A RETREAT - What, Why and How of it?

(Rev. Fr. Munduvel V. George)

A retreat is a spiritual exercise consisting of rest, thought, prayer and renewal. Very often we get unconsciously corrupted in the hurly-burly of daily existence like a chimney which gets darkened by particles of smoke. Hence the Lord beckons us unto Himself saying, "Come ye apart and rest a while." We ought to leave all other studies or occupations to enjoy the inestimable joy of the presence of the Master. How right was David when he prayed to God and praised Him saying, "In thy presence is the fullness of joy and at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore" (Ps. 16:11).

The Call to Retreat is found in many passages in the Scriptures like the following: "O Children, how long will you love childishness: and fools covet those things which are hurtful to themselves and the unwise hate knowledge? (Turn) Give heed to my reproof, behold I will pour out my thoughts to you, I will make my words known to you." Meditate on each phrase of the above quotation and be not only willing but also anxious to correct your ways according to His words to you.

................ is of paramount importance. The Lord can ............ to Him and we cannot listen if we talk all the .............. is essential beyond measure to observe as much silence as possible while in Retreat. It is significant to note that the Temple of Jerusalem went up, not in noisy work but in silent and steady work. "Neither hammer, nor axe, nor any tool of voice was heard in the temple while it was being built" (1 Kings 6: 7). "Be still and know that I am God", invites the Master.

The Purpose of Retreat is to know the will of God about us and to consecrate ourselves wholly to His will in all things private and public. In the words of St. Paul, we should "bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ" (II Cor. 10: 5). There may be many nooks and corners of our life still kept for ourselves. In Retreat the Holy Spirit will point out such things to us and we must be willing to obey Him even if it be a Cross. Bear the Cross and wear the crown.

Self examination is a very important part of Retreat. Let us join the Psalmist and pray, "Search me, O God, and know my heart,! Try me and know my thoughts; and see if there be any wicked way in me and lead me in the way everlasting" (Ps. 139:23f). Again he says, "I consider the days of old, I remember the years long ago. I commune with my heart in the night; I meditate and search my spirit (Ps. 77: 5f). Please keep a note-book and pencil to note down the results of your self-examination. After your confession and Holy Qurbana tear off the paper in which you had written your list of sins and short comings and an indication of your faith that the Lord has completely blotted out your iniquities.

Ejaculatory Prayers will be a great help for your Retreat. A few sample prayers are given below which you may pray again and again with thorough concentration and earnestness: (1) Lord, thou hast given me a soul capable of knowing and loving Thee; I return it to Thee; not adorned with the grace and virtue that Thou bestowedst on it in baptism, but covered with the scars and wounds of sin; cure it, O heavenly Physician, and restore it to its pristine life and beauty (2) Lord, I offer Thee my understanding; enlighten it with Thy brightest light; enlighten my eyes lest I sleep in death" (3) Lord, I offer Thee my memory; blot out from it the remembrance of all evil and leave in it only the memory of Thy mercies to bless them and my sins to weep for them. "Lord I offer Thee my heart, change it by Thy grace; Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. (4) Lord, I offer to Thee the senses of my body, and powers of my soul my whole being: dispose of them for my salvation and for Thy greater glory through the salvation of many others. I have put my trust in Thee O Lord; I have said, Thou art my God, my lot is in Thy hand."

Finally may I urge you not to hide anything from ..................... (Read Paslm 32). Make certain Retreat Resolutions and ............ to abide by those decisions with the help of the Holy Spirit. Confess and Communicate regularly. Read your Bible constantly for spiritual nurture. Have a small secret Cell Group where two or there gather together in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ regularly and agree in whatsoever they pray for. Pray for peace in the Church. May you enjoy your retreat and be benefitted by it like Moses on Mount Sinai, Elijah on Carmel, John the Baptist in the wilderness, St. Paul in Arabia, and Peter, John and James on the Mount of Transfiguration.