Deep Foundations by Frances Correia

Recently I went down to the new Retreat and Training Centre in St Lucia. One morning at Mass Bishop Jose Luis was talking about how when they were building the retreat centre they had to dig deeper foundations than normal, because of its location on the edge of the estuary. This image of having to dig deep foundations is so appropriate to the work of a retreat centre.
As we enter into Lent, it is time to be thinking of our foundations. Time to dig deep into our hearts, noticing what is really happening in our lives. It may be time to think about going on a retreat. Either planning when in the year I would go and spend some time in deep focused prayer, nurturing the foundations of my faith, or to find a Lenten retreat and do that in these 6 weeks of preparation.

Lent is so well placed for us, just as the year has begun, we are offered this time to stop and to recollect. We are invited each year by the readings of the church to weigh up our lives, to notice how we habitually sin, and to turn again to God’s loving mercy. We are invited to take stock of how we live our life and how we spend our time and energy. We are called to conversion and change, to finding anew the truth that our lives are not our own but God’s gracious gift to us.

I was down at St Lucia, looking at the new retreat Centre because later this year some of my team will be offering the 30 day retreat (The Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius) at this lovely venue. As I was listing to the image of the deep foundations, I was also thinking about how the Spiritual Exercises, when I made them, became the deep foundations of my own life of faith. This extraordinary experience of prayer helped me to shift into a far deeper relationship with God. It also clarified for me and helped me to articulate my own sense of personal vocation.

I love the idea that the people who choose to go and make the 30 day retreat this year at St Lucia, are going somewhere that has more than ordinarily deep foundations. Because in the retreat they will be challenged to dig deeply into their lives, into their own faith. They will hopefully put down deep foundations themselves that will sustain them for the rest of their lives. My own experience of making the Spiritual Exercises now more than 15 years ago, remains for me an ongoing source of inspiration and direction. In a very real sense that retreat became the foundation of my life of faith.

I know I am not alone, a dear friend, who had made the Spiritual Exercises last when he was a young Jesuit, once came to tell me in delight that he had just realised what God had been saying to him in one of the opening contemplations of the Exercises. (At the time he was in his 80’s)

For anyone who is looking for depth, for a more profound friendship with Jesus, then this Lent you might want to consider making the Spiritual Exercises sometime soon.
For more information on the Spiritual Exercises or other retreats offered by the Jesuit Institute email us at retreats@jesuitinstitute.org.za

Deep Foundations