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.

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Weekend Reflections for 11/24/17

On Sunday, we mark the end of the Church's liturgical year with the celebration of the Feast of Christ the King. (The new Church year begins with the start of Advent.) We end the year, appropriately enough, pondering the end times, reflecting on the Last Judgment. If you google paintings of "Christ the King," you'll find what you'd expect: Jesus looking very kingly, seated on a throne and adorned in ornate robes and gold crown, scepter in hand, ready to exercise judgment upon the world and upon us.

But there's another artistic representation of Christ the King I can't get out of my head. It's a statue that was supposed to be installed outside St. Michael's Cathedral in Toronto, Canada, but never was. Some parishioners and clergy apparently deemed the work just too scandalous or inappropriate for the cathedral. And what did this statue depict? A homeless man asleep on a park bench, huddled in a blanket, his face barely visible, cast in bronze.

This statue of a homeless King Jesus was directly inspired by the gospel passage we'll hear at Mass on this Sunday's feast. It's the famous passage from Matthew 25, in which the Lord separates sheeps from goats at the end of the world: "When I was hungry, you fed me... a stranger, you welcomed me... naked, you clothed me... whatsoever you did for the least, you did for me."

Notably, this passage is the only place in the entire New Testament where we find a depiction of the Last Judgment. And what does the passage tell us Christ the King judges us on? our ability to recognize and serve Him in the faces of those who really need our love, care, and support.

When the Toronto cathedral declined the statue, the Jesuit-run Regis College in Toronto agreed to install it on its campus. Then, last year, Pope Francis had a copy of the statue erected at the Vatican. (Those pesky Jesuits!)  If you happen to be at the Vatican or in Toronto, go have a look. It's a powerful visual reminder of who God is, and who God calls us to be. "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," wrote the Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins. If we pay attention, we encounter Christ in unexpected places, very often in the faces of those who visit us in need.

-Fr. Jeremy Zipple, S.J.

Weekend Reflections for 11/17/17

Back in December 2013, just a few months after Pope Francis had become pope, a famous politician said "The new Pope is a humble man, very much like me, which probably explains why I like him so much!" Well, I'll leave it to your judgement whether you think a politician is a humble person! But unquestionably, humility is an important quality for Christians to possess ("Blessed are the meek and humble," says Jesus in the Beatitudes, Mt 5:5)

But what exactly is humility? This Sunday's gospel explores the question.

We often think of humility as considering ourselves as unworthy, as small, as incapable of doing very much at all. The parable in Sunday's gospel rejects that notion. The servant who undervalues himself and his talents, who thinks he can't do much with the little talent he's been given, is not praised. Instead, he's dismissed as wicked and useless.

The parable suggests that true humility consists not in wallowing in unworthiness, but in recognizing our gifts and talents, whatever they are, and trying to use them to the best of our abilities. St. Ignatius Loyola reminds us that everything - all of life - is gift. God made us exactly as we are, and "God don't make no junk!" as my high school youth minister liked to joke. God created each of us in his "image and likeness," and that means each of us possesses infinite worth. It also means we each have been endowed with unique, God-given gifts to share with the world - gifts that God really NEEDS us to share with the world. In other words, our talents aren't ours. We didn't create them so we can't cling on to them as if they're our possession.

True humility, then, means "shooting for the moon," using the gifts we've been given as best we can, remembering that they come God and are meant to be given back to him in loving service.

-Fr. Jeremy Zipple, S.J.



Weekend Reflection for 11/10/17

“Stay woke!” If you have any 20-something Millennials in your life, you’ve probably heard this expression. If not, Urban Dictionary, a website that provides definitions of youthful slang, defines “stay woke” as: “Being aware. Knowing what’s going on in your community, especially as it relates to social injustices.” Urban Dictionary also provides an example of “stay woke” used in a sentence: ”While you are obsessing with the Kardashians, there are millions of homeless in the world. STAY WOKE.”

