As you read this, I am in my 8-day annual silence retreat (and if you could say a prayer for me, I would be very grateful!).
Every time I confess to the people that I have the privilege of spending eight splendid days with Jesus every year, I often receive envious looks. Especially mothers with many children. And I really understand. But before you idealizes my life, remember that every vocation has its pros and cons. (I’m not going to review now the cons of living with other 80 women, but I think you can get an idea).
In any case, let’s get to the point. Most people who strikes me with eyes of envy do not imagine that withdrawals, in fact, are also available to lay people. Seriously. If you take a day or a half day to the month of retirement (or even a couple of hours!), it will help you in your spiritual life. Maybe you’re thinking, “Yes, but what’s half a day compared to eight?” But God does not stop at these minutiae.
If you spend half your time changing diapers, God will not limit the grace that offers you just because you don’t have the luxury of being able to dedicate tons of time exclusively to him. San Ignacio, creator of the spiritual exercises used in many retreats, said that an hour of prayer in a cave in Manresa had taught him more about the mysteries of God “than what he could have learned from all the doctors in the schools.” One hour, ladies and gentlemen.
So it’s really worth looking for the time for a “mini retreat” this month. Even if it’s only one morning. If you have time to watch Netflix several times a week or to watch your phone during what will end up being several years of your life (uncle… I have to stop embobarme so much with the mobile), then you do have time for a mini retreat!
Here are five steps you can follow for a home retreat:
- Turn off the phone: I mean it. Unless you are a guard surgeon or there is a real emergency possibility, anyone can disconnect from the phone for at least half a day. Keep the mobile in the glove compartment of the car if it has to be at hand; If not, you’d better leave it at home. Likewise, stay away from email, computers, tablets, radio… As much as you can, you have to look for real silence in the short period of time you have to dedicate it to God. Because he speaks to us in silence.
- Start the day by going to mass: the perfect start for any retreat. If you can be in church a little before mass begins, take advantage to read the Gospel of the day and pray with it before Mass. Since you have cleared your morning time, try to participate in the mass in a contemplative way. Avoid thinking about future tasks. Ask your guardian angel to help you concentrate. When you receive the Eucharist, ask Jesus to grant you all the grace of a good retreat.
- Go to Eucharistic Adoration: If you can attend Mass in a parish that also has a chapel for Eucharistic adoration, it would be ideal, because after mass you can pass to the chapel and devote an extra time of prayer. You may not have much time to pray this way, so use your time well. Soak of Jesus. Ask him to grant you the Graces and understanding to feel the revitalization, conversion, transformation after this brief withdrawal time.
- Take a walk with the rosary: I am a great enthusiast of the ways of the Rosary. I love them! After some time of prayer in the morning, go to a nearby park or a picturesque place where you do not bother and take a walk praying the rosary slowly, in meditation. If you like to take pictures, stop occasionally to capture some beautiful image. or write a short poem. Then he retakes the Rosary prayer.
- Try to hollow out three prayer periods: if you’re going to make a half-day retreat, give it all. Pray for as long as you can. You may have doubts, but it’s not really as hard as it looks. Divide your prayer in periods of 45 minutes (but you don’t worry to have to keep it strictly). Meanwhile, try writing in the diary, to do a spiritual reading or just to have a cup of coffee looking out the window. If you do not see yourself able to do your prayer periods in a church, then choose a quiet place and away from others. My mother dedicated a dresser of the house exclusively for prayer and when young I always knew that I should not disturb her if I was in the “Praying room”. If you can’t find a space like that in your house, try to isolate yourself in a prayer chapel, a church sanctuary or maybe a park or a beach.
There are many other things you could do during a day or half retreat. The ones here are just a few ideas. But don’t get obsessed with the details. What really matters is finding a time of silence alone with God.
Don’t give him more laps.
If you are able to make a hole at this time of isolation, you will not regret it. In fact, book a while right now on your calendar!
(and pray another prayer for me, for it to pass a good retreat. I also have you all in my prayers!)