“By this expression spiritual retreat or spiritual exercises, we should understand a withdrawal from all everyday affairs and from work in order to devote ourselves seriously to gaining a clear knowledge of our interior life, to a thorough examination of the state of conscience, and to meditation, contemplation and prayer. In this way, we prepare our soul to get rid of all our sins, and all our evil inclinations and habits, to fill ourselves with the desire for virtues, to discover and know the will of God and, having discerned it, to submit to it, to conform to it, to unite ourselves to it and so aim at, advance towards and ultimately arrive at our own perfection.” St Vincent de Paul
Vincent believed that retreats were needed by both his communities and lay people as an essential element in the growth of a person’s relationship with God. He firmly believed that a retreat should have some practical consequences in a person’s life and that one to achieve this was to make resolutions during a retreat to change certain things in one’s life afterwards. A well-made retreat should be a total renewal; a person who has made a retreat properly passes into a different state; s/he is no longer what he used to be; s/he becomes a different person.
Lay people often make retreats as individuals and Vincent had drawn up a framework for individual retreats. In the Vincentian tradition, a priest would be assigned to each retreatant as a director. This director would see the retreatant twice a day and give him/her points for meditation, suggest spiritual reading and answer his/her questions.
According to Vincent the purpose of the retreat is “to become a perfect Christian and perfect in one’s own particular vocation. A perfect student, if one is a student; a perfect soldier if one is a soldier; a perfect lawyer if one is in the legal profession; a perfect priest like St Charles Borromeo if one is a priest. To sum up, to perfect oneself in one’s own vocation, or to choose one.”
If you wish to arrange a retreat as an individual or a group, please contact us