Five-Day Ignatian Retreat Reflection


My personal philosophy is,”Why say something in one word when you can use multiple sentences, exclamation points, and gifs?” So needless to say, the idea of me going on a Five-Day Silent Ignatian Retreat sounded bizarre to all my friends.

I settled into the first session a little uneasy about my decision to embrace the taciturn nature I have wholeheartedly avoided throughout my life. Why did you come on this retreat? What are you hoping to get from the experience? These were the opening questions posed by Fr. Lingan, S.J. before total silence began. My immediate response was, “Sometimes I just need to shut up. I hardly ever give myself time to spend in thoughtful reflection.” There is incredible value in just “shutting up.” I went on the silent retreat after a long semester of academic, extracurricular, and personal changes in my life. I used the time to reflect on how everything had impacted me personally and analyze who I had become after a year of changes. It was an important time to take stock of my journey and dive into prayerful discernment of where to go next.

In college it is very easy to let life come at you, but at our beloved Jesuit institution we are called beyond simply reacting to what is expected of us in the classroom, on the sports field, and in the social scene. We are called to magis – to do more, to be more. The Silent Retreat afforded me that much needed time to connect my actions and intentions to something greater than myself. I am thankful for the times I had overlooking the beautiful Appalachian mountains and sipping tea cuddled up to the fire. It gave me the space to engage the contemplation side of “contemplation in action” and the time to think intentionally about myself and my relationship to God, my family, and my friends.

The Ignatian Retreat did indeed give me the much needed time to “shut up,” and I returned to the Hilltop with a clearer understanding of who I was and who I wanted to be. No exclamation points or gifs could do the experience justice, so I guess you will just have to try it yourself.

Reed Howard, SFS ’17