Although this Healing Retreat (created by www.praymoreretreat.org) is a wonderful resource for anyone, I would like to offer it, especially, to those preparing for the difficulties on Mother’s Day.
God Makes All New: Beauty, Healing, and Redemption From Pain
“As for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good.” – Genesis 50:20
- What in your life makes you feel less worthy? How can you begin to work to change those thoughts and remind yourself that you are loved child of God?
- To use Ashley’s phrase, what is the “oyster” in your life? How have you seen God use something in your past for something beautiful? To put it another way, where would you be if God hadn’t allowed pain or suffering in your life?
- What was one of the worst days of your life? How did you react? Did you allow yourself to feel the pain and grief? How do you view that day now?
- Think of a pain or suffering you are dealing with in your life. How do you think God is going to turn this pain into something beautiful? Can you thank God for this suffering? Even if you need time to work towards that, starting by thanking God for His past blessings is a great place to start.
Healing From Emotional Wounds
“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up the wounds.”
- Jonna shares that healing can happen for us in a number of different ways: it can come radically, overnight, or it can come over a long duration of time. What has your experience with past healing been like? Did it happen overnight or did it take a while?
- The Lord knows exactly what we need and when we need it, so Jonna urges us to trust that He will provide for us on this journey. When have you trusted that that’s what He’ll do for you? What did that look like? How did He provide?
- Jonna encourages us to have hope again.What would that look like for you — to have hope again? What do you need for that? Ask God to give you that grace to hope again and try with us to trust that He will provide.
- Forgiveness can give us the power to move beyond our past, the moments we were hurt most, and those who hurt us. It can help us to move forward. Who do you need to forgive? What small steps can you make towards forgiveness? Remember that forgiveness is not always a one-time thing, and that it is a decision and not a feeling.
Jesus Our Divine Physician
“At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them.” – Matthew 9:36
1. Scripture tells us that Jesus was moved with compassion for those He encountered on many occasions. Imagine yourself as a member of the crowd before Jesus. What areas of your life would you bring before His compassionate love?
2. In places like Nazareth where there was little faith in Christ, He did not perform many miracles. But in places where faith was strong, He healed many. Do you struggle with belief that He will give you the healing you long for? How can you grow in your trust in His love for you and in His desire to heal you?
3. Jesus is not reluctant to heal us. Rather, He longs for us to bring every aspect of brokenness in our lives to Him. What areas of woundedness can you ask Him to heal? What kinds of spiritual healing in your life can you ask for from the Divine Physician?
How to Lean on the Holy Spirit During Suffering
“But his anointing teaches you about everything and is true and not false; just as it taught you, remain in him.” – 1 John 2:27
1. The Holy Spirit is often represented in religious art as a dove or as fire, even though He is a Divine Person. How do you tend to picture the Holy Spirit in your mind? Can changing your mental picture of the Holy Spirit help you feel closer to Him as a Person?
2. We should all pray to the Holy Spirit often and develop a close relationship with Him. When you pray, how often do you intentionally address the Holy Spirit? How can you grow in your relationship with the Holy Spirit?
3. Scripture is filled with God’s promises to man. God waits for us to pray like Abraham and Moses did, looking to Him to fulfill the promises He has made to us. What promises do you want to ask God to fulfill in your life?
4. The closer we grow in our relationship with the Holy Spirit, the more grace we receive to help us overcome struggles and difficulties. What sufferings in your life do you want the Holy Spirit to help you overcome?
6 Spiritual Principles of Healing After Grief and Loss
“Pain and suffering have come into your life, but remember pain, sorrow, suffering are but the kiss of Jesus — a sign that you have come so close to Him that He can kiss you.” – St. Teresa of Calcutta
- Do you believe that suffering can be redemptive? Have you ever witnessed redemptive suffering in yourself or a loved one?
- Think about the one grief or cross in your life – the one that constantly occupies your thoughts and you bring to prayer again and again. Imagine if you could let that suffering and worry go for just one day or even one hour. Practice this principle of surrender and see how long you can go without trying to take that fear back from God.
- Jeannie mentioned that abandonment means “relinquishing the desire to have (your prayers) answered in a certain way.” Are you okay with whatever God’s answer to your prayers are? Have you ever successfully let go of this desire to ask for a specific outcome to your prayers? If so, how did it go and what were the results?
