Importance of Retreat

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From the Retreat address by H.G. Sevarios Thirumeni
St. Thomas Orthodox Church, Southfield, Michigan, April 15, 2000

Retreat

A place of privacy or safety: Refuge
A period of group withdrawal for prayer, meditation, study and instruction under a director
An act or process of withdrawing, especially from what is difficult, dangerous or disagreeable.

Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary

Retreat is a time to think over our faults. A time to review our past and make corrections. We have gone through many experiences - some good and some bad - retreat gives a chance for us to pause, to take note of, appraise and to reconsider them.

There are many instances in the bible when Jesus encouraged his disciples to go to a quiet spot to pray, meditate, etc. For example, in Mark 6:31:

Then Jesus suggested, "Let's get away from the crowds for a while and rest."

Think about retreat as that quiet spot away from all the troubles and worries of life to reflect upon our life and to make corrections to our course, if required.

Retreat is very important for three reasons:

1.    Retreat Is A Time To Come Away From Our Daily Activities And Recollect Things For A Day.

Work is worship, when we do it for God. We have to make sure that whatever we do we do it in such a way that it is good and glorifies God.

It is necessary to take a break and rest a while in between the daily grind and work.

We need to relax in presence of God.

Normally we associate relaxation with sleep. However, to really relax, we need to be with God.

2.    Retreat Is The Time To Receive And Listen To God's Voice

1 Samuel 3:1-10
Messages from the Lord were very rare in those days. But one night after Eli had gone to bed, the Lord called out, "Samuel, Samuel!"
"Yes?" Samuel replied. "What is it?" He jumped up and ran to Eli. "Here I am. What do you want?" he asked.
"I didn't call you," Eli said. "Go on back to bed." So he did.
Then the Lord called again, "Samuel!" and again Samuel jumped and ran to Eli.
"Yes?" he asked. "What do you need?"
"No, I didn't call you , my son," Eli said. "Go on back to bed."
(Samuel had never had a message from Jehovah before.) So now the Lord called him a third time, and once more Samuel jumped up and ran to Eli.
"Yes?" he asked. "What do you need?"
Then Eli realized it was the Lord who had spoken to the child. So, he said to Samuel, "Go and lie down again, and if he calls again, say, "Yes Lord. I'm listening."
So, Samuel went back to bed.
And the Lord came and called as before, , "Samuel, Samuel!"
And Samuel replied, "Yes, I'm listening."
Then the lord said to Samuel, "I'm going to do a shocking thing in Israel…"

If we analyze this passage from the bible we find that God only responds when we are ready to listen to Him. God called Eli three times. Eli didn't recognize it was Lord. He thought it was Eli who was calling and went running to him. Only when he responded to God, "Yes Lord. I'm listening," that Lord started to reveal to Him what He came to reveal.

God always calls us. "Son, Daughter!" He is with us all the time. We are too busy to listen to his call and to answer. When we don't respond God doesn't tell us anymore.

If we want God to communicate to us, we need to respond.

Retreat is an opportunity for us to listen to God.

Retreat is a day of divine call. God wants to tell us something about our life - wonderful things about our life - miracles that can happen, etc. In order to hear this, we need to be ready and respond. Let us use this opportunity to learn how to listen to God.

3.    Retreat Gives Us An Opportunity To Experience What John, Jacob And Peter Experienced In Mount Tabor - A Transformation.

The transformation is chronicled in Mathew 17:1-12.

Six days later Jesus took Peter, James and his brother John to the top of a high and lonely hill, and as they watched, his appearance changed so that his face shone like the sun and his clothing became dazzling white.
Suddenly Moses and Elijah appeared and were talking with him. ---

Disciples were ordinary people coming from ordinary walks of life - fishermen, shepherds, etc. They were not anyone special or anyone with special privileges or knowledge. Jesus called them and they followed Him.

When Peter, James and John went with Jesus to Mount Tabor, they could witness the transformed Jesus. They felt it was a great place to stay - in presence of Moses, Elijah and Jesus.

In order to experience the presence of Lord, we need to have a transformed life. We need to be prepared as well as willing to follow the Lord where He calls us to accompany him. When we do that we will be able to witness and receive the miracle of transformation.

Retreat is an opportunity to experience this.

Thus, retreat is very important for Christians. It is an opportunity to learn to listen to God, to spent time in a quiet place away from all troubles of life to pray and meditate, and then to experience the miracle of transforming our life.

Next: Guide and Be Guided By the Light

(Prepared by Dr. Jacob Mathew)

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