Retreats – What is a Retreat?/ Week of Directed Prayer

Retreats – What is a Retreat?/ Week of Directed Prayer

What is A Reteat?

A retreat is an extended time, a weekend, week or even a month, to grow closer to God.  In military terms the word ‘retreat’ generally means withdrawal.  So too in spiritual terms a retreat normally means time out from ones normal busy routine often spent in a retreat house or monastery offering a variety of retreats eg silent or not with an assortment of themes.  One particular form of retreat, which can take place over a number of days, with its origins in St Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises is a one-to-one individually directed retreat.  In this form of retreat the person making the retreat is accompanied/companioned for the days of the retreat by a Spiritual Director/Spiritual Guide.   This form of retreat can also take place in the midst of everyday life when it is given the name Retreat in Daily Life/Busy Person’s Retreat/Week of Directed Prayer.  In this instance those making the retreat are asked to commit to half-an-hour in prayer each day and also to meet for up to half-an-hour each day with a spiritual director/guide who will accompany you and guide you using appropriate passages from scripture.  The director/guide will also help with advice on how to pray as necessary or requested.  When these retreats take place in the context of a parish they usually begin and end with a meeting of the whole group of both retreatants and directors setting the tone for the week ahead, gathering the fragments at the end and emphasising the communal dimension of what will be a personal and unique journey for each one.  Often they can also be the catalyst for other new initiatives in the parish community.

  Some comments from people who have made the Week of Directed Prayer include:   ‘I felt that I was in the light all week’   ‘I would definitely do this again’   ‘I never knew that the gospel could speak to my life’   ‘I could not leave the bible down’   ‘I understand things better.  This has helped me a lot’   ‘I’m telling my friends to do it’   ‘I am going to continue taking time for myself to pray every day because it has helped me’   ‘I really enjoyed my time with my prayer guide.  I looked forward to it every day’