"Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect." ~Romas 12:2
There are two different ways one can look at the word “Retreat”. From the religious angle it is “A period of group withdrawal for prayer, meditation, or study” and from a secular angle it is “The act or process of withdrawing, especially from something hazardous, formidable, or unpleasant”. One is seen as backing down and the other is to re-energize our minds, heart, and mostly our souls. Yet, as I saw both of the definitions I think really they need to be combined.
When we, Christians, go on a retreat, we are withdrawing from the world and the things in it that are hazardous to our faith and our relationship with the Trinity. The reason we are “retreating” is because the world has taken a toll on us and on our souls. We need to take that time and pull away and refocus or set our compass back on the “True North, God”. In the world we are constantly bombarded with different things that pull us from focusing on God. It may be the constant noise from the TV, Phone, Computer, Radio, or the different images that puts our focus on material things, or talk of things that go against what we believe and feel. I think if we feel that those things do not affect our faith or connection to God, then we are worse off then we think. The best way I think I can explain this is think of what you eat. Whatever you put in your body, will affect it. If you eat junk you will feel sluggish, gain weight, and feel sick. Yet, if you have a balanced diet you will have energy, stay fit and feel good. So, why do we think those things that enter our mind will not affect how our soul is? This is why we need to “retreat” from the world and be less of the world.
We need to put ourselves on a “Spiritual Diet” or a “Spiritual Cleanse” from time to time. We can do this by going on a retreat. It can be a day, weekend or a week at a time. It is a way to get rid of that noise in our lives that gets in the way of hearing God’s voice speaking to us. Pulling back and away from the world will be refreshing to you. I will also go a step further and say that silence can play and even should play a major role in this retreating. There are different kinds of retreats out there. Some are ones that are focused on building up the community of believers, silent retreats that focus more on turning inward, and some are a combination.
Until this past Lent I have never gone on a silent retreat. I was apprehensive and thought at first this was not for me. I like that connection to people and I need to talk to have that. You find something in common with the people on the retreat like job, hobbies, sports, music, etc... and that helps you connect. I must say after going on a silent retreat, I was wrong to think I wouldn’t get that connection or enjoy it as much as the other. Both styles of retreats or a combination are good and none are better then the other. Each plays a different role and connects us differently as we need at that time.
The “Silent Retreat” for me gave me that time to fully disconnect from the world and all of the noise and distractions. The phone, computer and tv was turned off. Facebook and the Internet were never opened. That gave me that physical disconnect to the world that I needed. You also can get that on a regular retreat, but you get something extra on a silent retreat. With not being able to talk to others, those questions of job, family, hobbies, etc... are removed and you are able to leave all of those facets of life on the back burner and allows God to be up front. Whatever stresses from the job, family, etc are not kept up front by conversations. It does become about that connection between your Mind, Heart and Soul with God. You will be surprised what comes to the surface and how you hear God when it is just you and Him. There is that weekend of silence and you are not putting God on a time restraint by saying “ Ok, I can give you 15 min of silence now before the game starts or I have to answer the phone can I put you on hold God, or on a commercial break lets talk quick”.
I was able to pull away from everything around me and just listen to my Mind, Heart and Soul in relation to God. It was easier then I thought to be “in” silence. You can go to listen to speakers, attend prayer services, mass and adoration. You can speak in regards to prayers and mass, just not have conversations with others. I must say that I welcomed that silence and even embraced it. That complete silence is something that I did not realize was needed and beneficial. That focus becomes easier and easier as the weekend progresses. I came to new understandings and decided that I need to try this “silent disconnect” from the world.
We can not always get away for a weekend or even a full day let alone a week but try to do it at home for a few hours. Turn everything off. Ignore it all or if you feel you can not do it at home then go for a walk or sit by a lake or the ocean. Turn off the phone and just sit and allow the silence to take over. Focus on God. Talk to Him. Ask Him questions. Seek and look deep into your soul. What do you see? Any seeds that are taking root?
Retreating from the World will give our Soul the chance to repair, heal and grow. Our connection to God, Jesus, Holy Spirit and the faith will grow and strengthen. Find a retreat and take that chance if you never went on one.Try out the different ones and see what ones fit and work best for you and in you.
Until tomorrow, God Bless, and take some time and be silent with our God.