Retreats & Other Spiritual Adventures…

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A Catholic MP has revealed that a month’s retreat helped her in her decision to quit politics. Read more

It’s a very long time since I’ve been on retreat. What about you?

If you’d like to tell us about any retreat in which you’ve participated, we’d be most interested.

Similarly, if you would like to share other spiritual helps, prayers, poems, devotions, novenas, video lectures, whatever, you are welcome to do so on this thread.

I’ve made a point, as editor of Catholic Truth, of not taking it upon myself to lecture others in matters of the spiritual life – it would take all of 3 seconds, so no point !

We begin our conversation, therefore, with the clear understanding that the only “experts” are the great saints and mystics, such as Teresa of Avila, whose writings have helped souls down the centuries to deepen their relationship with God.

With a view to deepening our own relationship with God, then, let’s share the writings and other spiritual treasures which have helped us to date.

Click on the image to find The Way of Perfection – a classic of the spiritual life – available in various formats.

31 responses

  1. Well, I for one have never been on a retreat. I was invited to one at Greygarth, the Opus Dei Centre at Manchester, but I didn’t for a reason that I can’t recall at present. However, I will use the air time to voice my admiration for Ms Teather, who remained a loyal daughter of the Church in the face of secularist evil, and had the courage to vote against homosexual marriage, unlike many of her ‘catholic’ colleagues. We should pray for her whatever she does.

    • CC1,

      Visit this link for information on your first retreat:

      http://sspx.co.uk/page_retreats.htm

      There are also Recollections.

      I would very strongly recommend you, if you have not already done it, to consecrate yourself to the Blessed Virgin Mary. This link leads to a very helpful guide which also includes the Preparation process:

      http://www.carmel-books.org/true-devotion-to-mary-with-preparation-for-total-consecration-p-88.html

      It will change you perceptibly.

    • Catholic Convert,

      I wonder if you know to avoid the Jesuit retreats that Sarah Teather went on? They are full of the kind of things, like guided meditations, that are really not healthy, always make me think of mind control. I was involved in one once and didn’t like it at all.

      I also think that Ms Teather should spend her final year as a Lib-Dem working to end the abortion law. That’s more important than immigration.

      • I agree about the mind control. The retreat houses these days offer eastern type meditations and no Catholic should have any truck with them.

        At one time, parishes regularly ran men’s and women’s retreats. It would be good to see them return.

      • Lily,

        Please could you describe one of these ‘guided meditations’ in greater detail? I have some Opus Dei friends, would you recommend there retreats?

        Does the SSPX not engage in what could be construed as mind control on it’s retreats?

        • CC1,

          I thought mind-control was all about the use of the media such as television and the Press to influence the minds of the masses. For example, that homosexuality is simply a harmless alternative life-style, or that murdering an unborn child is all right as long as you refer to the child as an embryo and to the murder as a termination.

          All Catholics have a duty to learn as much about the Faith as they can, and attending Retreats given by Traditional Catholic priests, such as are to be found amongst the ranks of the SSPX, is a highly commendable way of achieving that objective. This is the voluntary acquisition of spiritual knowledge, as opposed to subliminal indoctrination via the Press and TV.

          Faith is defined as:”The adherence of the intellect to the Truth revealed by the Word of God” and it is at Retreats that this Truth is revealed. It is a million miles away from the mind control that you might find in cults such as Scientology or the Moonies.

          Please dismiss any connection in your thoughts between learning about the Faith at a Retreat, on the one hand, and having your mind controlled on the other hand.

          • leprechaun,

            I only mentioned mind control because the retreat the MP was on was run by the Jesuits and they use a lot of the eastern religion type of meditations which is like you’re almost hypnotised. Someone is speaking about maybe a description of a landscape, soft music will be playing in the background and you are being told to empty your mind. The trouble is then what it’s being filled with.

            I have to say I’ve never experienced anything like this but a friend mentioned it and said she’s seen it done. It doesn’t sound healthy and it’s another example of how the old has to go and the new has to come in. What was wrong with the way retreats used to be. when you got Mass, confession, benediction, spiritual reading during the meals, you could use the library to get books and go for walks or use the chapel to pray and read. I have not been on many retreats, maybe one or two, but loved them. I have no interest in the retreats run by the Jesuits. I see them advertised and think, no thanks.

