Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I write to you as I prepare to leave for my annual retreat, and you will read this after I have returned. Thus, I am anticipating with great hope a peaceful week of spiritual renewal. While that is the most noble and good thing I can hope for, my past experience with retreats has also taught me that it isn’t always so easy. Sometimes the Lord takes advantage of time on retreat to challenge me, expand my spiritual discipline, or simply asks me to be present with Him. There are many things that go into a retreat being good: for me, the chapel needs to be conducive to quiet prayer and contemplation, and the food has to be good. If I’m distracted by a chapel I don’t like, my mind is wandering. If I’m hungry, my mind is definitely not on conversation with God!
The most important aspect of retreat, though, is making oneself available to the Lord. If I’m resisting his call, or not taking advantage of the time given for prayer, I’m allowing a graced opportunity to pass me by. This is true outside of retreat, as well! The Lord is constantly inviting us to be with Him, to walk with Him, to grow in His grace. If we neglect prayer, or put off making changes to our spiritual or moral discipline, we miss a graced opportunity to grow in God’s love. Just as we need a place to live and food to eat, and just as we need a place to pray and the spiritual food given to us in the Eucharist, so we need to give God permission to access our hearts, so we need to make ourselves docile to the promptings of the Holy Spirit in prayer.
I know that no matter what happened this week, God was at work. No matter how well or poorly I cooperated with the Lord, the retreat belonged to Him. So do we. Let us remember whose we are, and that the good Lord has created us for eternity with Him in heaven.