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 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

Weekend Reflections for 9/28/18

 

Are You Jealous for My Sake?

 

As I reflect on this Sunday’s readings, both the first one and the gospel, I recall a series of events from my past.

Over 50 years ago when the liturgical renewal initiated by Vatican II began, its effects were very much evidenced in a Sunday afternoon liturgy at St. Louis University.  This Eucharist was originally conducted in the community chapel of the Servite Fathers, who had a large number of their members studying at the university.  For their Sunday Masses anyone was welcomed to attend. This liturgy became increasingly more popular.  

 

At that time I was a young graduate student at the University and I recall hearing a few people complaining about the Mass. I was surprised to find out that their main complaint seemed to be that the liturgy was not under the auspices of the Jesuits but that of the Servites. In hindsight I believe that real reasons were a combination of jealousy and also of ignorance of what was taking place at this liturgy.

Nevertheless the Mass’s popularity continued to grow so much so that a larger location for the celebration had to be found.   Ironically the new location was a large chapel at the St. Louis University College Church, whose pastor had graciously acquiesced to its use by this group.  Within a short period the mass became well known as the 5:00 p.m. student liturgy at St. Louis University.

This reminds me how the spirit of evil in our world will always do whatever it can to obfuscate and hinder good works from taking hold or taking place, no matter what source from which they come or originate. I remember a wise theologian saying at this time that it was not important who conducts the work or under whose auspices it occurs, but rather that the good work take place, that it be accomplished.

 

Jim Blumeyer,S.J.

Weekend Reflections for 9/21/18

Serving with Christ

Imagine yourself being with Jesus’ disciples when he speaks of his death at the hands of his own religious leaders and then of his being raised from the dead. It would have been mind-boggling and confusing. Somewhat Like Peter you might be tempted to say “quit talking like that – – you’re scaring us, confusing us, change the topic, talk about something else.

How easy it was for them to switch the topic to themselves and to consider their own self-importance and their position or rank in Jesus’ kingdom.

So Jesus let them have their way and instead zeros in on their vain ambitions.  He dramatically demonstrates what is at the heart of being his disciple, of serving with him in building up the kingdom of God.

We know that he will bring up again the issue of his death and rising; in fact, I suspect he raised it many more times.

But it is at the Last Supper as he washes their feet that he gives his no holds barred explanation of what it means to serve and minister with him (John 13, 12 – 17) : “Do you understand what I’ve done for you?” He asked them. “You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘Lord’ and rightly so for that is what I am. Now that I your Lord and teacher have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.” For I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.”

May we more and more strive to make that lesson the motif of our discipleship.

-Fr. Jim Blumeyer, SJ

Weekend Reflections for 9/14/18

Who do you say I am?

In our faith life I’m inclined to believe that each of us will be asked at one time or another the question that Jesus poses to his disciples in this Sunday’s Gospel : who do you say I am. In the second reading from St. James’ epistle there is a challenging second question presented: how do the actions of my life or my behavior conformed to my response to Jesus’ question. Another way of putting this, are my faith life and my actions consistent? If Christ is for me God’s anointed my Savior who spent his life so that I might be free from the sins and evil in it and around it, then how well does my behavior conformed to Jesus teachings, to his example?

Jesus does not make it any easier for Peter and the disciples, as well as for you and me in warnings us that his enemies, those who reject this teaching and manner of life will fully reject him by having him nailed to the cross. Moreover for all who endeavored to be faithful followers, they too will have their own cross (or crosses) to bear. The power of the forces of evil in our world will do everything they can to impede our stop our faithful following of Christ. Little wonder that Peter did not want the cross for Jesus.

In the mystery of our redemption Jesus stops the seemingly unstoppable flow and transmission of evil by having it nailed to the cross with his broken body and poured out blood. We are told that hate begets hate and that evil begets evil. Jesus does not let this happen. Instead he forgives those responsible for his death, he forgives those who deserted him and Peter who denied knowing him. Thus he nails evil and hatred to his cross.

His Father’s response is that Jesus Christ is now our risen Lord!

Jim Blumeyer, 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 9/7/18

Lord, I Believe in You, Help my Disbelief

Notice how Jesus responds to people who bring someone to him for healing. In this Sunday’s Gospel we see this with the cure of the death/mute man.  Some other examples are the four men who lower their crippled friend down through the roof of a house in order to get him in front of Jesus for his attention and care; there is the cure of the Roman centurion’s servant; there is Jesus’ somewhat reluctant cure of a non-Jew, the Syrophoenician girl.  In each instance Jesus is moved by the manifest and earnest faith of the afflicted person’s petitioners.

What does this say or teach to us? Jesus obviously wants us to show our love and concern for those who are need of healing and relief.  Moreover Jesus has told us to ask in order to receive, to seek in order to find, to knock so that the door will be open for us. But we also know that Jesus does not always respond as we would like or are asking. In these instances, as in so much of our faith life and in our understanding of God’s ways, we are asked to have faith and trust in God’s way and plan.

What often helps me in accepting and understanding God’s ways is a comment  made by a Jesuit brother in a Christmas homily. It was on Luke’s gospel describing the birth of Christ in the manger. My friend simply said that if you truly believe that this newborn babe is the son of God then everything else (regarding  the truths of our faith) is a piece of cake.

God calls us to be caring and concerned for one another, as God has been for us in Jesus. God wants us to rejoice that Christ is our Lord and our brother.   I do believe that Jesus began his human life as a baby wrapped in swaddling close and that manger.  Lord help me to make that leap of faith to be so trusting and believing in the other mysteries of my life with and in you.