            Catholic Convert 1,

            I’m sorry I missed your question which I think I’ve answered here.

    • You should certainly take up the chance for an Opus Dei retreat. They really are excellent and truly well formed, holy men.

  2. What a lovely thread !

    My own favourite spiritual reading is the Autobiography of St Therese – The Story of a Soul.

    Her “Little Way” is to offer up all the small things that irk us and so on, as they are pleasing gifts to God.

    It sounds easy but is not so easy. The saint said that it gets easier with practice.

  3. One of the things I like to do from time to time is watch a Fulton Sheen video. His talks are great and very humorous, but full of spiritual advice that is really helpful.

  4. What’s the virtue called that makes Saints tough? They’re steadfast and brave. I would think it’s the Gifts of the Holy Ghost? In my part of the world we would say that the Saints have “true grit”.

  5. There was a good priest who used to say that every morning he would wake up, go look in the mirror and say to himself, “Fifty percent of all the people I know, hate my guts.” He always had a good day.

  6. St. Claude Colombiere was the spiritual director of St. Margaret Mary. Our Lord said that Fr. Colombiere was his perfect friend. He wrote this:

    An Act Of Confidence In God
    (Imprimatur, 1956)

    “My God, I am so convinced that You keep watch over those who hope in You, and that we can want for nothing when we look for all from You that I am resolved in the future to live free from every care and to turn all my anxieties over to You. ‘In peace, in the selfsame, I will sleep and I will rest; for Thou, O Lord, singularly hast settled me in hope” (Ps. iv. 9-10).

    Men may deprive me of possessions and of honour; sickness may strip me of strength and the means of serving You; I may even lose your grace by sin;but I shall never lose my hope. I shall keep it till the last moment of my life, and at that moment all the demons in hell shall strive to tear it from me in vain. ‘In peace, in the selfsame, I will sleep and I will rest.”

    Others may look for happiness from their wealth or their talents; others may rest on the innocence of their life, or the severity of their penance, or the amount of their alms, or the fervour of their prayers. ” Thou, O Lord, singularly hast settled me in hope.” As for me, Lord, all my confidence is my confidence itself.This confidence has never deceived anyone. No one, no one has hoped in the Lord and been confounded.

    I am sure, therefore, that I will be eternally happy since I firmly hope to be, and because it is from you, O God, that I hope for it. “In Thee, O Lord, have I hoped; let me never be confounded” (Ps.31.1) I know alas! I know only too well , that I am weak and unstable. I know what temptation can do against the strongest virtue. I have seen the stars of heaven fall, and the pillars of the firmanent; but that cannot frighten me.

    So long as I continue to hope, I shall be sheltered from all misfortune; and I am sure of hoping always, since I hope also for this unwavering hopefulness.

    Finally, I am sure that I cannot hope too much in You, and I cannot receive less than I have hoped from You. So I hope that You will hold me safe on the steepest of slopes, that You will sustain me against the most furious assaults and that You will make my weakness triumph over my most fearful enemies. I hope that You will love me always, and that I too shall love You without ceasing.To carry my hope once for all as far as it can go. I hope from You to possess you, O My Creator, in time and in eternity.Amen.

    • 3LittleShepherds,

      The very first paragraph of that prayer, the Act of Confidence in God, is utterly beautiful – this part is powerful: “I am resolved in the future to live free from every care and to turn all my anxieties over to You”

      That’s my new year resolution now. Thanks for posting that, it’s wonderful.

