contends with the spirit of Evil, and prays long and hard.  It is then he finally decides and moves decisively forward, proclaiming as John has, that the Kingdom of God is at hand.

Jim Blumeyer, S.J.

 

 

Weekend Reflections for 1/4/19

The Gift of the Magi

 

It should not be too hard for us to imagine how mysterious and startling the events surrounding the birth of Christ must’ve been for Mary and Joseph. They perhaps reminded them of the unusual events and happenings they experienced when Jesus was conceived. After his conception as far as we know their lives were relatively ordinary.

 

But all of this was to change radically when there came the edict for a census by Roman Emperor, Caesar Augustus.  This required them to make a three day or so journey to Bethlehem, and for Mary a painful one in the final weeks of her pregnancy.  We all know how in Bethlehem they suffered the rigors of the birthing of Jesus in the cattle yard.

 

As mysterious and mystifying all of these events must have been for Mary and Joseph,  the events that followed the child’s birth were just as surprising, startling and revelatory.  Seemingly out of nowhere the local shepherds appeared.  They somehow knew of the child’s birth and they were excited, joyful and anxious to see him and be with them.  They explained how divine messengers had alerted and informed them of this marvelous occasion. 

 

Then while Mary and Joseph were just beginning to adjust to these herdsmen, there appear three foreigners, non-Jews  but Gentiles. They tell an almost unbelievable story about a star and how it, then Herod, and then the star again guided them and lead them to Mary and Joseph and their child.   The respect and homage and gifts these three conveyed were in themselves a confirmation that they had too  been called to be here. 

 

Little wonder Mary treasured all of these events and happenings in her heart and pondered long and hard over them.  Nine months earlier the Angel had told her and Joseph that their child was of God and was special.  Now in the events of his birth all of this had been dramatically reaffirmed.  May we too be blessed and confirmed in our faith in Christ by the usual and unusual events in our lives.

 

Jim Blumeyer, S.J.

Weekend Reflections for 12/28/18

The Holy Family 

The Church gives us this Sunday in recognition of the spiritual value of our family experience.  It’s in our life within our family that we learn to love and forgive, to share and celebrate. Our God is a family, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Jesus is born into a human family and it’s there that he learns what it is to be son. We’re all familiar with the Gospel story of his staying behind in Jerusalem in the Temple and Mary and Joseph’s frantic and anxious search for him. When they find him, Luke writes that he returned with them to Nazareth and was obedient to them.

“And Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and favor before God and man.”

Like us, Jesus was formed by the strong personalities and example of his parents. Joseph was the provider and protector, the quiet and responsible man. I’ve often heard that the greatest gift a father can give his children is to love their mother and Joseph certainly loved Mary and Jesus. He modeled for Jesus what Abba meant. Mary taught him sensitivity and compassion for others, how to be nurturing and caring. We see all of these in how Jesus treated women in the Gospels. Mary and Joseph lived their profound faith in a loving and merciful God.

Jesus, Mary and Joseph, pray for us.

Fr. Ralph Huse, S.J.

Weekend Reflections for 12/14/18

The Call to Kindness 

Sunday’s Gospel tells of the different groups that came to John to be baptized. Luke mentions the crowds and then specifies tax collectors and soldiers. After their experience of baptism they all ask, “What should we do?” They know that their repentance calls for a change in how they live, the choices they make. John gives them some examples and in the second reading St. Paul names it, “Your kindness should be known to all.” We are called simply to be kind, peaceful and joyful men and women.

This season of Advent focuses on our experience of Emmanuel (God is with us).

In His life, death and resurrection Jesus revealed our God to be a loving and forgiving parent who is always present to and with His children. We try to imitate His kindness in our dealings with others and to be at peace in our trust in His love, care and protection of us. We make the prayer of the Psalm our own, “God indeed is my savior; I am confident and unafraid.”

Fr. Ralph Huse, S.J.

