Monday, July 4, 2022

Longing for Retreat

I haven't been on a spiritual retreat since my pre-marital course in November 2012, four months shy of a decade.

I wrote about that course here.

I'm surprised how much it has remained with me. I very often draw on it for spiritual sustenance. It had a strangely Pentecostal atmosphere, a group of Christian couples preparing for the adventure of life and marriage-- along with the presenting married couples, and the priest who was also in attendance. It was like basic training before being shipped into enemy territory.

(I remember the priest told us that he was drawn to the priesthood for the "romance" of the thing, which he illustrated with the words: "Foxes have holes, and the birds of the air their nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.")

After the retreat, me and Michelle went to a big shop nearby that had a huge inflatable snowman outside. It was a general store which had, among other things, lots of mugs and tea-towels that bore the words: "As for Me and my House, We Will Serve the Lord." Michelle bought me a selection of American sweets (or "candy") which we ate in the car park (or "parking lot") outside.

Today is the 4th Of July. America has its critics, and American religiosity has its critics even among Christians-- inside America, as well as outside. Nevertheless, it brought me great joy to see a general store selling mugs that said "As for Me and my House, We Will Serve the Lord". It wouldn't happen in Ireland, even though Mass cards are sold at the till in many shops.

Ever since then, I've wished for a mug with these words on it.

But more recently, I've found myself longing to go on retreat. I'm not sure how to go about it. I've looked at Catholic retreats in the Dublin area. Many of them seem a bit kooky or New Agey or whatever. There are also practical obstacles.

I've thought of suggesting to the chaplaincy in UCD that they run a retreat for staff, but I wouldn't want to attend without my wife and that might be asking too much.

Anyway, maybe you can spare a prayer that I get to go on retreat some time this year. I love everyday life and the ordinary but the hamster wheel is becoming more than a little wearing.


  1. I remember spending 3 weeks a few years ago with the Cistercians in Louth I think. No guidance, just Mass, nature, books, The Office, chats with the Guestmaster and guests at table staying a few days and getting to know them briefly. It was an eye opener into the lives of others and me. Ditto the Benedictines in Cobh. Terrible singers, fierce holy women. You could go on a pilgrimage with a parish. I still have a friend I made 5 years ago when I went to Fatima. There were talks every evening. Or do a study course with The Aquinas Institute. Otherwise maybe look to the UK for a couples retreat? Just some ideas to ponder. The main thing is it's the memories I have from people I meet that stay with me. Likely your marriage course was for ye and God. All the above is for ye to look up and around. Sinéad.

    1. Thanks Sinéád. Some interesting options there. We DID go on pilgrimage to Knock with a parish in Ballymun a few years ago and I'm very grateful for that, first time I was there. Going abroad seems unlikely but Louth sounds like it might be do-able. Thanks so much.

  2. I remember being in Cobh convent for the first Friday. The locals do Alliance to the Two Hearts overnight. Nothing quite like being fed tea and jam sandwiches at 2am by the salt of the earth locals then right all done back to Chapel for another 3 hours. It was so lovely to see the Faith in practice, gave me sustenance,that was lay led and far from kooky. Even get yourselves down there for a First Friday, see if it's still running though beforehand. Sinéad.