This weekend, I'm going to the parish of Christ the King in Ann Arbor, Michigan, to attend their annual Women's Retreat. It's worth the over-200-mile drive, to celebrate and worship with charismatic Catholics, including my blogsister Roz. The retreat master is Fr. Thomas Dubay, an ascetic, precise, dryly earnest and witty, older, wonderful priest from the Plains States, who speaks on the contemplative life just about better than anybody living today. To prepare for this retreat, we have all been reading his book, Deep Conversion, Deep Prayer.
Just look at this schedule!
Friday - after arrival, a concelebrated Mass by Fr. Dubay and the pastor, a talk by Fr. Dubay, night prayers, and our choice of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament continuing until midnight or fellowship with the other attendees, or both!
Saturday - Morning prayer, breakfast, another talk by Fr. Dubay, the Sacrament of Confession, more Adoration time, lunch, prayer ministry, Rosary, Mass (the Masses are scheduled for at least an hour and a half, how wonderful), another talk, dinner, more prayer ministry, night prayer and Adoration until midnight
Sunday - Morning prayer, breakfast, Mass, a last talk with some Q&A time, lunch and beat it out of there.
That's what I call a retreat! No crappy relationship exercises, no experiments, no labyrinths, no reiki, no nothing but Jesus Christ.
What's kept me from retreats for over 25 years, besides years of shocking faithlessness, is wastes of time like that experienced by a friend who went on retreat last year to a local Illinois shrine, and she related, with some happiness, poor thing, that, among their other activities, they took baby food jars, filled them with colored sand in layers, and made the beach that represented their ideal. Their ideal what? I was tempted to ask her if they made a circle and then took turns going into the middle and falling into people's arms as an exercise of trust, but I didn't have the requisite charity to keep the scorn out of my voice...
This retreat, on the other hand, is way bigger than me, and I'm simultaneously thrilled and petrified. More on my chickenhood to come before I leave Friday.