Back From Retreat

I just returned from a five day retreat at Bethany Retreat Center.  While not everyone can take five days, I encourage everyone to think about taking an annual retreat.  For those who work, many retreat centers offer weekend retreats.

What is a retreat?  In military terms, a retreat is withdrawing from the front lines, generally when the one retreating is losing the battle.  It may be done to avoid casualties or it may be done to regroup.  The latter more fits the Christian idea of a retreat.  For Christians, making a retreat is to take time strengthen our focus on God.  It isn’t just for people who have lost their awareness of God.  Even if we still are very much aware of God in our lives, a retreat can be a time to help us deepen our relationship with Jesus by removing us from the distractions of the world.

There are three types of retreats, preached, directed, and private.  Any retreat would generally include daily Mass, prayer, and rest.  During a preached retreat there is a presenter(s) who gives talks on scripture and what it means to live our faith.  The number of talks can vary but would generally be one to three talks a day.  A preached retreat may or may not include periods of silence.

A directed retreat generally does not include any presentations (the homilies at daily Mass may reflect a theme for the retreat).  Once a day, you meet with a retreat director to talk about where God is at in your life.  For the rest of the day, the director may give you something to read or think about to help you grow in your relationship with Jesus.

A private retreat has no presentations or director.  Some might then think you could do it from home but I would always encourage you to go to a retreat center even for a private retreat to step away from the distractions of the world.  During a private retreat, time is spent in quiet reflection on issues you know you are facing in your relationship with Jesus.  You might bring some reading material on the spiritual challenges you are facing in your life.

For any retreat, rest is an essential retreat.  We don’t have to spend every waking moment reading or reflecting.  Sometimes, the best thing we can do is to take time to rest to open ourselves to God..  For me, sometimes one of the most refreshing things is to simply take a walk in the woods, finding God in the beauty of creation. 

What do you need to do to deepen your relationship with Jesus?


Fr. Jeff

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