Monday, August 17, 2009

Plan your own retreat

Most retreats take place at centers set up specifically for this purpose. They are usually set in some quiet setting with natural surroundings away from any major activity of the general population. The facilities usually have comfortable private rooms and someone to cook all the meals. Most retreat centers have a chapel and conference rooms. Retreats are scheduled on certain dates and around a certain theme.

Distance, dates, times, costs and the particular theme of a retreat may make it impossible to get away and partake of a much need break and time to rest. Below are some suggestions and ideas for planning your own private retreat. They are only suggestions and, hopefully, a springboard to encourage and inspire a planned time to come away to rest for a while.

First, keep in mind the purpose of a retreat. This is to be a time away from the ordinary activities that fill our days to pray and commune with God. It will be your hope to come away from your retreat renewed, purified, converted and to give yourself an opportunity for some spiritual growth. Remember to maintain silence as much as possible during your retreat. This will include no television, radio, Internet and talking on the phone. You want to spend your time talking and listening to God.

Then begin to plan your private retreat.

Keep things simple.

Pick your dates and place. Find dates that will work for you and your family. Remember this is to be time for you to be alone and in solitude and silence. The place you choose can be a hotel, vacation spot or even your own home. The length of your retreat can be a day, a weekend or a week.

Plan meals that will be are already prepared or just need to be reheated or that would be very simple to prepare. Include some healthy snacks and drinks.

Choose a theme or select some part of scripture you would like to meditate and reflect on or a spiritual book to use during your retreat. Another idea would be to select an audio or video of a good spiritual speaker to use as your "conferences" throughout the time of your retreat.

Here are some suggestions for "conferences":
Universal Call to Contemplative Prayer
by Fr. Thomas Dubay, S. M. CD retreat talks

I Believe in Love: A Personal Retreat Based on the Teaching of St. Therese of Lisieux
by Jean C. J. d'Elbee

Listen to the Silence: A Retreat with Pere Jacques
by Francis J. Murphy

Here are some suggestions for spiritual reading:
Divine Intimacy by Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary of Magdalen, OCD
The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection
Heaven in Faith by Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity
The Gospels
One of the Epistles from the New Testament

Spend time in prayer and meditation. Pray the rosary, pray for your family, friends and needs of the world. If possible pray in front of the Blessed Sacrament at a nearby church or chapel.

Get outdoors, if possible, for a quiet walk and fresh air in some natural surroundings and enjoy God's creation.

Take a nap. Remember this is a time to rest and renew.

Keep a journal of any thoughts or insights you may have during your retreat.

Get to Mass and confession during the time of your retreat.

Be sure to thank God for this time and for any blessings you may have received.


  1. Oh, this is a wonderful post! It would be so easy for me to conduct my own spiritual retreat right here at home as it is just myself and my husband... I love the idea of picking out a specific date and preparing for it in all the ways you suggest.
    I am going to print this out, if you don't mind.
    Thank you!

  2. I am glad you liked the post. I was hoping it would inspire. We all need some time for a retreat anyway we can make that possible. Happy planning!

  3. I have a deep interest in Carmelite spirituality and contemplation. I would love to do a Carmelite retreat, but being a Traditionlist Catholic who only attends the Traditional Latin Mass, this can prove difficult. This is such a good idea, I shall have to do it. Thankyou, and God Bless :)