Are you looking for an alternative way to deepening your prayer life or do you know people who long to draw closer to Jesus?
Residential retreats are very expensive and not always feel possible for people who may have family or work commitments. Many retreat centres are closed due to COVID-19, though some are beginning to reopen.
Retreats at Home
An alternative is to make a retreat whilst staying at home or carrying on with your day-to-day life. Manresa Link is an ecumenical network in the Midlands which gives retreats based on Ignatian spirituality. The retreats last around 6 weeks and during that time people meet with their prayer guide once a week to share how they have got on with their prayer.
During lockdown Manresa Link organised Retreats At Home so that people could speak to their guide over the phone, Whats App, Zoom or any other internet app they had. As lockdown eases some face-to-face meetings may also be possible. The good news is that Manresa Link will continue to offer more remote support if needed.
Why make a retreat?
Does this sound a bit scary? You might be thinking,
“Help! My prayer life is rubbish!” or “I am not ‘holy’ enough to have a special guide.” “Who would want to listen to me?”
A prayer guide is there to just listen and to help you to discern where God is in your experience.
Even the phrase ‘Ignatian spirituality’ might sound a bit intimidating. What on earth is this, you might wonder. It is simple a way of praying that focuses on Jesus using some insights from St. Ignatius of Loyola (1491 – 1556). One of these is
“Pray as you can.” He was very practical and down-to-earth.
Being listened to by someone who cares and is not there to judge can be a wonderfully affirming experience. It can also help you to discern how God might be calling you in your discipleship. You can read more about Manresa Link here.
People who make a retreat can make a small donation to cover costs of materials if they can afford it.
Grants to make a residential retreat
If you are feeling in need of refreshment and time completely away from home there is help towards paying for a residential retreat from the Society of Retreat Conductors.
Again, when you click on the grants tab this might look a little bit daunting. It is not as hard as it seems and the Society of Retreat Conductors want more people from estates to be aware that these funds are available. The feedback form you are sent to tell them about your retreat is short and easy to fill in. It could be a life changing experience.
They also offer grants towards helping Christians to train to listen as prayer guides and spiritual directors.
Below is an example of an Ignatian way of praying called the Examen or the Review of Day.