Well, the message of this Sunday’s Gospel is precisely that: STAY WOKE! Jesus warns us not to be like those complacent and distracted virgins who are caught off-guard when the bridegroom returns. “Stay awake,” Jesus declares, “for you know neither the day nor the hour.”

There are plenty of preachers on radio and TV who provide exact predictions of Jesus’ Second Coming. They confidently pinpoint the end of the world down to the millisecond. But that’s nonsense. Jesus says emphatically in today’s gospel and elsewhere in scripture,“You know neither the dar or the hour.” Christians have been waiting 2,000 years for the Lord’s coming, and may very well wait another 2,000 or even more.

So today’s gospel is not about fretting over the date of Christ’s return, it’s about cultivating a particular attitude of waiting each day of our lives. That attitude is one of “staying woke,” or to put it in more Christian language, of “waiting in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior,” as the priest prays at every Mass just after the Our Father.

Waiting in joyful hope. The famous spiritual writer Fr. Henri Nouwen elaborates on this attitude:

“The spiritual life is a life in which we wait, actively present to the moment, trusting that new things will happen to us, new things that are far beyond our own imagination, fantasy, or prediction. That, indeed, is a very radical stance toward life in a world preoccupied with control.”

So waiting in joyful hope means trusting more deeply that God’s promises are real, that does God has great things in store for us. It also means trying to surrender a bit more control to God, knowing that He always has our back. It means letting our Christian joy radiate to others. It means not “obsessing with the Kardashians” — or any of those not-so-important things in life — but instead focusing on the big stuff: Trying to live lives that resemble Jesus’ own: lives of abiding trust in the Father, lives of tender mercy, of compassionate forgiveness, of care and concern for those who are struggling. STAY WOKE.

-Fr. Jeremy Zipple, SJ

Weekend Reflections for 11/3/17

It’s easy to forget that there are actually four readings from scripture proclaimed at every Sunday Mass. The first reading, second reading, and Gospel are obvious enough, but if we’re not careful, we can skip right over the passage from Book of Psalms that’s read or sung between the first and second readings.

The Psalms are often referred to as ancient Israel’s “prayer book.” Their authorship is traditionally ascribed to King David, but in fact, they were composed over the course of five centuries or so, likely by several authors who will forever remain anonymous. This was a historical period in which the ancient Israelite people experienced both astounding highs and also devastating lows, a period in which David danced in the presence of the Arc of the Covenant, and must have felt so close to God, but also, latter, a period when the Israelites were totally defeated and exiled from their homeland by the Babylonians -- and nauseating despair.

Thus, the psalms poetically express a wide range of very raw human emotions, and I find them a great resource for prayer. Whatever you’re feeling -- joy or delight, failure, dejection or anger -- chances are there’s a psalm to help you express it or help you deal with it. Pick up a Bible sometime and just randomly page through a few of them. You’ll find some hidden gems, including the psalm we hear proclaimed at Mass this very Sunday, Psalm 131. It’s one of my favorites, and depending on the translation you’re using, it reads like this:

In you, O Lord, I have found my peace.

Truly I have set my soul

in silence and peace.

As a child has rest in its mother’s arms

even so my soul (rests in You.)

This Psalm fits perfectly the mission of the White House. We live in a world of such busyness and information overload, a world in which it’s increasingly difficult to slow down and unplug, to just sit still and be in God’s presence. But if we’re going to be people of faith (and keep ourselves from going insane!) we have to do that sometimes. That’s what retreats are made for, but we can also carve out times for it in our daily lives. So maybe find a quiet church or even a comfortable chair in a corner of your house, and just read slowly the lines of Psalm 131. In the stillness let your mind be calmed and your heart be reminded that your God holds you like a mother holding her baby. In God’s loving embrace, you’ll find love, comfort, and peace.

Fr. Jeremy Zipple, S.J.



Weekend Reflections for 10/27/17

The Law of Love

“Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment.

