THE CONSOLING THE HEART OF JESUS 10-WEEK GROUP RETREAT
Stage One, Two Parts
Stage One has two parts: the Immaculate Heart and the Sacred Heart. We begin with the Immaculate Heart, because Mary leads us to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. We begin our journey to the Immaculate Heart with the book 33 Days to Morning Glory and its accompanying group-retreat program. The goal of this program is to lead us to formally entrust ourselves to Mary. Mary then leads us to the Sacred Heart, which begins the second part of Stage One: the book Consoling the Heart of Jesus and its accompanying group-retreat program on Divine Mercy.
If you have not yet done the 33 Days to Morning Glory Group Retreat, you will want to look into doing that first, as it will make Consoling the Heart of Jesus a more fruitful experience.
What is needed to make a CHJ Retreat?
As with the 33 Days to Morning Glory Retreat, you'll need a Retreat Coordinator, small group leaders, and the materials that accompany the retreat, including a Retreat Coordinator Kit and a Participant Packet for each member. If you are the Retreat Coordinator, you will want to register your group on our Leader Registration Page. Once you register you can download a plethora of helpful resources to make your CHJ retreat a beautiful success. You'll be able to download the Retreat Coordinator's Guide, which will give you a jump start to organizing and preparing your CHJ retreat.
What a great time to ask for the intercession of Saints Ignatius, Faustina, Terese, Francis Xavier, and above all, Our Blessed Mother.
The Consoling the Heart of Jesus Group Retreat consists of Reading, Answering, and Meeting (RAM). (This is also covered more indepth in the Retreat Coordinator's Guide and during the first DVD session, "Orientation & Introduction.")
What will we read? The book, Consoling the Heart of Jesus: A Do-It-Yourself Retreat Based on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola. To make the retreat, each participant will need to read the assigned section of this book before coming to the group meetings. Participants can read the book in daily increments or in one sitting. The weekly readings are very doable at an average of 15-20 pages per week. There's flexibility so participants can tailor their reading schedules to their personal schedules. As a Retreat Coordinator, you can assure prospective participants that the daily reading is easily doable and flexible, even if they aren't used to reading regularly. Also, the style is simple, straightforward, and easy to understand.
What will we answer? The questions we find in the Retreat Companion. Each week features a series of questions that help us reflect on the weekly reading. These questions also help us delve even more deeply into the reading by helping us see how the reading affects our lives.
One practical point: the Consoling the Heart of Jesus Retreat Companion is a powerful aid to going more deeply in to the readings. Each day, it provides questions to answer that are meant to help us reflect on the reading from the retreat book. While we should at least try to answer the questions in the main part of the Companion, we shouldn't look at this as a burdensome homework assignment or a quiz. So, tell your group members not to panic if they don't get through all the questions. They're simply aids to going deeper.
Problem: What if I get behind in my reading? If a retreat participant worries that because he missed some of the reading, he'll be too far behind, reassure him that he can still be part of the group retreat. You should also encourage him to make up the missed reading, at least because each weekly reading tends to build upon the previous one.
Great BONUS Feature to Consoling the Heart of Jesus Retreat
Using the bonus Appendix: Included in the CHJ Retreat Companion is an Appendix with additional questions for those who want to go deeper. The Retreat Coordinator will want to explain this great feature to participants at the first session, "Orientation and Introduction." (This information is also provided on page 6 of the Retreat Companion, but it's good to review it with them as well.)
Here are three different ways to use the Appendix:
- Use the additional questions your first time through the CHJ group retreat.
- After you've already made the CHJ group retreat once, repeat the retreat later by yourself, using the additional questions.
- Repeat the CHJ retreat as a group, perhaps the following year, this time with the new questions. (You'll have been living consoling spirituality for a while and your group will be able to approach the retreat from a new perspective.)
Just remember that the Appendix questions are optional. You don't have to do them at all! It's up to each group member if he wants to do the extra questions. The weekly small-group session questions stay the same, so doing the extra questions won't impact the small-group discussion. In option #3, the entire group repeats the retreat using the additional questions, and that's something you as the Retreat Coordinator would decide ahead of time.
Each meeting will last about an hour and a half and is broken up into four parts:
(1) 5-minute Large-group Opening with a prayer and announcements
(2) 35-minute Large-group DVD Viewing with a talk on DVD that illustrates the key points of each week and keeps them simple and livable
(3) 45-minute Small-group Sharing that draws from the daily questions in the Retreat Companion
(4) 5-minute Large-group Closing.