The commotion of daily life can be very overwhelming and consuming at times. Our society today is so focused on the use of technology and keeping everything at a very fast pace. With this being said, it can be easy to lose sight of what is most important in this life; Christ and our relationship with Him. When I notice this begin to happen in my own life, I know it is time for a retreat.
A retreat is a time to just get away from the hustle and bustle of your daily routine and to go spend some time in prayer with the Lord. Usually a retreat is held at a place you do not go often and away from your normal environment. Of course, if you cannot make it out of your normal environment, a retreat can be done basically anywhere. Before entering seminary, I would partake in about 4 retreats per year with my parish’s youth and young adult groups.
Over this winter break, I went on a retreat in Elverson, PA, with my young adult group at St. Mary of Providence Retreat Center. This was a weekend long retreat and the theme of the retreat was suffering and the will of God. During the retreat we heard a couple talks on people’s different experiences of suffering and seeing the will of God within the suffering. This weekend also included small group discussions, daily mass, Eucharistic adoration, community meals, and a lot of bonding time between the group. There were about 35 young adults in attendance from ages 18 to 28.
This retreat could not have come at a more perfect time for me. After a refreshing and relaxing winter break, it was time for me to sit back and give thanks and refocus my heart and mind on the Lord. This retreat also brought healing to our group as well. After losing our beloved friend and youth group member Zech Hardy a year ago, his sister Rebekah, gave a beautiful witness talk on how the suffering from that has impacted her faith in a beautiful way. A lot of people on this retreat knew Zech personally, so to hear this talk, cry together, embrace each other, and pray with each other was something so special and comforting.
On this retreat, I had the privilege of being with some of my fellow brother seminarians as well, so to be able to pray the liturgy of the hours in a community setting was a blessing. This retreat not only gave me the break I needed from the world, but it also prepared me for the spring semester ahead of me. I was able to get my prayer life on track and to clear my mind of any worries or stress that were weighing down on me.
Retreats are a great experience and always refreshing, I highly recommend for everyone to take at least one retreat during the year to get that recharge on their spiritual life. It is always a good idea to shut the phone down for a little bit and to fall back from the craziness of everyday life and to give the time that is due to our Lord. Not only will you feel great afterwards, but the Lord will give you the strength and graces needed to tackle the things to come in your life. As the new semester begins, please remember to continue to pray for our seminarians and an increase in vocations to the Camden Diocese. God bless!