The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”  (Mt 22: 37-39)

Once again the Pharisees try to trap Jesus with a trick question. They were legalists, desperately trying to achieve salvation by strictly following the 613 laws of the code of Moses and arguing about which law had priority. Jesus sums it all up in his two commands of love for God and neighbor.  In the Spiritual Exercises

St. Ignatius tells us that love shows itself in deeds, in spending time and attention with the loved one and sharing ourselves and our goods with them. We call that prayer. That’s what Jesus always did with our Father and taught us to do.

When it comes to love of others, I prefer the definition of love as always wanting the best for the other person and putting that desire into actions, showing it in deeds. We may not agree on what is the best and the best may not include me but I try to show love by treating the other with care, compassion, generosity and understanding. That’s how we all want to be treated. Love often takes sacrifice as every spouse and parent knows, putting the other first, meeting their needs rather than our own. Let us ask the Lord to help us choose the most loving response in all of our relationships.

Fr. Ralph Huse, S.J.

Weekend Reflections for 10/20/17

Christian Responsibilities

“At that Jesus said to them, ‘Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.’” (Mt 22:21)

In Sunday’s Gospel two different groups join together to try to trap Jesus. There are the Pharisees who hate the Roman occupiers and refuse to pay the Roman taxes and the Herodians who favor King Herod and his family who are puppets of the Romans and follow their laws. They begin by sarcastically flattering Jesus to try to catch him off guard, but he recognizes their “malice” and calls them “hypocrites”. He asks for a Roman coin and then gives his answer, one that neither group can refute or criticize.

As citizens we have a number of civic duties and responsibilities. We have to take our turn on jury duty, pay our taxes and parking tickets and vote our consciences in the elections. We try to be well informed about national and local issues.

What of us belongs to God? EVERYTHING! All we are and all we have comes from the hand of our loving Father.  It is our God in whom we live and move and have our being. Our response can be Ignatius’ daunting prayer, The Suscipe.

“Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, my entire will. All that I am and all that I have You have given to me. I return it all to you. Dispose of it wholly according to Your will. Give me only Your love and Your grace and that will be enough for me. Amen.”

Weekend Reflections for 10/13/17

God’s Invitation

In both the Old and New Testaments we find the action of “breaking bread together”, sharing a meal, as a sign of intimate, loving union. Jesus is judged and criticized for eating with sinners, for sharing life with them. In today’s Gospel passage Jesus tells the parable of the king who invites people to the wedding feast for his son. Those invited refused to come so the king had his servants bring in whoever was passing by on the road. Now the hall was filled with guests and the feast could begin. The invited guests are the chosen who reject Jesus and refuse to believe him and his message. The feast is the fullness of the kingdom of God, heaven where all enjoy loving union with God and one another.

In our baptism God gave us a standing invitation to His banquet, to share a meal at the Eucharist and enjoy the feast of His kingdom. Let us not be deaf to His call but quick to respond in making loving choices, in putting our priorities in order, in knowing what is truly important and worthwhile. Then we will be able to sit down and enjoy the meal and the companionship.

Fr. Ralph Huse, S.J.

Weekend Reflections for 10/6/17

God's Expectations

"Finally, he sent his son to them, thinking 'They will respect my son.'" (Mt 21:37) 

God expected the leaders of His chosen people to recognize and welcome His son, but their hearts were hardened and their eyes blinded. They rejected, condemned and executed Jesus. But "the stone rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone." God raised His son from death to glory. 

What does God expect of you and me? Like any good parent He wants His love for us to be acknowledged and gratefully received. He wants to be thanked for His care for us, the many blessings He showers on us. He wants to be at least a part of our lives. St. Ignatius wrote that we can speak to our Lord "as one friend speaks to another." Do I trust God and myself enough to consider Him my best friend who is always close by and eager to hear from me and about me? Can I both speak and listen as I acknowledge my Lord and my God?

-Ralph Huse, S.J.




