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Spirituality Resources

herald with dove image by Laura James

Sunday Advent Reflections 2023
Advent, Renewal, Restoration

We begin Advent this year in a world rife with challenges, needs, and grace-filled opportunities. The world cries out for compassion, peace, and response to suffering. While we experience our world as much more interconnected than in previous times, we are also faced with deep fissures and seeming irreconcilable differences that threaten to upend our relationships with one another and our world. On the personal and communal levels, as well on the national and international ones, the challenge of Jesus' compassion and inclusive ministry call us to respond. How do we make God's love revealed to us in Jesus a reality in response to these deep differences?

This Advent, we are invited to ponder the Sunday Advent readings and open ourselves to the transformative power of the Spirit that speaks to us of the ways to be love and mercy in this changed world. Pondering seems a helpful posture this Advent. It appears in Luke’s gospel when Mary brings the child Jesus to the Temple and Simeon tells her that:

“This child is destined to be the downfall and the rise of many in Israel, a sign that will be opposed - and you yourself shall be pierced with a sword – so that the thoughts of many hearts may be laid bare.”

These words come after the joyful proclamation of Jesus’ birth to the shepherds. They are told this child will bring peace and joy. Jesus’ birth is both a sign of peace and the downfall of many. Mary’s response to this revelation is pondering, treasuring these things in her heart. Her pondering posture comes to a climax at the foot of the cross. While she may not fully comprehend God’s presence in Jesus’ crucifixion, and like any mother would like to protect her child from this horrible violence, she trusts that the God that has blessed her and been with her throughout her life is indeed active and present in this moment also. That is the heart of the meaning of pondering. It embraces two seemingly contradictory experiences and trusts that God is in both and is present and working through them. It holds them and reflects on them, seeking to trace that divine presence and its challenge now and in the future. It aims to discern God’s presence even in the most unlikely and difficult persons and events. It challenges us to respond as Jesus did with mercy and compassion, especially to the most vulnerable and neglected, trusting in the transformative power of living as Jesus did. It calls us to find God in every situation and person. And when we encounter problems and persons not reflective of God’s love and mercy, we find ways to stand in solidarity with them, accompany them and work to bring healing, transformation, and reconciliation.

This Advent may our pondering posture open us to God’s compassionate presence and empower us to re-imagine how to live the gospel in these challenging times.

The reflection for the weekly Sunday Advent readings and themes will be sent to your inbox on the Saturday night before each Sunday in Advent. It is based on the reflective approach: See-Discern-Act. It will included also a short video which elaborates on the theme and reflection questions. We hope you will find this reflective engagement renewing and restoring.

Enroll in this Advent Reflection Series.

This page offers resources on finding a spiritual director and locating retreat centers, as well as offering a list of apps to support your spiritual practice. Click on the gray bar to open the resource you need.


We have prepared a list of retreat centers for each of the Catholic dioceses in California, which are often excellent resources for seeking staff trained in spiritual direction. You can also filter our to view the locations of these retreat centers.


City Retreat Center
Bass Lake St. Dominic Savio Mission & Retreat Center
Three Rivers St. Anthony Retreat Center
Los Angeles
Alhambra Sacred Heart Retreat House
Los Angeles Cardinal Timothy Manning House of Prayer for Priests
Malibu Serra Retreat Center
Montebello De Paul Evangelization Center
Pomona Cursillo House Retreat Center
Rancho Palos Verdes Mary and Joseph Retreat Center
Rosemead Saint Joseph's Salesian Youth Renewal Retreat Center
Valyermo St. Andrew's Abbey Retreat House
Big Sur New Camoldoli Retreat House/Hermitage
San Juan Bautista St. Francis Retreat Center
Santa Cruz Villa Maria del Mar - provides retreats and spiritual direction; sponsored by the Sisters of Holy Names and utilized by many of our students
Soquel St. Clare's Retreat
Berkeley Incarnation Monastery
Danville San Damiano Retreat
Fremont Center for Education & Spirituality - including resources on spiritual guidance
Oakland Hesed Community
Orange House of Prayer for Priests
Orange Loyola Institute for Spirituality
Santa Ana Heart of Jesus Retreat Center
Citrus Heights Christ the King Passionist Retreat Center
Loomis Marello Youth Retreat Center
Sacramento The Bread of Life Center - provides training in spiritual direction as well as a description of what spiritual direction is and a list of spiritual directors in the Sacramento area
Vina The Abbey of Our Lady of New Clairvaux
San Bernardino
Big Bear Lake Sacred Heart Retreat Camp
Redlands El Carmelo Retreat House
Riverside Divine Word Retreat Center
Running Springs Saint Anne in the Mountains Catholic Church and Retreat Center
Temecula Kkottongae Retreat Camp
Temecula Viña de Lestonnac Retreat Center
San Diego
Julian Whispering Winds Catholic Camp and Conference Center
Oceanside Old Mission San Luis Rey de Francia Retreat Center
Oceanside Prince of Peace Abbey Retreat Center
San Diego The Spiritual Ministry Center
San Francisco
Burlingame Mercy Center Burlingame - provides training in spiritual direction as well as retreats and spiritual direction
Menlo Park Vallombrosa Center
San Rafael Santa Sabina Center
San Jose
Los Altos El Retiro San Iñigo - The Jesuit Retreat Center of Los Altos - sponsored by the Jesuits, offering Ignatian retreats and resources; see also this resource on Ignatian spirituality from Loyola Press
Santa Rosa
Oakville The Carmelite Monastery House of Prayer
Santa Rosa Angela Center - closed due to fire

For more local resources, please contact Lynne Lukenbill in the Graduate Program in Pastoral Ministries office, (408) 554-4831,

Spirituality Apps
  3-Minute Retreat from Loyola Press.
  Alt text: Pray as You Go a prayer reminder in the Ignatian tradition for busy people.
  Logo with two overlapping cloud outlines and text Reimagining the Examen guides you through a reflection on your day.
  Yellow and black Laudate Mass readings, prayers, liturgy of the hours, rosary.
  White app icon with a blue letter Magnificat set up in day-by-day format, offers prayers from the Liturgy of the Hours, readings from daily Mass, and meditations from ancient and current spiritual masters.
  iBreviary description.
  Golden cross, chalice with host, and loaf of bread icon on burgundy background. iMissal daily readings and Catholic prayers.
  A brown bowl icon on a black background. Insight Timer Free meditation timer and guided meditations.
  App logo with a stylized Mass Times for Travel helps you find churches and worship times worldwide.


In the same way, the Spirit too comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit itself intercedes with inexpressible groanings. – Romans 8:26


The LORD bless you and keep you! The LORD let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you! The LORD look upon you kindly and give you peace! –Numbers 6:24-26

We are pleased to offer 18th annotation retreats of the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola.

We are currently offering two five-week 18th annotation retreats in the academic year; one in the Fall quarter and another in the Winter quarter. They are all completely online and consist of daily prayer from a text, with or without use of audio recordings that are delivered to your inbox weekly. We come together online as a group one evening a week to pray together, listen, journal, and share in small groups. 

The upcoming retreat opportunity will begin on January 8, 2024. If you are interested please enroll here.


If you are interested in a 19th annotation retreat, Spiritual Exercises in everyday life, we are partnering with the Jesuit Retreat Center in Los Altos.