As your summer begins, please enjoy this free excerpt from my first book, "Come Away by Yourselves":
Here we come to an important point: the retreat for a layman is slightly mystical by nature – it must call upon a special grace from God. This is so because this retreat often must happen unplanned, or spontaneously; it often must be very brief: a dive into spiritual intimacy in five minutes. What I mean is: the best way for a layman to retreat, when he has no time to go away on a formal retreat, is to “sneak away.” Consider that this is what Our Lord had to do for Himself and His Apostles.
Let’s look at the Gospel of St. Mark:
Notice what happened. They were all tired, and their energies spent, and in need of some quiet time together with the Lord. However, the demands of their vocation interrupted them. The only time they had in quiet with Our Lord was on the boat ride headed to their retreat. When they arrived at their “lonely place,” the people were waiting for them, needy and seeking them.
Two responses are given by Our Lord when His retreat is quickly ended. First, accepting the situation, “he had compassion on them” and “he began to teach them many things.” Second, He empowered His Apostles, who were themselves interrupted by their “children” when they had sought a retreat, enabling them to perform a miracle, with Him, and feed five thousand people.
These two responses teach us that we must constantly seek to get away to a lonely place to rest awhile with Our Lord, and that we must also be ready for that quiet time to be interrupted. Further, it teaches us that, despite the brevity of the retreat, and the suddenness of the interruption, Our Lord will be with us in that moment, and will remain with us after the retreat, to such an extent that He can perform miracles for us within our vocation.
This gives an answer to why we need to retreat. It shows that these times of retreat, even very brief ones, are still times of true intimacy with the all-powerful and all-loving Lord. This same Lord is outside of time, and can work within our lives in ways that we cannot even imagine.
If we sneak away with Him often, He can then calm the storms in our hearts, and thus in our homes. He can help us with the chaos of a busy home filled with children. He can teach us how to rest with Him and drop our excessive worries. He can help us to see that we impose on ourselves too many unnecessary burdens, which can be put down. He can help us to see that, despite our tight budgets, it is still possible to give to others with great generosity. Our Lord, who will not be outdone in generosity, will reward our efforts, and bless His beloved children.
Spread the word! We're still one of the "little guys" out there!
May God bless you and protect you.