Mount Angel Seminarians hear God in silence
Every year at the beginning of January, the seminarians at Mount Angel Seminary participate in a week-long silent retreat before the spring semester begins. Although the seminarians at Mount Angel regularly practice meditative prayer and some times of silence every day, the retreat is a privileged opportunity to rest with the Lord and deepen their relationship with him.
For the 2023 retreat, Mount Angel Seminary welcomed Fr. Greg Cleveland, OMV, as the retreat director to introduce the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. Fr. Cleveland, a Chicago native, joined the Oblates of the Virgin Mary in 1987 and received ordination to the priesthood in 1995. He currently serves as the executive director for the Lanteri Center for Ignatian Spirituality in Denver.
Each day of the retreat, the seminarians gathered in St. Joseph Chapel for the Liturgy of the Hours, Mass, spiritual conferences given by Fr. Cleveland, and exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. The theme of the retreat was “Wellsprings of Grace: The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.” Fr. Cleveland encouraged the seminarians to engage their prayerful imagination and enter into Gospel scenes for their personal hours of meditation. By choosing to abstain from the use of cell phones, social media, Internet, and other electronic media during the retreat, the seminarians could focus their attention more readily on the Lord speaking to them in their hearts. Fr. Cleveland also taught them the Rules for the Discernment of Spirits of St. Ignatius, helping them to accept God’s consolations and to reject temptations in the name of Christ.
For Deacon Nelson Cintra of the Diocese of Boise, who is in his final semester at Mount Angel, the retreat was an opportunity to deepen his practice of Ignatian spirituality, which he has been attracted to and appreciated for some years. One challenge for Deacon Nelson during the retreat was an inability to sleep at night due to recovery from a knee surgery. He noticed discouraging thoughts surfacing frequently in that trial of restlessness. However, thanks to reviewing these spiritual tools from St. Ignatius, Deacon Nelson found “renewed attentiveness and strength to recognize and reject those temptations at their onset, choosing instead to live in the love and mercy of God.”
Patrick Mbuiyu of the Archdiocese of Seattle did not know much about Ignatian spirituality prior to the retreat, but he found the conferences helpful for learning to employ this practical spirituality in his life. He found that he can more fully “appreciate God as unchanging and ever with me aside from how I am feeling physically, mentally, or spiritually.” Being an international student with most of his family from Kenya, Patrick initially found the silence challenging, noticing his desire to check in on his family and respond to their messages. “Silence has invited me to grow in trust, seeking not to rely on my strength and wisdom in ensuring things are okay, and choosing to rely on God’s faithfulness and merciful love,” says Patrick.
Please keep our seminarians in your prayers as they continue to draw near to the Lord throughout the semester.