I recently made an 8 day silent retreat inspired by the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. It had been a long time since I made a retreat of this caliber, and it was spiritually eye opening and awakening!
When was the last time you made a retreat?
When I ask most adults this question, their typical response is Confirmation when they were in junior or senior high school. For some, it has been after that, especially with the growth of college campus ministry.
When was the last time you made a retreat? Are you due? I highly recommend you make a retreat. Even if it’s just one day. But preferably three, or five or eight if you are able.
1) In imitation of Jesus
Jesus went away to pray all the time. The gospels recount it often, “Jesus went off to a deserted place to pray.”
If Jesus needed time for solitude, so do we. He spent forty days in the desert, praying and fasting. That’s even longer than the 30 day Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius!
Most importantly, Jesus invites us to take time a way: “Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while” (Mark 6:31). Accept Jesus’ invitation, and at the same time, you will also be imitating Him.
2) You are tired
Many people today are overworked. We find it difficult to separate our personal lives from our work lives, as we consistently check emails while at home, on the weekend, and on vacation. You probably don’t sleep enough either.
A retreat allows you time to rest and be rejuvenated. During my 8 day retreat it was very freeing to go to bed at night and not set alarm, simply waking up when the Spirit wanted me to. Take a little break from the chaos of every day and experience the peace Jesus wants to offer you through retreat.
3) You need silence
Some retreats are a series of presentations allowing time for reflection. Others are completely silent. A silent retreat might intimidate you, but it is definitely worth it. Silence allows us to be more attentive to the whisper of God in our hearts.
During my recent retreat, I turned my phone on airplane mode, removed my email accounts from my Mail app, and refrained from using social media. It was very freeing not to continually be inundated with information.
This freeing up of time allowed for more prayer and lots of reading.
4) Fall in the love with the Scriptures
During my silent retreat, I was asked to pray four holy hours each day. The substance of these holy hours were scriptures my director gave me to reflect on. Praying for so many hours, helped me to re-appreciate praying with the scriptures by themselves for the sake of prayers.
If the scriptures are not a big part of your prayer life, a silent, directed retreat will provide the opportunity to fall in love with the Old and New Testaments. Use your imagination and allow God to speak to you.
What should I do next?
Look up the closest retreat centers to you and see what they offer. Jesuit retreat houses will offer those silent, directed retreats, like I experienced. Other retreat houses may have weekend retreats on various topics.
Many Benedictine monasteries have retreat houses and offerings. Also, your local diocesan website might list local retreat houses.
Do some research and ask God where he is calling you to go on retreat. I promise you that you will not regret it!
God has great things in store for you when you go on retreat. Make sure your heart is ready and open to receive the many graces God wants to share with you.
[See also: 6 Ways to Turn Your Commute Into a Daily Retreat]