A retreat is a time to take a step away from the world and move closer to God.
“Come apart into a desert place, and rest a little” (Mk 6:31). Our Lord Himself took His disciples aside from the crowd in order to rest and regroup their spiritual forces. This is the heart of a retreat.
Very simply, a retreat is a time to be alone with God. What with all the cares and worries of a busy life, the distractions of a materialistic world, the gradual cooling of fervor, and the burdens of one’s own sins, the soul needs time to pray, to recover, and to consider the eternal truths, in order to return to the battle for salvation with renewed faith and devotion.
“Come to me all you that labor and are burdened, and I will refresh you” (Mt 11:28). Truly we need this strengthening, and where will it be found if not in the peacefulness of a retreat. This stillness is the essential atmosphere that characterizes the retreat, and the necessary condition for God to speak to the soul.
A man is created to know and love God, and the retreat is a powerful tool to focus again on this eternal truth, and to take one step further on this path of sanctification, the path to save his soul.
Unfortunately, far too often men fall away from the love of God by sin, so the soul is at a loss to know the root cause of these vices, and the means to overcome them. For the weak soul lost in the blindness of sin, the retreat provides the light to study self, and with the help of grace, find the solution to this estrangement from God.
There are other souls who have become worn out in the struggle of the spiritual life, and these to need a time to renew their strength and vigor, to rekindle the fire of God’s love. Again, the retreat will be for them the time to refill the spiritual tanks.
Lastly, once a soul has been striving to be advance in the spiritual life, there is a greater degree of union in store for it, that God wishes to lavish upon the soul. It is in the solitude and silence of a retreat that God communicates Himself to the soul, so that she may rejoice in surrendering herself to God, and rest in this beautiful transforming union.