I’m just back from a 4 day silent retreat at St. Catherine’s Renewal Centre in Grand Falls-Windsor NL. Retreats, especially silent retreats, are great gifts. There is a long tradition in the church of the need to get away, to retreat temporarily from the world. Just last sunday the Gospel reading told of how even Jesus needed to get away from the craziness of life. “In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed” (Mark 1:35). From there Jesus went back to his work of proclaiming the Kingdom of God.
From there all the way down to the present faithful Christians have sought the refreshment and renewal of the retreat. For some, like St. Anthony of Egypt (pictured above) it was the desert. For others it was the cloister or maybe the cabin to commune with nature. This practice seemed to have faded somewhat in the modern era, but thankfully it is making a return. In a world that is so busy and fast-paced the need to get away to pray is paramount. In this age of hyper-connectivity it is easy to get disconnected. If you haven’t done so before I encourage you to try a retreat. Places like St. Catherine’s or the Renewal Centre in Conception Harbour provide great spaces for retreats. Perhaps you want a guided retreat where someone provides talks to a community retreat. Perhaps you just need to get away by yourself. At St. Mark’s we have done a parish retreat and plan to do another in the Spring. Stay tuned for details.