Weekend Reflections for 8/24/18

The Gift of Faith

In Sunday’s first reading Joshua has taken Moses’ place as commander and led the Hebrews into the Promised Land. They are no longer wandering nomads; they will settle down and become farmers. Joshua asks them who their god will be, the gods of the land they have now occupied or the God of their fathers who led them out of slavery. In answer they cite their experience of God’s intervention in their lives, His mighty power and loving protection. They choose the God of their fathers whom they have experienced and with whom they have a loving relationship.

The Gospel from John concludes Jesus’ teaching on the Bread of Life. Many who heard him were shocked and disgusted at the thought of eating Jesus’ flesh and they make a decision to look elsewhere for the messiah. They go back to what they knew and were doing before they heard of Jesus. They choose to ignore how he fed so many of them and healed so many others. A saddened Jesus turns to his apostles and asks if they want to leave also. “Simon Peter answered him, ‘Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.’”

How has my experience confirmed my faith? Have I experienced God’s presence in my daily life, in my spouse, children and friends? In the poor, the sick and needy? How has God intervened in my life? Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.

Fr. Ralph Huse, S.J.

 

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

PLEASE PRAY FOR PEACE IN OUR COMMUNITY

MEN'S RETREATS WITH SPACE:

Sept. 17-20, Sept. 20-23, Sept. 24-27

 

WOMEN'S RETREATS WITH SPACE:

November 12-15

 

CO-ED IGNATIAN SPIRITUALITY RETREAT:

August 31- Sept. 2

Weekend Reflections for 8/17/18

Our Ultimate Friend

One of the great fears most of us suffer from is the fear of loneliness, alienation and isolation from others, feeling that we are cut off and don’t belong, abandoned.  Maybe that’s why our cellphones have become so important to so many of us or why we spend so much time on facebook and other forms of social media. Maybe that’s why some of us remain in relationships that have become toxic, manipulative and destructive. We can’t bear to feel rejected and alone.

 In Sunday’s gospel from John we have the third section of Jesus’ teaching on the Eucharist. His Jewish audience is shocked and scandalized at Jesus’ words; it sounds like cannibalism to them. They don’t yet understand the signs of bread and wine as flesh and blood. Then he concludes with the great promise, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.” A Catholic who partakes of the Eucharist can never be alone, never be rejected or abandoned. The Lord is constantly living within us, loving us just as we are and supporting us in all we do. He Is our best and ultimate friend.

Fr. Ralph Huse, S.J.

Weekend Reflections for 8/10/18

Food for the Journey

In Sunday’s first reading from the first Book of Kings we hear about the prophet Elijah. He has been banned from the kingdom by Queen Jezebel and is running for his life to escape her power. He’s exhausted and starving and God provides food and drink to strengthen him to continue on. His goal is Mt. Horeb, the mountain of God, his protector.

Our lives, too, can be understood and experienced as a journey to meet our God. We move through time and space one day and one place at a time, each day one more stepping stone toward our goal to see God face-to-face. In the second reading St. Paul encourages us “to be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us.” It takes time, one lifetime, and trial and error to learn how to be loving women and men. In the Gospel Jesus states that he himself is our food and drink, our nourishment and strength to keep moving forward toward our goal.

When we receive the Lord in the Eucharistic food and drink, we pray to recognize

‘the living bread that comes down from heaven for the life of the world.”

Fr. Ralph Huse, S.J.

Weekend Reflections for 7/27/18

"There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?" 

These words of the Gospel this Sunday reflect our own position within the world today. We are very much like the young person with so little to offer. How can one feed a multitude with five barley loaves, the size of pancakes, and two small pickled fish? Not going to happen. Unless you have God Almighty working with you. Which we do. 

The hostilities and untruths of our world, veering towards various forms of secular hedonism, can seem overwhelming. They are, without Christ. 

But Jesus reminds us that in him all things are possible. When we offer our little, he breaks it (which typically is not a pleasant experience for us) gives thanks, and asks us to distribute that little we have. And wonder of wonders, our divided culture begins to heal through that act of distribution. 

Healing indeed begins with each individual. Are you and I willing to be that person? If so, gather together your barley loaves (your talents) and turn them over to Jesus. Then be bold and prodigal in spreading them around. You and I are no doubt the keys to healing in this culture. Without us (while counting on Jesus for the multiplier effect) it will never happen.

Then stand back and be amazed, with the young lad in the Gospel, at how much God has drawn from so little.

-Fr. Anthony Wieck, SJ

Weekend Reflections for 7/20/18

“Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.”

These words of Jesus in the Gospel this Sunday could be a good motto for White House Retreat. We do need to get away and be by ourselves with Jesus every so often. In this particular case, the disciples are excitedly sharing with Jesus stories of their deliverance and healing experiences, which we reflected on last week. 

Indeed, it is good to go away and be with our Lord on occasion, just to share the many joys of our lives: being alive, seeing fruit grow in our loved ones, allowing ourselves to be a vehicle of grace for others, allowing others to be a vehicle of grace for us. There is much to share and celebrate. Jesus loves it when we do so! 

He invites us to get away occasionally and to savor those beautiful realities and share how grateful we are with him, and also with fellow disciples along the way. This can be not only an annual occurrence, as during our annual retreat, but a daily one, taking time out to praise the Lord. Let's find some time to do that today.

-Fr. Anthony Wieck, SJ