Christmastide: Bethlehem to Egypt to Nazareth
Continue along the Way of Mary and Joseph with Christ the King
8-Day Self-Directed Retreat
He was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary
Preparing for Your Retreat
Review of Retreat Guidelines and Prayers
Links to Ways of Prayer
Night Before Preparations
In preparing for tomorrow’s prayer period: read the next day's meditations for understanding; and "after retiring, just before falling asleep, for the space of a Hail Mary, I will think of the hour when I have to rise, what I am rising, and briefly sum up the exercise I have to go through" (SE 73).*
Read the next day's gospel selections for understanding. If there is more than one reading for the day, consider the one that resonates with you.
Retreat Mornings - Offering, Lectio, Close, Reflection
Each morning consists of the Preparatory, the Exercise (Lectio), Close, and Reflection
1. Preparatory Prayers: See below.
2. Lectio: Imaginative Contemplation Read the mystery slowly and pray attentively using all of your faculties - faith, and feelings - your interior senses, imagination, recall – as you pray with each section.
What do you sense were the experiences of Jesus, Mary, the Apostles, and the crowds? Imagine being present there - what do you see, hear, and smell?Where are you in the scene?
3. Close of the Prayer: Close your prayer time with your own words ( a colloquy), then a vocal formal prayer (Our Father, Hail Mary, or Glory Be)
4. Reflection: At the end of each prayer period, note down your experiences on what were your insights, feelings, thoughts, images, and memories that came up for you. Sit a while to savor the graces.
Retreat Day Time - Recalling
During the day, let your heart settle within the morning's contemplation
Retreat Evenings - Examen, Journaling
Self-directed or Directed
This self-retreat is designed for those with experience in the ascetical ways of prayer. We recommend, if you are new to mental (discursive or interior) prayer or to Ignatian Retreats, to consider a director to accompany you along with way.
The Preparatory period is a time for recollection to dispose ourselves rightly with an offertory and a petition of asking for grace what we want and desire from the Lord based upon the meditation exercise. Each prayer lasting a minute.
Beginning your prayer time: At the beginning of each prayer period, offer yourself to the Lord. Pray the “Take and Receive”
Take Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding, and my entire will,
all that I have and possess.
Thou hast given all to me.
To Thee, O Lord, I return it.
All is Thine; dispose of it wholly according to Thy will.
Give me Thy love and thy grace, for this, is sufficient for me.
“The preparatory prayer is to ask, God Our Lord for the grace is that all my intentions (wants and desires), actions, and operations (interior mental activities) , maybe order purely to the service in praise of the Divine Majesty” (SE 46)*
Write in your own words your intentions ____________________________________________
Now being situated within the mystery, after reading it the night before (or before the prayer period begins) we ask for what we desire from the Holy Spirit to reveal to us how we may go forth to meet the will of God.
Share your desires with the Lord for this day's retreat. __________________________________
Suggested Petitionary Prayer by St. Ignatius
Lord, grant me the grace of an "intimate knowledge of our Lord, who has become man for me, that I may love Him more and follow Him more closely." (SE 104)*
Reflection Questions for Consideration:
What do you sense were the experiences of Mary and Joseph that night; or the shepherds' and the Magi's visit?
The naming of Jesus - who was their Anne and Joachim Mary's parents, their reactions as grandparents?
At the presentation in the Temple imagine Anna's and Simeon's delights?
Sense the strength of Joseph as they traveled along the way and how they lived as refugees in Egypt.
What are your reactions of 'seeing' Mary and Joseph hearing the news of the slaughter of the innocences?
God spoke to Joseph, and he trusted in the words of the angel, and he took action. Where do you sense God is leading you to take action?
The gospels were written as an account of time past so we may know the truth.
Day 1: The Light of the World in Peace
The Birth of Jesus (Luke 2:1-7)
In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus* that the whole world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria.
So all went to be enrolled, each to his own town.
And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David,
to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.
While they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
Day 2: I Proclaim to You Good News
Announcement to the Shepherds (Luke 2:8-20)
Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields and keeping the night watch over their flock. The angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were struck with great fear.
The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
The Visit of the Shepherds.
When the angels went away from them to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go, then, to Bethlehem to see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.”
So they went in haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger.
When they saw this, they made known the message that had been told to them about this child. All who heard it were amazed by what had been told to them by the shepherds.
And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, just as it had been told to them.
Day 3: Bringing Our Gifts
Magi Visit the Messiah (Matt 2:1-12)
When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of King Herod, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star* at its rising and have come to do him homage.”
When King Herod heard this, he was greatly troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born.
They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it has been written through the prophet:‘And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; since from you shall come a ruler, who is to shepherd my people Israel.’”
Then Herod called the magi secretly and ascertained from them the time of the star’s appearance. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search diligently for the child. When you have found him, bring me word that I too may go and do him homage.” After their audience with the king they set out. And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was. They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary, his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their country by another way.
Day 4: The Name Above All Names - God Saves
Naming of the Holy Child (Luke 2:21)
When eight days were completed for his circumcision, he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.
Day 5: Those Who Were Waiting
Presentation in the Temple (Luke 2:22-33)
When the days were completed for their purification according to the law of Moses, they took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, just as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord,” and to offer the sacrifice of “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons,” in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord.
Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, awaiting the consolation of Israel, and the holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Messiah of the Lord.
He came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform the custom of the law in regard to him,
he took him into his arms and blessed God, saying:
“Now, Master, you may let your servant go
in peace, according to your word,
for my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you prepared in sight of all the peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and glory for your people Israel.”
The child’s father and mother were amazed at what was said about him and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted
and you yourself a sword will pierce so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer. And coming forward at that very time, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem.
Day 6: Obedience
The Flight to Egypt (Matt 2: 13-15)
When they had departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt,* and stay there until I tell you. Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.”
Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt.
He stayed there until the death of Herod, that what the Lord had said through the prophetd might be fulfilled, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”
Day 7: In Today's World
The Massacre of the Infants (Matt 2:16-18) When Herod realized that he had been deceived by the magi, he became furious. He ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had ascertained from the magi.
Then was fulfilled what had been said through Jeremiah the prophet:
“A voice was heard in Ramah,
sobbing and loud lamentation;
Rachel weeping for her children,
and she would not be consoled,
since they were no more.”
Day 8: Trust
The Return from Egypt (Matt 2:19-23)
When Herod had died, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.” He rose, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel.
But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go back there. And because he had been warned in a dream, he departed for the region of Galilee.
He went and dwelt in a town called Nazareth, so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, “He shall be called a Nazorean.”
*(SE#) All quotes are taken from The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius: based on Studies in the Language of the Autograph by Louis, J. Puhl. SJ
Our Lady of the Way, Pray for us!
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