Retreat at Home

A guide to how to retreat at Home

Welcome to your retreat at home!  Set the day aside as sacred. God is waiting for you. It is He who has invited you and He is ready to encounter you in the simplicity, even ordinariness of the day. If at all possible, do no work on this day, avoid social media and turn off your mobile phone so that your full attention is turned towards God and the sacredness of the moment.  

Select in advance a specific place where you will retreat, somewhere you will be comfortable and not as easily distracted. Clear away anything work related and place some things there to remind you that this is a place set aside for time with God. Have a candle ready to be lit as a representation of Holy Spirit present with you. You will also want to have on hand a journal, pen, Bible ( physical rather than digital), blank paper and watercolours/brushes or something to colour with. And be prepared for a walk if possible.

Having some fixed hours of prayer can be very helpful in structuring a time like this, giving it a sense of rhythm and flow, therefore the pages of this guide are sectioned in morning, afternoon and evening, sandwiched by prayers for those aforementioned “fixed hours”. But feel free to be creative and make it work for you. If you need to spread it across two days that’s okay.

There are some things in this guide which may be new to you. Often it is those things that feel unfamiliar or stretching that help open us even more to encounter with the transforming life and creativity of God. So be curious and give them a try! 

May this be a time of joy, delight and peace as you explore and experiment with the suggested practices within this retreat at home guide. May you become increasingly aware of the loving presence of God with you, around you and within you. You are invited to take your time in playful and prayerful encounter, to go at a pace that works for you. 

We can often enter a retreat with expectations of ourselves and of God, often even a mindset that the time needs to “produce” something for it not to be a waste of time. Let your first step in preparation for this retreat be to relinquish expectations and the addictive need to produce. Simply show up and be. It is enough for God. Allow it to become enough for you.

There is a beautiful story told by the old French priest Father John Vianney. He noticed this old farmer come to the chapel again and again and just sit quietly before a painting of Christ. One day Father Vianney asked him what he was doing. The old farmer responded, “I look at Him, and He looks at me, and it is enough.”

You are here. He is here. It is enough.

Morning

A Liturgy for the Ritual of Morning Coffee [ or Tea ]

Meet me, O Christ,
in this stillness of morning.
Move me, O Spirit,
to quiet my heart.
Mend me, O Father,
from yesterday’s harms.

 

From the discords of yesterday,
resurrect my peace.
From the discouragements of yesterday,
resurrect my hope.
From the weariness of yesterday,
resurrect my strength.
From the doubts of yesterday,
resurrect my faith.
From the wounds of yesterday,
resurrect my love.

 

Let me enter this new day,
aware of my need,
and awake
to your grace, O Lord.

Amen

~ by Douglas McKelvey, taken from Every Moment Holy

Breath prayers

Breath prayers can be helpful when we are feeling anxious, our bodies are tense or just when we are struggling to focus or rest in prayer. 

They are simply short prayers than be prayed in repetition in rhythm with our breathing. We pray the first part as we inhale, pray the second prat as we exhale.

Use one of these prayers below today as and when you need to or pray your own breath prayer.

“You are my refuge… and my strength”

“Come… Lord Jesus”

“Abba Father… I belong to You”

“There is no fear… in Your love”

“Light of the world… show me the way”

Lectio Divina

Lectio Divina simply means “divine reading” and it is an ancient way of prayerfully reading the Scriptures. It is about being transformed by the words of Scripture rather than just informed.

1. Read. Pick a passage. Choose a Psalm or a passage in the Gospels ( if you are undecided, maybe read Matthew 5:1-14 ). After inviting Holy Spirit to come and guide you, read the passage slowly, out loud if you can. Read it twice with one minute of silence in between

2. Relish. We could use the word ‘reflect’ here also, but relish is a better description this step. Meditating on the passage you have read, savour one word or phrase that you have noticed more than others during your reading. Write this word down and begin pondering what God might be saying to you through this. How is this word speaking to your life? 

3. Re-read. Read the passage one more time. 

4. Respond. Share with God what you sense He is saying to you or simply what you have noticed. Ask that the seed of His word in your heart would develop into deep-rooted truth that would lead to fruitfulness in your life. 

5. Rest. Take time to allow God to wrap you in His love, and let the word He has given you rest in you and you in Him

6. Resolve. Finish by writing in your journal one way you might be able to live out the word that has penetrated your heart in your daily life.

Sensio Divina

It is time to get outside and get moving now. 

Sensio Divina simply means “holy sensing” – a sacred way of sensing the Divine in nature, using our senses to encounter the presence of God ( Romans 1.20 ). It begins with the premise that the universe is the beloved creation of God, and that god is present in all things. The early Celtic Christians believed that God could be encountered everywhere and would go to both the sacred texts of Scripture and into nature to experience revelation of God.

1. You may like to go for a walk around your neighbourhood or to a place of natural beauty which is meaningful to you, or simply sit in your own garden or a nearby park.

2. Maybe try using one of the breath prayers as you walk.

3. When you arrive at your destination, breathe deeply for a few moments. Notice how your body occupies the space you are in. Are you tense? Relaxed? Energetic? Lethargic? Invite God to accompany you in this time.

4. Now allow yourself to become aware of your surroundings, engaging one by one with each of your senses. Open your heart to noticing how God may be speaking to you through what you encounter. What do you see? What does it feel like to touch that leaf, that stone, the ground? As you quieten yourself what can you hear? … Become curious about your senses are heightened to in this time. Allow yourself to wonder. Notice any images, emotions, memories that may arise.

