Holy Week Retreat

By Fr Richard Shortall SJ (Catholic Diocese of Hamilton, New Zealand)

From Catholic Diocese of Hamilton, New Zealand website: www.cdh.org.nz/holy-week-retreat

Praying the road to Calvary


Daily videos from Monday 6th of April through to Easter Sunday.
To help you experience what will be a very different Holy Week for all of us this year, Fr Shortall is offering you an opportunity to walk prayerfully through these days at home. Each day he will offer you a manageable suggestion to help you to be in God’s presence and give God your loving attention. This is what God most desires of you during Holy Week. You will be able to follow the daily sessions at a time that suits you — either as individuals, or as a family or a household. The retreat will begins with an introduction. This session will help you prepare for the retreat.

In this video, Fr Richard offers a few suggestions to help us prepare for this retreat:


1) Create a focus for your prayer during Holy Week.

2) Have a definite beginning and end to the time of prayer during the week.

3) At the end of your prayer, take a moment to speak spontaneously to God - as one friend to another.

4) Finish with the Glory be

5) After your prayer, spend a few moments looking back over this time, asking yourself one of these questions:

- What happened?
- What touched or excited me?
- Was I energised or distracted?
- What did I discover?

6) Write your answers down in an exercise book, a notebook, or journal.

Day One

In day one of our retreat, Fr Richard shows us how to read the Scriptures as St. Ignatius did.
“Ignatius saw the scene, the people as a picture on the wall.

He saw the scene as a movie clip. Noticing movement, hearing sounds, observing the action.

He entered the scene as a participant, as if he were actually there.”

Day Two

On day two of our retreat, Fr Richard shows us how to read the scriptures as St. Benedict did.

Psalm 18. Verses 1-3; 28-29; 30-33; 35-36

Review of Prayer

- What happened?

- What touched or excited me?

Day Three

On day three, Fr Richard walks us through Scripture using Ignatian imaginative contemplation.
See the scene, the people as a picture on the wall.

See the scene as a movie clip. Noticing movement, hearing sounds, observing the action.

Enter the scene as a participant, as if you are actually there.

Review of Prayer:
- What happened?
- Was I energised?
- Was I distracted?

Day Four

 

Holy Thursday
John 13:2-5

John 13:6-9

Review of Prayer

- How did my prayer go?

- Was it easy or difficult to stay with it today?

- What did I discover?

- Is there a simple act of service that I can undertake today - perhaps for someone who might be feeling lonely in our National Lockdown?

 

Day Five

 

Good Friday
Fr Richard's suggestions for prayer today:

- While out walking, recall or picture the way of the cross - perhaps using the scenes of the 5 Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary: The Agony in the Garden; the Scourging at the Pillar; the Crowning with Thorns; the Way to Calvary; the Crucifixion.

- Read SLOWLY - out loud - one of the Passion accounts in the Gospels.

- If you enjoy listening to music, sit with Bach's 'St Matthew's Passion', or a modern musical like 'Godspell' or 'Jesus Christ Superstar'.

- The Imaginative Prayer Exercise 'Accompanying Mary as she visits Jesus in the cells'.

The prayer Fr Richard reads:

Jesus, may all that is in you flow into me. May your body and blood be my food and drink. May your passion and death be my strength and life. Jesus, with you by my side enough has been given. May the shelter I seek be the shadow of your cross. Let me not run from the love which you offer, But hold me safe from the forces of evil. On each of my dyings shed your light and your love. Keep calling to me until that day comes, When, with your saints, I may praise you forever.  Amen

Review of Prayer

- Was I fully involved, or more like a spectator, bored or engaged?

- What did I feel in my heart as I gazed at the Good Friday Jesus?

Day Six

 

Holy Saturday
Jesus, may all that is in you flow into me. May your body and blood be my food and drink. May your passion and death be my strength and life. Jesus, with you by my side enough has been given. May the shelter I seek be the shadow of your cross. Let me not run from the love which you offer, But hold me safe from the forces of evil. On each of my dyings shed your light and your love. Keep calling to me until that day comes, When, with your saints, I may praise you forever. Amen

Review of Prayer

- Where did I experience life, energy, hope, confidence in my prayer?

- Was there a moment when God seemed close?

- Who or what did I pray for?

Day Seven

 

Easter Sunday
Lord Jesus, we ask you now to help us remain with you always, to be close to you with all the ardour of our hearts, to take up joyfully the mission you entrust to us which is to continue your presence and spread the good news of your Resurrection. Amen

Review of Prayer:

- Was I delighted, energised by my prayer today?

- Was my attention drawn away from the uncertainty of these lockdown days?

- Did I notice that the Risen Jesus seemed to be close to me?

- Do I have any sense of 'unfinished business' in this time of prayer? Is there something I might come back to on another day?

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