Weekend Reflections for 12/7/18

Advent 

The first readings for the liturgies of Sundays in Advent are all from the prophets describing how different our world will be when God fulfills His promise and returns to visit us. He will bring eternal love and peace, justice and reconciliation, fulfillment and joy. All of creation will be in harmony and rejoice in His presence.

We are called to deepen our faith in a better future for ourselves, all of humanity and all of creation.

In the second reading we hear St. Paul’s assurance to the Christians in Philippi:

“I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.” It’s a reminder that God always takes the initiative with us gifting us with faith and the desire for union with Him. During Advent we are encouraged to let the Lord complete us, to say Yes to His activity in our person and lives and then, like Mary, to let it be done.

Fr. Ralph Huse, S.J.

Weekend Relfections for 11/23/18

The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the universe...that's quite a mouthful.  But Mother Church wants us to ponder that exact reality as we conclude now our liturgical year, before Advent begins. 

In shorthand, let's take the simple words "Christ the King."  Do those words roll off our tongue?  Is that true to reality in our lives?  More personally, is He the central point of my life, and the guiding source of my thoughts?  Are all my actions meant to serve Him?  If so, He is definitely my king.  If not, I am invited to recommit.


We pray then for the grace of the Holy Spirit to recognize Christ for who he truly is, and the grace also to choose to serve him in all things as his vassal, as did St. Ignatius.


May his kingdom come, starting with my life.  

-Fr. Anthony Wieck, SJ

Weekend Reflections for 11/16/18

As we come to the end of the liturgical year, leading up to the beginning of Advent, Mother Church invites us to consider various passages of Jesus regarding the end times.  Jesus uses prophetic language of the Old Testament, and various oracles we find there, to describe the signs in the sky and his own Second Coming to render judgment for all on earth. 


This judgment will be a dividing out, a separation of good and bad, of charitable and selfish, right from within the person. 

What currently needs to die in my life so that Christ will truly be my one and only King?  A particular judgment awaits each one of us as we pass from this world to the next.  But the saints tell us it is easier to experience the judgment/separation on this side of life. 

 

Let us pray for the grace now to let go of whatever is ungodly in us, so as to be able to receive with open arms the Savior when our time comes, recognizing him for who he is.  

-Fr. Anthony Wieck, SJ

Weekend Reflections for 11/9/18

The Lord often invites you and me to give beyond our comfort zones.  In this Sunday's Gospel, Jesus extols the generosity of the poor widow who contributes just a few coins to the temple treasury, while those around her offer much greater amounts of wealth.  The difference is that the others contribute from their excess, but she from her need. 


This woman shows a lot of chutzpah, for it could easily be intimidating to offer a few coins at the same time those around us are offering significant portions.  Why would we even bother?


This leads to our possible "take home" from this story.  Often the Lord invites us, even in very simple ways, to contribute.  We ought to join in the singing at Mass, for instance, even if we don't have a great voice.  We ought to contribute 10% of our income to good causes, even if our income is small.  We ought to find small ways to benefit the lives of those who suffer want or loneliness, helping them to find their belovedness again.

All these opportunities allow ourselves to be stretched, and--surprises of surprises--to gain the attention of our admiring Lord.  

-Fr. Anthony Wieck, SJ

Weekend Reflections for 11/2/18

Have you ever wondered, "What is my purpose in life?" Jesus tells us in this Sunday's Gospel that our purpose is to love God with our whole heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love our neighbor as our self. That's it. It's all about love. Saint Ignatius would summarize this purpose as praising, reverencing, and serving God, both directly and through our neighbor. So be it.

Problem is, loving unconditionally is easier said than done. It looks good on paper. We all agree with the theory. But we can't seem to get out of ourselves enough to bring it about in fact. I don't find in myself such a deep source or reservoir of love to live it consistently. 

Perhaps the most consoling words of the Gospel are then found in Jesus's next statement to the young scribe, "You are not far from the kingdom of God." Jesus literally is that kingdom, the source of grace that will give the scribe the ability to love unconditionally. You and I are the scribe. 

