Tomorrow in our community in Athlone, our PDDM community along with other religious sisters, friends, Adorers and collaborators will begin their annual retreat or spiritual exercises. For about 4 years now we have opened our annual retreat to those who serve with us in the mission and it's had a fantastic response, with about 30 to 40 participating in the retreats in Athlone and Dublin. We are aware that not everyone has the opportunity, be it for family situations or financial reasons, to go away to a retreat house for a retreat. We all need to take time out to recharge our minds and hearts and see where we are in life. How many of us have tried out our best Olympic sprints to grab a mobile phone charger or our laptop battery when we’ve been chatting to friends and suddenly the horrible beeping noise warns us that the phone or laptop is about to die!? There is no power. Sometimes we let our spiritual life and energy get to that point too. Yes, our lives can be so busy (yes, even for semi-contemplative sisters!) and sometimes it’s only when we get start running low that we realize it’s time to stop and recharge. Jesus reminds us in the Gospel: “Cut off from me, you can do nothing!” If we are not attached to Him, we will not have life and cannot share life with others.
Every first Sunday of the month, we have a desert day in our community: a day of silence, solitary prayer and reflection. Then every year we have a time of spiritual exercises, usually 8 days of prayer and silence. It is a privileged time for us to pray, rest and re-charge. It’s a time where we recharge my spiritual, physical, emotional and psychological batteries in God’s presence. It is a day spent in silence. Our Rule of Life reminds us: “we appreciate silence as a precious gift which prepares the way for an authentic relationship with God and among ourselves. In recollection, we draw the strength of clarification, of purification and consecration on what is essential” (Rule of Life, 66)
It becomes the opportunity to look back over the past year and see where the Lord has worked on me, challenged me, moulded me. I see where I have fought with Him, resisted Him, doubted Him, most importantly I see how I have loved Him and how He has and continues to love me, despite my flaws and weaknesses. I re-orientate my gaze, my emotions, and my thoughts. I look through the baggage which I might have accumulated over the month, sort through it and walk the pilgrim way once more, renewed in conviction and free from unnecessary burdens.
So how do you keep spiritually charged? The list is different for all of us. It’s not taking a desert day of silence and retreat for everyone. It might be prayer whilst traveling, praying with a group, meditating on your own on the Gospel of each day, being with like minded spiritual friends. It might be listening to inspiring speakers or the Bible, or singing praise and worship songs at the top of your lungs in the car. One of the most beautiful and effective recharging moments is staying in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, to simply gaze upon God and let Him gaze upon you, knowing that He became the Bread of Life, just for you. Whatever works for you, schedule a recharge moment at least once a month, together with all the mini-moments which we live each day. So, we become real disciples, no longer running away from our delusions and walking the Road to Emmaus, but disciples-apostles who have recognized the need for Lord, crying out for him: “Stay with us, Lord”. Just as He asks us to remain with and in Him, He will remain in and with us if we cling to Him, the Fruitful Vine. This is the Promise!
So as the holiday season is upon us, I pray that you too will have the chance to spiritual recharge! Oh and pray for those on retreat in Athlone and for yours truly who will be guiding the first two days! Come Holy Spirit!