Reflection on a 30-Day Retreat

Written on: February 27, 2019

Sister Mary Elizabeth Looby shares her experience of a Thirty-Day Ignatian Retreat:

Sabbatical is related to Sabbath, which refers to the Biblical day of rest. We trace the origins of both Sabbatical  and Sabbath  to the Greek word sabbaton. Sabbaton itself traces its roots to the Hebrew word shabbāth, meaning “rest.”

Since leaving Leadership in July 2018, I have had some “down time” to rest and relax. However, two things I really wanted to do with my time were to make a 30-Day Ignatian Retreat, and to travel to an underserved country and to be more than a tourist by being of service in some way.

It was an awesome, challenging and enlightening experience for me. It will take me years to learn to live out of the graces of this time. It was physically, emotionally and spiritually demanding, but the beauty of the Gloucester area and the expert guidance of Fr. Terry Devino, SJ, were a tremendous support and help. I am grateful for the time and the opportunity that it afforded me.

I recently completed a 30-Day retreat in Gloucester, MA, at the Jesuit’s Eastern Point Retreat House.

While I have been directing retreats and doing spiritual direction since the 1980’s, this was my first experience of this month-long retreat.

It was everything I had hoped for and more!

View photos here


For those unfamiliar with the Ignatian 30-Day concept:

It’s a well-known fact that we need exercise to maintain our physical health. St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) recognized the need for exercise in order to maintain our spiritual health as well. The Spiritual Exercises grew out of Ignatius Loyola’s personal experience as a man seeking to grow in union with God and to discern God’s will. He kept a journal as he gained spiritual insight and deepened his spiritual experience. He added to these notes as he directed other people and discovered what “worked.” Eventually Ignatius gathered these prayers, meditations, reflections, and directions into a carefully designed framework of a retreat, which he called “spiritual exercises.”

Ignatius wrote that the Exercises: “have as their purpose the conquest of self and the regulation of one’s life in such a way that no decision is made under the influence of any inordinate attachment.” He wanted individuals to undertake these exercises with the assistance of an experienced spiritual director who would help them shape the retreat and understand what they were experiencing. He created what is now referred to as the “Spiritual Exercises” which form the basis of this 30-Retreat.


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