What is a Retreat ?



A retreat is a withdrawal from ordinary activities for a period of time to commune with God in prayer and reflection. Jesus spent forty days in the desert in prayer and fasting before entering his public ministry. In the early Christian era, the desert, mountains and other remote areas provided places for prayer. Later, people sought solitude in monasteries and convents. In the late 16th century, retreat houses were established and continue to operate today. The liturgical season of Lent with its emphasis on prayer, fasting and almsgiving prepares us for the celebration of Easter. Lent is regarded as a forty day retreat for the whole church.

A retreat might be designed around a theme of scripture or some spiritual writing that seems suited to the needs of the individuals involved. The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola enable retreatants to consider creation, repentance for sin and redemption. They contemplate the life of Christ, his passion and resurrection. Through prayer and discernment they come to a realization of and surrender to God's great plan of salvation in Christ. This structure follows the three traditional ways of spiritual growth: the purgative, the illuminative, and the unitive way.

Another form of retreat is based on the daily Scripture readings assigned in the Lectionary of the Roman Missal. Some make charismatic retreats opening themselves to the gifts of the Spirit. In Cursillos an overview of the Catholic way of life is given, and community is formed.

There are three general formats for retreats: preached, directed, and private. In a preached retreat, there is a leader who offers conferences each day, leads prayer and is available for private counseling. In directed retreats, each person meets with a spiritual director who may suggest scripture passages for prayer and reflection. Private retreats are made without a leader or director.

In most retreats, some degree of silence is maintained and there is an emphasis on the practice of a healthful lifestyle in regard to food, relaxation, and exercise. Many enter a retreat in order to make a serious decision or commitment, or to take the opportunity to examine the quality of their spiritual lives. Retreatants hope for a deeper conversion, purification, and spiritual growth.

The Retreat was popularised in Catholicism by the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), whose founder, St. Ignatius of Loyola, as a layman began, in the 1520s, directing others in making (participating in) the exercises. Another form the Exercises came in, which became known as the nineteenth "Observation", 'allowed continuing one's ordinary occupations with the proviso of setting aside a few hours a day for this special purpose.' The spiritual exercises were intended for people wanting to live closer to God's will for their life.

We at Tabor conduct four day residentail retreats in diferrent languages as per schedule announced in advance. Look up our calendar for details of our retreats.