Weekend Reflections for 9/29/17

Second Chances

“Jesus said to the chief priests and elders of the people: …’Amen, I say to you, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you.’”  (Mt 21:31)

In Sunday’s Gospel Jesus is very stern with the religious authorities of his day because they are justifying themselves by using the law to their advantage, to excuse themselves. He uses the parable of the two sons to confront their behavior. They are giving lip service but not following through with their choices and actions. He contrasts them with the public sinners whose life choices have said No to God but then acknowledged and owned their sins and repented, began living a Yes to God.

We’ve all had the experience of turning down someone’s request of us and then having second thoughts. Maybe it was the look of disappointment on their face or our habit of trying to please others or guilt. Maybe it was the Holy Spirit giving us another second chance to get it right, letting us know that we actually can be that generous with our time and talents. Our loving God is always at work in and through us, nudging us to be more loving, more forgiving, more generous than we can be by ourselves. God always gives us another chance, a second or third or fourth, however many we need.

Ralph Huse, S.J.


Weekend Reflections for 9/22/17

This Sunday's Gospel (about the laborers who work from dawn to dusk receiving the same payment as those who work for only one hour) certainly offends our sensibilities regarding justice--until we take a closer look.

What we often forget are the families dependent upon the men looking for work all day.  The owner asks the men why they have not been working and they explain that they have tried everything possible but have been unsuccessful.  They would love to work!

This situation repeats itself daily in our country.  I've witnessed it many times outside of Home Depot in Houston.  Men wait for a truck to drive up and run to be the first to offer their services to the farmer or employer who drives up.  What if that employer kept the man's family in mind?  Might he or she, in mercy, offer a full day's wage for the sake of the man's hungry family members at home?  

Perhaps we gain here a new sense of what Scripture means when it says Mercy triumphs over Justice/Judgment.  Correspondingly, Pope Benedict reminds us that employers ought to help ensure "the right to a just wage and to the personal security of the worker and his or her family" (Caritas in Veritate, 63).

Fr. Anthony Wieck, S.J.



Upcoming Retreats:

Men: 9/25, 9/28, 10/9, 10/12

Our 2018 Retreat Schedule is now posted at www.whretreat.org

Weekend Reflections for 9/15/17

Forgiveness is not a duty.  It is a gift.  A duty is regularly performed by our own strength.  We don't have the strength to forgive.  The sooner we admit that the better.  

Peter approaches Jesus in this Sunday's Gospel and asks how often must he forgive the offense of his brother (poor Andrew :)  Even seven times, a number of fullness?   Jesus overwhelms him with his answer:  "Not seven times but seventy-seven times" [or seventy times seven, as some translations have it].  Peter is rather deflated with the answer.  He doesn't have that kind of forgiveness in him.  Nor do we.

So Jesus proceeds to tell a parable outlining where one receives the ability to let go of the offenses of our brother/sister early and often.  "A king decided to settle accounts with his servants...[and] a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount."  That debtor would be you and I, perfectly described here, before the King of kings.

The king, upon seeing our homage and our prayer for mercy, "...moved with compassion let him go...and forgave him the loan."  THERE is the source of our mercy towards others!  We have to receive it from God.  We have to beg for it first.   Then we will see our offending sister or brother with the eyes of God.  Then we will experience God forgiving them through us.

Our obligation then is not to forgive others "seventy-seven times" by our own strength, but rather to beg God regularly for his forgiving strength to work in and through us toward the one who has offended us over and over.  "Whatever you ask the Father in my name will be given you."

Weekend Reflections for 9/8/17

Perhaps one of the hardest things we have to do in this life is "fraternal correction."  Scripture speaks of its importance.  Jesus exhorts us to it in this Sunday's Gospel.  Certainly we would prefer to follow the world's mantras: "Don't judge the actions of another" and "Live and let live", for there is no possible conflict that way...  But Jesus instructs us otherwise, "Go and tell [your brother] his fault." (Mt 18:15)

St. Ignatius, at the beginning of his Spiritual Exercises, adds some important qualifiers to balanced fraternal correction.  In what he calls the Presupposition, he writes,

"...Let it be presupposed that every good Christian is to be more ready to save his neighbor's proposition than to condemn it. If he cannot save it, let him inquire how he means it; and if he means it badly, let him correct him with charity. If that is not enough, let him seek all the suitable means to bring him to mean it well, and save himself."

