The Log returns this week after a summer break. I also had a wee break to myself. At the end of July I spent the second week of the Glasgow Fair with my younger brother in sunny Drumchapel – and sunny indeed it was. We just chilled out, which was just what I needed. I slept a lot; read a lot; and watched a few dramas that my brother had recorded for me. I love a good drama series but don’t often get the chance to see them, especially if they run for six weeks or more, so it’s great to just relax and watch them over a few days at home.
Then, in the first week of August, I went to Schoenstatt for a week’s retreat. The Sisters gave me St. Joseph’s Cabin, which is a self-catering facility, and that let me set my own rhythm for the retreat. I took with me a book that I had in my possession for many years. It was called “Alone with the Alone” by a Jesuit, now deceased, called George A. Maloney. It was set out as an 8-day retreat based on the method of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits.
At regular periods in the morning, evening and night time, I would read a section in my room and pray the scripture passages that accompanied that section. I would then spend time in the little shrine at Schoenstatt. The Schoenstatt Shrine is a very special and prayerful place to experience the closeness of God. It is modelled on the original shrine at Schoenstatt in Germany, and there are now over 200 of them, all identical, in different centres throughout the world. I found it a beautiful place to spend my prayer periods each day. I also celebrated Mass at a fixed time each day and fed myself very simply as I’m not a great cook.
The weather by then had changed a bit and so it was a week of sunshine and showers, much cooler than the previous weeks had been, but that was just as well because another part of my retreat was walking in the Campsie Fells, or along sections of the John Muir Way, the Thomas Muir Heritage Trail, and the Strathkelvin Railway Path, which all seemed to merge into each other. I think I would have struggled and suffered in the hot weather of the previous weeks and, to be honest, humbly acknowledging my increasing lack of fitness in my senior years, I stuck more to the trails on the level, than to the steep paths of the Campsies.
Although my retreat was planned around an 8-day programme, I had to leave Schoenstatt after 7 days due to the cycling time trials that were part of the European Championships being held in Glasgow. Every road around the Schoenstatt area was going to be closed from midnight and, what’s more, every road around our Passionist community house in Bishopbriggs was going to be closed as well. So, on the seventh day, after my final prayer time, I returned to Bishopbriggs, packed an overnight bag, and headed in to St. Mungo’s where I spent the night in the office, so as to be there to open the church the next morning and celebrate the 10 o’clock Mass. The last time I had to do that was during the heavy snows when I spent two nights in the office before the thaw. That same morning, Father Gareth walked the 5 miles from our house to St. Mungo’s to be there for Confessions and for the lunchtime Mass. Between St. Mungo’s church and our little oratory in Bishopbriggs I was able to complete the eighth day of my retreat and thank God for a very blessed time.
Here is the beautiful prayer of St. Ignatius – “Suscipe” – that I said every day:
Take, O Lord, and receive my entire liberty, my memory, my understanding and my whole will. All that I am and all that I possess You have given me: I surrender it all to You to be disposed of according to Your will. Give me only Your love and Your grace; with these I will be rich enough, and will desire nothing more.