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JRS Online Retreat: Day 1 – A Strong Foundation: Getting Free to Love
Monday, November 01, 2010

"God’s unconditional love is the source and continuing foundation of our lives."
As you begin your prayer today, remember that you are in God’s holy presence. Become aware of how God gazes on you all the time, how tenderly and powerfully God regards you. Ask God for what you want in prayer:

Today ask God to help you to surrender yourself to the Mystery that surrounds you, confident that the universe is in God’s good hands. Ask for an increase in faith in God’s radical love and goodness that can overcome your fears and order all your desires.

Reflections for Prayer

Washington DC, 1 November 2010 – In his poem, "God’s Grandeur" Gerard Manley Hopkins, the nineteenth century Jesuit poet, wrote of how, despite all humankind’s efforts to disguise and mar the divine presence in our world, “there lives the deepest freshness deep down things.”  The spark of God’s image survives even in the deepest darkness.  The Jesuit Refugee Charter as well confirms this insight when it states: “To accompany refugees is to affirm that God is present in human history, even in most tragic episodes.”

St. Ignatius realized that the foundational grace of our lives as Christians is the experience of the presence and unconditional love of God manifested in Jesus and poured out into our hearts through the power of the Holy Spirit.  This is why, at the beginning of his Spiritual Exercises, he invites us into a deeply personal encounter of love with our God that touches our hearts.

  • We are continually being created by God.
  • We cannot declare that we are independent of God.
  • In creating us, God sustains us in existence at every moment.
  • We are always in relationship with our Creator God, the source of our lives.

This deep experience of God’s love has permeated the lives of many men and women who worked in Jesuit Refugee Service since its beginning thirty years ago.  Fr. Gary Smith, a U.S. Jesuit who worked in JRS for six years with Sudanese refugees in northern Uganda, described this experience of being won over by God’s love in his spiritual journal, They Come Back Singing: Finding God with Refugees:

"Sometimes I am struck by what has happened to me: how strange and mysterious it is that I should be here, sharing in the life of such wonderful people, living, in a world that I would have imagined not too many years ago. (Could I ever have imagined it?) I am conscious of the fact that I—who at one time lived a life totally oblivious to God, to faith, and to church—am now bopping along the roads of northern Uganda because, one way or another, God has benevolently won my heart, and I choose to talk about that love with my life. I am like a ship whose sails were caught by a strong wind from an unfamiliar direction, a wind whose power was not known to me until that moment, and I slowly turned with dignity and pointed toward a new destination. It is such a mystery to me, even now, after all these years. What kind of love am I talking about? I don’t know; I cannot express it but can only point to it."

Address God as a friend speaks to a friend. 

Talk to God about your response, your own needs and your deepest desires.

End your prayer with the Our Father, the prayer Jesus taught us.

Suggested Reading for Prayer
Principle and Foundation

Paraphrased from the text of St. Ignatius by David L. Fleming, S.J.

God who loves us creates us and wants to share life with us forever. Our love response takes shape in our praise and honor and service of the God of our life.

All the things in this world are also created because of God’s love and they become a context of gifts, presented to us so that we can know God more easily and make a return of love more readily.

As a result, we show reverence for all the gifts of creation and collaborate with God in using them so that by being good stewards we develop as loving persons in our care of God’s world and its development. But if we abuse any of these gifts of creation or, on the contrary, take them as the center of our lives, we break our relationship with God and hinder our growth as loving persons.

In everyday life, then, we must hold ourselves in balance before all created gifts insofar as we have a choice and are not bound by some responsibility. We should not fix our desires on health or sickness, wealth or poverty, success or failure, a long life or a short one. For everything has the potential of calling forth in us a more loving response to our life forever with God.

Our only desire and our one choice should be this: I want and I choose what better leads to God’s deepening life in me.


"God’s unconditional love is the source and continuing foundation of our lives." Gerald Fagin, S.J.