5. Take some time to hold all you have noticed before God. Is there something you particularly want to dwell upon? Invite God to speak to you about this. We can trust in His goodness as He meets us where we are.

6. As you come to the end of your time of Sensio Divina, you may like to make gesture of gratitude for this time – a prayer, a smile raised towards Him, maybe even kneeling.

7. As you return home, do so slowly, reflecting on your time. Maybe pray another breath prayer as you walk.

Midday Prayer

* To be prayed before lunch

Father in heaven
Hallowed be Your name.

Your kingdom come
Your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us today
our daily bread.

Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those
who sin against us.

And lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.

Amen

Afternoon

Visual Journaling 

Get together a digital device (best if a laptop or tablet/iPad) your blank paper (the thicker the better), water colours and a glass of water (if you don’t have watercolours, use coloured pens or pencils)

Without allowing yourself to be distracted, watch the video below. Start with Lesson One, then move on to the other lessons in the playlist.

If you do not consider yourself “creative,” this may stretch you a bit but you are going to be surprised at what Holy Spirit does with this time. Creativity often helps us to bypass our heads, the distractions and slows us down. This time is about playful exploration, not performance. Feel free to try Lesson Three or Four after completing Lesson One if you desire/feel lead to.

This time will set a good foundation for our next practice.

Reviewing the year with God

In this creative Examen practice we are going to ask just three questions, in the presence of God who is with us in all things.

Begin by lighting a candle to mark the beginning of this time pf prayer.

The questions are:

1. What am I most grateful for over this last year? What or who did you find God in /when or where were you aware more than usual of His presence?
Take some time, lingering with thankfulness as memories arise. Write a list in your journal. Maybe you are more visual. Maybe use watercolours and paint a colour that seems to represent well each memory to you ; make note of the memory beside each colour splotch you have painted.

2. What am I least grateful for over this last year? When did you feel like you lost God or found it difficult to see Him / lost awareness of His presence? 
Again, take time and be brave in acknowledging what has been hard and unwelcome. Do the same as above and write as a list in your journal or use the watercolours.

3. What are you hoping for in this coming year?
Jesus had a habit of asking people “What do you want Me to do for you?“ when the answer seemed quite obvious to them and everyone else around. This was partly because Jesus knows that there is almost aways a deeper desire, a deeper cry within us than simply what is on the surface that entertains most of our attention.

So go ahead and write your list or watercolour splotches and put down those more surface, obvious things ; but also, once again, take some time and pay attention to those deeper inner stirrings. It may surprise you what is there below the surface, just waiting to be discovered and expressed in prayer.

Evening Prayer

*To be prayed at the close of day before the evening meal

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen
My soul waits for the Lord
more than those
who watch for the morning,
more than those
who watch for the morning.

Out of the depths I have cried to You.
O Lord, hear my voice.
With my whole heart I want to praise You.
O Lord, hear my voice.
If you, Lord, should mark iniquities:
Who could stand? who could stand?

I will wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
and in His word do I hope.

Lord, You have always given
bread for the coming day;
and though I am poor,
today I believe.

Lord, You have always given
strength for the coming day;
and though I am weak,
today I believe.

Lord, You have always given
peace for the coming day;
and though of anxious heart,
today I believe.

Lord, You have always kept
me safe in trials;
and now, tried as I am,
today I believe.

Lord, You have always marked
the road for the coming day;
and though it may be hidden,
today I believe.

Lord, You have always lightened
this darkness of mine;
and though the night is here,
today I believe.

In the shadow of Your wings
I will sing Your praises, O Lord.

The Lord is my light, my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the refuge of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?

In the shadow of Your wings
I will sing Your praises, O Lord.

One thing I ask of the Lord,
one thing I seek;
to dwell in the presence of my God,
to gaze on Your holy place.

In the shadow of Your wings
I will sing Your praises, O Lord.
I believe I shall see the goodness
of the Lord in the land of the living.
O wait for the Lord!
Have courage and wait,
wait for the Lord.

In the shadow of Your wings
I will sing Your praises, O Lord.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

Taken from Evening Prayer from Northumbria Community’s Celtic Daily Prayer published by Collins.

Examen

The Examen is an ancient prayer practice, a way of reviewing your day in the presence of God. It is a time intentionally set apart for thankful reflection on where you have noticed God in your everyday life. This is a practice generally best done right before bed.

To mark the start of your time of Examen, you may want to light a candle.

1. Ask for light
I want to look at my day with God’s eyes, not just my own.

2. Give thanks
The day I have just lived is a gift from God. I choose to express gratitude.

3. Review the day
I carefully look back on the day which has passed, inviting Holy Spirit’s guidance

4. Face your difficulties
With God, I face up to what is wrong or what has been hard

5. Look forward to the day to come
I ask where I need God in the day to come, and welcome God’s loving presence in my life

Maybe finish out your retreat day with a final bedtime prayer known as ‘Compline’. For the Compline for your specific night of the week, CLICK HERE.

All-age retreat ideas

Families, this is for you ( or if you are young at heart )!

Prayer Spaces in Schools have created some fantastic resources to help families pray together at home and to help children process their thoughts and feelings with God in this bewildering time.

This would be a brilliant way to help your children take part in some of the retreat time or even do with them later on in the afternoon as a sort of “continuation” of the retreat.

Click on the button below and choose the activities that seem most appropriate for your family. They are free to download and include things that most of you will have in your home.

Singles/those without children, you can use these too and bring some fun and creativity into your retreat day!

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