Are you considering making a retreat but can’t seem to find the right type of retreat, or a retreat with a topic that is relevant to you?
Depending on where you live, this can be a real problem. In the United States, for example, there are entire states that do not have a retreat center. Even if there is a retreat center nearby, their offerings may be slim or focused on topics that you have no interest in.
What to do if this is the case? Here are a few things you can try.
- Investigate Parish Retreats
Check with your diocese and local parishes to see if there are any upcoming retreat options. Sometimes, rather than having to travel to a retreat center to make a retreat, the retreat will come to you.
This might involve a Catholic speaker or another priest from around the diocese visiting town for a weekend and presenting a series of talks, with Mass and other prayer sessions throughout.
These can be spread out over multiple days, or they can just be on a single day. Speaking from experience, a single day retreat at a local parish might be just what the doctor ordered if you have a work schedule that includes weekends, have a new baby in the house, or for many other reasons that make a typical weekend retreat difficult to attend.
The cost of these retreats is usually lower because you spend the night at your own house, not in the living quarters of a retreat center.
- Create Your Own Retreat
This option is less ideal because you lose any interaction with other retreatants and with the retreat director, but it can still be very fruitful. (We are working on an option to give you a chance to be a part of a retreat-focused community even if you can’t get away from home. See the bottom of this article for more info)
It is preferable to get away from home to a quiet place – such as a retreat center or monastery that rents out rooms – but if those options, or your budget, are limited, this could be done from home.
Set aside a weekend and find some material that will be spiritually enriching. Schedule regular sessions to sit down and take in some of that material. Over the course of a weekend you can learn quite a bit about a given topic of the Faith.
In this scenario it is optimal if you can schedule in time for Mass and other prayer sessions regularly.
Everybody has a different preference for the type of material that is most effective – some like reading, some like listening to audio, some like watching video. Pick whichever works best for you.
There are many options for each type of material. Pick a topic that is on your heart and search for a book, audio series, or video series on that. If you are looking for a starting point, some of our favorite suggestions are:
Book: “Walking With God” by Tim Gray and Jeff Cavins – this easy-to-read book walks you through the “narrative” story of the Bible – the handful of books that make up the linear story – and explains what is happening, what the writers are trying to convey at difficult to understand points, and how all of the other books of the Bible fit in. This simple book will, without exaggerating, open up the Bible to a whole new level of understanding and appreciation for you.
Audio: “Rediscover Jesus” audio book by Matthew Kelly –Imagine, for a moment, your spiritual life to be like an engine. Over time it may have gotten “gunked up” by misuse or neglect of some sort. This book takes apart the engine piece by piece, cleans it off, and puts it back together to run strong again. It helps you examine nearly every piece of your spiritual life from a variety of angles so that you can dive deeper into your faith.
Video: “Catholicism” by Bishop Robert Barron – this ten part series will take you around the world, showing you important places in Church history and explaining fundamentals of the Faith along the way. Bishop Barron has also produced other video series in the same fashion, such as “Catholicism: The Pivotal Players.”