Why Retreats Matter
Students belong to a fast-paced, noisy society, constantly caught up in the hustle and bustle of life. With numerous activities demanding their time, it’s no wonder their unending to-do lists give them little time if any for time-out.
Young people can become so caught up in daily activities that they only seem to see what is right in front of them. However, God calls them to “set your minds on things above.” (Colossians 3:2) One of the best ways to do this is to spend time in reflection and prayer.
Next week, our Year 12 students embark on a spiritual retreat where they will have time away from their normal crowded schedules to reflect on their life journey. The theme of the retreat is ‘Forever’ and it is our sincerest hope that our Year 12 students will come to realise that they are forever of God, in God and with God, who is the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end.
What is Retreat?
In its simplest form, ‘retreat’ means to withdraw.
Throughout the ages, the Christian tradition has understood retreat to be an important part of spiritual formation. A time consciously set aside for God, where we consciously step outside our normal routine by withdrawing from the noise and pressures of life in order to be open and ready to listen to God.
So how will our students benefit from the retreat experience?
Retreat is all about Prayer
- The goal of the retreat is for students to be as fully present as they can be with God, themselves, and the moment. In ‘keeping company with God’, they are given the opportunity to devote quality time reconnecting and re-examining things important and central to their lives.
- By placing themselves in the presence of God, they come to the recognition of the sacred, and the need to be with oneself praying and reflecting on who they are, what they are, and where they are in relation to God, self, others and the world.
- Retreats have the ability to refresh and revitalise the body, mind, and soul, providing prayerful opportunities that rekindle and deepen our relationship with God.
Retreat is all about Pilgrimage
- Retreat is a pilgrimage. It is the symbolic undertaking of an inner journey. Students are encouraged to take stock of their lives and look for what really counts. This often demands they take time to ‘return to the heart’.
- Consequently, the retreat is a journey to the centre of the spiritual world of their own being.
Retreat is all about Perspective
- The greatest benefit of retreat is the opportunity it presents for fresh ways of seeing things, by unlocking new possibilities.
- Perspective offers the ability to see a situation objectively, stepping back to gain a bigger view rather than viewing experiences through a narrow lens.
- Perspective also allows students to see things as others do. So, even though they have to return to the very same situations with the same set of circumstances, responsibilities and relationships they left behind, they are able to consider their situation with transformed viewpoints.
The whole purpose of prayer, pilgrimage and perspective during the retreat is to bring renewed hope for the everyday ups and downs of life. Retreat consequently aims to bring students to a place where true priorities are reordered, a sense of direction is renewed, and the right kind of action is undertaken.
God is worthy of our time, all else is a bonus. Life is not only about success or achievement; it is equally about being open to God and recognising His goodness in our lives.
We hope next week’s retreat experience will allow our students to be transformed, but more importantly they will sincerely seek God as the one thing necessary in their lives and learn to love him with all their heart, soul, mind and strength.