We were blessed to make our annual retreat at St. Benedict's Abbey in Still River, MA. The Abbey boasts a spectacular view of the rolling hills and plentiful, lush trees in the valley, (just beginning to display their splendid array of fall hues) inviting the soul to contemplate the wonders of our God.
A retreat is actually an old practice. Before Our Lord began His public ministry, He spent 40 days in the desert praying and fasting as a way to prepare for the important work ahead (see Lk 4:1-13). Those were days of retreat. Sometimes Jesus Himself would suggest that His disciples partake in a retreat, as He says: "come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while" (Mk 6:31).
On retreat, we seek to be alone with God in order to hear what He has to say to us. Often, the yearly retreat provides special graces to make a deeper examination of conscience, which moves the soul to a more profound contrition. Souls sometimes seek to make a general confession of their entire life -- renouncing pride, envy, lust and jealousy -- and so open their souls to the redeeming graces of Christ.
A retreat refreshes and revitalizes the soul and it allows for more time to be spent in prayer and contemplation, and rekindles and deepens one’s relationship with God. One may take this opportunity to more clearly hear God’s call and to seek God’s healing grace and thereby attain a degree of spiritual renewal. This time alone with God facilitates the ongoing conversion of heart that is critical to deepening faith. The Catholic Encyclopedia describes the necessity of such retreats: “In the fever and agitation of modern life, the need of meditation and spiritual repose impresses itself on Christian souls who desire to reflect on their eternal destiny, and direct their life in this world towards God.”
So, if you have never been on a retreat, or it has been a long time, why not consider embarking on a spiritual journey to bring you closer to the Heart of Christ. Entrust your retreat to Our Blessed Mother and She will shower many graces upon you and will help deepen your relationship with Her Divine Son.