Friday, August 14, 2009

Come Away and Rest a While

"The apostles gathered together with Jesus and reported all they had done and taught. He said to them, "Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while." People were coming and going in great numbers, and they had no opportunity even to eat. (Mk 6:30-31)

After his Baptism in the Jordan and before he began his public ministry, Jesus went out in the desert to spend time in solitude praying and fasting. In imitation of Jesus, we can spend some time on retreat which will benefit our own personal ministry among our family, friends and coworkers.

What is a retreat?

A retreat is a period of time spent in solitude away from the ordinary activities that fill our days. It is a period of time away from the usual surroundings and duties to a place of solitude in order to spend time in meditation, self-examination and prayer.

Many times a retreat is designed around a particular theme from scripture or some spiritual writing that is suited to the needs of the individuals involved. There are many different kinds of retreats; some are preached, others are directed or private. In a preached retreat the leader preaches through conferences scheduled throughout the time of the retreat, will lead prayers and be available for one-on-one counseling. A directed retreat consists of meeting with a spiritual director who will suggest scripture passages to the retreatant to pray and reflect upon. A private retreat is made without the aide of a leader or spiritual director. The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola are well known and are used to come to the realization of and surrender to God's plan of salvation through a time of prayer and discernment usually thirty days in length.

Most retreats maintain a certain degree of silence with time for relaxation, healthy eating and some exercise. The emphasis however is always on prayer. The time spent on retreat allows one the opportunity to reflect on and examine their spiritual life. Time spent on retreat can become a time of recommitment, purification, conversion, and growth.


  1. I am looking forward to our annual Carmelite retreat in a couple of weeks. Our retreat master is Fr. Kieran Kavanaugh. I am very much looking forward to some peace and solitude!

  2. I could certainly use a retreat right now! How I long to spend quiet time with the Lord after this hectic summer.

  3. I am looking forward to our annual Carmelite retreat this October. I always am in such a need of one by this time of the year and really think I could use two retreats a year! I hope you will like my next post which continues on the same theme of retreats.

  4. I haven't been to a retreat in years but I am happy to say that there is a Jesuit retreat house that offers the Spiritual Exercises very close to me now that we have moved to a different state.
    Thank you for this little reminder...