By: Bishop Paul S. Loverde
Have you ever experienced your cell phone battery dying in the middle of a conversation? Perhaps you were having an animated discussion and ignored the warning signals indicating that the power was low and, before you knew it, the cell phone stopped working.
It is not only cell phones that need a timely recharge, but also each one of us. The pressing demands of daily life, compounded by the pressure of the instant communication provided through cell phones, email and texts, ensure that we rarely have peaceful moments. Our own batteries become worn down and we need a recharge. The solution for us, however, is not as simple as plugging into an outlet for two hours.
Rather, to truly recharge, we need to step away from the busy-ness of our lives to take time for daily prayer, participation in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and even a longer spiritual retreat. As I wrote to you last summer about my own annual retreat, I value this time to open my mind and heart more fully to Our Lord, and I come away with a renewed sense of my vocation.
The Church recognizes the necessity of retreats for a healthy spiritual life and, in fact, requires them for all clergy, explaining that, “In leading their lives, clerics are bound in a special way to pursue holiness since, having been consecrated to God by a new title in the reception of orders, they are dispensers of the mysteries of God in the service of His people” (Code of Canon Law, 276).
While the priestly ministry naturally calls for daily spiritual activities, including the celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice and praying the Liturgy of the Hours, it is beneficial for our clergy to participate in a spiritual retreat that provides them with a deeper union with the Lord Jesus so necessary for their ministry. A number of priests participated in a spiritual retreat this month (this is one of three such retreats offered to our priests this year).
Recently, after attending a retreat, one of our priests reflected that spiritual retreats rarely break new ground. The themes and activities, which typically include the celebration of the Eucharist, prayer, and the Sacrament of Reconciliation, are familiar and constant. Yet, this is exactly the point. A retreat is a renewal, a deeper reconnecting with Christ. During their retreat, our priests reflect upon the Gospel and its meaning for their vocation. They return to their pastoral work refreshed and reinforced in their relationship with Christ.
In addition, all of the priests of the diocese gathered earlier this month for a convocation, which is a time of spiritual renewal, priestly fraternity and continuing formation. Although the Convocation is not a retreat, it does provide our priests another form of renewal.
While the Convocation and these retreats necessitate priests occasionally being absent from your parish, they will return to you refreshed and with a renewed sense of purpose. I ask for your prayerful remembrance of our priests, that they may hear Christ’s call for their lives more clearly to strengthen their ministry so that they can better serve you and all parishioners.