Friends in the Lord is how the early companions gathered around St Ignatius Loyola in the early Sixteenth Century referred to themselves, before they formed the religious order that we know today as the Society of Jesus (Jesuits).
It also nicely sums up the recent weekend (28-30 October) retreat enjoyed by the Friends of St Beuno’s at the retreat house of that name in beautiful North Wales.
The Friends of St Beuno’s was created to raise funds and allow those who consider St Beuno’s as their ‘spiritual home’ – whether from having been on retreat there or just having an affinity with Ignatian Spirituality in general – to share in its mission. This mission is to give the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius Loyola, to teach and train people to discern God at work in their life, and encounter Jesus Christ in their day-to-day experience.
This Ignatian feature of ‘finding God in all things’ certainly ran throughout the weekend and between the welcome Mass on Friday evening to the delicious Sunday lunch at the weekend’s close, a range of activities and workshops was on offer.
We could choose from learning of the wonderful photography of Fr Frank Brown (‘the Jesuit who survived the Titanic’), the famous ‘Beuno’s bees’, the ‘mystery and history’ of St Beuno’s itself, ‘living and working in an Ignatian way’, guided prayer, Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, or simply sharing and catching up with friends in discussion or a walk around the grounds.
The weekend was ours and we were free to take in as much or as little as we wished – as befits friends who can enjoy just being together in the home of one’s host.
The house and grounds were looking beautiful in the Autumn colours and there was ample time to enjoy the scenery, including a lovely wonderful walk up to the Rock Chapel for a simple yet moving liturgy to celebrate its 150th anniversary.
We were also blessed to share the space with those retreatants currently receiving The Spiritual Exercises at St Beuno’s. The prayer and silence of those people spending thirty days coming to know, love and follow Christ in a deeply personal way, and discern God at work in their lives, gave an added dimension to the whole experience. One truly felt enfolded in the love of God which permeates this very special place.
For more information on the Friends of St Beuno’s, and all that St Beuno’s and the other Ignatian Spirituality Centres in the UK have to offer, see www.pathwaystogod.org
Ignatius of Loyola – Classic biography of the founder of the Jesuit order, Rev J A Philips SJ