Age limit, typical day… Info for a spiritual retreat

► Who can come for a spiritual retreat? Is there an age limit?

Everyone can take a spiritual retreat if they feel the need. Believers, non-believers, homosexuals, married, divorced, cohabiting… There is no checkbox. ” It does not matter, assures Marie-Élisabeth Picard, preacher in the Foyer de Charité de Roquefort-Côte d’Azur. It is not indifference on our part, but a desire to respect the privacy of the people who come, to accompany them as best as possible in the stage of life they are going through. »

Some places offer to look after the children while the parents recharge their batteries, others are equipped for the disabled or those with reduced mobility. Elderly people, as long as they are independent or accompanied by a carer, are obviously welcome.

► What does a typical day look like?

The days are not the same depending on the place and the type of retreat chosen: some are suitable for young people, others are for couples, some are preached, others still offer retreatants the possibility of composing their own timetable… In most cases, a day will be divided between rest time, prayer time, teaching time and Eucharist.

“This moment of renewal can be experienced in very different ways depending on the community chosen, adds Father Paul Legavre, director of the Jesuit Spiritual Center of Île-de-France, in Manrèse. In the Ignatian community, particular care is given to families so that they find themselves in circumstances other than those of daily life, with its constraints. » Details of the different types of retreats offered by communities are usually available on their website.

► Should we remain silent throughout the retreat?

This is generally what distinguishes a “retreat” as such from a “session”, which is more a time for training, for resourcing, but also for exchanges with the other participants. If silence is often recommended during a spiritual retreat, it is in no way a matter of sterile constraint. On the contrary, “a distinction must be made between the silence suffered and linked to isolation, and the silence chosen to find oneself, analyzes Marie-Élisabeth Picard. This silence can be confusing at first, since we live in a society constantly stimulated by noise. But it is like an ingredient in the recipe for a successful spiritual retreat. » During meals, music can be played in the refectory, or the retreatants listen to the reading of news or books of spirituality.

► What to do if you are bored? Or if we realize that it does not correspond to what we needed?

“It’s still extremely rare, says Sister Annick, director of the reception center at Rhuys Abbey. Between rest, various readings, moments of spiritual accompaniment, times of teaching, services and meals, the days – if they are not exhausting – are all the same punctuated by distinct times which prevent boredom. And if ever it’s really too hard, don’t hesitate to talk about it with a member of the community. »

Lack of habit or intrusive worries can oppose resistance to the serenity sought during a retreat, but if the experience turns into a test of strength, it is always possible to interrupt it.

► Can I ask to see a priest, monk or nun alone?

It is of course possible to ask to speak with a monk, a nun, or a person in charge of the place of reception. “In the Foyers de Charité, adds Marie-Élisabeth Picard, the lay people who welcome the retreatants are trained to listen to them and accompany them in their questions. It is always an important moment of retirement. »

► Do we have to go to all prayer times?

“There are no formal prohibitions, nor strict obligations, recalls Marie-Élisabeth Picard. But the people we receive know why and where they are coming from. We count on everyone’s responsibility to take full advantage of this moment of break, and not to disturb other retreatants. However, no one is obligated to anything. »

It makes sense to attend several times of daily prayer during a retreat led by a Catholic community. It’s a way to soak up what this community is going through, and sometimes the opportunity to discover different liturgical rites.

Age limit, typical day… Info for a spiritual retreat