Let us then nestle ourselves within the Sacred Heart of Jesus, through receiving Holy Communion regularly and making visits to him in the Blessed Sacrament, allowing his love to become the source of our love. Then we will indeed fulfill our purpose, and find ourselves living fully within the loving kingdom of God, within Jesus.  

-Fr. Anthony Wieck, SJ

Weekend Reflections for 10/26/18

In Our Weakness is our Strength; Handicaps, Hopes, Discipleship.

a)     Whom do we choose as our heroes, our models? Most often, it seems to me, we go for strength.  Today's bible tells of the wisdom of weakness.

b)     Blind Bartimaeus in Sunday’s gospel is a model of discipleship for us, and example of how to approach and follow Jesus -- kicking and screaming, when necessary, to be heard. Bartimaeus knew his need and made a point of letting Jesus know about it, despite the embarrassment of those around him at the ruckus he was raising. They perhaps wanted to shelter and protect this handicapped person, but also keep him out of sight. He would have none of this, and shouted out to Jesus for help. A model of discipleship: he knows his handicaps, and knows that only God in Jesus can call him, with all of his handicaps, to follow. It’s important to know our handicaps – Bartimaeus probably would never have come to know Jesus if he didn't know his own needs and even shout out about them. Our weaknesses, blindnesses, handicaps are invitations to let God into our lives, sort of like the weakness in a football line. God goes for our weaknesses, not to conquer us, but to heal us and call us to follow as disciples

c)      Jesus himself followed this path of emptying himself -- we have a high priest who is beset by weakness, and in this emptiness he is triumphant.

Weekend Reflections for 10/19/18

Weekend Reflections from White House 
Servant Leadership: Jesus, paradoxical power and us.
1) In Sunday’s passage from the Gospel of Mark, we find Jesus, and his disciples, at a critical turning point dealing with power. The question is, is Jesus fully human, with all of our temptations, including those to power, temptations to oppressive domination over others? Jesus was tempted about the kind of leadership he was called to: Coercion? What am I going to get out of this? Calculation? (you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours!). Or does Jesus follow the way of Servant leadership that enters fully into the sufferings of our world and through this self emptying liberates it? 
2) The disciples in today’s gospel face the same challenge of servant leadership; perhaps they represent us. We, too, are tempted in the same way whenever we might be in a position of authority or power over others: relationships with teachers, children, employees, friends, spouses, elderly, the poor, "the least" in our world. 
3) Servant leadership challenges us individually, but also is a social challenge to our nation and church. How do we participate? How do we lead? Is service, especially service of the least, our goal? Or is it simply selfish calculation, or even worse, coercion and manipulation of others to get our way at any price?
4) The paradox is between power and weakness. How can Jesus lead, how can we be Christian leaders, if our primary strength is our self-emptying kenosis, our weakness? How? Only through Christian discipleship, following Jesus, our pioneer servant leader who climbs into our skins, emptying himself, and walks around in solidarity with us at our side in the journey of life.

-Fr. Ted Arroyo, SJ

Weekend Reflections for 10/5/18

Sunday’s bible readings are quite challenging. The Pharisees are challenging Jesus once again, this time about marriage and divorce. They probably aren’t really that interested in the specifics, but are trying once again to trap Jesus, which they eventually did in the sense that they were very much involved in what happened in the first holy week. 

So what about our own attitudes toward Jesus, marriage, and family life? Might there be something of the Pharisee in each one of us, when what God is calling us to is to be ministers of reconciliation in any way possible? Seeking reconciliation with God, with other human beings (maybe even Pharisees!) and with the beauty of God’s creation is celebrated in the first reading from Genesis.

Especially through the gift of the Spiritual Exercises we experience at White House, we can once again can ask “What about us? What about our relationships?” How are we called here and now to growth in relationships, and also to reject our temptations to be judgmental Pharisees?  Retreats such as those we offer at White House provide opportunities for growth in the kind of reconciliation only God can accomplish, through growth in quiet, non-reactive listening, faith-filled communication, and yes, the reconciling forgiveness essential for living out relationships through the grace of God. 

-Fr. Ted Arroyo, SJ