  7. Another St. Claude prayer:

    My Jesus, You are my true friend, my only friend, You take part in all my misfortunes; You know how to change them into blessings. You listen to me with the greatest kindness when I tell you all my troubles and You always have something with which to heal my wounds. I find You at any time of the day or night for I find You wherever I happen to be. You never leave me; If I change my dwelling place I find You wherever I go. You never weary of listening to me; You are never tired of doing me good. I am certain of being loved by You, if I but love You. My worldly goods are of no value to You but by bestowing yours on me You never grow poorer. However miserable I may be, no one more noble or cleverer or even holier can come between You and me and deprive me of your friendship; And death, which tears us away from all other friends, will unite me forever to you. All the humiliations attached to old age or the loss of honour will never detach You from me; On the contrary I shall never enjoy You more fully and You will never be closer to me than when everything seems to conspire against me to overwhelm me, and cast me down. You bear with all my faults with extreme patience, and even my want of fidelity and my ingratitude do not wound You to such a degree as to make You unwilling to receive me back when I return to You. O Jesus, Grant that I may die loving You, that I may die for the love of You.

  8. Thank you very much, everyone, for all the links and quotations. This thread really is a reminder of how important spiritual reading is – of the spiritual classics, and the lives of the saints.

    3LittleShepherds

    The following words of yours caught my eye:

    “What’s the virtue called that makes Saints tough? They’re steadfast and brave. I would think it’s the Gifts of the Holy Ghost? In my part of the world we would say that the Saints have ‘true grit’.”

    They give me another welcome opportunity to quote again from a priest with real “true grit”, who in my opinion has earned canonisation multiple times over, Father William Doyle SJ. Regulars might by now realise that I don’t need much prompting!

    Father Doyle agreed with you for sure, 3LittleShepherds, about the Holy Ghost.

    “I sometimes think that we lose very much by not having more devotion to the Holy Ghost, After all, He is the Dispenser of the very things we need to make us saints. Invoke him frequently, and don’t forget that Fr. Faber sums up devotion to the Holy Ghost as ‘a constant docility to His inspirations’. The inspiration He will send to you most often, if I mistake not, will be His desire for the absolute sacrifice of your will to His, so that in time there should not be even interior rebellion against what He wishes. This Promised Land may still be afar, but God will help you wonderfully if you set out bravely to reach it.”

    As for what each of us must do to become saints, Father Doyle listed the following:

    1. Excite in myself an ardent desire and determination to become one, cost what it may.
    2. Beg and pray without ceasing for this grace and the desire of holiness.
    3. Take each action and duty as if it were the last and the only one of my life, and perform it with extraordinary fervour.
    4. Have a fixed duty for each moment and not depart from it; never waste a moment.
    5. The spirit of constant prayer.
    6. Relentless war against my will and inclination; agere contra (going against self) at every moment in all things.
    7. The faithful practice of little mortifications.

    I think the following words of this heroic priest are also worth posting:

    “It depends entirely on myself whether I become a saint or not. If I wish and will to be one, half the battle is over. Certainly God’s help is secured. Every fresh effort to become holy gets fresh grace, and grace is what makes the soul holy and pleasing to God.”

    “God has work for each one to do; the devil also. For each one can be an influence for good or evil to those around. No one goes to Heaven or hell alone. Unless I am holy, I may do the devil’s work. The closer I try to imitate the Sacred Heart, the holier I shall become. How can I get nearer that Divine Heart than by receiving Holy Communion often and fervently? The Sacred Heart will then be next to my own and will teach me quickest and best how to be a saint.”

    “Agere Contra! Going against self! – not in one thing, or in two, but in all things where a free choice is left us. These little words contain the life-story of the saints, as they are the weapon that gained the victory which gave them heaven. “

    I better mention once more that Father Doyle’s biography, a genuine spiritual classic, is available from Carmel Books.

    http://www.carmel-books.org/father-william-doyle-sj-p-1172.html

  9. Thanks everyone for those quotes and links, and to you Leo for reminding me that I must order Father Doyle’s biography. Another blogger (Yorkshire Rose) has a great devotion to him and has pushed his book a lot, so I think it’s time you were both rewarded for your hard sell ! I’m going to order that book as soon as I’m finished writing up the February newsletter. Going hard at it just now so it shouldn’t be too long.

