silent retreat, part i

Over the next few days, I hope to share some aspects of a retreat I made last weekend. This first part looks at my decision to attend the retreat.
For some time now, I’ve been thinking to myself, “Self—you need to go on a retreat. You need to do something for your spiritual life.” This was true.
While yes, I work at a church 40+ hours a week and I have the Blessed Sacrament mere feet from my workspace, this does not automatically equal a perfect spiritual life. While volunteering at a church may (and should) be a spiritually-rewarding activity, working for a church, at times, becomes work in the stereotypical way. “Man, I have to get up and go to work. I just want to go back to bed.” or “Ugh, it is 3 pm. Why can’t the day just end?!” That’s no way to think about church! However, when you’re always at church, it comes with the territory.
Over the two years I’ve worked at the University Catholic Center, I’ve transitioned myself from being a student-staff member to now, just a staff member. In other words, I used to “work” some events and participate, as a student, in others. I let Catholic campus ministry do its job on me as it should a student. Over the past six months, while this transition was at the forefront of my mind, I began to participate less and work more.
It is completely expected and normal. I was in my fifth year of studies as an undergraduate at The University and I was already working full-time, whether or not that is how my position was “advertised”. As young freshmen walk in the door, I was constantly reminded that I’m that “old guy” that everyone knows as being around forever. As a staff member, however, the dynamic is different. I’m able to engage in ministry in new and profound ways as I’m able to relate to the students on a quasi-peer level while also being able to challenge them in ways that a peer usually can’t do. While a student, it was important to be friends with everyone. As a staff member, I’m still friends with everyone, but that isn’t the chief concern and a status that comes after working with them, ministering with them and helping them realize their potential as leaders and ministers in the Church.
Long story short, I stopped actively seeking the fulfillment of my spiritual needs. Over the last few months, I’ve toyed with the idea of going on various retreats, participating in various programs geared toward my location on this spiritual journey and the overall need to engage my own quest for God.
Through all of the options (and there are many!), I discerned to attend a silent retreat, in the Ignatian model of the Spiritual Exercises, at the Montserrat Jesuit Retreat House located north of Dallas on Lake Lewisville. In fairness to all of the other options, I had visited Montserrat last month when I went with Vanessa to a speaking engagement she had hosted at the retreat center and we learned of an open couples-friendly retreat. So far, most of the retreat I had researched were single-sex, so an option that allowed us both to go was appealing.
As fate had it, Vanessa’s cousin (and now her Goddaughter) was going to be baptized the same weekend so she flew out to join her family and I made the drive to Dallas.






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