Times of silence, contemplation, and reflection
But the news about Him was spreading even farther, and large crowds were gathering to hear Him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray. Luke 5: 15-16
Lenten Silent Retreats
Each year, the Men’s Spirituality Group hosts a morning retreat during Lent. All men of the parish are invited to disengage from daily life and enter into a time of silence, contemplation and reflection.
2019 Silent Retreat
St. Thomas Episcopal Church
8 AM – 3 PM
Making the most of Your Silent Retreat
For centuries, people of faith have gone on silent retreats and stayed at hermitages to reconnect, refocus and commune with God. Everyone begins a silent retreat wondering how they are going to handle the quiet. Normally, a few minutes of peace and quiet is refreshing, but soon our minds start to drift and race away with thoughts of things “to do”. As soon as you arrive at the retreat, the peace and quiet that is present asks you to slow down. All the questions you had in our mind also begin to slow down. Everyone is there for the same reason. We all want to simply be with God and have the time to refresh our souls and listen for the Divine.
This is a non-directed silent retreat, so use your time as you wish. Many people who go on silent retreats take prayer beads and rosaries, read their Bibles, books of prayer or other devotional materials, while others write a journal, prayers or poetry. Find a “spot”, either inside or outside, where you can be alone. God speaks to us in silence, so just sitting and listening while using contemplative or centering prayer practices is a wonderful way to use your time. Ask God the hard questions and then just listen. The ancient practice of Lectio Divina is a good way to prayerfully examine scripture or other texts.
During this Silent Retreat, the only words spoken will be the responses during the Daily Offices (Terce, and Sext). The Daily Offices are optional, so you may want to attend all of them, some of them or none of them. That is up to you. A bell will be rung around 10 minutes before the Office. Before the silence begins, we will gather as a group to review the rules of the retreat and have a short discussion about expectations. At the end of the retreat, we will have a debriefing session for those interested.
A word about cell phones and electronic devices: Although many of us use electronic devices as an aid to prayer, it is strongly recommended that you turn off your phone and put it away until after the retreat is over.
Guidelines for Walking the Labyrinth
There are many ways to describe a labyrinth. It is a path of prayer, a walking meditation, a crucible of change, a watering hole for the spirit and a mirror of the soul. The labyrinth is not a maze. There are no tricks to it and no dead ends. It has a single circuitous path that winds its way into the center. The person walking it uses the same path to return from the center and the entrance then becomes the exit. The path is in full view, which allows a person to be quiet and focus internally.
Generally there are three stages to the walk:
- Releasing on the way in
- Receiving in the center
- Returning when you follow the return path back out of the labyrinth.
Symbolically, and sometimes actually, you are taking back out into the world that which you have received. There is no wrong way to walk a labyrinth. Use the labyrinth in any way that meets what you need while being respectful of others walking. You may go directly to the center to sit quietly — whatever meets your needs.
To prepare, you may want to sit quietly to reflect before walking the labyrinth. Some people come with questions, others just to slow down and take time out from a busy life. Some come to find strength to take the next step. Many come during times of grief and loss. There are many ways to describe a labyrinth. It is a path of prayer, a walking meditation, a crucible of change, a watering hole for the spirit and a mirror of the soul.
Lectio Divina (Divine Reading)
During the silent retreat you may want to practice Lectio Divina on a piece of scripture or something that inspires you during the day. Lectio Divina is Latin for “divine reading”. It is an ancient Benedictine practice of reading and meditating over scripture. The four basic steps of Lectio Divina are: 1. Read (carefully and slowly looking for truth); 2. Meditate (think about the passage and churn it over in your mind); 3. Pray (offer a prayer to God from your meditation); 4. Contemplate (finding peace and rest through the reading).