    I have a number of favourite spiritual reading books, including Fulton Sheen’s Life of Christ which is utterly beautiful, the Imitation of Christ, and The Story of a Soul, by St Therese – who has been a favourite saint of mine since childhood. I took her as my Confirmation saint, mostly because I could see that she was almost as humble as me, so why not? 🙂

    I’ll be dipping in and out over the next few days but my priority has to be to finish the newsletter, late now due to my being full of cold and flu since Christmas. I rely on your kind understanding, then, if I seem to be neglecting my blogging duties.

  10. St. Claude wrote, “How can we help our neighbors? By prayer and good works. Preaching is useless without grace and grace is only obtained by prayer. If conversions are few, it is because few pray. Prayer for souls is so pleasing to God that it is as though we ask a mother to forgive her son.”

  11. I went on a three day Recollection at St. Saviour’s House in Bristol in 2011:

    ( http://sspx.co.uk/page_retreats.htm )

    and on that occasion the subject was “The Four Last Things – Death, Judgement, Heaven and Hell”.

    I subsequently bought a book by Fr. Charles Arminjon entitled The End of The present World and the Mysteries of the Future Life of which St. Therese of Lisieux said: “Reading this book was one of the greatest graces of my Life”.

    I am inclined to agree.

    It costs £14.95 from Carmel Books and this link refers:

    http://www.carmel-books.org/the-end-of-the-present-world-p-1540.html

  12. One of my most favorite books is “The Little Flowers of St. Francis”. This has always been my favorite chapter:

    “ONCE when St. Francis was coming from Perugia to Santa Maria degli Angeli with Friar Leo in the winter, and the very great cold vexed him sore, he called Friar Leo, who was going before, and spake after this manner: “Friar Leo, albeit the minor friars in every land set a great example of holiness and of good edification, nevertheless, write and note diligently that therein is not perfect joy”. And when St. Francis had gone farther, he called unto him the second time: “O Friar Leo, although the minor friar should give sight to the blind, make straight the crooked, cast out devils, make the deaf to hear, the lame to walk, and the dumb to speak, and, what is a greater thing, should raise those who have been dead four days; write that therein is not perfect joy”. Going a little farther, he shouted loudly: “O Friar Leo, if the minor friar knew all tongues, and all sciences, and all the Scriptures, so that he was able to prophesy and to reveal not only things to come but also the secrets of consciences and souls; write that therein is not perfect joy”. Going a little farther, St. Francis yet again shouted loudly: “O Friar Leo, little sheep of God, albeit the minor friar should speak with the tongue of angels, and knew the courses of the stars and the virtues of herbs, and albeit all the treasures of the earth were revealed to him and he knew the virtues of birds and of fishes and of all animals and of men, of trees, of stones and of roots and of waters; write that therein is not perfect joy”. And going yet farther a certain space, St. Francis shouted loudly: “O Friar Leo, although the minor friar should know to preach so well that he should convert all the infidels to the faith of Christ; write that therein is not perfect joy”. And this manner of speech continuing for full two miles, Friar Leo, with great wonder, asked and said: Father, I pray thee in the name of God to tell me wherein is perfect joy”. And St. Francis answered him: “When we shall be at Santa Maria degli Angeli, thus soaked by the rain, and frozen by the cold, and befouled with mud, and afflicted with hunger, and shall knock at the door of the Place, and the doorkeeper shall come in anger and shall say: ‘Who are ye?’ and we shall say: ‘We are two of your friars,’ and he shall say: ‘Ye speak not truth; rather are ye two lewd fellows who go about deceiving the world and robbing the alms of the poor: get you hence’; and shall not open unto us, but shall make us stay outside in the snow and rain, cold and hungry, even until night; then, if we shall bear such great wrong and such cruelty and such rebuffs patiently, without disquieting ourselves and without murmuring against him; and shall think humbly and charitably that that door-keeper really believes us to be that which he has called us, and that God makes him speak against us; O Friar Leo, write that here is perfect joy. And if we persevere in knocking, and he shall come forth enraged and shall drive us away with insults and with buffetings, as importunate rascals, saying, ‘Get you hence, vilest of petty thieves, go to the hospice. Here ye shall neither eat nor lodge.’ If we shall bear this patiently and with joy and love; O Friar Leo write that herein is perfect joy. And if, constrained by hunger and by cold and by the night, we shall continue to knock and shall call and beseech for the love of God, with great weeping, that he open unto us and let us in, and he, greatly offended thereat, shall say: ‘These be importunate rascals; I will pay them well as they deserve,’ and shall come forth with a knotty club and take us by the cowl, and shall throw us on the ground and roll us in the snow and shall cudgel us pitilessly with that club; if we shall bear all these things patiently and with cheerfulness, thinking on the sufferings of Christ the blessed, the which we ought to bear patiently for His love; O Friar Leo, write that here and in this is perfect joy; and therefore hear the conclusion, Friar Leo; above all the graces and gifts of the Holy Spirit, which Christ grants to His friends, is that of self-conquest and of willingly bearing sufferings, injuries and reproaches and discomforts for the love of Christ; because in all the other gifts of God we cannot glory, inasmuch as they are not ours, but of God; whence the Apostle saith: What hast thou that thou didst not receive from God! and if thou didst receive it from Him, wherefore dost thou glory therein as if thou hadst it of thyself! But in the cross of tribulation and of affliction we may glory, because this is our own; and therefore the Apostle saith: I would not glory save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

