Listen that you may have life!
The word retreat is a military word with a specific meaning and purpose. What many of us have experienced as “retreat” doesn’t quite match that meaning. Most of us have experienced a retreat which was more of an assault or attack—you martial your forces and make efforts to gain new ground from the enemy. Retreat, at it’s heart, means to pull back from the battle, regroup, refresh and restore so that you can go back into the fight. In retreat you also take counsel with your commander to learn what the enemy is doing and how to fight back. This is the heart of retreat.
This is what I assisted in during the last half of June. Extended, silent retreats for individuals in which they could pull back from the world. There they sought the physical needs of rest and food but also the silence allowed them to hear the voice of God in a clearer way concerning the needs of their own day.
Who is more important, you or God? Pretty obvious, right? Yet if we were to climb inside our own heads, who is the doing the talking? We are! We are the ones speaking hoping that God will listen. It seems to me that Sacred Scripture says: “Speak Lord, your servant is listening.” and not “Listen Lord, you servant is speaking.” To grow in our Christian faith and to meet the challenges of our own day, we need to learn to listen in prayer.
A great way to jumpstart your listening is to go on a weekend silent retreat at Broom Tree outside Yankton. They help you ease into listening in a substantial way. Teaching your heart how to be quiet as you embrace the discipline of silence. If you’ve never looked at one, do look.
If you can’t get time free for a retreat, start with the Pirate’s prayer. ARRR!!! Acknowledge, Relate, Receive, and Respond. This little memory device, ARRR!!! will help you become a listening Catholic and have a spiritual life. ARRR: Acknowledge, Relate, Receive and Respond.
All prayer begins by entering into the presence of God. Physically doing so is a good step, entering into the Church and drawing near the Tabernacle. Mindfully and spiritually entering into God’s presence is also vital. Calling to mind that he is hear, that he has proven his love on the cross, that he has given you his Spirit in Baptism and Confirmation.
Then pray like a pirate. ARRR!!! Acknowledge the biggest or most obvious thing going on in your heart that day. Relate it to the Father, he has numbered all the hairs on your head and he wants all the thoughts within that head. Receive his Word. This is the hardest part. it requires patience and quiet. Respond to his Word with gratitude, resolution, or more Relating to him.
This may seem too simple or silly but it is a great way to grow in intimacy with God. What is intimacy in human life? Human intimacy is built up by the sharing of thoughts, feelings and desires. There is no other way to grow in true human intimacy. It is the same with our spiritual intimacy with God. We need to bring to him our thoughts, feelings, and desires and then wait on his Word. As the prophet Isaiah says: “Listen, that you may have life.”
Finally, I would like to encourage you. Look at the Gospel today. Look at the bounty our Lord provides. If you enter into the pirate’s prayer, if you enter into deliberate listening time in your day, know that the enemy will try to scare you away. He will try to say there is not enough time in the day for such foolishness! Hogwash. The Lord will always provide for us if we but offer our own meager efforts.
Cross posted on www.piusxiinewman.com