It is incredible to think that our new foundation in Thurmont, Maryland began only three months ago. During this short time, God has blessed us in so many incredible ways! We would like to share one of the apostolates that we have been able to undertake in addition to our continued work with the Cornelio Fabro Cultural Project and assisting at the National Shrine Grotto of our Lady of Lourdes: the promotion of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.
The Christmas break can always be a particularly opportune moment for individuals to take a few days out of their schedule and devote themselves exclusively to prayer and the ordering of their lives according to God’s will. During this time, we were able to encourage a few people from our apostolates, some of whom hold important leadership positions at Mount St. Mary’s University and Campus, to participate in the spiritual exercises held at the SSVM Novitiate. In addition, we assisted at another retreat offered specifically to the university students and preached by the university chaplain, Fr. Diego Ruiz, IVE.
Finally, during the latter half of January, we were privileged to provide the opportunity for making the spiritual exercises to one of the young ladies from the university who was unable to attend the retreat on campus. We considered this as a trial run – we had thought that the layout of our new convent, with its private guest room, and with the beautiful and peaceful grounds (including the opportunity to pray at the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes), might be the perfect place to host individual spiritual exercises. And by God’s grace, all went very smoothly! Of course, there were ‘small sacrifices’ that needed to be made throughout the four days: keeping silence in the house, taking our meals upstairs in an out-of-the-way location, slight adjustments to our schedule… so little, given the immense good received by the soul during the spiritual exercises!
As members of the Religious Family of the Incarnate Word, we pledge “all our strength…to extend the Incarnation of the Word to all men.” (Const. 254) This, of course, becomes a two-fold work: that of prolonging the Incarnation in our own souls and contemplating therein that same mystery, as well as that of prolonging the Incarnation in the souls of those entrusted to us in the apostolate. This is the work that makes “Jesus Christ the Lord of all that is truly human” and we accomplish it in the same way as when the Word first took on Flesh—through a “supreme docility to the Holy Spirit”, following “the example of the Virgin Mary.” (Const. 30)
As Religious, we know from personal experience all the graces received each year during our weeklong retreat, and most especially during the month-long exercises. The work of prolonging the Incarnation is, of course, most properly that of the Holy Spirit because it is a work of love. (Cf. ST I, qq. 37-38) But it is our responsibility to “dispose the matter”, if you will, of each “new humanity” (St. Elizabeth of the Trinity, Elevation, 33.) that will receive the Word. We do this in ourselves when we fight against our inordinate attachments and when we strive to submit all of our human faculties to the Word of God, in imitation of Christ’s own humanity (Verba votis omnibus adhaerere // [the human nature of Jesus] adhered to the Word with all its powers).(Cf. Columba Marmion, Sponsa Verbi, Ch. 2) And we work this “disposing of the matter” in other souls most especially when we promote, assist, and preach the spiritual exercises.
Let us pray for the fruits of the Spiritual Exercises preached here and throughout the world. May God grant us the grace to remain always faithful to the charism we have received, especially through dedication to its non-negotiable elements (a serious—not sentimental—spirituality, evident in our commitment to practice & preach the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola).
United in Jesus and Mary, M. Asterone Dodeka
Our Lady of Lourdes Community