Once, there was a highly educated and refined woman, who wanted to become more spiritual. She began attending Eucharist almost every day. She was very happy when attending the meetings with those who also shared her Faith. The opportunity presented itself to attend a retreat at a nearby retreat house. She thought about it but was so busy. “I have so many appointments to keep and places to go that I just don’t have time to go, as much as I think it would help my spiritual life.” The time came and went for the retreat and the woman was soon thrust back into her routine of making money and trying to seek real happiness. She lost track of God.
There was another young woman who attended that same Faith group. When the priest was describing how much benefit he received from making a contemplative retreat at the Monastery, she was intrigued by his description of the effects of silence and solitude. She had no life experiences to relate to what he was saying, but she cleared her nursing schedule ahead of time so that she could attend the four days of prayer and silence. She thought to herself, “How can I make it four days without watching television or her iPhone?” The time came and went for the retreat and she returned to her Faith community where they asked her, “What was it like to come apart from the hateful news, the mindless television shows, and focus just on growing the capacity for Christ in your heart?” “I can’t describe it fully,” she said, ” but when she completed her time with Christ, she thought that she had no idea all the happiness and peace that would flood her mind and heart.”
I am struck by those two stories above because we are having a retreat at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit (Trappist) Conyers, Georgia, this next week in August, and these are the two choices that people seem to make when confronted by making a contemplative retreat or not. There are always a thousand reasons NOT to attend but only one good one to attend–that Christ will increase in you the capacity to have in you the mind of Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5) and you will decrease.
One of the temptations of Christ was that, if people only knew who you were and the tremendous power and happiness, they could receive by being one with you, they would worship you and fall on their faces in adoration. God chose to work through nature and natural events instead of by divine intervention. I can just imagine Christ holding in all his emotions when he knew what was in store for all humans who have become adopted sons and daughters of the Father.
1 Corinthians 2:9 But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him”— Those who do not know the benefits of making a contemplative retreat can’t imagine what it is like. It is only by passing through this experience with Christ that you can look back and exclaim, “I had no idea.”
Pray for us on this retreat as we ask the Holy Spirit to fill out hearts with divine love as we move from self to God.