Franciscan Footprints

Why do Religious have an Annual Retreat?

Recharging your batteryPerhaps you think, as some people seem to, that religious life is so peaceful and serene that sisters have no need to recuperate.

But no, we have busy hectic lives too, and need certain times to renew ourselves, re-focus, get ourselves in shape, to re-charge our batteries.  That is why we have retreat. 

In our community we have an 8-day silent retreat and it is better than vacation.  What do we do on retreat?  Well, usually we have a retreat master, like a religious priest, come to the motherhouse.  He gives a couple conferences (talks) each day, as well as offering daily Mass.  Our schedule is more lax, we can sleep-in and don't have our regular work to do.  We keep silence except for prayers and talking at supper.  We can go to confession or speak privately with the retreat master to get advice.  And we pretty much have the rest of the day to pray, or rest.

All religious participate in an annual retreat. It's right there in Canon Law.  You wouldn't think to turn to Canon Law for inspiration, but it is very beautiful in places.  It can really get to the heart of a matter.

Take a look at these lines in Canon Law as it talks about Religious Institutes.  (What we are used to calling religious orders.)  Canons 662-664 really get to the heart of what religious life is about, and the annual retreat is right in there with them.

Ultimately, the whole purpose of the annual retreat.... to remind us:

  • - that our supreme rule is to follow Christ
  • - that our first and foremost duty is contemplation and union with God in prayer
  • - to participate daily in the Eucharistic sacrifice, and to receive Him and adore Him in the Blessed Sacrament
  • - to devote ourselves to reading Sacred Scripture, mental prayer, and the Liturgy of the Hours
  • - to venerate our Mother Mary, especially through the Rosary
  • - that we are to strive after conversion to God
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