Each week, I fill my car with gas. I refuel my body with food and sleep. I charge my cell phone every night. But my spiritual life? How often do I fill it? Refuel it? Charge it?
When was the last time you went on a retreat?
Have you taken time recently to recharge your spiritual batteries?
Have you followed Jesus’ example in Mark 1:35?
Rising very early before dawn, He left and went off to a deserted place, where He prayed.
Jesus shows us the importance of stepping away from our normal routines. He left His disciples for a little while so that He could be with His Father. Jesus sought out solitude and silence. He must have returned to His disciples refreshed, refocused, and ready to bear more fruit in the Kingdom of God.
When we step away from our routines and relationships, the Father will fill us with His life and grace so that we will grow in holiness in our vocations. Retreats helps our souls become “rich soil” that can produce fruit “a hundred or sixty or thirty fold” (Matthew 13:8).
Know His voice.
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27).
Do you know the voice of the Good Shepherd? Retreats provide an environment of silence, waiting, and listening for God to speak.
Do you remember how Elijah found God in the quiet breeze (1 Kings 19:12)? Retreats open yourself to actively listen to the voice of God and more deeply understand His desire for your life.
Retreats help you listen to God more closely. As you take time in prayer and Scripture, you will more clearly understand your hopes and desires. The Holy Spirit will help you conform these desires to the will of our heavenly Father.
Retreats also help you better understand your gifts and the way that God wants you to shine as a light to our dark world. Retreats can also give you time for you to examine any important decisions you are making. They provide the opportunity for deeper conversion and growth in holiness.
When should you go on retreat?
Retreats are vital in the life of the Church!
Canon Law requires that seminarians preparing for ordination and religious preparing for solemn vows must make a retreat prior to these permanent commitments.
Candidates for Confirmation and couples preparing for Marriage are often required to make retreats.
Many school and parish staffs often make retreats prior to a new academic year.
Retreats are very helpful for vocational discernment, times of transition, and deeper healing.
Priests and religious make annual retreats, and making an annual personal retreat is a priority for many members of the laity.
Sometimes, there can be obstacles for going on retreat.
Sometimes one’s season of life may not allow them to go away on retreat, such as caring for a new baby or a sick family member.
If you are unable to go away on a retreat right now, is there a place in your home or neighborhood where you can retreat to? Is there a place where you are easily able to listen to the Holy Spirit in the quiet of your heart? Do you have an Adoration chapel nearby?
Also, honoring Sunday as a true day of rest can be a beautiful way to create the space to listen more closely for Jesus’ voice.
Another obstacle to retreats can be the cost. When you are pinching pennies to pay for essentials, sometimes investments in our spiritual lives can be neglected.
Remember that God can never be outdone in generosity; He might surprise you and provide in unexpected ways!
Fear can be another obstacle, especially when you are discerning a big decision. Pray to the Holy Spirit for the grace of courage.
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. -Joshua 1:9
Silence can be uncomfortable, but do not be afraid to let Him lead you into the wilderness.
Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her. -Hosea 2:14
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There are several different types of retreats.
Some retreats are social and others are individual. Retreats can also be preached, directed, or self-directed.
Here are a few recommendations of books if you are looking to do a self-directed retreat:
- I Believe in Love: A Personal Retreat Based on the Teaching of St. Thérèse of Lisieux by Jean C. J. d’Elbée
- Lift Up Your Heart: A 10-Day Personal Retreat with St. Francis de Sales by Fr. John Burns
- 33 Days to Merciful Love: A Do-It-Yourself Retreat in Preparation for Consecration to Divine Mercy by Fr. Michael E. Gaitley
- Consoling the Heart of Jesus: A Do-It-Yourself Retreat- Inspired by the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius by Fr. Michael E. Gaitley
- The Way of Trust and Love: A Retreat Guided By St. Therese of Lisieux by Fr. Jacques Philippe
- Wrap Yourself in Scripture by Karen L. and Lawrence A. Dwyer
- Mary at the Foot of the Cross, Teacher & Example of Holiness: A Retreat Given to John Paul II and the Papal Household by James A. Cardinal Hickey
- Loving the Church: Spiritual Exercises Preached in the Presence of Pope John Paul II by Christoph von Cardinal Schonborn
- Sign of Contradiction by Karol Wojtyla (Pope John Paul II)
Where should you go on retreat?
We would love to have you join us at a Blessed is She Shine Retreat!
We will pray together with John 1:5: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
Join hundreds of sisters in our Blessed is She community to learn about His great light and how He desires for each one of us to shine brightly in His Kingdom.
- Kansas City, KS on June 7-8th
- Houston, TX on August 2-3rd
- Nashville, TN on September 6-7th
- Dublin, Ireland on November 8-9th or 15-16th
If you are unable to join us for one of these retreats, there are many other places you can look.
Start with asking your pastor, parish, or diocese. You might also have a retreat center or religious community nearby. Make sure the retreat center is faithful to Magisterium of the Church, because there are a lot of secular and new age retreats available.
Wherever you go, look for a beautiful place with silence that is near the Sacraments: Eucharist Adoration, daily Mass, and Confession.
You might even think outside the box a little bit, and go away to a hotel, cabin, or a friend’s house while they’re on vacation.
What do bring on retreat
- An open heart receptive to the graces God will give
- Spiritual Reading
- Prayer Journal
Additionally, natural consolation can lead to spiritual consolation! Consider also bringing:
- Favorite coffee or tea
- Favorite treats
- Art supplies
- Spending money—retreat centers often have wonderful gift shops. Sometimes a little souvenir can be a powerful reminder of the graces God poured out on retreat.
Let’s pray together…
Here is St. Ignatius’s Suscipe Prayer that you can pray before, during, or after your retreat:
Take, O Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding, and my whole will.
Thou hast given me all that I am and all that I possess:
I surrender it all to Thee
that Thou mayest dispose of it according to Thy will.
Give me only Thy love and Thy grace;
with these I will be rich enough,
and will have no more to desire. Amen.
St. Ignatius, patron saint of spiritual retreats, pray for us!The Need for Personal Retreats #BISblog // Click To Tweet
Rose Coleman is a regular contributor to the BIS blog and a devotion writer. She is a contemplative in action who delights in all things beautiful. Her adventurous heart has traveled many places—from circumnavigating the globe on a ship during college to some years in the convent as a religious sister. Exuberant from her childhood, she is an elementary school teacher who learns so much from her students. You can find out more about her here.