Whenever we hear the word “retreat”, what is the first thing that comes to mind?
Some hear this phrase when watching a war movie or in the military and an army that is outmatched or losing morale, decides to flee from further engagement with the enemy.
For Catholics, retreat give us a chance to step away from society and recharge. It is good for us to rebuild and reignite our spiritual drive while connecting with other like-minded Catholics. As a six-year retreatant, I have picked up ideas to make a first, second, or next retreat a great one.
Find Time to Pray
During the retreat, the schedule/agenda will have several opportunities to pray. Then, it will also see a long stretch of free time. Why not use that time to pray for intentions in your heart or even for others? Take time to put it before the lord during adoration, take part in rosary walks, get up early and stop in the chapel (Great way to start your morning). Have a journal with you and write how God is speaking to you after talks or even write down the celebrant’s main point in his homily from Mass.
Many retreats will also have Holy Hours. Be sure to take advantage of it.
Meet Fellow Retreatants/Have Fun Social Games
There will be 50 or more fellow retreatants. Take the time to get to know them, particularly those attending their first and whom you haven’t met. Run a fun icebreaker game, play cards, or take part in fun games when there’s free time. For some, there will be a few social opportunities like a bonfire (weather pending). When it’s mealtime, sit at a different table and meet a new group of people. When the retreat is over, exchange numbers, and emails, or add them to a group chat pertaining to the retreat.
Explore The Grounds of the Retreat Center
Arrive early and take a walk around the grounds. Many retreat centers have grottos dedicated to Mary and or saints. The grounds can be a peaceful oasis, especially when the forecast is sunny. Take advantage of any tours offered by the staff or retreat director.
Meet Up for Spiritual Direction
There will be spiritual directors on hand to help guide you through whatever is in your heart. Most sessions are up to about 30 minutes. For those without one, this will be a great opportunity to get one to help discern a better decision or even vocation. This is not a session where it will chastise you. Rather, it gives the opportunity for spiritual growth. We are all a work in progress.
Participate in Group Discussions
Often, there will be discussions following a talk or even the event. Some will have talks during free time or Lectio Divina to review the gospel for the upcoming Sunday. Take an active role in the discussions. As the retreat ends, keep the dialogue going. It may take days to unpack everything, but there is so much wisdom to share with each other.
Overall, retreats help us to recharge and strengthen our spiritual mind and body. It is good for all Catholics to take part in them, whether quarterly or annually. Make the most out of your next retreat. Take pride in your spiritual growth. Most importantly, they will help you realize that you’re not alone in your faith journey.