- Jeannie referenced Bl. Solanus Casey’s saying to thank God ahead of time. What is holding you back from being able to do this?
- Do you believe that God has good things ahead for you? Why or why not?
Hearing God's Voice on the Journey to Healing
“Father, I am seeking: I am hesitant and uncertain, but will you, O God, watch over each step of mine and guide me.” — St. Augustine
- Have you ever had a Bible verse pop into your head for no apparent reason? Has this happened recently at all? Maybe with music, or something else… What do you think God might have trying to been communicate through these things? How could you be more aware in the coming weeks of His presence and His voice in your daily life?
- The centurion had enough faith that just one word from God would be powerful enough to heal His servant. God’s voice is healing. How have you heard His healing voice in the past?
- Jim reminds us that there’s a need to discern what we’re hearing in prayer — it’s not always God’s voice that we might be hearing. So Jim gives us a list of qualities as a check-list of sorts so that we can discern whether what we’re hearing is from God. What are some examples of things that came to you in prayer that you thought were from God, but maybe weren’t? Or, examples of things that came to you that you didn’t realize were from God, but might be?
- God’s voice calms while satan’s voice obsesses. When have you felt calmed in the last week? When have you felt at peace? Do you think God might have been trying to speak to you in that moment? What do you think He was saying?
Trusting God in the Unknown
“The Lord will fight for you – you need only be still.” – Exodus 14:14
- What blessings has God provided for you in the past? Take a moment to reflect on these and to thank God for them. As best you can, try not to ask for anything, but simply think on His past blessings.
- Do you feel God’s presence in His life? If you are walking through a tough trial at the moment, do you believe that He will bless you again? Why or why not?
- What is your mud puddle, as Ashley would call it? As you walk through this time, how can you remember your blessings daily? Consider if there is a Bible verse or quote you can hang somewhere in your home to remind you of God’s provision for you in the past. He will not fail you now!
- Think of the story that Ashley shared when the Israelites were crossing the desert. After seeing everything that God had done for them in helping them escape from the Egyptians, they still doubted. Do you doubt God? If so, how can you increase your confidence that He will not fail you now?
The Healing Power of the Sacraments
- “And a voice came from the heavens, “’You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.’”- Mark 1:111. The sacraments are an encounter with the divine presence as Jesus as our Physician. Have you ever had an experience of awareness of Jesus’ presence when you received a sacrament? How can you increase your awareness of His presence in the sacraments?2. When Adam and Eve sinned, brokenness entered the world. But the sacraments are God’s remedy to put things back together. What areas of your life do you want God to put back together?3. The Eucharist is capable of healing us in every degree, but we don’t always approach it with this expectation or with any anticipation of healing. How can you increase your sense of awe and of expectation when you encounter the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist?
4. Because of our baptism, we are no longer orphans and are no longer separated from God. Instead, we become a beloved son or daughter of God. Even though this identity as a beloved son or daughter should be deeply ingrained in each of us, this isn’t always the case. Do you struggle with accepting that you are a beloved son or daughter of God? Ask Jesus to heal places in your heart that don’t know you are a beloved son or daughter of God.
Our Blessed Mother Mary: Her Suffering and Ours
“And you yourself a sword will pierce so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”
– Lk 2:35
1. Scripture tells us that Jesus spoke from the Cross to give us Mary as a spiritual mother. Do you always turn to Mary in times of need in your life? How can you develop a stronger relationship with your spiritual mother?
2. We know from the story of the Wedding at Cana that Mary is concerned with all aspects of our life, even our temporal needs. Are there needs in your life that you’ve been hesitant to ask for? What does Mary’s role in the Wedding at Cana tell you about her desire to help you in all your needs?
3. Mary suffered a lot throughout her life. The Church tells us that Mary suffered so intensely while watching her Son die that she nearly died herself. What can Mary’s deep suffering show you about suffering in your own life? In what ways can you imitate her willing acceptance of profound pain?
4. God has given Mary the power to vanquish evil. Scripture tells us that she crushes the head of the serpent. This means she can help us to overcome temptations and sin in our lives. What difficulties or evils in your life can Mary help you crush?
Forgiving God, Ourselves and Yourself
“As the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do.” – Col. 3:13
1. When we are in the midst of suffering, we sometimes find ourselves feeling angry at God. Have you felt angry at God? Have you brought your feelings of anger to prayer and talked to Him about them?
