What is a Retreat?
A retreat is a personal encounter with God through a balance of prayer, reflection, silence, solitude, engagement with the natural surroundings and grace. This sacred time brings renewal, refreshment and nourishment for body, mind and spirit.
For centuries, the Christian tradition has understood a retreat to be an important part of the spiritual life. Time, consciously set aside in a quiet place, where all our senses are open and ready to listen to God.
A retreat recognises our deepest need for communion. Time with myself to think, pray and reflect on ‘who I am, what I am, where I am’ in relation to God, self, others, and the world.
Why make a Retreat?
Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.
– Mark 6:31
These words of Jesus are a gentle invitation to all of us. Yet, there are so many reasons why it is difficult to find time to come away and rest a while.
All of us have many demands, responsibilities and commitments in life. Yet finding time for a retreat is not a luxury; it is a necessity. A retreat helps us to see beyond the surface of everyday life and enter into an atmosphere of silence, solitude and peace.
In an atmosphere of silence and solitude we connect with our true selves and we are able to listen deeply to the quiet voice of God speaking in our hearts and to recognise the presence of God in our experiences.
Pope Francis in his apostolic exhortation “The Joy of the Gospel” is keenly aware of the deep need to find space and time in our lives for renewal and healing. “I am aware that we need to create spaces where pastoral workers can be helped and healed, places where faith itself in the crucified and risen Jesus is renewed, where the most profound questions and daily concerns are shared, where deeper discernment about our experiences and life itself is undertaken in the light of the gospel, for the purpose of directing individual and social decisions toward the good and beautiful.” (77)
A retreat is about perspective: to stop, listen, reflect, pray, and share so that we see with new eyes, think with new minds, so that even though we have to return to the very same situations, the same set of circumstances, the same roles, responsibilities and relationships that we left behind to come to the place of retreat, we do so having changed inside.
We all need the space and the silence to reflect and pray. A retreat is a gift to help us begin to sense a deeper truth about ourselves and God, and to know how much God loves and delights in us as we are.
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