Because I had scheduled to be a retreat director next week I will not be at Transfiguration parish on Sundays, August 6 or 13. While I was serving as Retreat Director in Easton, Pa. I made these plans without knowing about my new assignment here. The community for which I am presenting this retreat is the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart in Center Valley, Pa. It is a week-long retreat. I will return to this parish on Monday, August 14.
Retreats are special times of prayer, presentation input, and discussions that focus on our spiritual life, that is, our relationship with God and with the human family. In our post-modern society which is full of “busy-ness” and noise we find it difficult to engage in quiet and prayerful leisure time. And we find there is little silence available to let this inner work take place. The Sabbath rest mode of living has gradually seeped out of our social structure and interactions and we are left with the tension and stress arising from days of multi-tasking and restlessly moving from one activity to another, often having to speed from one venue to another.
We all need the Sabbath rest, which is more than merely sleeping later on Sunday morning. What we need for healthy bodily and emotional life is the leisure to just stop and be quiet in order to re-collect ourselves and be grateful. Such leisure gives us the inspiration and motivation to give praise and thanks to God for who we are and what we have been given. Psalm 46, verse 11 says it this way: “Desist! And confess that I am God…” Only in stillness and silence can we do the “inner work” of coming to know ourselves while discovering and discerning our relationship with God. Another way of expressing this human need is seen in Matthew 6:5-6. We see there that prayer is not mainly about words and rituals; it is about going to our “inner room” (the deep recesses of our heart) and listening to and conversing with our Heavenly Father.
There are a number of opportunities available to help us in this journey of faith. Among these opportunities are spiritual retreats, reflective reading, and spiritual direction. More immediately we can just STOP, SIT BACK, AND IN THE SPACE OF SILENCE try to “remember and be grateful.” Call it meditation, contemplation, or prayer of the heart, such time will generate serenity and peace into our weary and worried lives.