2. God’s permissive will allows suffering because of the sin which has entered the world, but sometimes it might feel as if our suffering means He is punishing us. Have you ever felt like your suffering was a punishment from God? How can you grow in your understanding of God’s permissive will in your life?
3. All of us have people in our life who have wounded us in the past. Ask God to show you the people in your life whom you need to forgive. As Jeannie suggests, write down their names and what they did to hurt you. Then, ask God to help you have the desire to forgive them.
4. We often struggle to forgive ourselves for mistakes we have made in the past. Do you struggle with guilt or shame over things you have done? Have you confessed any sins you’re struggling to forgive yourself for?
Uniting Our Suffering to Jesus to Find Healing
“Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.’” – Luke 23:34
1. Jesus experienced the same suffering and woundedness that we experience. Think of the many physical, mental, and emotional sufferings of Christ during His time on earth. In what moments of His life, Passion, and death was His suffering relatable to the pain you are experiencing now?
2. Suffering caused by others in our lives can be much more damaging for us if we allow it to rob us of our true identity as sons and daughters of God. How have you let the sufferings that others have caused in your life influence the way you think about yourself? Have you allowed it to become part of your identity? How can you strengthen your sense of identity as a son or daughter of Christ?
3. We can combat suffering in our lives by forgiving, as Jesus forgave His persecutors from the Cross. Who do you need to forgive for hurting you in your life?
4. We often hold judgments toward those who have hurt us, as a way of distancing ourselves from the pain they have caused us. What judgments have you been holding toward those in your life who have hurt you? Ask the Holy Spirit to show you the truth, to help you forgive, and to release the burdens you have been carrying from this situation.
Standing with the Suffering: The Power of Showing Up
“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow.” – Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
- What fears keep you from showing up to support your loved ones? Distance? Being emotional or seeing someone differently? Not knowing what to say?
- When was a time that someone showing up for you helped you through your suffering?
- Reflect on the story of the woman at the well who Jesus encounters (John 4). He could have been silent or afraid of the awkwardness of the situation, but instead He comforts her in her suffering by letting her know she isn’t alone.
- Ashley ended with a poignant question: who are you being called to show up for today? How can serve someone in your life who is suffering by putting away the awkwardness and simply showing up?
Grief, Healing, and Meditating on Our Lady of Sorrows
“O most holy virgin, mother of our Lord Jesus Christ: by the overwhelming grief you experienced when you witnessed the martyrdom, the crucifixion, and the death of your divine Son, look upon me with eyes of compassion and awaken in my heart a tender commiseration for those sufferings, as well as a sincere detestation of my sins, in order that, being disengaged from all undue affections for the passing joys of this earth, I may long for the eternal Jerusalem, and that henceforth all my thoughts and all my actions may be directed toward this one most desirable object.” – St. Bonaventure
- As Jeannie references, many people struggle with their relationship with Mary. Her freedom sin and the many apparitions and dogmas related to her conception, life, and death can make her seem difficult to relate to. What is your relationship like with our Blessed Mother? How do you feel about her, both spiritually and personally?
- Have you participated in a consecration to Jesus through Mary? If so, reflect on that experience. What fruits have you seen from that consecration? If not, what is holding you back from it?
- Meekness, as Jeannie mentioned, is related to tearing down the walls we build around our heart due to hurt, pain, or suffering. What walls do you have around your heart? Around your soul? What would it take to break down those walls?
Pray for Healing
“If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you.”
– John 15:7
1. Even though we know God always hears our prayers, it can be easy to feel like He doesn’t hear us if we don’t receive what we ask for. Has there been a time in your life when you’ve asked for something in prayer and you didn’t receive it? How did this experience affect your trust in God?
2. When God doesn’t give us what we ask for immediately, it doesn’t mean He hasn’t heard our prayers. Have there been times when God has answered your prayers in different ways than you’ve expected?
3. God can bring healing to our lives through simple prayers. Try to think of a false belief you hold about a painful situation in you life. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you renounce these false beliefs.
4. Dr. Bob mentions the Emmanuel Prayer Process. Like he describes, try to think of a moment when you felt the presence of God in your life. Allow yourself to reenter into that experience and to pay attention to what it feels like. In these feelings, remember that you are a beloved son or daughter of God.
