March 9, 2018

Retreat Report

This afternoon we have returned home from our annual community retreat. It was held, as has been usual in time my time here, at our house in Frascati in the hills outside Rome.

Ah Rome. She's pretty from a distance, no?

For me the grace of the retreat was to pause and take a look at my life and vocation at this particular moment, especially in light of some changes in the recent past (e.g. loss of a spiritual director) and looking forward to changes that are on the way (e.g. the General Chapter this summer). My prayer was mostly about who I am at this point and the discernment of what God desires for me going forward.

For the days of retreat, I found myself most of the time in one of two places. The first was the Capuchin church adjacent to the friary:

San Francesco d'Assisi, Frascati. Consecrated 1579.

There I prayed, reflected on things, and sometimes just sat with the Lord. It was cold enough in there that even I wanted a sweatshirt, so there wasn't much danger of any other friar interrupting my solitude!

My other spot was in the friary rec room, where I read, journaled, and tended the fireplace in the later afternoons.

What a rich source of metaphor for the spiritual life! Long-time followers of this blog will remember my sufferings during a period of my religious life when I gathered with confreres to pray around a fake fireplace (supplied with real tools; 'Lord, close my lips' must be my prayer about that), despite the fact that the Blessed Sacrament was reserved in a number of nearby places.

During the retreat I finished Into the Silent Land: A Guide to the Christian Practice of Contemplation by Fr. Martin Laird, O.S.A., which had been recommended to me by a confrere, and I read most of Cardinal Sarah's The Power of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise, which is a prayerful, beautiful book. I recommend it.