Dear Parish Family,
This weekend as you are reading this, I’m away on my annual retreat. It is something that is a requirement for all priests, but I also recommend a retreat for everyone.
There are many kinds of retreats out there, so each year, my retreat is different. Some retreats are silent and require a person to shut out the noise of the world to quiet their mind and heart and listen to the whisper of God.
Other retreats are guided, which means you meet with a retreat director each day, and he or she asks what you’ve been praying about, and what you hope to achieve by the end of the retreat. They give suggestions based on what you tell them, from prayer techniques to use, or new approaches to try.
Some retreats are preached, which means you go to a facility with a group and a designated speaker gives a series of talks, usually multiple presentations each day, that bring a person deeply into the theme of the retreat. The speaker may give you “homework” to do in your prayer. Or even particular scriptures to read, so the material can reach you in multiple ways.
You could go to a monastery, which is a home for a community of vowed women or men. These community members live and work and pray together according to a very structured schedule: 8 hours of work, 8 of prayer and 8 of rest. When you go there, you enter their life for a period and let the rhythm of their lifestyle work on you.
It’s also possible to be on a self-guided retreat. All you need is a cabin (or a bedroom
somewhere) with a candle, a Bible, and some time. You can just let God work on you.
This year I am at a monastery of Camoldolese Monks. Each member of that group lives solitary lives (in their own tiny cottages) and does their work (often making handcrafts that they sell), rests and even eats alone in their cottage, day in and day out. The only time they see other people is when they gather four times a day in a common chapel, placed at the center of their honeycomb of cottages, for sung prayer and Mass. I will get my own cottage for the week, eat what they eat, and like the monks, be alone in my room. I’ll pray when they pray and read and write while they work. (I may nap too – after all, who will even know, since I’m all alone all day?)
Sometimes silence can make life even MORE of an adventure. Consider carving out a slice of time for a retreat for yourself in 2022. You and God will be glad you did.
Praying for you from retreat…