Standing with the Suffering: The Power of Normalcy
“Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the passover lamb had to be sacrificed. So Jesus[a] sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the passover for us, that we may eat it.” – Luke 22:7-8
- Ashley shared that football was a large part of her family’s culture and traditions. When she was in the hospital, getting to watch the football game from her room made her feel a little bit like herself again. What is a family tradition that reminds you of normalcy? Do you still get to participate in that? Why or why not?
- Think of a loved one who is suffering, to the point that he or she seems almost unrecognizable. What did you do before they were suffering? Can you do those things again? What is holding you back?
- How can you bring some normalcy to the life of someone who is suffering? What would bring normalcy into your own life and help alleviate your suffering? Reflect on how you might be called to help.
- Think of a suffering loved one. Who was he or she prior to this trial? What did you love about him or her? How are they the same now?
Embracing Our Cross: Redemptive Suffering
“Then Jesus said to his disciples, “‘Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.’” – Mt. 16:24
1. All of us are inclined to try to escape from suffering. Sometimes we even go to great lengths to make our lives more comfortable and to escape unpleasantness. How have you attempted to escape from suffering in your life? Has it ever caused you to suffer more in the long run?
2. You may have heard well-meaning religious people say that we should “offer it up” when we suffer. But Joshua points out that this mentality can lead to merely being passive in accepting suffering that comes to us, which is not as spiritually fruitful as actively embracing our sufferings. How can you be more active in accepting suffering in your life?
3. Mortification is important for our spiritual lives, because it helps us to detach ourselves from the things of this world. What steps can you take to help you grow in detachment from things of this world?
4. God often works through our suffering to purify us and to lead us toward the proper disposition for mystical union with Him. What sufferings in your life are unavoidable right now? How might God be trying to perfect you through them?
Anger, Fear, Loneliness, and Sorrow: Handling These Emotions & Seeking Peace
“And Jesus wept.” – John 11:35
1. Even though dark emotions like anger, fear, loneliness and sorrow tend to be viewed as negative or harmful, they can actually be useful for us. Do you tend to think of your dark emotions in a negative light?
2. Sometimes experiencing dark emotions like anger, fear, loneliness or sorrow can help lead to healing or to other positive outcomes. Have you ever had a dark emotion lead to a positive outcome?
3. One of the first steps to reach healing is to recognize what dark emotions we’re experiencing. It can be important to acknowledge our dark emotions instead of trying to distract ourselves from them. What dark emotions are you experiencing most in your life right now?
4. God can work through our dark emotions to bring about good. Ask God why you are experiencing your dark emotions. What might He want you to learn from the dark emotions you’re experiencing?
Healing From Feeling Worthless
- We don’t have to keep all of our feelings to ourselves. God knows what they are and how we’re feeling, but He also wants us to willingly share those with Him and to enter into a deeper intimacy with Him through a relationship. Make a list of what you’re suffering from, and the emotions you have from it, and bring that to prayer; read through it with Him. He knows already, but He wants you to speak to Him about it. He’s waiting for you to come to Him.
- One reason God may not heal us is because He desires our closeness and our intimacy. How can you let your suffering lead you closer to Him today?
- Reflect on the time Jesus spent in the garden in Gethsemane and about His desire for companionship in the midst of His suffering. Can you relate to this?
- How might God be asking you to be little in your circumstances? What good could come from that?
- God may want us to grow more reliant on His grace through our suffering. How do you rely on Him in what you’re suffering with?
Witnessing to Our Loved Ones Who Have Left the Church
“My message and my proclamation were not with persuasive (words of) wisdom, but with a demonstration of spirit and power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God.” – 1 Cor. 2:4-5
1. It is only through the Holy Spirit that anyone can truly come to conversion. This is one of the reasons that arguing with someone about doctrines or dogmas of the Faith rarely yield much fruit. Have you ever found yourself arguing about the Faith with someone? What kind of fruit did it yield?
2. We should always remember when trying to preach the Good News to actually talk about the good news, rather than merely focusing on sin or suffering. What are some good things God has done in your life that you could share with others?
3. We’re often called to preach the Gospel using our words, but one of the best starting points for leading others to conversion can be to show them through our example that the Christian life is one of joy. What are some ways that you can be a good example of Christian joy to others in your life?
4. God is capable of saving people on behalf of those who bring them to Him, as He did in the Gospel when the paralytic’s friends brought the paralytic to Jesus. Who in your life do you want to bring to God to be converted