Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of April 30, 2007
Retreat can draw one closer to the Lord
Summer can be the right time for deeper solitude and prayer
By RAMON GONZALEZ
- WCR photo by Ramon Gonzalez
Patrick Stewart takes time for prayer and reflection in a poustinia at the Marian Centre.
At the Star of the North "we have a little private chapel in front of the Blessed Sacrament so you can set up a rhythm of your whole day and just go to pray when you want, walk when you want, sleep when you want, eat when you want," Prather said.
Kelly says a private retreat can be made wherever silence and solitude is possible: a retreat centre, a lake cottage or even camping. Some people can have successful retreats in their own homes but this may not work for everybody.
"If you stay in your home, often the temptation is to answer the phone or get that letter out of the way or what have you. It's too easy to be distracted," Kelly said.
"I would recommend people, if they want a little bit more structure, to go for a day to a retreat centre because their meals are looked after and there is a chapel, there is quiet space, there is a place to walk around."
Providence Renewal Centre, 3005-119 St., offers private retreats year-round but Lynnell Prediger, the program director, said summer is the best time "because we usually have a lot of room here so it is easier for people to get in for a private retreat."
"Private retreats are basically for people who need some time away or a time to be (alone) with God" and Providence has the facilities to accommodate them, she said.
People can make a retreat for as long as they want, although most people will stay just for a weekend, Prediger said. "Some people will come for a longer retreat like seven or eight days."
Providence recently opened a new area in the building for sabbaticals so people can come for anywhere from a month to a year. This area has five bedrooms, each with its own bath, kitchen, small mediation room and laundry facilities.
Some people would benefit from having a spiritual director guide them during their retreat.
"If a person isn't used to taking time on retreat, it is helpful to have a spiritual director give a little bit of a structure to it because otherwise a whole day on your own in the quiet can seem like forever," Kelly noted.
"A spiritual director can say you can do this or try that. But people who are used to doing this sometimes say all they need is just to have the quiet place."
People can get spiritual direction for as little as $25 a day and retreat centres usually provide their clients with a list of directors to choose from.
People who make a private retreat usually set their own agenda.
"Some people come and it's just a time for them to rest, that's a big thing, be on your own schedule and walk, pray, read and listen to (inspirational) music," Prather said.
"They bring spiritual readings that they have been wanting to do or if there are things they have been wanting to work on in their spiritual life, they'll come and they'll spend time reflecting on that," said Prediger. "A lot of people do journaling; few get more in touch with their inner self. If they see a spiritual director the spiritual director will often recommend readings for them or prayer forms that they may want to try."
In addition to private retreats Providence offers a lot of different kinds of retreats in the summer. At the end of June they offer what Prediger calls a "silent directed retreat," which is a group retreat where participants can spend time on their own following the group sessions. In July Providence offers an icon writing retreat and a Centering Prayer retreat.
The Start of the North ceased offering guided retreats three or four years ago because they found it hard to get spiritual directors, which are necessary for these types of retreats.
The Marian Centre, 10528-98 St., has rooms available for poustinia in addition to a small house next door for prayer and retreat. The rooms are available for free to the 10 members of Madonna House as well as to the general public.
Going into poustinia is good for the soul if it's done seriously. "If we do this seriously, I think it helps us do the other things we have to do in life better," Stewart said. "You are a little more focused, you are certainly rested a bit, our relationship with the Lord is a little deepened, you discover his love for us which makes it a little easier for us to love others and be more patient with others."
People who have taken private retreats at the Star of the North write messages for others in little notebooks provided for that purpose. They all talk about feeling in touch, relaxed, renewed and peaceful and they all promise to come back. A beautifully decorated suite at the Star of the North is $42 a day and $60 a day with three meals. Ordinary bedrooms go for $31 a day and $49 with meals.
For a private retreat Providence Renewal Centre charges $30 a day for the room. If you want the meal package, it is an additional $27.
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