My wife and I went on a spiritual retreat recently with a group of other Benedictine oblates at St. Leo Abbey in Florida,. Location and directions. The Friday to Sunday retreat was the best one we have had, but each one has been better than the last, no doubt a function of how we prepare and being more receptive while there.
If you have not been on a spiritual retreat, here are four reason to go:
A. Structured spiritual instruction from a wise teacher. Virtually all group spiritual retreats will offer a program of classes. Sometimes all classes will be about one theme. Sometimes the classes cover different topics. At the monastery we visit, the oblate retreats are led by the abbot whose classes of about 90 minutes each (called conferences) are all about a central topic . This gives a good immersion into the ideas and insights. But even when we are on a private retreat by ourselves without any group, my wife and I have picked our own topics and do our own studying.
B. Divine Office. Participating in the divine office with a monastic community on their schedule is something that cannot be experienced anywhere except in a monastery.
We can study on our own and talk with other oblates, but having the entire day structured in community is available only in a monastic community.
We were on our recent retreat when the USA changed its clocks from daylight saving time to standard time. However the biggest change in time zones was the change we made when we arrived on Friday in the afternoon. That’s when we went on “Monastic Standard Time.” The sense of time in relation to prayer is different at a monastery. This unique relation of life to time found at a monastery is the best reason to visit a monastery even for day trips when you can’t spend the night. Spending a good part of a day on monastic time is a unique experience.
C. Rest. Everyone can instantly see the benefit in this. Many people go on retreat and just want to sleep. Most everyone takes at least one nap between sessions. Not being engaged in your full work life for a few days is the third good reason to start planning your next retreat.
D. Other Oblates. Listening to the comments and questions from the other oblates is a special benefit of the retreat. Talking with other people who have similar spiritual interests is always an encouragement. Learn about a good book. Be encouraged by their enthusiasm.
Here’s where to find a location for your next retreat. Find a retreat location. Get ready to change your watch.
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