Correction does need to happen, for the love we have toward others.  But we must avoid a simple condemnation of the words or opinions of others.  Instead we should search carefully for the inner truth of their statement or expression, and hold on to that truth, and help them discard the rest.  If we can't find some truth to hold on to, we are to ask what they intend by it.  Give them an explanatory chance!  And if they are still holding on to something in error, we are to correct them, but always and only in charity.  This will lead them gently towards the truth that we ourselves are trying to follow.

Why all these qualifiers?  Perhaps St. Ignatius realized, as Our Lord did long before him, that we tend to want to put people on the defensive when we don't agree with them, to "win a battle".  This is not living charity on our part.  Truth, however, is never something we contain or control or can use as a club to "win a battle", but rather something we reverence, something beyond us, that we point to. Indeed truth is a person, the Second Person of the Trinity.  

May we always point beyond ourselves to the Truth.  And may these be the distinguishing marks of our fraternal correction: charity and humility.

Fr. Anthony Wieck, S.J.



Upcoming Retreats:

Women: 10/2,11/13

Men: 9/14, 9/18, 9/21, 9/25, 9/28

Weekend Reflections for 9/1/17

The Christian life is full of paradoxes. We must die in order to live. If we tap into our heart's desire to be a disciple, we must first deny ourselves. To follow Jesus in glory we must learn to suffer in love. 

This Sunday's Gospel is an exhortation to love, but in paradox form. Love, St. Ignatius tells us, is a mutual sharing of gifts, where the lover shares with the beloved. Jesus wishes, in love, to share his cross with you and me. Certainly it is not because it's too heavy for him to bear alone. Rather the cross strengthens our own spiritual muscles. It teaches us love, altruistic love focused on the good of the other. It teaches us intimacy as we experience just what Jesus experienced. The greatest danger of the cross is to think we are bearing it alone however. We never walk alone in bearing the cross. It is always with Jesus. 

Let us reflect this week on intimacy gained through suffering, thinking about a pregnant mother, a father who works extra hours for the love of his family, and those in Houston and surrounding areas who are diving in to suffer with and help those who have been devastated by the damages brought about by the hurricane. May we too allow the cross to be experienced as something joyful, with Jesus.

Fr. Anthony Wieck, S.J.

Weekend Reflections for 8/25/17

“Who do people say that I am?”

Jesus asked this question at a critical point in his public life and preaching.  A political commentator today might say that Jesus had reached his peak of popularity and it was now on the decline.  The early enthusiasm of those who followed him was wanning.  There was growing opposition from some religious leaders; some followers were beginning to question aspects of his teaching, and some had given up on him and walked away.

Moreover, Jesus is about to tell them that “he was destined to go to Jerusalem and suffer grievously at the hands of the elders and chief priest and scribes, to be put to death and to be raised up on the third day.”

So he wants to know where his inner circle of disciples are with regard to him.  Are they ready to enter into a more profound and deeper relationship with him?  Are they committed enough and faithful enough to stay with him not only in good times but also in difficult times and in the bad times of hostility and persecution which were even now coming.

They would not be able to do this unless they have a better and more correct understanding of who he is, and if they were not graced with a deeper faith and trust in him and in his word.  So Jesus asks his question, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”  Jesus wants them to deal with this issue, to confirm interiorly and out loud for themselves others who he is for them.

I believe each of us in our own way has to grapple with this question.  In fact, for believers I think it is perhaps the most important issue of our faith.   How we perceive and deal with this reality, how we understand and perceive this profound yet wonderful mystery sets the stage, lays the groundwork and foundation for all, or practically all, other considerations of our faith life.  May we be blessed with the grace and insight that Peter received. 





