FEBRUARY 10, 2019
5th Sunday in Ordinary Time
“Do not be afraid, from now on you will be catching men.”
I am away from the parish this weekend on my annual spiritual retreat. Did you know that all priests are expected to take an annual retreat? In fact, Canon Law says that priests are “bound to make time for spiritual retreats” (CIC 276 §2).
I have had the opportunity to go on many retreats throughout my life. The very first one I can remember was when I was in middle school I went on a youth retreat. I wasn’t necessarily interested in a retreat at that point in my life, but part of the deal was that one of the days of the retreat we got to go downhill skiing, so that convinced me to attend.
When I started high school, I learned about NET Ministries, and the wonderful retreats they put on for teens. (NET retreats are a very similar style and format as the Quest Retreat we put on here at IC for our Confirmation candidates each year.) My older brother had attended a NET retreat and came back with his faith set on fire. I admired that, and wanted to experience it too. And so, as a freshman in high school, I attended my first NET retreat. That weekend ignited my faith in a powerful way and helped me start running toward the Lord with even greater speed than I had previously. I encountered Jesus in a new and powerful way, especially in adoration, and met many people who became my friends through high school. I began to love going on retreats and looked forward to the next one.
During my time in seminary, I was exposed to new retreat formats that I had not previously known: silent retreats and preached spiritual retreats. A silent retreat is, as its name indicates, a retreat where there is usually no talking among the retreatants. This silence allows us to concentrate especially on the voice of the Lord speaking in the quiet of our hearts. A preached spiritual retreat is one where the retreat leader gives several daily reflections on Christ from the Gospels, and invites everyone to meditate on these stories during the day.
Although there are several different formats and styles of retreats, they all have the same goals: 1) to help us to step away from our busy lives, 2) to listen to the voice of Jesus speaking to our hearts, 3) to allow God to draw us closer to him through ongoing conversion and turning from sin, and 4) to help us make changes to our lives so that we can love God more and live for him better in our daily lives.
My hope is that eventually we will be able to offer retreats for our parish. Parishes that have begun offering retreats for their parishioners often see a great spiritual revival in the community, and this makes sense if the goals listed above are achieved in the lives of many parishioners.
Until we are able to begin parish-wide retreats, if you would like to go on a retreat, here are some good places to look. Please search for their websites, or feel free to ask me for more information on any of these.
- Demontreville – Lake Elmo, MN
- Christ the King Retreat Center – Buffalo, MN
- Franciscan Retreats – Prior Lake, MN
- Pacem in Terris – St. Francis, MN
- World Wide Marriage Encounter
Finally, here are some additional suggestions:
- Attend a retreat that has daily Mass, and opportunity for confession
- Go with a friend (but don’t talk too much)
- Don’t use your phone or computer at all if possible – unplug
- Bring the bible and another spiritual book to read
- Get extra sleep
- Take a long walk
- Pray a lot
You are in my daily prayers.
May God bless you,
Fr. Nick VanDenBroeke