DIY Prayer Retreat #2: God Is Love Loving

Candle light Alesa Dam

Read the introduction in DIY Prayer Retreat #1 for general instructions on how to facilitate a prayer retreat.

10:00- 10:30: Gather

  •  It is helpful to begin this retreat by sharing loving images of God. You may use artwork or a story like this one: 

In a sermon, Pastor Lance Odegard of Artisan Church, told this story. Lance’s son was caught doing something wrong and sent him to his room. Lance went to talk with him and as soon as he took his son onto his lap, the boy began to cry. His shoulders were going up and down like jack hammers, and he could hardly speak. “I… I… f-f-feel so g-g-guilty,” he said. Lance wrapped his arms around his son and started to cry too. 

“Dad,” his son said. “Why are you crying?” 

Lance was at a loss for words for a moment then replied. “Because you’re crying.” 

After they talked about what happened, the boy said to his father. “Every night you tell me that you love me, now I know how big that love is.”


  • Take a few minutes to be with what has been shared about God’s loving nature.
  • Distribute copies of the reading below and the plan for the day. Ask a participant or two to read aloud “God Is Love Loving”.
  • After a few minutes of silence invite the participants to share briefly what stood out for them in the reading.
  • Then go over the plan for the day, attend to any housekeeping details and disperse. 

Reading: God Is Love Loving
from What Is Ignatian Spirituality? by David L. Fleming

Ignatius’s life changed drastically in 1521. He was a soldier serving the kingdom of Castile, fighting to defend the city of Pamplona against a French attack. During the battle a cannonball struck him in the legs. Badly injured, Ignatius was taken to his family castle in the town of Loyola to recuperate. There he endured two extremely painful operations to repair his wounds, and spent many months convalescing. Ignatius had a lot of time to think about his life, which, to that point, had been an undistinguished and unsatisfying pursuit of military glory and frivolous pastimes.

Ignatius Loyola (1491-1556). Spanish founder of Jesuit Order. Counter-Reformation. #1ab.Ignatius was a keenly observant man. His talent for simple “noticing” or “taking note” became a cornerstone of his approach to the spiritual life. In 1521, bored and restless as he healed in his family’s home, Ignatius took special notice of the movements in his own spirit.

He had asked for romance novels to read. These tales of love and adventure were the most popular printed books of the time, as they are in our time, and Ignatius loved to fill his imagination with these stories. But the only books available in the house were a life of Christ and a book of stories about saints. Ignatius read these instead, and he was struck by the feelings they stirred in his heart. The stories of Jesus and the heroes of the faith inspired and stimulated him. By contrast, he was restless and discontented when he remembered his favorite tales of romantic love and adventure.

Gradually, a new and inspiring image of God began to form in Ignatius’s mind. He saw God as a God of Love. This was no abstract philosophical concept. God as Love was no longer just a scriptural statement. Ignatius experienced God as an intensely personal, active, generous God, a God as Love loving. God creates, and by so doing, God is actively showering us with gifts. God acts, and all his actions show his wisdom and love.

God’s love is unconditional. It is not something we earn, or buy, or bargain for. God does not say, “I will love you if you keep my commandments” or “I will love you if you go to Lourdes.” Lying on his sickbed—in pain, crippled, agitated—Ignatius came to understand that active loving was God’s most outstanding quality. This is his foundational image of God. He arrived at it by “noting” how God dealt with him in his body, soul, and spirit, and through the people and events in his everyday life.

… This image of God affects how we understand the purpose of our lives. If we think that God loves us only if we act in a certain way, we will see our lives as a time of testing. We need to rise to the challenge, to avoid mistakes, to labor to do the right thing. But if God is Love loving, our life is a time of growing and maturing. “All the things in this world” are ways to become closer to God. Lovers don’t test each other. Lovers don’t constantly demand that the other measure up. Lovers give to those they love.


10:45-Noon First Prayer period

Silent Prayer by Neil GallopDescend

  • “with the mind into the heart and there stand before the face of the Lord, ever-present, all-seeing, within you.”  (Theophan the Recluse)

Ask Jesus for the grace you need

  • to envision God as Love loving, an active lover attentively loving you.
  • to remain present and open to God

Be attentive to God and to yourself in the silence (most of the hour)

  • As you sit in the silence with God, pay attention to what you notice has been going on in your life. What stands out? What feelings emerge along with them?
  • As you continue to sit with God and the event and feelings around it, invite God to do what God wants to do: actively love you.
  • Is there something that you have been reading in scripture lately that relates?
  • Allow your time with God to be a new landscape, an open vista, in which God takes the lead and interacts with you.


  • Near the end of the hour take 5 minutes or so to have a conversation with God about what came up in your prayer period

Journal Entry by Joel Montes de OcaJournal

  • After your hour of prayer, take time to write down what was significant to you in this prayer period.

12:15 to 1:30: Relax, have lunch, go for a walk, knit etc.

1:30-2:30: Second prayer period

Use the same structure as above.

  • This time, allow the louder emotions and events in your life to take a seat and “let your shy soul speak” (Parker Palmer). As you sit quietly with God, allow a less emotionally charged event or connected events (and accompanying emotion) to emerge.
  • Once again, allow your time with God to be a new landscape, an open vista in which God takes the lead and interacts with you.


  • Journal about what was significant in your second prayer period
  • Ask God to show you what would be honouring to God and meaningful/beneficial for you to share with others
  • Relax, have a cup of tea…


  • Gather again and take turns sharing one thing that was meaningful that came out of the day.
  • Take a few minutes in silence after each person has shared to hold them up in prayer.


“Candle Light” by Alesa Dam. Used with permission.
Story by Lance Odegard, Artisan Church used with permission.
Return of the Prodigal Son by Rembrandt.
“God Is Love Loving” Chapter 2  in What Is Ignatian Spirituality? by David L. Fleming, SJ
“Silent Prayer” by Neil Gallop
“Journal Entry” by Joel Montes de Oca. Used with permission.
Banner: “Sitting in Silence” by Alice Popkorn. Used with permission.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2015.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without permission from Esther Hizsa is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used provided there is a link to the original content and credit is given as follows: © Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim 2013, 2014, 2015.

About Esther Hizsa

Esther is a spiritual director and writer. She lives in Burnaby with her husband, Fred, and they have two grown children and two grandchildren.
This entry was posted in Ignatian Spirituality, Prayer Retreat Outline, Resource, Stories and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to DIY Prayer Retreat #2: God Is Love Loving

  1. Dave Small says:

    Outstanding material. Thanks Esther.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: DIY Prayer Retreat #3: Meeting Jesus in Scripture and in Daily Life | An Everyday Pilgrim

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