The Eclipse - August 21, 2017

Students and staff from Loyola Academy along with about 50 friends of White House visited our campus on August 21st to view the eclipse.  We managed to get some nice footage and Fr. Anthony Wieck, SJ added some very inspirational words to the day.

Weekend Reflections for 8/18/17

What can change Jesus’ mind?

In Sunday’s gospel in the cure of the Canaanite mother we see Jesus changing his mind, we in this see him implicitly admitting a misconception, and as a result we see Jesus learning more about himself and his mission.

Jesus was a faithful, practicing Jew.  He regularly attended the synagogue and was familiar with much of the Old Testament writings, including the Pentateuch, the books of Isaiah, Ezekiel and other prophets, and of course the Psalms. From all of this he knew that his people were awaiting a Messiah, an anointed one who would free them from their servitude to the Romans and their current, Idumaean political rulers. This longed-far anointed one would one day be re-established them as a nation, as a kingdom.  Somehow they, as a people, would become the channel of God's life and salvation for all peoples (a light to the gentiles).

In today’s gospel we have Jesus’ initial understanding of the role of the anointed one. He first was to minister and serve the Israelites and then afterwards the non-Jewish peoples.  And so Jesus initially refuses to grant the request of the Canaanite woman.  The time for ministering to non-Jews had not yet come.

But there is one power that Jesus has to pay attention to, and, as it were, he cannot resist. It is the great faith of the mother. In antithesis I am reminded of Jesus first visit to his native town. Because of the Nazarenes lack of faith he was not able to act very well on their behalf. But here with the Canaanite woman, because of her great faith, he has to reconsider his role and mission and then to act on her behalf.

Last week in one of the weekday Gospels Jesus told his disciples that with their faith they could even move mountains. And in today’s gospel we see Jesus being moved by Canaanite mother’s faith to reassess and refocus the mission given to him by his Father.

Too often I simply take my faith for granted, and I do not appreciate what a great gift it is. This gospel, along with many other Scripture passages, reminds me that it is also a great power is in my life, and it is never to be taken for granted.

Weekend Reflections for 8/11/17

Encountering Jesus

In what circumstances and manner does God come to us, speak to us?  In the movie, Out of Africa, there is a terrible fire which destroys much of the work of the heroines' endeavors on behalf of the indigenous people with whom she lives. When one of her servants comes to wake her and inform her of this disaster, he begins by saying, "God is calling."

A few weeks ago in the daily Scripture readings we often heard how God appeared to Moses and the Israelites in their journey out of Egypt and into the desert. God was present to them in a dense cloud often accompanied by peals of thunder and lightning and even a very loud trumpet blast. The mountain from which God revealed himself was like a smoking, erupting volcano.

In today's first reading the prophet Isaiah radically changes the circumstances of God's presence. The Lord is experienced in a quiet, gentle breeze, and not in fire or an earthquake. St. Ignatius of Loyola uses similar terms in describing experiences of God for persons progressing in the spiritual life. In his guidelines for understanding and distinguishing certain spontaneous thoughts and feelings as coming from God or are from the spirit of evil,  he describes the touch of the spirit of God as being very delicate, gentle and often delightful, or like a drop of water penetrating a sponge. 

In today's Gospel Jesus comes to the disciples in a threatening storm, walking on the water.  So we see that God comes to us, speaks to us, in the manner God chooses, in the manner more beneficial for us.  Jesus perhaps alludes to this in John's Gospel, 3,8,  "The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit."

What is important is that in so far as possible we be alert, watching and receptive to God's mysterious presence in our midst.  It can be in any situation or circumstance.  We cannot typecast the Spirit or tie it down to only certain kinds of circumstances.  But we can ready, alert, openand receptive.

-Fr. Jim Blumeyer, SJ