• Today in Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton
  • Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
  • 13 October 2019

One of the disciplines of the Church requires every priest to participate in a retreat at least once each year. The priests of the diocese were attending our canonically mandated retreat last week, which explains why most of our weekday masses were cancelled at St. Elizabeth Seton. Since Fr. Summerlin made his retreat prior to his ordination last June, he was able to remain in the parish to celebrate the 12:15 masses during the week. It is important for the clergy to take some time away from pastoral work to refresh the spirit and also renew our fraternity as brothers in Christ. Jesus withdrew from his ministry to be with his disciples for prayer and renewal. It is fitting and proper that His priests follow the example of the Shepherd to be refreshed in the Spirit. But retreats are not the special province of the ordained; it is available and recommended for all the baptized – for every disciple of Jesus.


The Latin for “retreat” isrefugereand is the root of the English word for refuge, but I have always thought that the Latin secederewould be a more fitting description for this special time that is set aside for prayer, contemplation and fraternity. We derive the word “secession” from this Latin root that is translated: to go apart, to go aside, to withdraw, or to rebel. This is really a better description than a refuge, which implies the need to run away. A spiritual “retreat” is rather a conscious and purposeful act of going apart; it is a withdrawal that is both strategic and active. Secedereis to rebel! It is a rebellion that opposes the status quo and as such opens the possibility of a revolution in the awareness of God’s action in the life of the disciple.


Just a few weeks ago we sponsored the “Courageous” retreat for the men of the parish and just last Saturday there was another men’s retreat at the Convention Center in downtown Indianapolis. Hundreds of men took the time to withdraw and renew their spiritual lives as disciples of Jesus Christ. I was edified by the sheer numbers and dedication of those Catholic men who attended these retreats in the midst of the college football season. That in itself is counter-cultural, even rebellious. It is not an easy task to be a Christian, and it is even more difficult to be a Catholic. Being a good Catholic requires the kind of courage to stand as a powerful witness to the Faith that inspired the saints to devote their lives to the Truth. Christianity is a religion for adults. It requires men and women to know who they are as disciples and demands a commitment that only adults can make. Getting away from the status quo is very often the necessary environment where the adult Christian can come to the awareness of this urgent call to holiness.


Early next year we shall once again be conducting our Christ Renews His Parish retreat weekends. The Men’s weekend is March 7thand 8th. The Women’s weekend is March 14thand 15th. These are opportunities to withdraw from the ordinary into an extraordinary encounter with the Holy Spirit. Those who have made this journey will testify that the CRHP retreat is more than a game changer; it is a life transformer. Most Catholics don’t consider themselves to be saints, but that is exactly who we are called to be. Being a disciple of Jesus in not an easy life, but as a Catholic, it is the only life that is worth living…and living to the full!