Looking back and looking forward are exercises in which I have always found great comfort. There’s just something grounding about being able to review things and make plans about moving forward that have always brought me peace and a sense of direction. The retreat season is coming to a close, and with it comes another invitation to review the year that has ended and look forward to the next one.
This past year brought a great many challenges in all areas of our lives. We had to collectively learn to adjust to the reality around us. We changed our habits, our perspectives, the way we worked, and how we interacted with others. We learned new technologies, found new tools, and created new ways to socialize. In the face of the difficulties, we pressed on and found solutions. The same was absolutely true of our ministry.
With the new restrictions, we figured out how to continue our ministry safely and effectively. We found new platforms through which to host our retreat programs. We created video content to serve communities far from our center. We adjusted our activities and small groups to accommodate social distancing and mask wearing. We completely redesigned everything we did and how we did it to continue our ministry with our best foot forward. And the end result was so much better than we could have ever predicted.
Given all that we learned from this year, we are excitedly planning on creating more content for our retreatants, benefactors, staff, and ministry partners. We are reviewing our marketing, production, materials, and methods to make them more streamlined and effective. We are pursuing more avenues through which we can share our ministry with a wider community of people. We are working to reach out internationally to other ministry partners. We are developing a better ministry for the IGNITE Interns. This last endeavor is one that is very important to me.
Eric and I have been wanting to have more structure to the internship for a while. One of the ways in which we want to do this is by leading them through the nineteenth annotation of the Spiritual Exercises. We have written a plan for 42 weeks of spiritual exercise. Pulling from many resources, we plan on having the interns go through the retreat of the Spiritual Exercises. These were incredibly formative for me and helped me to confront many of the personal challenges that I face.
One of the most important components of the exercises in my formation was bringing myself to the present, letting go of the safety and comfort of ignoring it and instead focus on the past and the future. This has been a bold adventure for me in the last couple of years. I hope to bring this new adventure into the lives of our interns. With God’s help and inspiration, we can hopefully provide a deeper and even more enrichening experience for our IGNITE Interns, connecting them to the center of what we do here at the Jesuit Spiritual Center and rooting them in the core of St. Ignatius’ ministry.
I hope that this end of the year for us can be balanced between the past, present, and future, and that we can take care of what God is calling us to do here and now as well as in the future. As we come near the close of the Easter season, I hope that you can also bring yourself to the present and invite God into your every moment.