Have you ever stopped to consider your own story? You are a complex individual formed by experiences with your family, community, language, culture, faith, traditions, education, peer-group, and national identity… just to name a few of the elements.

Over the past two weeks, the tertians spent time reflecting on these points and sharing their stories. These narratives – first written in full detail and then summarized in group discussion – took more than two weeks of our time. Not only was it a long endeavour to put our thoughts on paper, but the sharing took the 11 men about an hour each.

In the end, it became clear that our personal histories define our present realities in many ways. Yet, as a group of Jesuits preparing to enter the 30-day retreat of St. Ignatius of Loyola, we are seeking to lay our entire selves before the Lord – both the good and the bad. A deep and serious reflection on our lives is therefore an important activity in preparation.

The actual date that we are beginning the Long Retreat of St. Ignatius – often called The Exercises – is this Thursday, 20 November. This essentially means that the tertians will be in total silence and out of touch until a few days before Christmas. We will pray very regularly as well as meet with a retreat director daily for the next month… and – as you might expect – we will take our meals and do our house jobs in silence.

We would be most grateful if you could pray for us throughout the retreat. It might be helpful if you could go to the About the Tertians page and pick one man to pray for in a particular way while keeping everyone generally in your prayers. We are all firm believers of the power of prayer, and we trust that you will remember us.

Of course, until the retreat begins, our life continues as normal. Over this past week, the evening dishes were washed by Tim and Stjepan. I have included an impromptu photo of these two so you might see them in (all their glorious dishwashing) action. Maybe – if you have a moment – you could also offer a prayer for them… Dish-duty is not a fun job, but it’s absolutely necessary.