BEAT A RETREAT
I mentioned in my most recent post that the bishops of dioceses from Wilmington, Delaware to Miami, Florida would be gathering for their annual retreat at Our Lady of Florida Retreat Center in North Palm Beach beginning tomorrow, January 5th. It is an annual opportunity and this year I will be in attendance. There are basically two types of retreats available to persons interested in taking them. With a note of over-simplification they can be described as “preached” or “directed.” But I am getting ahead of myself somewhat.
A retreat is an opportunity to “go away” to a peaceful place for prayer and meditation. Prayer is a daily part of one’s life, yours and mine, but sometimes we need to remove ourselves from the circumstances in which we live our lives (the office, the schedule, the family, the spouse, the routine, etc.) to seek out a place of peace and serenity where we may come into special contact with our God. Throughout the United States and in every diocese in Florida, there are to be found retreat houses, places that work hard to provide the best space for prayer and meditation. In this diocese, we have been gifted with places like the Franciscan Renewal Center in Tampa, St.Leo’s in Pasco County, and the Clearwater House of Prayer. Now there is also the Bethany Center. The Trappist Monks of Gethsemanee in Kentucky, Conyers in Georgia, and Mepkin in South Carolina along with the Jesuits have made their places centers for retreats for decades.
Once one has chosen the space, a decision must be made about the type or nature of the retreat one would like to experience. Now we get to the different types of retreats: directed and preached. A “directed” retreat is one in which the retreatent meets with a director for at least one hour a day (sometimes more often) and the director suggests readings and meditation materials for the day to help the person on retreat grow in their spiritual life. It is individually tailored to the needs of the person making the retreat, is usually silent with no talking to others, watching television or listening to the radio – just you, your director and God. The daily celebration of Eucharist is at the heart of each day. Meals while taken in common are silent.
A “preached” retreat differs in that all making the retreat have the same director who gives several talks each day usually on a certain topic for several days. Talking is usually allowed and the efficacy of this form of retreat usually hinges more on the ability of the retreat master than the hard work of the individual retreatant. Nonetheless, even a “preached” retreat can be salutary if it is conducted in a serene and special place.
Finally, St. Ignatius of Loyola is often seen as the epitome of constructing retreats reflecting the “directed” approach as he laid out for his society (the Jesuits) a rich program of eight and thirty day retreat experiences which proceed along sound and well developed spiritual lines.
The bishops of the southeastern parts of the U.S. will be beginning a “preached” retreat Monday evening given by Father Stephen Rossetti, Your prayers for us will be gratefully received. It would be wonderful, indeed, if more of our Catholic people could find the time in their busy lives to “go away and pray for a while.”