Many of us have heard of the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises, which were developed by Saint Ignatius of Loyola. They are rather deep, and the book itself written by Saint Ignatius is intended for retreat leaders and not the average reader. Recently Father Joe Laramie has written a book built upon these Exercises….an at-home retreat of sorts. Abide in the Heart of Christ: A 10-Day Personal Retreat with St. Ignatius Loyola is an excellent way to examine our successes, be critical of our vices, and grow as a faithful follower of Christ.
The book is another personal retreat book released by Ave Maria Press. Past titles have included Be Not Troubled: A 6-Day Personal Retreat with Fr. Jean-Pierre de Caussade by Fr. Jeffrey Kirby and Lift Up Your Heart: A 10-Day Personal Retreat with St. Francis de Sales by Fr. John Burns. All are excellent books that can be used as personal retreats or in small group settings. Each is an invitation to walk alongside a saint and journey with them while experiencing spiritual growth in that saint’s area of “expertise.”
In Abide in the Heart of Christ, your 10-day companion is St Ignatius of Loyola. Woven throughout the ten days is the theme of the heart. The spiritual heart, that is. Throughout the 10-day journey, readers confront their sin and shortcomings and come to realize they are a loved creation of God.
Another important part of the retreat is that it focuses on us. We often complain about the problems of the world today and pine for the good old days. Have we stopped to consider that we are part of the problem through our sin? That’s certainly not a comfortable thought, but if we humbly approach that idea, we know it to be true. One takeaway I got from this retreat was to spend less time worrying about the shortcomings of the rest of the world. I have plenty of my own to address.
What’s in your heart? Is it a haven for love or hate? Are you attuned to forgiveness or grudges? By the end of this book, one will learn how to have a heart like Jesus. One radiates the joy and love that he gives us. The following prayer from the final day of reflection sums it up best.
“I want to imitate you, Lord. I accept the suffering that may come my way. I am indifferent to wealth or poverty, a long or short life. I want to labor with you to be with you. I know you are with me, Lord, in my moments of joy and sorrow. So, too, I want to be by your side, no matter what.”
Take a break and give yourself a heart check…..a spiritual heart check. The benefits will be countless.