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 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.

Weekend Reflections for 3/29/19

"Mercy triumphs over judgment" (James 2:13). This quote gets to the heart of this Sunday's prodigal son parable. The younger son represents all of us in that he squanders his Godly inheritance. He wastes his gifts on worldly trifles. God wisely goes "hands-off" with him to the point where the child can hit rock bottom and recognize how "naked" he is without God's help. Thus he comes to his senses again.
As "necessity is often the mother of invention," the young man devises a plan for coming back into his father's graces. He needs to go to confession. He is inspired, an excellent model for you and me.
The most amazing part of this parable is not that he comes to his senses, which is something the Holy Spirit regularly leads us to, but that the father's response is so overwhelming in its generosity! The father hears the confession without responding, and then showers blessings and gifts, and restores honor upon him. 

This too is our experience in confession! We do our part, confessing, "Father, I've sinned against God and against you [the Church, our fellow man, represented by the priest]", and God's response is always overwhelmingly merciful. We leave the confessional a new person, just as the prodigal son returns to the father's graces even more blessed than before. 

 Confession is THE direct route to the heart of God the Father.
God, for his part, is lavish, prodigal in his graces. He's the truly prodigal one. We for our part ought to let ourselves be continally moved by love to come back to him and confess our need to receive his transforming merciful graces, regardless of whether our sin is large or small. Confession is simply a love response to Love. What a gift!

 -Fr. Anthony Wieck, SJ

Weekend Reflections for 3/22/19

Grafted like branches into the Vine (who is Jesus), you and I are meant to bear fruit. Adopted into God's family, our subsequent fruitfulness that is meant to feed the needs of others is not an extra plus, but a strict necessity.
Jesus compares us to a fig tree in this Sunday's Gospel. If we are not fruitful towards others, even after extra cultivating by the Lord, we will be cut down, for we are not fulfilling our purpose.
What are these fruits that Jesus is speaking about? They are twofold. First, they are the fruits of the Holy Spirit, meaning the Holy Spirit must be evident and active in our souls. Galatians chapter 5 lists these fruits, in order, as: charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These are the signs or fruits that the Holy Spirit is clearly operating within us. Our fig tree will stand.
The other fruits Jesus is speaking about are Godly works. Being grafted into Jesus' body by the gift of faith warmly received, I begin to walk in all the good works God has prepared for me beforehand (Ephesians 2). Living within these works of the Holy Spirit, my tree will stand.
How is Jesus calling me today to surrender my life more completely to the Holy Spirit, to let him be the Lord of my life in all things, and not only occasionally? Radical surrender to his Holy Spirit is not only what Jesus is asking of us, but more than that, requiring of us in order for our tree to remain.

-Fr. Anthony Wieck, SJ

Weekend Reflections for 3/15/19

The Christian journey is a pilgrimage that always moves from light into darkness, not vice versa. The journey is exemplified in the Bethlehem shepherds, told by the glorious angels to find God in the decidedly simple sign, a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, no aura of light surrounding him. God is always found in simplicity.


In this Sunday's Gospel we reflect on another theophany, the Transfiguration. Jesus affords his disciples a glimpse of his glory so as to strengthen them for the upcoming Passion, where they are to find him in fullness, in apparent darkness. Moses and Elijah here, the two great representatives of the Old Testament, of the law and the prophets, are seen conversing with Jesus. What are they speaking about? Jesus' upcoming exodus, or death, in Jerusalem! Indeed this will be the greatest of all God's theophanies, for those who have eyes to see.
From light Into darkness... Do you and I recognize Jesus in the darkness, in suffering, and struggle? That is how God prefers to manifest himself to us. Darkness is a metaphor for the mundane, the ordinary. Let us pray that the scales of our own eyes be removed and our pupils adjust to the lack of light that regularly surrounds us. There we will find the glories of God, hidden in creation, in others, under the sweet veil of darkness.

-Fr. Anthony Wieck, SJ

Weekend Reflections for 3/1/19

There is no truly excellent teacher who is not first and foremost a student, a learner. There is no true leader in the Church who is not first and foremost a disciple, a follower of Christ.


Jesus emphasizes this paradox and the value of humility in this Sunday's Gospel. Only in humility are we well-rooted. Only to the degree in which our roots are sunk deep into the earth, as a student, as a disciple, can our tree spread its limbs to the sky and offer a haven to others.


Before taking the splinter from another's eye, removing that person's ignorance, we must experience various log jams being regularly removed from our own eyes. That experience of liberation, by God's grace, is key to leading others into freedom (which is indeed our task). God painstakingly removes foreign particles, various weeds, from our own lives. We are called to help others, as their true teachers in the Lord, to experience the same.


St. Ignatius makes no bones about how spiritually bumbling he was before his conversion and even after his conversion, God having to treat him as one would a schoolboy. We ought to consider ourselves similarly; then we can be of true help to others and, with clear eyesight, remove their splinter as we are called to do.

-Fr. Anthony Wieck, SJ

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.