  13. If you really want a retreat to avoid, Craig lodge is your best bet – anyone not professing strict adherence to the revelations of medjugorje is told not to return – its also only in the price range of 4×4 drivers from newton mearns.

    • You’re right on the money there my friend. I have met many associates of the Scottish national centre for the Medjugorje cult, in Dalmally. I have lost my best friend to Medjugorje, and Craig Lodge was the recruiting ground. A normal, popular, lovable and mischievous boy, turned into a strange and peculiar zealot.

      Those Herzegovinian criminals and there occultic franchise poisons everything it touches. Medjugorje has got everything: sex, séances, murders, lies, ruined lives and forgotten genocides… and not mention, loads and loads of dirty money. (You could probably mention illicit drugs in that list as well, and I rekon they were caught smoking pot on Mount Podbrdo the first night they saw the ‘Gospa’.

      Nobody questions Medjugorje. Nobody. You definitely won’t be welcome at Dalmally if you dis Medj. My guess is that the owners have made a hefty wad out of it . And is it any wonder the followers act like this when Our Lady herself calls us unbelieving Judases? A lot of the kids who get lured in their, are middle class, you are spot on there with the 4×4 observation. A particular parish in Glasgow I attended those kinds of families; they were all Craig Lodgers and the parish priest was very accommodating to them. The others Craig Lodgers are usually emotionally fragile in some way. In my experience with them they’re Charismatic Catholics, and exude a real spiritual obnoxiousness, and the one or two nice ones I’ve met are at best religiously eccentric.

      This place gets the full approval of Bishop J. Toal. And from a lot of clergy who lead the retreats there. This is a real scandal. See this link for names and prices:

      http://www.craiglodge.org/retreats

      You’ll notice a lot of the retreats are for ’emotional healing’. It’s no secret the Charismatic movement preys on the spiritually vulnerable, those with a history of mental health problems, alcohol and substance abuse, and family breakdown. That’s been my experience.

      My advice to anybody thinking of going to Craig Lodge is to stay the hell away.

  14. I was just thinking about the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary, this being Friday, when I remembered about this thread and it struck me that retreats in the “olden days” used to have preachers who spoke eloquently about the way Jesus suffered and died for each one of us. You could be moved to tears thinking of it. I haven’t been on a retreat for years but I would doubt very much if such preaching still happens, in the current climate where Jesus the Do-Gooder is emphasised more than Jesus the Saviour.

  15. Do the Passionists preach retreats on the Holy Passion? I don’t know too much about this order or if there are any Traditional Passionists.
    I’ve always loved St. Gertrude and St. Bridget for their meditations on Our Lord’s Holy Wounds. At home during lent my mother would read to us from Anna Catherine Emmerich’s description of Our Lord’s sufferings. My brothers (all educated in a Jesuit run school) have always had a keen memory of the Holy Passion because of this.

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