Monday, May 28, 2012


As our Archdiocesan priests (most of them, anyway) prepare for our annual retreat at Manresa Retreat Center outside Convent, LA this week, I think a reflection on the meaning of this kind of exercise is worthwhile.

I have a friend from college days (we recently re-connected via Facebook) who thinks that we should never make "retreats" unless it's for the purpose of "re-loading"!  There is much to this insight, I think.  The word "retreat" sounds like running away; "re-loading" (or, perhaps even better, "re-charging") carries the connotation of only being out of the action for a brief respite, rather like the time in one's corner before the bell rings and it's time for "Round 10" of the boxing match. 

This kind of respite is important for physical and psychological as well as spiritual reasons.  It gives us a chance to enjoy the fraternity of one another's company in prayer and socialization (many of us are by default "Lone Rangers" as the sole priests of parishes, perhaps also geographically isolated from the others of our presbytery).   It restores our enthusiasm for the Lord and our ministry in His Name through the conferences offered by our retreat masters (think of the famous "Win One For The Gipper" speech from Knute Rockne, All-American).  There is time for reading, writing, more sustained prayer, physical exercise or just naps that simply don't exist on a regular or systematic basis in day-to-day parish life. 

Before being ordained as a deacon, a priest or a bishop, the Church's canon law requires the candidate to make a 5-day retreat.  It would be nice if we could make this annual gathering a 5-day retreat, as well.  But we'll take the 2 1/2 days we get and be thankful for them.

Most of us will return from Manresa late Thursday and need to hit the ground running again, with funerals, weddings, ordinations...  And we will.  This time away will make us that much more ready to do this, for God's glory and the building up of His Kingdom in the parishes where we minister. 

Please pray for us--we will be lifting up all the members of the parishes of our Archdiocese while we are away, in a special way in the chapel pictured above.

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